“I want to take the measurements now. She’s been in the water and the measurements will be off by the time she gets to the office.”
“Even if you put her in the freezer?”
“Yeah, the freezer will slow down the decomp but it won’t stop it. These marks here are going to fade.”
It was near dusk. The naked body lay on the concrete seawall. She was in her 20’s, early 30’s, average build. There was no gross trauma. Her toenails were painted red. “She just looks like an average woman,” I said. “She’s a hooker,” a cop said in response. “How do you know?” “Red nail polish.”
The medical examiner shined the flashlight on the body with one hand, put the straightedge on the skin with the other, put the straightedge and flashlight down, picked up her pencil and notebook and wrote down the measurement.
“Here, Julie, I’ll hold the flashlight.” I knelt beside her and shined the flashlight on the body and the medical examiner put the straightedge on the skin, put the straightedge down, picked up her pencil and notebook and wrote down the measurement.
“Here, I’ll write the measurements down; just read them off to me.”
“Ooh, are you sure, Benjamin?”
“Yes, it’s no problem at all.”
I shined the flashlight on the body and the medical examiner put the straightedge on the skin and called out the measurements. “How many centimeters?” She spoke softly and I bent my head nearer hers over the body.
Kneeling and closely hunched over the body the medical examiner worked quickly from mark to mark, measuring and reading out without lifting her head, her voice a whisper. I bent closer and turned my head so that my left ear was centimeters from her face. The body smelled brackish.
I straightened up. Across the bay the causeway was gaily lit by the red taillights of Friday Happy Hour traffic.
Image: The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Jusepe de Ribera (early 1620's).