He usually started with the pelvic bone. Best to get the gender question out of the way first. Muscles, tendons, sinews, organs, they all came after. Slotted in beneath ribs, wrapped around bones like a gift. Sometimes he might give them a deformity then and there. Fusty lungs or a crooked spine, clotted blood or mangled limbs, the gaping hole in a cleft palette, the loose skin betwixt webbed toes. Other times, there was no manipulation involved, just sheer incompetence. The scratch across an eyeball gone unchecked, a brain dropped to the floor with a bounce. A dust-off, a rub-down, and slip it back into its jar. And occasionally, very occasionally, there would be the kind of malfunction that came from nowhere. Despite years of research he could find no reason. These, and only these, he considered his children.