Chief Grady sat in the Coroner’s Office, on the off-chance he might manage to steal a few moments of the busy man’s time. The situation had escalated and he desperately needed a reasonable explanation; so he personally brought over the most recent bodies from the previous night’s seaside disaster. More mangled remains had been discovered on the beach. This time, Grady was positive that there had been multiple victims. Of the severed and seemingly chewed up body parts, the vast ranges of skin colors, including tattoos and piercings, indicated a large number of victims.
The phones at the station had been ringing off the hook; concerned parents reporting their teens as missing. After each call, Deputy Poole sent Grady a text message, apprising him of the situation. By the time the coroner was available for a meeting, the chief had already counted twelve new Missing Persons reports.
“Hey there, Bob. Thanks for squeezing me in,” Grady said as he extended his hand to the coroner. “I know you’re busy but I’m really in a bind here. I’ve got to know what the heck is tearing people up on my beach. The story has spread and the whole town is crawling with reporters. You’ve got to give me something to tell them. For crying out loud, the new mess I brought to you could have remains from as many as twelve kids.”
“Well, the consensus here is that it was a shark attack, Chief. There’s really not another viable alternative. On the plus side, we were able to confirm the remains from the first attack belonged to Adam Miller and Erin Crayburn. Your deputy told us the prints lifted from some glasses had been theirs and the DNA matches. At least you can tell that to the reporters.”
“Thanks, Bob. I owe you one. Now, I guess I’m off to meet up with my own sharks. They might not have fins but, by God, those reporters can sense blood in the water. If I’m lucky I’ll get away without being chewed to pieces too.”
“Good luck with that, Chief,” Bob laughed.
Chief Grady offered up a half-hearted chuckle as he headed for the door. More than any other part of his job, he hated press conferences, especially when prompted by an influx of dead bodies. The drive across town was brief. He hadn’t even made it out of his car when a mob of television reporters swarmed him in front of his parking spot.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please, follow me inside and I’ll answer all your questions.”
To Chief Grady it was clear which of the reporters were seasoned professionals and which were the “young guns” still trying to make a name for themselves. The latter couldn’t wait until they’d made it inside. They were hurling questions as they ran along with the pack. Grady simply shook his head and pressed on until they reached a large conference room. He took his place at the front of the room and motioned to the chairs for the reporters.
“I just came from the Coroner’s Office and they have named the cause of death as a shark attack.”
“Can you identify the bodies, Chief?” A young reporter called out.
“Hmm, yes, they did identify the bodies; however, I have not had a chance to notify their families. Once they’ve been notified, I’ll be able to release that information.”
The questions continued until Deputy Poole interrupted them claiming that there was an urgent phone call for the chief. Seizing his chance, Grady dashed out of the room and headed straight for his office with Poole trailing directly behind him. Behind closed doors he could breathe again.
“Thanks, Poole. That was perfect timing. Which line is that call?”
“There’s no call, Chief. I just figured you needed a way out.”
“You’re a good man! I certainly owe you one. Wow, do I hate press conferences.”
“Can I ask you something, Chief? Did the coroner really identify all those bodies?”“The first two were identified. As for newest victims, well, Bob’s got his work cut out for him. In the meantime, I’ve got to make a visit to the Crayburns and the Millers. I’d almost rather be holding a press conference…almost.”