(Weybridge), Surrey, England, 1986 It was a cold, dreary afternoon in southeast England. “What a God-awful, pathetic sight,” the tall blond man in green scrubs said as he and his assistant watched an emaciated, black and white cow lying on the ground panting. The holding pen smelled of wet straw and manure. It was drizzling and the cow was covered with mud. She looked confused as she tried to stand up, only to slide and fall again. The tall man wiped his brow and said, “All right, let’s put her out of her misery. Abdullah, euthanize her and take her inside for an autopsy, chop-chop.” Abdullah replied, “We’ll put her down and cart her inside, Sir.” Abdullah waited until Hitchings went inside and then got to work. He called to one of the animal handlers in a nearby pen, “Lionel; I need some help over here.” Lionel ambled over, dressed in a yellow rain suit, and asked. “What’s up?” “I need to put this cow down and she’ll need some restraint. She’s weak, but still could kick out when I inject her. She’s got a halter on and she’s down on her side, which may be enough if you restrain her neck and front quarter.” “Are you ready, Ab?” “Yeah; I have the pentobarbital already drawn up,” Abdullah said as he removed a large syringe from his coat pocket. “Let’s go.” 2 seymour grufferman The handler expertly took hold of the cow’s halter to extend her neck while he placed his knees on her shoulder. Abdullah quickly palpated the cow’s neck for her carotid artery and the nearby carotid vein and plunged the needle in. It took less than a minute for her to relax and another minute for her to stop breathing. He opened the cow’s eyelid and pressed on her cornea with no response. “Well, the poor creature is out of her misery now,” Abdullah said. “Let’s get her inside.” Abdullah and Lionel trussed the cow with rope and then used a small crane to lift the carcass onto a heavy-duty cart. They wheeled her to the doorway and then used the crane again to position her on a stainless steel autopsy table set on wheels. They moved her into a fluorescent lit, tiled autopsy room where Abdullah took off his plastic raincoat and got to work. He hosed down the animal and checked that the table was positioned properly. He donned a surgical gown, mask, safety goggles, and gloves and used an electric saw to open the cow’s cranium. He sawed through the chest to expose the heart, lungs and great vessels. He used a large scalpel to open the abdominal cavity and then paged Hitchings. Hitchings swaggered in and said, “Right! This is our first autopsy of a cow with this new disease, so we need to get specimens from all organs and tissues for microscopic exam. Snap freeze the large pieces and then put the smaller specimens I give you into formalin. I’ll section the brain and we’ll need formalin fixed samples from each section that must be clearly labeled. We’ll just freeze the rest. Do you follow me?” “Yes, Sir,” Abdullah said. He would have liked to say, “Yes, Sahib.” “Damn it, Abdullah, you idiot, you didn’t arrange the overhead lights the way I like them.” “I’m sorry Sir; the animal turned out to be larger than I expected.” Abdullah was certain Hitchings looked down on him as some dark-skinned wog from one of their former colonies, with a cockney accent and a third-rate education to boot. 3 live stock, dead stock The team was efficient and after completing the autopsy in 40 minutes they found no gross abnormalities other than emaciation, though more work would be done later in the microscopic review of the tissue specimens. “It’s curious that there were no gross abnormalities of the cow’s brain when there were such obvious neurologic signs,” Hitchings said as he took off his rubber gloves and threw them on the floor, “You wrap things up here, Abdullah. Now don’t screw things up. This is a very important autopsy. Do you understand?” “Yes, Sir. I’ll take care of things.” Abdullah sighed and rolled his eyes after Hitchings left. Abdullah had another hour of work, taking the carcass over to the disposal unit, labeling the tissues in preservatives, logging and storing the tissue specimens. He seethed as he cleaned up Hitchings’ mess, vowing that someday he would get back at the bigoted and arrogant British bastards. It was a decision he wouldn’t forget.