February 1, 2023

Adventures in Urology

6

[wp_time_to_read]

“I’m telling you, the damn thing was moving,” he says.

“Uh huh,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“Fuck you, Molly,” he says. “You weren’t there. I’m telling you the guy isn’t fucking dead.”

“And I’m telling you,” I say, “that we need to get that sample. I don’t give a fuck if he is alive or dead, we need to get the fucking sample.”

Ernie is staring across the empty parking lot at the double doors of the hospital. He shakes his head.

“No,” he says. “No fucking way. I’m not going back in there. I don’t care about the sample. I don’t care how much it costs us. No fucking way am I going back in there.”

“For chrissakes, Ernie.” I sigh. “So what? I’ve got to go in there?”

“If you want the fucking sample, yes. But I say we forget this fucking job and go and get a beer.”

Ernie has a look of absolute terror written all over his face. When we first started in the acquisition business, he was pretty damn reliable. Lately, he has become more and more unhinged. Five minutes ago, he came running across the parking lot like the Road Runner trying to flee Wylie Coyote. He was out of breath and scared. Watching a middle-aged fat guy run that fast was amusing. Seeing his face when he climbed into the car, less so.

“We are not going for a fucking beer,” I say. “You don’t need anymore beer. And we aren’t leaving until the job is done.”

I shake my head again. He goes on saying nothing.

“Fuck, I say. “Fine. I’ll go. You stay here and cower while a woman does your job. Again.”

“Woman,” he says in that tone he gets. “You ain’t no fucking woman, Molly. You got bigger balls than any man I know.”

“They are called ovaries, Ernie. And you’d know that if you’d ever been with a woman.”

I laugh.

“Fuck you, Molly,” he says. “I get plenty of pussy.”

I snort a laugh and roll my eyes again.

“The only pussy you’ve seen lately Ernie is the one staring back at you in the mirror in the morning when you’re taking a piss.”

He tries to process my joke, uncertain if I am making fun of him. It’s a struggle. Ernie is more of a doer than a thinker. After a minute, he says, “you calling me a pussy?”

“You and your hand,” I say, “are a good fit.”

He shakes his head again.

“Whatever,” he says. “I’m fine being a pussy if it means not going back in there. Fucking thing was moving. I’m telling you, something ain’t right. I just…”

He doesn’t finish the thought. And I know at this point he won’t budge. I sigh.

“Fine,” I say. “But you are getting the next three to make up for this, you fucking pussy.”

“Whatever,” he says. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

I shake my head again.

“It’s a fucking dead body, Ernie. Dead is dead,” I say. “Fucking zombies and werewolves and vampires are all in your fucking head. You’ve gone screwy on me. I don’t know what the deal is but when I get back we’re going to figure this shit out. I can’t keep carrying the bucket for you on these jobs.”

“Whatever,” he says again.

I want to slap him. Instead, I yank the radio out of his hand, slip the earpiece in, and curse at him while doing a radio check. That done, I grab the white lab coat we use in case some security guard happens by and clip on my identification tag. It says my name is Helen Kimble. It won’t pass serious scrutiny but should buy me enough time to exit in a hurry if I need to do that.

“There was only one body in there right,” I say.

Ernie says nothing. He’s really fucking spooked tonight.

“Ernie,” I say irritably. “One body right?”

He nods. I shake my head.

“Don’t be fucking jerking off out here while I’m doing your job for you. If I find you out here with one of your girly mags again I’m going to fucking strangle you with it.”

I laugh again, trying to ease the tension, but he says nothing. He’s still staring out across the parking lot.

“Ernie,” I say. He looks over at me. You better be here and ready to roll when I’m done.”

“Have I ever let you down,” he says.

“Every fucking day, Ernie. Every fucking day.”

I open my door and climb out. I grab the black medical bag out of the back. I give Ernie one last look and close the door. I really need to get a new partner.

Ernie and I have been working in acquisitions for going on two years now. The job is always the same. We get a call about some dead guy who fits a certain profile, and we go out and collect a sample. Since the sample has to be collected within the first forty-eight hours, Ernie and I have to move quickly to get the job done. It isn’t complicated. One of us stays in the car as a lookout while the other one slips into the morgue, finds the dead guy, injects the needle into his testicles, withdraws the sample, pushes the body back into the freezer, and gets the fuck out of the building before anyone knows we were there.

