Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Affairs of the stomach.

Today I took the opportunity to research the word "norovirus". I had plenty of time to learn about this viral affliction because I'm suffering from the very symptoms the classification describes. In fact I've had multiple bouts of suffering in the last six months that fall neatly under this category. This is, I believe, a function of Baby E. being in daycare. I recently described his "home-away-from-home" as a Petri Dish, and I feel it was an apt way to explain its effects- both on my son and my entire family. I can only hope that my body's immune system will develop some lasting resistances to the contagions that cause the norovirus. I've certainly had plenty of exposure to them.

Anyway, I also had a chance to read the paper for the first time in months. I generally don't make any effort to look at the local dailies, but cabin fever will do wonders for one's curiosity about the external world. So I quickly scanned the front page "news" items about the horrid state of the economy, and the nation's current prognosis. None of that was especially novel or insightful, and I found myself digging deeper and engaging page two. Here I discovered a particularly compelling story that seemed somehow appropriate to my current condition. I can't say I've ever experienced anything exactly like I read there, but still I can't help feeling like its somehow reflective of what's been happening in my stomach.

Apparently the actual event that precipitated the news coverage happened last August. It only reached our local outlets once again because of a "not guilty" plea registered in court by the perpetrator of a singularly heinous act. Vincent Li has apparently retracted his previous admission, which involved taking responsibility for the beheading and cannibalization of a 22-year old carnival worker on a Greyhound bus heading to Winnipeg, Manitoba. According to Li's account, God commanded him to kill Tim McClean because the victim was a "force of evil", who would have come back to life had he not been dissected. The defense psychiatrist in the case is arguing that Li is a schizophrenic who was not "criminally responsible" for his actions.

The tale is a particularly grisly one. According to the accounts of fellow passengers, Li began stabbing McClean in what appeared to be a random fashion, as the victim was snoozing and listening to headphones. The bus pulled over and all the non-combatants began hastily exiting the bus. At that point McClean tried to escape through a window and Li attempted to escape through the front, only to be stopped when the closing door caught his arm. Reportedly enraged by being trapped, Li extricated himself and proceeded to decapitate McClean, before finally depositing the head in plain view on the driver's seat for the edification of the witnesses outside the bus.

When police finally arrived at the scene and arrested Li, they discovered a plastic bag containing body parts in his pocket. Upon examination of the grisly scene, investigators were unable to locate McClean's eyes and approximately one-third of his heart, and thus came to the conclusion that Li had employed cannibalism as a means of disposal. This little touch introduces a particularly disquieting element into the event. I'm not suggesting that there aren't a lot of other disturbing things about this tragedy, but the fact that this guy was able to engage in his abhorrent feast while a little crowd of onlookers gazed on haplessly... that frankly astounds me. I can't presume to speculate on the quality of that experience, but I can say that reading about it is a bit sickening.

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