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the men from the steamship cycle


In early June of 1948 the police received a call from a source who had some very particular knowledge about a steamship that was currently in port. This source also was able to nominate the name of a seaman they may have an interest in with regard to the man found dead on December 1st.

Tom Read he said, a past crewmen on the steamship Cycle, and he suggested that the police may be rewarded if they were able to ask a few of the crewmen who knew Tom Read to accompany them to the morgue on yet another identification exercise.

You may have Tom Read rotting on your slab he said.

Two crewmembers agreed to travel to the morgue and for the first time in their lives they were led into the maze of tiled corridors and rooms that housed the unburied dead of Adelaide, where they were asked to wait while an attendant roamed down a wall of closed, refrigerated cabinets. This one he called, and the small group, including the policemen walked down to the cabinet door he had opened and they waited until he had slid out enough of the steel tray to expose the body’s shroud covered head.

They gathered around as he slipped away the stained sheet exposing an embalmed head. A head in such a state of deterioration that, together with the body, had become too difficult to preserve any longer.

The rot and the decay,

Of what was once living flesh.

One look, and one look away.

Not him.

Can we go?

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