Magdelana by William Buckel by William Buckel - Read Online

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Magdelana - William Buckel

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Chapter 1

Passing her sister, Kacey, in the auditorium Sara gave her a high five after both finished medical school on the same day. Their parents clapped and smiled like other proud parents in the huge hall. Sara was handed her diploma, nodded, and thanked the dean of the Los Angeles Medical School. She strode down the platform steps to meet her sister.

They hugged each other both mirror images of one another. They would have drawn attention anywhere else but not on this campus where they were both known as The Twins. They were five foot six, had a dark complexion, black hair, and brown eyes: courtesy of their Spanish parents. Their photos in the yearbook appeared to have been a mistake, duplicate pictures with different names under each.

That was where the similarity ended: In their appearance. Sara was the mild mannered bookworm who studied and scored top marks in her class while Kacey only managed to scrape by every year. Some said it was her father’s donations to the college that paid her way through and others claimed she passed due to her sister’s help.

Sara and Kacey drove their own cars home for the family celebration: Sara, her conservative Chrysler 300 sedan and Kacey, her Mustang. Their home was located in a classy section of a Los Angeles suburb where building lots sold for millions. Edwardo DeAngelo had a five acre estate with a two story white stucco mansion surrounded by lawns and gardens. The driveway and parking lots were made of brick with a round island garden in the middle. In the centre of island garden stood a stone carved image of St. Anne surrounded by four water fountains. Opposite the house sat a six car garage with a second level where the servants lived. A cement walkway between the buildings led to a four bedroom guest house, out of sight, hidden by trees.

The gathering at the main house was catered by one of the finest restaurants out of Los Angeles. Food had to be transported for two hours through heavy traffic then driven at breakneck freeway speeds to the hacienda.

Sara lacked the inclination to attend a large soiree although it was in her and her sister’s honor. She drove her Chrysler 300 toward the distant mountains feeling the breeze through the open windows. She would let Kacey soak up the limelight for a time: her sister was good at that. As a matter of fact her baby sis, by two minutes, was good at everything she did including squeezing through the finals without studying. Sara, The Bookworm, had to spend every moment of her free time to arm her grey matter with sufficient facts to pass, but pass she did. Sara finished in the top four of her class this year. In the top ten year after year.

She was already being canvassed by some of the top hospitals in the country to serve her internship with the so called best. Besides her medical studies she had taken a class in forensic science and pathology. She was intent on becoming a Medical Examiner then making her way into the law and order field. She had already signed for a course in psychology that would qualify her as a profiler if one of the crime fighting organizations saw fit to select her. She was not about to spend her life hacking at bodies and working sixteen hour days.

Kacey as usual had the world in the palm of her hand. Through father she had already been assured of an internship at a clinic specializing in plastic surgery. Kacey had joked that her life would be dedicated to the molding of bigger breasts and longer penises: perhaps she was serious. With Kacey one never knew. She was a wild one.

Sara turned into a gas bar to fill the tank. She was still dressed in her black graduation attire and looked as out of place as a cornhusk in a turnip patch. A dozen Harleys stood around picnic tables where old versions of what used to be referred to as Flower Children, soaked up the sun staring at her. They sold out: Trashed their peace slogans trading them for a pinstriped suit. Now they were back trying to fulfill an impossible dream: Freedom on the open road.

While she was filling the tank she thought about how angry her mother would be at her being late. Consuela oozed with pride and demanded respect to such a degree that after Sara had fulfilled that requirement there was nothing left to give like love. An odd thought to have at a gas bar dressed in a graduation uniform with people looking on. She had respect for her mother yet no love.

Her father was Kacey’s most ardent admirer. He worshipped the ground she walked on to a point where Consuela, his wife, would stare laser beams at the pair. Sara did have to admit that if two people were ever to go through life together it was her dad and her sister. It was as though they floated instead of walked when they were together. They appeared to be like a pair of finches at fountain splashing in the water then chasing each other through the bushes: nothing inappropriate, only the love between father and daughter. After pouring his heart and soul into Kacey there was nothing left for Sara. Oh, he gave Sara a peck on the cheek in the morning with the same intensity and affection he patted the head of Mango, his dog.

The thought that entered Sara’s mind came to her as a breeze ruffled her hair and that instant she realized that her life was about to drastically change. From this day forward she would be self sufficient and her future or lack thereof lay within her grasp. Sara was standing in the open in front of her car, the born again Hippies still staring. She felt liberated, unbuttoned her graduation attire and stepped out of it. They hooted and clapped. She did have slacks and a blouse under it all. She laughed then threw the unwanted garments onto the rear seat.

Sara pulled her wallet out of the centre console and paid the attendant. At the road she glanced both ways: Right lay the mountains and left was the road home. She turned left knowing she had the whole summer to cruise where she wanted. Mother had to be appeased. Sara already knew a lecture was coming based on the words,

Who do you think paid for your education?

Sara parked her car near the garage with the front end facing the road. A quick getaway was on her mind. Nibo the chauffer saw her and made a slicing motion across his throat with his forefinger. She laughed.

I know I’m in shit.

He smiled and nodded.

Sara entered the front door and immediately greeted guests. Mom was approaching like a freight train with the most grotesque scowl on her face. She grasped Sara’s arm and pulled her into the study.

How could you? All the preparations we’ve made and you saunter in at the last moment, not a care in the world. Who do you think paid for all of this? Your education included. Respect is all I ask. For one day. One day. Would it have killed you to be on time? Oh…

Consuela turned her back holding her head as though the dramatic affair was going to be the end of her. Sara already knew what would happen next.

Sorry Mom. I ran out of gas.

Her mother turned then tossing a hand in the air said,

I give up.

Sara mouthed the words as they were being spoken.

