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Typical Day

"Hey Dexter! Got a killer day ahead. Yeeee-haw, dude!"

Oh no, not again. Mortimer "Mort" DeBeaunyard pointedly ignores his police department colleague, Officer Gene Poole. Mort hunches lower in his chair, squinting at the latest Excel spreadsheet on blood types and splatter patterns at various crime scenes around town.

Mort and Gene are both stuck in the medical examiner's office for the day. It's 9am. They both knock off work at 5. Mort counts on his fingers. Eight more hours with this joker. Sometimes Mort fantasizes about Gene being stretched out on the autopsy table, and not this poor slob in the crime scene photo who looks like he had been bludgeoned to death.

Mort sighs.

Dexter.

One more joke about Dexter, TV's favorite, lovable, serial killer and crime scene blood pattern analyst, and Mort will explode—in anger, that is.

Yeah, so, Mort had majored in hematology (blood). He and Dexter share a skill (blood analysis), but they don't share a name. Mort is a forensic scientist, he does have a specialty in blood. But he does do other things. Like DNA analysis. Toxicology. Hey, he even does fiber analysis.

Does Dexter do that? N-o-o-o! Dexter kills in his spare time. Mort plays the oboe. But not very well, thank you very much.

Not that Mort has lots of spare time, he reminds himself. Oops. Mort looks at his watch (yes, he still has one). It's 10am. Time to say bye-bye to the spreadsheets, and it's off to the "autopsy atrium" (Mort likes to make up funny names for unfunny things). He's assessing the daily parade of horribles (that's "corpses" to everyone else).

The fifth-floor atrium has a faint odor of decay. Mort sees five corpses stretched out on tables. They're all victims of violent crimes, and it's "get acquainted time" for Mort and the stiffs. A clerk reads out the history of each corpse to the assembled multitude: pathologist, forensic scientists (like Mort), and a couple of cops (like Gene—yuck).

"Eighty-six-year-old woman found hanging from the rafters in attic. We think she's been dead for three days. Putrefaction has set in. Rope burns on her neck...."

Mort almost dozes off, and the clerk drones on and on about things like gunshot wounds, drug overdoses, knife wounds, blood splatters. Mort might be jaded, but not like that pathologist on duty now, Dr. Frank N. Furter, who blithely pokes the corpse's body cavity, checking for lividity, all without wearing protective gloves.

"Now that's the definition of blasé," Mort thinks.

Mort gets the gunshot victim to work on. "Thanks, Dr. Furter," Mort says to himself. There isn't much left of the gunshot victim's head—this is a 50-year-old man who weighs around 300 lbs, deadweight. First order of business: Swab the hands for gunshot residue. Next, Mort takes hair samples, something he always does in the case of suspected homicides. Swabs and hair he sends off to the lab for tests. Match hair to potential suspect? Match gun residue to possible murder weapon? Maybe Mort will luck out. "Forensic science is not an exact science, but hey, it tries," Mort thinks.

Next, Mort checks the victim's clothes for any holes that look like bullet holes. Mort sniffs in disdain. This dude is wearing a powder-blue leisure suit, slightly tattered, style 1979. He fingers the shoulder pads and finds a couple of holes. He looks closer. Naaw. Not bullet holes, just holes. That guy really needed new clothes. Mort cuts a square of the bloody jacket off and puts it in a plastic bag. This is for those snooty attorneys who might ask one day if the blood on the jacket is the victim's.

Mort checks his watch again. Sheesh, time flies when you're working the corpse detail. It's already 2pm. Time for lunch. Mort grabs a bite from the vending machine right next to the autopsy room, and heads off to the lab. Lots of blood samples to test, so little time.

Mort grabs test tubes from the autopsies and puts drops of blood on sterile cloth which will be frozen and stored for future DNA testing. Then it's on to gunshot residue swabs. Mort checks them for barium and antimony, stuff that's used in primer caps (think "guns"). Then it's on to fibers—this is true busy work for Mort—and he compares them to samples of victims' and suspects' clothing.

Mort grimaces. Gosh, everything is coming up inconclusive today. It's just one of those days.

And gosh, Mort thinks, he'll have to take a trip to a crime scene to examine the blood spatter pattern on the wall to see what may have been what. Gunshot from behind? In front? Two shooters. Three? None? ("Just a nosebleed?—just kidding," Mort says to himself). And today? He's got a couple more hours of writing up reports on the evidence.

"Hey, Dexter!"

Oh-no. It's Gene. Mort's blood pressure is shooting up, and his blood is boiling.

"Dex—way to go! The results just came back from those tests you ran on hair fibers in that double-murder case. We got the perp. Some astro-devil worshiper who slices and dices old ladies. You nailed it. Thanks, Dex."

Mort beams in spite of himself. He'll overlook the "Dexter" stuff for now. He'll forget about the long days, the often-creepy evidence he has to analyze—the crusty month-old underwear, nail clippings, blood-caked hair. He's one of the good guys. He helps bring the bad guys to justice.

By golly, he really loves this job.

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