Prose

Autopsy

28 February 2013

We met on Degraves Street. He had texted me the location. He was 25, skinny with some stubble, so I congratulated myself as, physically, he seemed quite attractive. We sat outside one of the cafés that line the laneway. It isn’t really relevant which one.

It was one with the waitresses styling themselves on 50s pin up girls that are inked, in some form of ambiguous feminist statement, with massive chest pieces. He ordered a chai latte and I asked if I could have a knife.

We exchanged miscellaneous details. He studied graphic design, maybe marketing. I can’t remember. He was two years into his course and was ready to move into the real world. He asked me if it’s okay for him to smoke. The courtesy was nice and I had no problem. He offered me one and I declined. He assured me that, as he rolls his own cigarettes, they have none of those ‘toxins’ that cause all the trouble.

He told me about how creative he is and that, no matter what he’s doing in life, he always needs an outlet. I asked what sort of activities he meant. The reply was cryptic and vague. He mentioned his tasteful ability to reblog other people’s Tumblr posts.

The waitress brought him his chai and my knife. I asked him to lie upon the circular table with his face upwards. He did so and I slowly opened his checkered shirt. His skin was pale and smooth. I began to make the Y incision, two diagonal lines running from the shoulders converging at his solar plexus then moving down to his navel. I apologised for making such a mess. I was using a café standard butter knife so I had to saw rigorously.

While I did so he told me about the Louis Theroux documentary on black nationalism he streamed last night off his MacBook Pro. At this stage, after he told me just how many Theroux documentaries he had seen—17—I had finished making the incisions. The lines were more curved than straight and our table, due to his vascular system still working, was rather messy. A few large strips of skin had started to come together in pustules of hemorrhaging blood.

The knife didn’t slice through the bones like some form of imitation margarine, as I’d hoped. But the cuts were still sufficient. I leaned over him and reached inside the chest cavity. Getting a strong hold on his ribs, I pushed all my weight backwards snapping his sternum. He opened like an advent calendar.

I was amazed at the good condition of his major organs, especially his lungs. He continued talking about Theroux but my concentration was elsewhere. I delicately pulled apart his stomach like a big swollen green fig.

Gastric fluid acts not too dissimilar from a xenomorph’s blood and, as I’m not an idiot, I used several serviettes as a layer of protection between my hands and the liquid. I reached inside it and pulled out a Tamagotchi. It was the seventh one I’d found this month.

He started detailing his year off and how he found himself traveling. Mortified, I removed his tongue and, placed it, still flapping, inside a zip lock bag. Air continued to channel through his vocal chords making incoherent noises in an attempt to describe how he grew as a person. Aside from removing his lungs, which would be extremely uncivil, there was nothing to do.

I folded his chest back together and placed a Band-Aid on the incision’s convergence point. I didn’t have the time, or the inclination, to put all his organs back so I asked the waitress if I could get a doggy bag. Of course, they didn’t do doggy bags, so I had to scoop them all into his leather satchel. The gastric acid would most likely be problematic. I’m sure he managed. The waitress started wiping our table, we shook hands and I power walked to the train station.

He was from Brooklyn. We went to 289 Kent Avenue, Glasslands. Little Dragon were playing and he apologised for them being a bit too mainstream. The support act played then we spoke close to the front of stage.

I opened his shirt and he, after having drank a bit, attempted to open mine. I couldn’t obtain cutlery so I improvised, humming ‘Kali Ma’ to myself while I slowly forced my right hand through his flesh and ribcage. This manoeuvre requires holding your palm and fingers completely extended so that they act as a primitive blade. It’s never very neat. I tore his heart out and he blushed, stroking my thigh. The gush of arterial blood unfortunately ruined my shirt. I shall keep it for Halloween though.

Inside his heart was a small Morrissey action figure. The figurine had a little lever sticking out its back that if you pushed down upon made his left arm, which held a microphone, lift to his mouth.

We stayed for the main act. Though his circulatory system had stopped working, the initial spray meant we weren’t crowded. Nobody wanted to risk ruining suede shoes with congealed blood. It was convenient. At the end, he walked to the subway and I hailed a taxi.

He wasn’t actually German. He was quite vague on which city he originated from. He scolded me for wanting to order sausage from the delicatessen we sat in. It’s much too common and, on his suggestion, I ordered eisbein instead, a pork knee joint. It came with a large portion of red sauerkraut. The dish made me curious so I opened the flesh surrounding his right knee and inspected his patella. It looked identical to our eisbein. It even looked like it had been slow-cooked.
Luckily the Germans knew to give us real fucking knives. The blades had shredded his muscles, and I noticed a wad of paper threaded between his tibia and fibula. I dislodged the paper and unfolded it.

It was the first three chapters of Less Than Zero. The prose had dissolved together making the words illegible. Strangely the title page and Bret Easton Ellis’ name were crystal clear with no diffusion, just perfect typescript printed in Helvetica. Staring at it, I accidentally mistook the remains of his tibialis posterior for sauerkraut. He tasted less acidic. I apologised and cut our date short.

I was to meet a man in le Marais. We were to meet in the trendy gay district and, to get there from my hostel, I had to cut through the Jewish quarter. The man was a print shop worker. I hurried as I imagined him to look exactly like the one from Gus Van Sant’s short film. As I passed a falafel store, I had a great pain in my gut. I tried to persevere but it was to no use. I collapsed and an old Jewish man took me to a hospital.

It was impossible to communicate with the doctors but eventually an English-speaking nurse translated for us. I needed to have my appendix removed, they said. An immediate operation was necessary. I was rushed into an operating theatre where everyone was wearing smocks, latex gloves and hairnets. It was very dramatic. I wasn’t a pussy so I refused general anesthetic and watched as they cut out my appendix. It had swelled to the size of a large sweet potato. Just as the head surgeon had begun to lift it, it burst. In the moment before I lost consciousness I saw an orange Penguin paperback.

I came to at 3am. A nurse comforted me. He was very nice. He told me that the explosion had killed two doctors and severely wounded an intern but, as I had paid for full extras on my healthcare plan, I shouldn’t worry. He brought me the remains of my appendix in a large jar. Suspended in formaldehyde was the book, Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf.

I shouted that there must be some mistake. I wanted to be discharged immediately. But I wasn’t allowed to go and my shouting had woken the Frenchman sharing the room with me. Even with full extras it seemed I couldn’t have any damn privacy. I said thank you to the nurse and he left after giving me a dinner tray. I didn’t touch the plastic containers but opened the jar and, using my plastic knife and fork, fished the book out.

My neighbour kept yelling “Eteignez la lumiere! Eteignez la lumber!” But he was a madman. I told him to shut the fuck up, took a moment to relax, and proceeded to re-read Steppenwolf.


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