SHE WAS VERY DEFINITELY DEAD. There was a bullet in her back. It had been there for two weeks. Today she died. Two cops brought her in from the hospital. They had been trying to keep her alive since they found her shot in a speakeasy with a Saturday Night Special. They carried her in on a stretcher and dumped her down on a tray. A man with a Polaroid camera hurried around to take pictures. They would go in the official morgue file, probably under a number because no one knew her name.
She was a dark black woman who looked like she was in her 40s. She was built big. When she was alive, she had very large breasts. Now that the life fluids were out of them, they were just large sacks drooping down both sides of her chest. The assistant medical examiner, trying to get a look at a scar on her side, pushed the right breast up and over back onto the chest, packing it firm with his hands so it would stay in place, the same way the guy behind the delicatessen counter makes a cold roast beef sandwich.
He rolled her over on her side and saw the hole in her back. “There’s our bullet,” he said, sticking his finger in the hole to try to get it out. “Son of a bitch won’t move.”
Lynne Abraham stepped closer. “Let me try it,” she said. She took off her lumber jacket and tossed it on the table. She tucked her Temple University T-shirt into her straight-legged jeans and went to work. Between the two of them, they got the bullet out. Lynne Abraham stepped back to get a paper towel. Some of the blood that now covered her index finger had dripped down on her white sneakers with the pointy toes.
It was a beautiful Sunday outside the morgue. The sun was strong and it was getting downright balmy. It was a nice day for a bike ride in the park. But the executive director of the Redevelopment Authority preferred spending her Sunday living with the dead. It was just force of habit. It wasn’t so long ago that she spent a good deal of time down here, as a top assistant district attorney in the homicide division. She would come down and watch autopsies. And since she had some background in forensic medicine, she might even help in some of them. Sometimes she found out more than the medical examiner. She always found out more than the cops.
She’d go from the morgue to the crime scene and dig up her own witnesses, collect her own evidence and prepare a closed case. It was her style, and she just can’t shake it.
A couple of hours ago, she was reading over proposals for the redevelopment of Washington Square West. Now she is walking in the refrigerator, a giant cold storage cabinet for unburied dead people on aluminum tables. She walks down the aisle and rolls them out like cheese trays, examining the wounds, figuring out the angle of entry of the bullet. She doesn’t want to get stale on this stuff. She is, after all, a political appointee. And she knows very well that one day she could be shipped right back to the DA’s office quicker than you could say Frank Rizzo. Read the rest of this entry »