Not going to lie, it was awkward at first. My first attempt to extract a sample was a complete fucking disaster. The dead guy’s ball sac looked like it had been put into a blender and later chewed on and spit up by a rabid raccoon. Extracting sperm from a dead guy isn’t exactly legal, even if Ernie and I had been licensed as doctors. And how do I know all of this? Because some shady urologist with an erection and an out-of-control methamphetamine addiction taught Ernie and me how to get the sample. But not before he gave us a twenty-minute lecture on the whole history of dead guy sperm retrieval. Like we needed to know all the details just to jam the needle into some dead guy’s ball sac. But it was like it was his last chance to talk about it. Like Ernie and I were his students and were planning to sit down later and write a fucking Wikipedia entry or some fucking thing. Twenty minutes of my life I won’t ever get back. The short version is that getting dead guy sperm is not as complicated as performing heart surgery but, like, don’t try it at home on your boyfriend. At least not if you ever want him to have kids the old-fashioned way.

As it happens, I get a serious sense of satisfaction jamming sharp instruments into some dead guy’s junk. It’s quite therapeutic. Makes up for all the fucking assholes I have had to deal with my entire fucking life. And the money is nothing to sneeze at. Turns out there is a booming business for dead guy sperm.

As you might expect, there is no shortage of men who will happily jerk off into a cup at the local sperm bank. But those guys are all the same. MBA types who think they are god’s gift to humanity and want to spread their seed far and wide. I once visited a sperm bank to check out the competition. I needn’t have bothered. The men are all fucking boring ass douchebags who describe themselves as funny or laid back, and handsome and blah, blah, fucking blah. If that’s what you’re in the market for, Ernie and I aren’t who you call.

He and I specialize in retrieving samples from the men who don’t jerk off in cups if they jerk off at all. If you are looking to have a baby with more unique or rare characteristics, someone who doesn’t look like a fucking Ken doll just off the blond hair, blue-eyed assembly line at Mattel, Ernie and I probably have what you need. We retrieve samples from the recently dead, and we only bother with the healthiest and rarest of traits. And rare means you are going to pay a premium price. Ernie and I are wholesalers of the most premium sperm you are ever going to find. And tonight’s dead guy is the proverbial whale of dead guy sperm. And there was no fucking chance I was going to let this whale getaway.

I approach the double doors of the hospital at a slight angle. Ernie took out the light over the door with a stone on his attempt, so I don’t need to worry about illumination. I doubt anyone is monitoring the camera or can see anything without the light, but I am not taking chances. I keep my head down the better to blur my face if someone tries to review the footage later. I’m wearing clear surgical gloves, so I don’t have to worry about prints. Desecrating a dead body is illegal, and if I am caught, I’ll face a serious fine and maybe even some jail time, but the money I make from this enterprise makes that a risk worth taking. My last job was as a fucking barista, and I’d rather extract sperm from a corpse than go back to the counter at Starbucks.

I try to remain relaxed and carefree as I reach the door. I’m supposed to look like a doctor, but I doubt the act would fool anyone watching. Ernie said this was an emergency door, which explained why it had taken him a lifetime to pick the lock and get it open. He ran out of the building so fast I am worried it is locked again, so I am relieved to feel it move as I pull on the handle. But the hinges are rusty, and the door protests loudly as the metal on metal sets off a loud, sharp screech as I open the door. The sound seems to echo forever in the cold evening air. I step inside, the door screeches shut, and I am immediately doused in darkness. The only visible light is the faint red of the emergency exit sign above my head. I stand still and try and acclimate to the environment. It does me no good. Other than the electrical hum of equipment and the HVAC, I don’t hear a thing.

I’m not easily spooked, but I can understand why Ernie was rattled. I haven’t been in this hospital before, but there is something off about the space. The air feels dank and clammy, and stale. And while I can hear the electrical hum of the building, it seems that there is not a single piece of equipment still plugged in because there isn’t a trace of light in the space ahead. It is pitch fucking black. And me without a flashlight. Fucking Ernie. I don’t even have a phone on the chance I get picked up.

I debate whether to head back outside to get a light, but time is ticking, and if I go out now, Ernie will never let me live it down. Fucking Ernie.

There’s nothing for it except to pad ahead in the darkness. The good news is that I am clearly and unquestionably alone. I stick to the middle of the corridor since hospitals are notorious for abandoning crash carts and other equipment along the walls. As I pass the first door, I’m relieved to see a bit of moonlight shining through the window. Only three more doors to go. The second room appears to be dressed like the first. So far, so good.

As I reach the third room, I hear what sounds like a tray crashing to the ground in the corridor ahead of me. I let out a short yip of terror and crouch down like a sprinter ready to bolt off the start line. The sound of tools clattering echoes and is quiet. I strain to hear into the darkness ahead, but it is quiet again. I debate what to do. It was probably just a rodent or some other pest. I need to get this sample, and I will be damned if I will let some mouse scare me and send me running. I’m not fucking Ernie.

