No words were spoken as he nonchalantly threw two pictures on the table in front of me. Sensing that the pictures were of something I didn’t want to see, I looked away. Calmly, he told me to look at them. All the other officers watched eagerly, as if they were back in university wanting to learn something.

He’s the professor, they’re the students, and I’m just a prop.

He leaned into me and told me again to look at the pictures. I whimpered, “No.” Deep inside, I knew these pictures were of my father’s body. I didn’t want to see my father dead. With a deep breath to calm myself, I closed my eyes.

In one swift motion, the detective backhanded my hat off and grabbed a handful of my hair. Jerking my head back, he leaned in close to me and whispered in my ear, “I told you to look at the pictures.”

My entire body was so numb I couldn’t feel the pain of my hair being pulled from my skull.

Gradually, I opened my eyes and stared at him. My voice was trembling, and my jaw shook. “I don’t want to look at the pictures.” As slow as the sun goes down, I closed my eyes again, and took a sluggish. Then an unexplainable tranquility entered my body, as if I had made peace with God.

The investigator let go of my hair.

“Why won’t you look at the fucking pictures?”

“I don’t wanna have nightmares for the rest of my life because of some photos you made me look at.”

“Are you scared of what you will see?

Under my breath, I replied, “Yes.”

He shouted at me like a sergeant in the army trying to motivate his troops. “Look at the goddamn pictures! Look at what you’ve done!”

Eyes closed, I blocked out everyone in the room and sat in the silence of my mind. There was a slight pause, and then the investigator grabbed the hair on the back of my head again. “I told you to look at the fucking photos!” His bottomless voice made the hair on my neck stand as he forced my face directly at the pictures. My eyes were now clenched shut. In a quick motion, the investigator slammed my face into the table, smashing my nose into my skull. I opened my eyes and had a second to glance at the pictures before the investigator lifted my head off the table and slammed my face once again into the hard wooden surface. This time I dipped my chin so my forehead hit the table, and a loud bang echoed in the room. Pulling my hair tightly with bothhands, the investigator held my head six inches from the photos. With watering eyes, I finally took a long look at what I didn’t want to see.

I can’t remember any sounds or any actions. I can’t remember the feeling of my hair being ripped from my scalp. I just remember the images slowly chiseling themselves into my brain. I was hollow with no feeling as my father’s lifeless, naked body lying in the dead animal pit registered. It looked so pale and cold. He lay there on his back, facing me, with no expression. I felt so helpless. I wanted to reach out and save him. No breath entered my body and my mouth dried up. I had tasted death for the first time.

The investigator let go of my head. I lifted it up, almost dizzy. There was no life left in me. The grim reaper had taken my soul. I looked right through the officers as if they were nonexistent. Everything seemed one-dimensional.

The investigator lightly slapped my face. “Hey!” he yelled to break me out of my trance. I looked up at him. “Do you have anything to tell me?”

I could barely reply. “No.”