11 | Description

description/1a: discourse intended to give a mental image of something experienced.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition

I helped my wife clean up the mess in the garage. The blood was up on the wall at least six or seven feet. My wife used a broom to get it washed off the wall. The body was lying with the feet near [a car stop ledge], and the head right near the leg of the saw table. As I moved the saw table to clean, blood kept flowing out from under the table. This happened each time I moved the table. We eventually got the mess cleaned up. The flies were starting to gather, and the blood was getting smelly. I didn’t know Duane very well, we built a fence together, this one (pointing), and he and I got along well together.
Ross Hobby, 1973

When we arrived at the house with Doug’s sisters late that afternoon, the ambulance was in the driveway. The cop out front said move on, can’t you see there’s been a tragedy here? Lynn’s boyfriend told him we were family and he waved us to the curb.

The house teemed with cops, and Betty’s kitchen counters were sooty from fingerprint powder. Duane took us on a tour of the ransacked bedrooms upstairs. Then he sat us at the dining room table. When they found Betty’s body he’d sent Greg to the Hobbys next door for help. Stay out of the garage, he said. The case file says why.

The ambulance beat the deputy coroner to the scene. He stopped the crew from rolling Betty’s body over and tracking through the blood in the garage. Spatter had traveled fifteen feet to the ceiling. An Air Force vet, the deputy coroner thought she’d had been shot in the head with a large caliber rifle or a shotgun. As the sun set, cops crawled the backyard looking for shotgun wadding. Doug and I got on our knees and helped them search.

The next morning Betty was autopsied. The autopsy report says her mock turtleneck blouse was soaked with blood. The front of her shorts, upper thighs and bare feet were covered with dirt from the garage floor. Her arms and face were crusted with blood, and a large amount of it clung to her shoulder-length blond hair. Her head had two deep wounds, one a semicircle and the other star-shaped. Bone was driven into her brain. Both eyes were blackened. She was bludgeoned, choked on her own blood, and bled to death.

After Betty’s body was washed, it was photographed. She looked more like a teenage girl than a 44-year-old mother of four. When I saw her on that metal table decades later, the weight of her death truly hit.

Can words capture the indescribable?

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