As Jimmy headed out into the hall and on to the next room, Joan, the head nurse that evening, bustled down the hall toward him, smiling as ever.
“I wish I loved my job as much as you,” Jimmy told her and then, tilting his head toward the man’s room, asked, “What do we know about him?”
“Oh God, Jimmy, that poor soul.” Joan shook her head, an excess of empathy as always for lost ones like the John Doe. “This gal spotted him leaning against a tree as she walked over the Franklin bridge on her way to get a cup of coffee with a friend at one of those shops along the avenue there, or maybe it was down Riverside, but that don’t matter.” Joan had a tendency to ramble, but she was always friendly. “She didn’t think anything of it, the EMTs said. Maybe he was just looking at the winter day, you know it was nice and bright this morning, and she had no reason to think he was in any sort of trouble, but when she went home an hour later and he was still just sitting there she called 9-1-1.”
No one was sure how long he’d been sitting there. “He was bundled up pretty well,” Joan said, “and it was long enough for the cold to burn his cheek a bit, but not long enough for frostbite. The real mystery though is why he’s out so deeply and before you go thinking it’s drugs, the doctor said his pupils dilated normally.” The John Doe hadn’t suffered any kind of physical trauma from an assault or a fall and the only marks on his body were the shallow tracks of fingernail scratches on his shoulderblades. “But those are just the bloodmarks of passion.” Joan smiled fondly, some fine memory rising in her mind’s eye. “I’d recognize them anywhere.”