"Okay. But you might want to maybe sit down or something till I get back."
Rachel ignored the suggestion and turned back to her cadaver as Tony left. He was a nice guy. A little weird maybe. For instance, he insisted on talking like a Goodfella from the Bronx when he had been born, raised, and never left Toronto. He also wasn't Italian. Tony wasn't even his real name. The name he'd been given at birth was Teodozjusz Schweinberger. Rachel had complete sympathy with the name change, but she didn't understand how the bad accent came with it.
Rachel glanced at the open door to the main room of the morgue. Setting down her scalpel, she stripped the rubber glove from her right hand and walked out to meet the men propelling a gurney inside. Dale and Fred. Nice guys. A couple of EMTs whom she rarely saw. They generally delivered their clientele to the hospital alive. Of course, some died after arrival, but it was usually after these two had already been and gone. This patient must have died in transit.
"Hi, Rachel! You're looking… good."
She crossed the room to join them, politely ignoring Dale's hesitation. Tony had made it more than plain how she looked. "What have we here?"
Dale handed her a clipboard with various sheets of paper. "Gunshot wound. Thought we got a beat before transporting from the scene but might have been wrong. For the record, he died in transit. Doc Westin pronounced him gone when we got here and asked us to bring him down. They'll want an autopsy, bullet retrieval, and so on."
"Hmm." Rachel let the paperwork fall back into place, then moved to the end of the room to grab one of the special stainless steel gumeys used for autopsies. She rolled it back to the EMTs. "Can you switch him over onto this while I sign?"
"Thanks." Leaving them to it, she moved to the desk in the corner in search of a pen. She signed the necessary papers, then walked back as the EMTs finished shifting the body. The sheet that had covered it for the trip through the hospital was now missing. Rachel paused and stared.
The latest addition to the morgue was a handsome man, no more than thirty, with dirty blond hair. Rachel took in his pale chiseled features, wishing she'd seen him while he was alive and that she'd known what he looked like with his eyes open. She rarely thought of her work as having been at one time living, breathing beings. It made her job impossible if she considered that the bodies she worked on were mothers, brothers, sisters, grandfathers... But this man she couldn't ignore. She imagined him smiling and laughing, and in her mind he had silver eyes the likes of which she'd never seen.
She blinked in confusion and stared up at Dale. The fact that she was now sitting was a bit startling. The men had apparently rolled the wheeled desk chair over and urged her into it. Both EMTs were hovering over her, worry on their faces.
"You nearly fainted, I think," Dale said. "You were swaying and all white-faced. How are you feeling?"
"Oh." She gave an embarrassed laugh and waved her hand. "I'm fine. Really. I think I'm coming down with something, though. Chills then fever." She shrugged.
Dale placed the back of a hand to her forehead and frowned. "Maybe you should go home. You're burning up."
Rachel felt her face and was alarmed to note that he was right. It crossed her mind to hope that the speed and strength with which this bug had hit her wasn't an omen of how bad it was going to be. And if it was bad, she hoped it would burn out as quickly as it had come. She hated being sick.
"Huh?" She glanced at the concerned faces of the EMTs and forced herself upright. "Oh, yeah. Sorry. Yes, I might go home early when Tony gets back. In the meantime, I signed for the body and everything." She retrieved the necessary paperwork and handed back the rest. Dale accepted the clipboard, then exchanged an uncertain glance with Fred. Both appeared reluctant to leave her alone.
"I'm fine, really," she assured them. "And Tony just went out to grab us some drinks. He'll be back shortly. You two go on."
"Okay." Dale still sounded reticent. "Just do us a favor and keep your butt in that chair till he does, huh? If you faint and hit your head…"