Chief Grady spent hours combing the beach for clues, long after the mangled human remains had been taken away. Scattered footprints all over the sand leading up to and then away from the scene appeared to belong solely to the joggers. Other than jogger tracks, the only evidence he’d discovered on the beach included: blankets, two pairs of sandals, an empty bottle of champagne, a couple of plastic flutes and some rotting food in a picnic basket. If nothing else, Grady hoped to uncover fingerprints on the glasses or perhaps an errant strand of hair on the blankets.
“Thank God it’s not the middle of summer,” he muttered under his breath. “Trying to keep the beach clear during peak season would have been impossible.”
The chief knew it was a cold and calculated thought. Still, it was easier to be callous than let his mind wander to the repulsive puddle of human goo that had defiled his beach. As the seagulls cried overhead, a disturbing thought nagged at the back of his mind. He remembered from Biology class that birds regurgitate food into the mouths of their babies. His mind made the short jump from birds feeding their helpless babies to owls swallowing their food whole then puking up the bones. The disaster on the beach resembled an owl’s aftermath more than anything else Grady had ever witnessed.
“Damned nature programs,” he muttered. “There’s got to be a logical explanation for that mess on the beach. I’m certain there aren’t mutant owls preying on locals.”
He continued bagging anything and everything he could find on the beach. Even if it wasn’t a clue, he decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
When Poole finally finished taking statements, he returned to the beach to assist his boss. He was relieved to see that the beach was free of any human remains. The tide had come in enough to wash away any lingering scraps leftover after the bulk of it had been removed for the Coroner’s Office.
“So, Chief, have you heard anything from the coroner yet?” Poole questioned as the heel of his shoe made deep gouges in the sand.
“No, I don’t expect to hear from them any time soon,” Grady replied. “How did it go with those joggers and their statements? Did the doctor’s wife give you any more flack?”
“Well,” Poole stammered. “She fussed a bit at first but the others put her in line pretty quick. I guess they didn’t appreciate her acting like her time was more important than everyone else’s.”
“Yeah,” Grady chuckled. “I can see how that might, to quote my grandfather, stick in one’s craw.”
“Oh, it stuck alright! In the end, she was the last one to give a statement. Everybody else got to leave before her.”
The chief laughed; his townsfolk had their quirks but, as a whole, they were good people. Certain allowances had been made for the doctor’s wife because Dr. Lander was such an asset to their community but every once in a while Rosalyn needed to be knocked down a peg to remind her that, despite her own beliefs, she was not a national treasure.
Finally, when there was nothing left on the beach to tag, Chief Grady and Deputy Poole drove back to the station. There was still a mountain of paperwork they would need to riffle through before they could call it a night.