by Ben Aguilar
Lay your instruments out on the table in the order in which you will use them. They will mix themselves up in the process but do not worry about this for now. This exercise helps you remember what you will do, and will give you time to calm your nerves. You can say your prayers here.
Remove her nightgown and describe what you see. You can draw the woman and plot her wounds like landmarks or places of note. Number the streets by length of laceration, name the countries after type of injury.
Cut a Y into her chest. Displace her breasts laterally. Saw into her clavicles. Try to fish the bullet out from the bottom of her lung. Evacuate her thoracic cavity.
Section the heart like you would a loaf of bread. Yes this is how the book tells you to do it. Examine the concentricity of its growth, like a Narra tree, or the tire of a monster truck, or an oversized engagement ring. Each ring under the microscope is a fiesta spent at her cousin’s house, or the baptism of a nephew, or a dinner out at her favorite cafe.
Follow the cut vessel up her arm until you find one whose name you know. Find this name in the book, and follow it down the illustration until you find the name of the vessel cut. Stick your finger in it to know whether it is an artery or a vein. This will clue you to the speed of her exsanguination. Do this for the vessels on her legs as well.
Sever the digestive tract at the rectum and the cardia of the stomach and put it aside. You will need these organs later. You will need the bullet lodged in the right transverse process of her L2 right now.
Halve the kidney and open it like a book. The indistinct pillars suggest that she hasn’t been eating right for a long time, but this does not surprise you. Close the book.
The tree you see with two fruit hanging laterally is her uterus and adnexa. Consider that for her age it is of normal weight, and thus unremarkable.
Lay the bowels out. Snake it if it is too long for the table. Squeeze the contents into a pan to find out what she had for dinner. It does not take an expert to know that she was probably full before she died, but to know the composition of her last meal is another matter.
Peel the covering of the liver off. Recall that the normal liver is dull red and not yellow-streaked like this. Think repeated binge drinking over the years. The ancient Israelites used livers for sin offerings—a bull’s, of course. They too thought the skin of the liver was not fit for burning.
Open the cranial vault and expose its contents. The cerebrum should be halved, and the diencephalon pared. Begin the identification. Here you find brain sand. Here is the master gland. Here is the lobe for judgement. Here is where she heard the gun being pulled out. Here is the part she used to turn her head, then her body. Here is the part she used to throw her arms up. Here is the part where she saw the man who was about to shoot her, the man you saw on CCTV with inadequate resolution but enough suspicion. Here is where flashed her facial recognition. Here is the communication from her long-term memory. Here escaped the order for the gasp of surprise. Here is where she felt the bullets penetrate her thoracic and abdominal cavities.
Lay the parts of her body out on the table in the order in which you will use them. They will mix themselves up in the process but do not worry about this for now. This exercise helps you remember what you will do, and will give you the time you need to calm your nerves. You can say your prayers here.