'Emo 'ole Make loa
OK, I totally got ahead of myself and posted before I intended to do so. This story is... different, to say the least. It began as a "this can never happen" by sherry57 and after that, a "what if" by sym64. And my brain wouldn't get this scene out of my mind.
So, now, you get to scream at me! Thanks to sym64 and also to sockie1000 for reading, proofing and making this better than I had it. Thanks to both of you! You are invaluable sources of inspiration and help.
OK, here goes. Along about chapter 3, this will probably change from a "T" rating to an "M" rating. But that's the only chapter. Hope you come back for more after this one.
And a wet, dreary, drizzly one at that.
When people think of Hawaii, their first image is sun, surf and sand. Not a deluge of raindrops, yet this is what visitors would see on this particular Monday morning.
Max Bergman parked his yellow Camaro and pulled up the hood of his windbreaker before getting out of the car. He dashed into the side entrance of the ME's office on Iwilei Road and shook the water off his jacket while heading toward his office.
Max didn't hate Mondays, but today his mood was as melancholy as the weather outside. He had arrived back on Oahu late last night after spending the weekend on the big island at an RPG convention. He came away with a second place trophy, only because the dastardly fiend, Throg played a totally uncalculated, and as Max suspected, illegal move. But Throg, along with his human counterpart, the rude Dr. Richard Cornish, walked away with first place.
And second place just didn't set well with Dr. Max Bergman.
But he would be ready the next time. With calculated moves of his own.
Max brewed a cup of tea and picked up the logs from the weekend. Another reason he wasn't fond of Mondays was the fact that there were always crazy cases over the weekends. You never knew what you would get when you walked into the office. With his tea in hand, Max headed to the piano and sat down. He took a sip from the cup before setting it down and automatically began playing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head". From there, he moved to "Monday, Monday" and "Kentucky Rain". He was more of a classical kind of guy, but the damp weather was bringing out the "oldies" and he just "followed his fingers".
People always thought of Max as just "the quirky ME" but there was method to his madness. Playing the piano limbered up his fingers for the tasks he would be performing during the day. Even working with dead bodies required finesse and precision, therefore each morning he warmed up his hands before work.
Once his morning ritual was complete, he again grabbed the log sheets and went into the autopsy room. They had received three bodies over the weekend… a quiet one, Max thought to himself. At the top of one page, he noted his name with the inscription: Hold for Dr. Bergman.
He checked the deceased name, surprised to note it was a John Doe. The body had been brought in a little over two hours ago. Dale, the night technician, had logged in the vitals; height, weight, etc. before writing out the toe tag and placing the body in the cooler to wait for Max.
Another quirk of Max's was that he preferred the technicians to not disturb the bodies. Max needed to have the full picture and would process the body from start to finish. He wanted to remove the clothing and check it for evidence instead of leaving that task to a medical student, who, for the most part, wasn't interested in learning anything from the deceased. Max was very meticulous in his technique.
He pulled the body crane over to the cooler and opened the drawer, sliding out the tray. Removing the sheet from the victim's feet, he checked the toe tag, verifying the information matched the log in his hand. Before utilizing the crane, he glanced at the temperature gauge on the cooler which showed 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Max tapped the gauge with his index finger, but it remained at 54 degrees.
Another note that Mr. Stringer did not leave for us, Max thought. The cooler in question had recently been repaired… or so he thought. The constant temperature inside should remain no more than 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Before going further, Max went into his office and returned with a note that he taped to the front of the cooler: Needs repair. Do not use.
Once that task was completed, Max returned his attention back to the body. "Well, Mr. Doe, I am sorry we are meeting under these circumstances. But hopefully you will talk to me," Max told his 'patient'. While others considered his habit a bit nuts, he felt it was only polite since they would be telling him their story by the evidence they provided. And it helped Max's concentration when he talked aloud.
He transferred the body to the autopsy table and reached for his hand-held recorder and began to speak.
"It is Monday morning, August 13, 2012; 8:23 a.m. This is Dr. Max Bergman and before me is a John Doe who was presented in the morgue earlier today at 5:58 a.m. by … hmmm." Max halted his dissertation and checked the log once again. "It appears the method of transportation is missing from this report. I must speak with Mr. Stringer about his lack of detail on the intake log."
Another quirk of Max's was that he always started at the deceased's feet and worked his way up. It was different from the way most examiners processed a victim, but it worked well for Bergman, giving him a totally unbiased view of the body. He pulled the sheet back to his patient's hips then picked up his recorder once again.
"Swimming trunks, Mr. Doe. Is it possible you simply drowned?"
He examined the feet and ankles, checking for broken bones, both visually and with his hands. "Bruising on right ankle and shin. Left knee is also bruised. No broken skin or broken bones noted."
Once again, Max set the recorder aside and pushed the sheet past his victim's waist. He untied the cord on the swim trunks and tugged them downward, pulling them off and placing in a plastic bag which he labeled and sealed.
"Old scar on right upper thigh," Max stopped and examined the wound more thoroughly. "Possibly a gunshot wound." Max continued his visual examination, "Scar, middle, lower belly. Another bullet wound? Possibly. Mr. Doe, were you a trouble maker?"
Max continued his narrative. "Multiple hematoma along belly and torso. Just beginning to form, so probably not more than four to six hours old. Mr. Doe, I do hope you got in a punch or two."
He reached for the victim's right hand, noting redness on the knuckles. "Good for you, you did fight back." Max examined the right hand and arm, noting more bruising, then moved to the opposite side of the table to examine the left hand and forearm.
Max glanced once again at the stomach wound and then looked more closely at the naked belly and chest. Something seemed… like déjà vu. And Max's intuition was almost nearly, always correct. And he didn't like what he was feeling.
"No, no, no, it can't be," Max whispered.
With shaky fingers, Max flipped the sheet down, covering his patient's body down to his knees before reaching for the top of the sheet. He hesitated before pulling it down, but then took a deep breath before taking a look at Mr. Doe's face.
The recorder slipped from Max's slack fingers and landed on the tile floor, bouncing into three separate pieces. Max didn't even hear the break; he was totally focused on the face of his victim.
Not John Doe.
Not an unknown.
Lying on the slab before Max was the body of his friend, Steve McGarrett, his serene face bruised, swollen and bloodied.
And as difficult as it was for Max to believe that the commander was here in the morgue, on a slab, dead, his body recently stripped by him, what really had his attention was the red bulls eye painted on the man's forehead… most likely made in Steve's own blood.