The coroner was a tenacious man. There was just something about the years he’d spent in the field. They’d changed him. In almost imperceptible ways, but the evidence was there. Some say his skills were sharpened, but as he sat their pouring syrup over the cadaver of Mrs. Wilhelmina Bubbleplumber… Others thought he was just plain nuts.
“Boy!” his voice echoed across the autopsy table. “Hand me the scalpel. We might have to go in…”
“But sir, why? She’s clearly dead from carrot inhalation.” He brushed the green stalks emerging from her nose softly. Nearly half of her Majesty’s kingdom had gone the same way. They’d passed out fliers. Spread the message of the dangers of carrot addiction via the town crier. They’d even posted it on Spider webs from town crier to town crier, but it seemed to be of no use. “Sir, there’s nothing more to see here.”
“Then turn up the gas lamps, boy,” Dr. Hatchery exclaimed with a twinge of exasperation in his voice. “Who could see anything in this damnable dim lighting. Ah, what I wouldn’t give for electric lights even though they’re not invented yet.” The Doctor ran his fingers through his thick greasy hair. Salt and pepper fell onto the table.
“Doctor! You’re contaminating Mrs. Bubbleplumber!”
“Gah!” he exclaimed pulling his toupee from his head. “Dear heavens, boy! Why the fuss?”
“Sir, you were dropping condiments on the body again.”
“Well, what’s wrong with that? I told you she was well-seasoned in life. Why not now??”
The Coroner’s Understudy pinched the bridge of his nose. “Sir?” he let out in an exasperated sigh, “Can we continue with the autopsy, please?”
“And so we should!” he chumbled as he replaced his hair. “Why are you always distracting me so?”
“She needs attention, sir. And now she’s covered with syrup…” he looked at the Doctor with the blandest look a person could possibly summon. “Sir, she’s died from carrot inhalation. And now she’s covered with syrup… Why? Just why?”
The old man placed a well-worn pair of spectacles on his nose. “Because that wasn’t what killed her, my boy!”
“But sir…” the Coronorer’s Understudy began.
“No sir! See if she had died from carrot inhalation – like the rest who were suffering from fuzzy bunny feet syndrome -, she’d be wearing slippers akin to these!” He held up a foot with a fuzzy bunny slipper.
The Coroner’s Understudy’s gasp was hushed.
“No no, my boy,” the Doctor fairly purred while petting a slipper. “These are really just quite so comfortable. I came away with these from a late-night Town-crier-fomercial. Wonderful purchase. But no! She does not have the slippers. This, my boy, is…” he paused and turned to the camera that was not there. “Murder. Dun-dun-duuuuun.”
“I really worry about you, sir. I really do,” the Coroner’s Understudy said as he grabbed a seat. A weak and weary sigh escaped as he sat. “Sir, what about the syrup?”
“Ah, I’m glad you asked, boy!” A sparkle appeared in his eye as he hopped towards the counter, grabbed the bottle, and with a flip and hop, spun it in the air and sat on the counter catching it in his hand. “You see…” he hopped down with bottle in hand. “She’s from our former property, Canada!”
“Former property, sir?”
“Yes. Didn’t we have English accents before? Well, we do now. Except for you, you’re Scottish. Say, haggis.”
The Coroner’s Assistant stared and replied wearily, “…haggis.”
“Very Scottish of you, wee laddie!” He extolled. Turning back to the body, “But you see, she’s a full-blooded Canadian! And if I’m not incorrect, she’ll respond in 5…4…3…”
At that moment, she sat bolt upright, “Gah! Soowwy. Didn’t mean to stawtle ya, eh?”
Unperturbed, the Doctor whacked her on the head with the bottle. “Don’t interrupt me. 2…1 and!” turning to the body, “Oh damn. Well, that’s that.”
“That’s what, sir.”
“She was dying from Syrup Withdrawal. All Canadians suffer this calamity much like Sailors at sea suffer Scurvy.”
“But Scurvy is real, sir. It’s well-documented in all the papers.”
A shocked look crossed the Doctor’s furrowed brow. “Papers?! Who needs papers? Or journals. Or pen pals?? Or Foreign exchange students?! Where was I going…”
“Scurvy and papers, sir.”
“Right! I am inestimably more trustworthy than any of those. Plus, I spent a semester abroad in Canada, so I should know.”
“Doesn’t that make you a Foreign exchange student, sir?”
“Of course not! I’m not foreign… But yes. No, she’s most definitely Canadian. But the real question is, ‘Who shoved the carrots up her nose?'”
Fatigued, the Coroner’s Understudy whispered, “I did.” Shouting now, “Did you hear me?! I did! I can’t stand being here any more! You’re a totally incompetent lug nut – even though I have no clue what that is – you are most definitely one! I’ve no idea why you’re here. Or why I am! Call the inspector to take me away! I cannot remain working these slabs for a second more!”
“You’re lying, my boy,” he said matter-of-factly.
A heavy, defeated sigh escaped. “Yes, sir.”
“Ha! Knew it. Now, remove my carrots and take the night off.”
“Your carrots, sir?”
“Never mind, Mr. Later. I’m going home with another case well-solved.” As he walked past his Coroner’s Understudy, he paused to straighten his lapel. “You know. We should really get you a name tag. Coroner’s Understudy is such a mouthful. How about we shorten it and then tag your name on it? How’s that sound??”
“C. U. Later, sir??”
“Quite right, my boy! See you later, too!” And with that the Doctor walked out into the stark daylight without, realized he became a coroner because he’s a vampire, and disappeared into a puff of ash. “Ah, the story of my life,” the ash pile said. “Oh well.” And blew away.