The Trickster Prince

Matt Houlbrook: mobile historian; beard growing, head shaving; occasional cycling.

History as / and pathology

Easton’s diagnosis reflected Tracy’s own description of symptoms and behaviors and his physical examination of the body’s exterior surfaces. The processes of scientific investigation were elaborated and intensified the day after Lucas was found when his body underwent post mortem examination by Doctor Eric Gardener at the Leatherhead Mortuary. It was 12.15 p.m. and the temperature in the room was sixty-nine degrees Fahrenheit. Gardener’s examination and his report both began ‘Externally.’ The left side of the deceased’s body was stained pink. First and second degree burns betrayed the circumstances of death and position in which he was found: ‘lobe of the Left ear, under the chin on the Left side (linear 2 inches long) the Left eyebrow, the back of both hands, and on the inner side of both legs between the knee and the ankle.’ Slowly and methodically Gardner’s attention shifted inwards — first to the ‘Head and Brain’ before moving lower to the ‘Abdomen.’ While he initially focused on what he could see through the body’s orifices and openings — the ‘excess of carbon’ found in the nose, glottis, and trachea — his scrutiny gradually became more invasive. He opened up Lucas’s body step by step, weighing the brain, nose, lungs, heart, stomach, intestine, liver, gall bladder, spleen, and kidneys and making careful notes of their appearance and condition. The stomach ‘Contained some fluid which smelt of whisky, which was very perceptible in the post mortem room to anybody coming in from outside.’ The spleen weighed 8 ounces. ‘Large, smooth, tense, and deeply engorged,’ it could be read as a pathological symptom of the cirrhosis Easton had diagnosed. Yet still Lucas resisted easy and definitive diagnosis: the kidneys were ‘Hard, engorged, but otherwise normal to the naked eye.’

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