I calm my breathing and start forward again. It’s slow going, but I eventually reach the fourth door. This is it. This is the freezer room. There are no windows and no signs of light. Great, just fucking great. I take a small step forward and inadvertently kick some kind of tool with my toe. It is a light kick but apparently strong enough to send the tool sliding across the floor like a puck into the wall beyond. It stops with a clang. My heart is pounding now. My brain is screaming at me to run. But I don’t. It was probably fucking Ernie who knocked those tools when he ran out of here. It was fucking Ernie’s carelessness that I am paying for now. Still, I don’t want to kick any more tools, so I crouch down and feel around on the floor in front of me. There aren’t any more that I can find.

I stand up and consider what to do. The freezer should be along the left wall, so I decide to push forward towards the left. I take slow tentative steps, trying to slide each foot along the floor as I go. I eventually reach the far wall. It’s made of stainless steel and cold to the touch. I grope for the handle on one of the square doors. My hand eventually finds it, and I give it a pull. It opens silently, and thank god, the freezer compartment has a light that illuminates a tiny sliver of space around me. I cast my eyes around the room, trying to confirm that I am alone. There are eerie shadows cast by the freezer door. I really, really need to get the sample and get the fuck out of here.

I don’t know which locker the body is in, so I start opening each door along the middle row. I leave the doors open to try and improve the lighting of the space around me. I eventually find what I am looking for in the second last locker on the far side. The room has grown brighter, but the cold air from the freezer has caused some misting in the space around me. It’s like a smoke machine has been turned on; the air is hazy, but at least I can see.

I grab the steel bar of the board the body is lying on and give it a yank. The board rolls on its casters out of the freezer and into the empty space. The body is covered with a blue sheet, and I stare at it for a full minute before touching it. I don’t see any movement. I curse Ernie for getting in my head.

I reach forward and pull back the sheet covering the lower half of the body. Whoever the dead guy was, he was fit. His pecker and balls have been shaved but have constricted in death. Shrinkage indeed. I bend forward, put down my bag, unfasten the hasp, and draw out the equipment I need for the procedure. I stand up only to find that the blue sheet is re-draped and covering the body. What the fuck.

I grab the blue sheet and yank it up again to reveal the lower extremities. I take a breath to steady my nerves, reach forward with one hand to grab the dead guy’s scrotum and with my other hand, jam the needle down hard.

As soon as the needle lands home, I hear a bloodcurdling scream all around me. It’s like a wailing siren that shatters my eardrums and sends me skittering back in terror. I don’t have time to think. I turn and start running, only to hit one of the open freezer doors behind me. It grazes my stomach and knocks me sideways and onto the floor. The light casts long shadows, but as I try and recover, I see the blue sheet drift to the floor. I look up and see the body, only it isn’t lying flat anymore but upright. The head starts to pivot at the neck, and now it is my turn to let out a scream. I twist my torso to get to my feet. I’m moving in a hurky jerky fashion like a squirrel trying to evade a lumbering dog. Only the dog is a fucking corpse, and it is still wailing, the sound hitting me in waves.

I finally make it to my feet and just manage to make the door out to the hallway when I feel something grab my ankle. I don’t have time to look, but I can feel the icy coldness through my pant leg and sock. I scream again and kick at whatever has my foot to break free. It seems to work because I am back on my feet and moving down the hallway knocking over trays and carts as I veer for the red exit sign at the end of the corridor. The wailing and screaming hasn’t stopped. Another hand grabs me, this time around my throat. I lash out blindly in the dark, but there is nothing there. I just have to keep moving. I have to get the fuck out of here.

I finally make it to the door and push on the handle. It won’t budge. The wailing is getting louder again. It’s almost on top of me now. I smash my shoulder into the door. On the third attempt, it finally breaks open, and I can see the car and Ernie sitting inside. I set out at a run, never daring to look back behind me. I don’t know what it is, but I am not going to wait to find out. I make it to the car, yank open the door and jump in. I am yelling at Ernie to drive.

He’s got his girly mag out and his pecker in his hand, but he doesn’t need to be told twice. He turns on the ignition, puts the car in drive, and races out of the lot.

“What the hell Molly,” he says after we are safely on the road.

I don’t answer him. I’m still trying to process what happened. I stare down at my hands only to realize I still have the needle. Only it has a piece of flesh protruding from the tip like a hunk of meat on a Shish Kabob skewer.

I look over at Ernie, whose eyes are fixed on the needle.

“What the hell Molly,” he says. He shifts uncomfortably, trying to adjust himself. I smile.

“It’s like I always tell you Ernie. If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. Let’s go have a beer.”