Rumor was that lobotomies were executed here back in the 1950’s. The dark, cold basement smelled of dirt. Bare light bulbs hung dusty and used up. Jail-like cells lined the walls. Chains and padlocks dangled from the bars. Inside, stainless steel tables stood as a memorial to…God knows how many abandoned souls.
Twenty years later, six of us crowded around one table, scalpels in hand. We were pre-med students learning the art of cadaver dissection. In front of us lay a formaldehyde-soaked, hollow-eyed, gray-faced body, an unclaimed resident now prepared to serve in the name of science. Without consent.
Which body part would we dissect today? The ligaments of the hand, muscles of the face, the eight cranial nerves… a penis. The penis dissection was difficult for the guys, painful even, evident by their pale faces and shaking hands.
Nevertheless, we were a philosophical bunch. Dissecting bodies has a way of bringing up the big questions. We debated whether our interference, our dissection of these hapless human beings would suspend their transition from this world to the hereafter. We imagined that these disarded souls inhabited the very air we breathed. Even the atheists among us considered God for the first time. I mean seriously considered Him. “What God allows this to happen?”
During one bone-weary lull we listened for sounds from the recreation hall above. Not a footstep, not a voice. Silence. No one would have heard the screams when the most cantankerous among them were zapped into placid obedience. Without consent.
Bio: Dana Macy studied Philosophy & East-West Cultural Studies at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and earned
a Master of Communication degree from Utah State University. She is the author of Fragments of a Fragmented Life. She lives in Ojai, California with her
partner, their sweet Rottweiler, and a monster of a cat.