I REMOVED THE sheet covering the cadaver and tried not to focus on the overall appearance of the deceased. This was not quite a routine post mortem: the dead man was the husband of a colleague in the public hospital – this hospital – where I worked. My colleague, Barbara, is a good doctor. I had not had the opportunity to offer her my sympathy on the sudden death of her husband. She hadn’t yet returned to work following the shock.
He had died in his office in the large government department where he was deputy secretary. He was fifty-nine. There had been no warning: he had seemed in good health, hadn’t complained of pains or anything physically amiss. I had actually met him a couple of times. Canberra is a small town and it was simply good luck that had prevented me from opening up a dead neighbour, a tradesperson I’d dealt with, an acquaintance from the tennis club. This was a first for me. My task was to establish the cause of death. Foul play was not suspected.
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