Dr. Wallis was perhaps the most popular doctor in the hospital. He took his job seriously, but not in an offensive way. His coworkers spoke highly of him, even though all of his patients were dead. Carla Simmons adored Dr. Wallis. It was not a warm feeling an intern felt for the doctor she worked with, she was truly in love. She hung intensely on his every word and nuance. She and Martin had been assigned to work with him on a particularly gruesome corpse.

"Shall we proceed?" the good doctor asked.

Carla stood right next to the table across from the doctor, a notebook and pen in her gloved hands. She took notes on everything she could, wanting to both memorize and duplicate Dr. Wallis's technique. Martin stood back from the table and watched carefully, but from a safe distance.

Dr. Wallis pressed on the abdomen of the corpse.

"Stop, that tickles," the corpse said.

Dr. Wallis pulled his hands back and looked at Carla, then at Martin. Both merely looked at him and shrugged. Next, the doctor examined an open wound in the victim's neck.

"Now, that hurts," the corpse said. "If you don't cease and desist at this moment, I shall be forced to call my lawyer."

Dr. Wallis was a bit taken aback. This was the first autopsy he had been assigned in which his (extremely deceased) patient had been compelled to criticize his work.

The good doctor walked around the table and stood beside Carla. Martin moved closer and all three exchanged curious glances. Dr. Wallis examined some bruising on the chest and pressed against it carefully.

"Those ribs are broken, you moron. Knock it off right know. What is wrong with you?" The corpse was verbose.

Dr. Wallis was flabbergasted and stepped back from the table. "Martin, get me a scalpel."

Martin handed the doctor a scalpel and, as Dr. Wallis neared the body, the voice returned.

"Get that thing away from me. That's sharp. Don't you know that's gonna hurt?"

Dr. Wallis put down the scalpel, took off his gloves, and left the room. Carla put down her notebook and watched him through a window as he pulled a file folder from his desk and read through it quickly, nodding to himself. He returned and looked at Martin, a steely glare.

"Martin, leave the room immediately. Don't ever come back. You can consider yourself fired."

Martin didn't say a word, but left the room, almost as if he had expected it. Carla watched the doctor from her position near the body, and was stunned as he stood across the table from her and reached his hands out to grasp hers and clasp them tightly.

"Carla, dear girl," he said.

"Yes," she said, looking deep into his eyes and hoping this was the moment when Dr. Wallis would finally ask her to become his lover.

"I want you to promise me one thing."

"Yes, sir," she said, breathless. "Anything you want."

"When you're working as a coroner on your own some day, and someone applies for a job with you, check to make sure he isn't a ventriloquist."

With that Carla's hands were dropped, and every hope of a romance was dashed against the cold steel bed, as dead as the corpse that finally lay silent before them.


Copyright 2001 by Lisa Christine Svenson