“Doctor, how do you expect me to take you seriously? It can’t be who you say it is.” Nurse Anna Kuznetsov declared. “It’s the year 1955, was he not supposed to have died nearly ten years ago to-the-day and in such a fashion as to leave no trace of his body?”
Doctor Yahontov acquired a stance of thoughtfulness, poised next to the hospital bed. His professionalism and calm demeanour extinguished the nurse’s outburst like a candle dropped into a deep, bluey-green, Arctic Ocean.
“Anna,” he said, slipping his hand into his tweed slacks’ pocket, “look at the face. Tell me you don’t recognise him.”
“But Doctor Yahontov, after all, it’s possible this may be someone else with an uncanny yet fleeting resemblance.”
“Lift the bedclothes up a little, here.” With his hand still buried in his trouser pocket, the doctor pushed a finger against the cotton inner lining, forming a shape that protruded in the direction of where he wanted the nurse to lift the sheet. The nurse followed his instructions.
“Now, slide your hand through, underneath the covers until your fingers are in contact with the upper inguinal region.”
“The upper inguinal region?” The nurse flustered for a moment, causing her cheeks to blush.
“The groin, Nurse Kuznetsov.”
As if bitten by a venomous snake, the nurse sharply withdrew her hand.
“The skin!” she cried, “Doctor, his skin is so very icy cold!”
“This is because the body has recently been removed from a cryogenically preserved state and is thawing slowly, at room temperature. ” The doctor allowed himself a small smile to break loose across his face. “Still, you really don’t believe your very own eyes, do you?” In response, the nurse shook her head in an assured fashion. “Then, in that case I suggest you place your hand back under the sheet and relocate the patient’s upper inguinal region.”
This time, the nurse resigned herself to the extreme coldness of the partially frozen skin and with her hand in the correct location, looked again, across to the doctor expectantly.
“Right, now cup your hand around the patient’s scrotum and tell me how many testes you can count.”
“This is most unusual.” The nurse hesitated, shaking her head, causing the doctor to wonder if she might pull her hand away for a second time.
“Nurse, count the patient’s testes. The exercise will not take long to complete.”
As her fingers searched, her gaze met and stayed with the doctor. The nurse blinked several times, indicating the moment she felt the saggy ball-sack. Biting the left half of her lower lip, she utilised each digit on her right hand to feel around blindly.
“O-n-e …” she whispered slowly. “Hmm, that’s very odd. Hang-on, let me try again.”
Doctor Yahontov released another expression of kindly enjoyment, suggesting – what up to now – had been his secret admiration for the ward subordinate.
“There is no need, Anna. You won’t find any more.”
“He only has one bollock?”
“Yes Anna, he lost the other one.”
“The same as – “
“Precisely.” The doctor said in a triumphant tone.
“You mean to say …” Nurse Kuznetsov’s voice faltered as the truth dawned, “the man, laid before us, the man who’s teste I hold in my right hand, this is Adolf Hitler?”
©Brinkinfield “The Ekphrasis Series”