She left the study after giving her mother a minute to get underway and out of the way. When she entered the dining room Kacey stood near her father laughing. Sara mouthed,


It only made her sister laugh harder. Kacey had spent a lifetime getting her mother fired up at Sara. It was part of Kacey’s master plan to dominate the family scene. After today she could have them all to herself. Kacey would stay home while finishing her internship. Sara wanted to cut loose. The party turned into a drinking affair and taxis had to be called to usher guests home. Some stayed in the guest house and drank until they passed out. Both Kacey and her father were drunk as Edwardo raced through the house with his favorite daughter mounted on his shoulder. Sara’s mother looked on like a high school principal at a dance. One could see disapproval on her face but then one always could. Sara eyed the proceedings one last time then started up the stairs to her bedroom. Her mother caught her at the third step.

Are you not going to stay until the guests leave?

Look Mom, I’m not staying up with a bunch of drunks. They’ll be at it till dawn.

You have a duty to family. Your sister knows it.

My sister is stoned. Her only duty is to herself.

Why can’t you be more like Kacey?

Because I’m not her. I’m going to bed.

Sara, you lacked the respect to humor me for even one day. Oh… I give up.

There were no further objections so she walked up to her room. A long needed shower awaited her then she slid into bed and was asleep in the blink of an eye.

Chapter 2

Marissa the house maid burst into the room.

Get up bunny, there’s a call for you. I’ll put it through to your room.

Sara sat on the edge of her bed waiting for the phone to ring. When it did she answered,

Sara here. What can I do for you?

Are you the Sara DeAngelo that put in for time with the Coroner’s office in Los Angeles?

Yes I am. I’m to be a Medical Examiner this September.

Well lady your tour of duty’s been bumped up a little. You start today, right now. The summer road kill has already peaked and we need all the help we can get.


Give me your address?

Twenty-two Courtney, near Rubin Plaza…

Got it. I know where it is. I’ll be there to pick you up in half an hour. Show you the ropes.

Sara hit the shower then dressed in slacks and a blouse and threw on a light jacket. She sat on a bench near the front steps and waited. Minutes later a white Coroner’s sedan drove up the lane and stopped. There was a dent in every fender and a couple on the front bumper. A tall red haired man wearing scrubs got out and slowly turning stared at every inch of the place. His brows were raised as he gave a low whistle. He eyed Sara nodding in approval then said,

Your place? You’re going to need more than an intern’s pay to keep it up.

My father’s worry, not mine. I’m Sara.

She waited for him to introduce himself but instead he got back in the car and gestured for her to get in. She opened the door which growled, threatening to fall off. It took three tries to slam it shut while the vehicle was already on the move. She snapped on her seatbelt grabbing the door handle as he left the premises with a squeal of the tires. She was in the car for three minutes tops and already knew he was responsible for every single dent in the sedan.

So what do I call you, if I may be so bold as to ask?

Name’s Harry. Sure is a nice place you live in. Wished my old man had a joint like that. He lives near LAX, the airport. Noisy but the rent’s low.

So Harry is there a last name? In case I need to get a hold of you.

Harry Klein. I think it’s Dutch or something.

Sara gave Harry Klein a quick once over: he appeared to be in his thirties, thin, and would have been handsome had it not been for his red hair and pasty skin. It looked as though she was going to have to extract information from him a piece at a time. He was not volunteering.

So Harry, what are we doing and where are we going? Can you fill me in a little, please?

Oh yeah, well, we’re going to the Coroner’s office on Fifteen Elmont Street. To the basement. We have a couple of autopsies to do. The paperwork as well. I’ll show you how.

So you’re my boss? Isn’t there any paperwork for me to fill in?

No. I processed all I needed from your application. All I need is a couple of signatures and you’re on the payroll as of 9 a.m. this morning.

As the traffic got heavier so did Harry’s foot. He was like a boxed in race car driver: his right foot shooting from the gas pedal to the brake and back again. After learning the route she would drive her own car from now on. She had already decided to take a taxi home. This guy looked as though he created half the work for the local emergency ward.

It was like a scene out of a gangster movie as Harry swung right into an alley barely wide enough for his car. It resembled a cave, laundry hanging between buildings on the upper levels blocking out the sun. An old man yelled four letter obscenities after the sedan knocked over a garbage can, Harry grunting in disapproval. Finally the world opened up revealing a parking lot. He shot through it then swore when a spot labeled Coroner’s Office Parking Only, had a blue pickup truck jammed in the spot. He parked near a fence beside a No Parking, sign. On the way by the blue truck he ran his keys down the side leaving an ugly scar.

Sara followed Harry to the building and down a flight of stairs to a basement entrance. She shuddered after the door was opened and stepped into what she believed had to be a freezer. A secretary sat near the door filing papers. She gazed at Sara in surprise as she and Harry walked past her.

Hey Stella, long time no see.

Sara turned in mid stride and waved hello then said in a low voice,

Me Sara, You Stella.

Stella laughed then shrugged her shoulders. Sara ran to catch up to Harry.

Funny girl, he said.

A technician was in the process of loading two bodies onto tables in preparation for autopsies.

The washroom’s over there, he pointed then added, Get into scrubs then glove up, double pair, and join me here at cadaver number one.

The technician was in the process of taking photos.

Hey boss. I need to get these shots to the boys in blue for identification purposes. It’s not going to be of much help. Car crash at the same speed you drive, Harry. Not much left of their faces.

Harry grunted but did not raise his eyes from the report he was reading.

The technician smiled at Sara.

My name’s Ken Waters.

Hey Ken, I’m Sara DeAngelo.

Is that like Sara of the Angels, in English?

You got me Ken.

Although Sara knew it was something similar, loosely translated, she did