Henry the Corpse
by Andreas Economakis
One day when I was a kid I went for a walk in the old abandoned rock quarries by my dad’s house in Athens. I came across a neatly wrapped white package, about the size of a cigarette box. It was so perfectly taped and pristine white that it instantly grabbed my attention. I picked it up and started unwrapping it. I’m not sure what I expected to find. It was certainly something of value, or it wouldn’t have been packaged so carefully, so meticulously.
The inner part of the package was carefully covered in gauze. I felt something solid and at the same time soft on the inside. As the last piece of the gauze came free I found myself holding a slightly decayed severed finger. I stared at it unbelieving. When it finally occurred to me what I was holding, I dropped it the way someone drops a scalding pot they have accidentally picked up. My body shuttered and I felt ill, a deep nausea reeking havoc from my stomach all the way through my neck and up to my eyeballs. I turned and ran as fast as I could. I imagined Satan’s hounds chasing me out of the quarries, sharp, slimy teeth snapping, nipping, slicing at my legs. I barely made it home in one piece.
As the years rolled by I forgot about the finger, though a deep-rooted fear of severed limbs and detached body parts remained imbedded in my subconscious. I avoided thinking about chopped or damaged body parts. That all changed when my girlfriend Lisa started medical school. Lisa’s severed limb and damaged body stories became more and more gruesome as the days and semesters rolled by. At first there were the high trauma cases from the emergency room she frequented, images of dangling limbs, bashed-in faces, small clean bullet holes, overdosed teenagers and prostitutes with needles broken off in their bruised arms. To the wide-eyed crowd that were Lisa’s and my friends, these tales were like gasoline to the imagination, fuel to creativity and opinion, an apotheosis of our general belief that society had gone to hell and we were all scavengers in a right-wing, conservative, out-of-our-control chaos. Okay, maybe that was my opinion back then. Mostly, the stories were gory imagery to image-starved minds. I listened transfixed, a reaction akin to looking at a fresh car wreck on the side of the highway.
None of Lisa’s body part stories was more amazing to me than the one of Henry. Henry was the corpse that was assigned to Lisa and 3 other med students in her anatomy class. I pictured a cold, Stanley Kubrikesque room with 15 or so naked corpses in various states of aposynthesis on chrome metal tables, white and green-clad youngsters hunched over them like curious birds, touching, poking and cutting them open under the pulsating neon light. Black blood tricked down polished metal grooves into clean orange buckets. Everything was geometrical, emotionless. Indeed, I wasn’t too off in my imagination, as Lisa confirmed many of the props in her class.
At the beginning of the term the university provided every four students in the class with a fresh, recently deceased corpse. These cadavers were mostly older in age, the youngest one being about 40 or so. Cold and stiff men and women were laid out on metal tables, under bright neon lights. As the semester progressed, the students cut open, dissected and pulverized the portions of their cadaver that corresponded to the subject they were currently studying in class. They started with the head, sawing open the skull and pulling out the brain, Hamlet-style. The brain was then chopped up into little pieces and examined under a microscope, Freud style. I think all the pieces that were examined were placed into some sort of orange bag or container that was kept along with the remainder of the corpse in the refrigerators that the bodies were stored in during off hours. Not a single piece of the body was left untouched, the hungry scalpels and saws of the eager-beaver students slicing and dicing every inch of the poor cadaver’s body.
Lisa and her 3 classmates named their corpse Henry. Naming corpses is a tradition for med students, kind of like adolescent boys naming their penises. Speaking of Dick Cheney, evidently Henry was hung like Godzilla, something which attracted the envy of all the other students who obviously had to cut open less well endowed stiffs (pun intended). Nary a day went by that I didn’t hear about Henry’s amazing schlong. Indeed, I think I developed some sort of jealous paranoia of Henry. I mean, how could I possibly compete with a dead man’s willie?
I wondered if penises grow after one dies, like nails and hair. Probably not. But then again, what does it matter to someone who’s already hung like John Holmes or Gousgounis (the Greek John Holmes) or Tom Jones. A friend once told me that she had slept with a famously well-endowed celebrity and that he was a lousy lover at best, despite his huge member. I’ve heard this from other folks who’ve been with guys with large johnsons. Did these modern day Dirk Digglers miss the lesson that the motion of the ocean is as important (if not more important) than the size of the ship? (ever notice how guys with small peckers keep using the “it’s not the size of the ship” saying?)
Kidding aside, I know that Henry satisfied Lisa in ways I simply could not. Henry satisfied her scientific curiosity, her medical mind. One thing is certain: there was a lot of penis to cut into when the lesson on genitalia finally came around. The other students looked at Lisa’s stiff with envy. Lisa came home that night all smiles. As usual she had that sickly sweet smell of formaldehyde on her. She sat on the couch and rolled a cigarette, telling me all about her amazing day with Henry’s super-sized dong. I tried to control my jealous feelings.
As I pondered how a morbidly jealous lover should respond to such a barrage, my eyes caught sight of something pinkish-brown and fresh-looking on Lisa’s Doc Marten boot. I leaned in for a better look but could not make out what it was. I pointed at the object and asked Lisa what was on her shoe. She looked down and burst out laughing. “Ha! That’s a piece of Henry’s penis!” I ran to the bathroom all dizzy and nauseous while Lisa picked off the piece with a napkin. Henry had forever invaded my life. My nightmares of severed limbs and dissected penises would haunt me ever more.
This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.
Copyright © 2010, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.
For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.