The stryker saw cut neatly along the dotted black lines drawn around the crown of the head. R had no idea where Dr. Z had procured a body from, only that he had. Dr. Z cupped his left hand under the skull cap as the saw finished its work. He set it down on the examining table so that it resembled a bowl, or half a black coconut.
“Take this fellow for instance,” Dr. Z continued, “grade school drop out, could barely hold a job, and even then never made a decent living.”
“Is he a patient of yours,” R asked.
“Hm? Oh, yes, yes,” Dr. Z answered, getting back-tracked, “now where was I? Yes, yes, this man was clearly of feeble intelligence and an unworthy specimen as compared to professional men, such as you or I.”
Dr. Z set the electric saw down and grabbed the forceps to peel away and removed the dura mater of the deep pink brain that was now exposed.
“Yet,” Dr. Z continued, studying the forceps very closely, “and yet, this man was learned in at least one important aspect of life. He was good at one thing and one thing only, it appears. This man was married twenty six years to the same woman. And quite a happy union from what I heard. Incredible.”
“Perhaps,” R said, smiling, “he used all ten percent of his brain power on his relationship. The other ninety must have gone to waste, eh?”
“Actually,” Dr. Z said, setting the filmy dura mater inside the skull cap on the table, “that’s a perfect myth. Every part of the brain has a function and every part of the brain is used. Don’t you see, R? This man is no less a master of love as you are of criminal investigation, or I am of medicine.”
Z looked up from his work, “do you think if I were to check inside this man’s pineal gland, I’d find a little Cupid?”
The joke was lost on R, and he was losing his patience, “who authorized this autopsy, Z?”
Z was busy at work inside the man’s head.
“Because, I don’t think the coroner knows about this. I don’t think this man’s wife knows about this either, does she, Z?”
“What’s the name of that worm that eats other worms,” Dr. Z asked, “for the life of me, I can’t remember. It eats the other worm and gains its intelligence. If the one worm had learned a trick, the other will eat it and know the trick without having been taught it, for example. I can’t remember. My mind seems to be going. My God.
“Alright,” R said, “that’s enough. Why don’t you come with me down to the station?”
“I’ve always felt,” Dr. Z went on, “that I was unlucky at love. Dreadfully unlucky at cards too, I’m afraid.”
R brushed his overcoat aside, revealing his gun in its holster, “Z,” he said, “let’s go.”
“Hm?” Z said, looking up from his work, “oh yes, yes, of course. I’ll go with you.”
Dr. Z removed his gloves and smock and walked toward R. R turned toward the door and began leading Z out of the room.
“Tell me, R, what do you know? What information do you have rattling around in that brain of yours, hm?”
Z bashed R across the back of the skull, and the detective fell heavy on the floor. His brow smacked against the ground and bounced once and then there was no movement.
“Hope we didn’t damage that brain of yours. I’ve had a busy day.”
Z dragged R’s limp form beside the operating table and turned the stryker saw back on.
“I wonder,” he said to himself, “if I were to eat a computer, would I gain its stored information. Ah, but I’m no geek. I’ve got my tastes. Where is my mind, these days. What’s the name of that worm again?”
ONE MORE SMOKE FOR THE ROAD
9 years ago