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Causa Mortis

It never ceases to amaze me how much expense and effort is dedicated to the discovery of how and why one has left this world. Pathologists, medical examiners, and coroners have actually devoted their lives to the scrutiny of the carcasses of man. I suppose they may provide some measure of closure (both figuratively and literally) for the families of the deceased, but I think I can say with confidence that the manner of death itself is not a matter of much consequence to the cadaver on the slab.

The reason for one's end is never really a question by the time they are unmade in a morgue—their flesh peeled and carved; bones broken, cleaved and sawed apart; organs removed, weighed, measured, and dissected. I believe I have more than enough experience in such matters to state with reasonable certainty that the cause of death is always a heart that no longer beats, but maybe I'm oversimplifying just a bit. And even if one would like to take it a step further and find out what precisely stopped that heart? That too is usually fairly obvious. A fatality is rarely a spontaneous event, especially in cases of a beautiful, brutal demise.

Violent criminals have what is known as an MO—a modus operandi or "method of operation." It doesn’t usually change much from victim to victim, but we can be a slightly obsessive bunch, and like things perfect. So we tweak it until it’s just right. Think of it like a lasagna recipe that over time gets a smidge more garlic, basil, or oregano to enhance the final product. The coroner will designate the cause of death as lasagna, but will also examine that lasagna to determine the ingredients used. Then investigators try to determine how the recipe might have evolved from that chef's very first lasagna--a kind of reverse engineering. The hope is that they can learn something about the cook and his evolution in the process.

Sadly, most killers tend to be rather bland and uninventive and subsist on a strict diet of lasagna. I, on the other hand, enjoy a full repertoire—a nice extensive menu. It's far more interesting, and tends to keep my predators looking for a number of different cooks instead of just me. Of course, I have my favorites and specialties, but frankly, even the most spectacular dishes can get tiresome if that is all you are eating. And if I am being completely honest (and why shouldn't I be in my own blog), that is one of the reasons that most others in my "profession" are vastly inferior chefs.

So, a medical examiner savors my entrees and fills in the blanks. Cause of death: lobster stuffed beef tenderloin. Cause of death: chicken with avocado and roasted pepper cream. Cause of death: spinach and parsnip pasta (a personal favorite). Cause of death: honey-mustard glazed salmon. Cause of death: braised duck with mushroom.

Where I place my blade or blow is simply a pinch of saffron, my weapon a nice demi-glace. Hmmm, what shall we have for dessert?

But really, if death itself is no more than the failure of a heart to beat, and the cause of death is what compelled that heart to beat its last—would that not be me?

Yes, I think it would.

I am the cause of death.

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