After leaving an exceptionally large tip to make up for Chloe’s bad day, the four went back to the morgue. Seth tried to mentally prepare himself for the hideous stench but the room itself wasn’t as bad as he’d expected. It was only when he drew closer to the corpse that the smell intensified. He was silently pleased that he’d managed to psyche himself out so that the smell was almost tolerable. Almost…
“Okay. Let’s get a closer look at this guy, in the light, and see if I missed anything last evening.”
Detective Crash leaned closer to examine the body as he pulled on a pair of gloves. His eyes scanned every millimeter as if mentally recording the appearance of each cell in the inner recesses of his mind. Occasionally he’d scribble something into his notepad but his eyes never left the mound of rotting flesh on Kim’s table.
“So, Bill, I was asking Kim about the missing chunk out of his side, here. She said there is no way this could have been one of Gerald Rhymes’ victims because it is too, um, fresh. Are there often copy-cats of a high profile serial killer?”
“Unfortunately, yes. Sometimes they do it to seek acclaim from their idol. Other times, they’re trying to throw cops off their trail by mimicking someone else’s style. Then, on very rare occasions, there is someone who has his or her own purposes for killing and it’s up to us to figure out why it resembles another killer’s style.”
Seth wrote as quickly as possible to jot every word verbatim. Again he cursed himself for not remembering to bring his laptop, or at least a tablet, because he had a whole slew of questions churning in his mind. Before he even finished writing, Seth hit the detective with another question.
“But how would you figure that out? What kind of clues would point you in the right direction? What if the killer was deliberately faking you out?”
An eerie silence made Seth look up and the other three were eyeing him curiously. Damn, that was a stupid thing to say. They’ve got a new body with no idea who killed him and I’m asking about how to fake out the police and medical examiners. Brilliant, Seth, just brilliant. Way to put yourself on the police’s radar.
“Is there something you’re trying to tell me, Mr. Author?”
Seth could feel the blood draining from his face and his stomach lurched. He could almost feel the cold steel of handcuffs biting into the soft flesh of his wrists. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. Instead, he looked like a fish out of water; his mouth gaping open and clamping shut in rapid succession.
“Ha! Gotcha! Relax, I was just screwing with you. But, in all seriousness, you really ought to be careful and think before you speak. You know I enjoy your books, Seth, and I understand what you were trying to say but you have to watch the way you word things, if you catch my drift. Some people might misinterpret your meaning.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think about that until after I said it. Pretty dumb, huh? Thanks, Bill…for understanding. I’ll be more careful from now on.”
Seth’s heart was pounding so heavy it felt like it was going to rip through his chest and flop onto the table. This is why I write. I can erase something if it sounds stupid. He was filled with the overwhelming urge to flee from the morgue and never set foot back inside it again but that would look even more conspicuous. Keeping his big mouth shut, Seth continued to fill the pages of his notebook as Kim and Detective Crash continued their appraisal.
Ten minutes later, Bill’s phone rang, shattering the prevailing silence. A series of “hmms” and “uh-huhs” left Seth wondering what was being said and who was on the other line. Is his dry cleaning ready? Did they find another body? Is there a staff meeting? I wonder if he’ll tell us.
“That’s a start, anyway. Thanks, Angelo, I’ll be there in ten.” Bill muttered before hitting end. “Okay, we were able to match the victim’s finger prints in our database so I need to get back to the station. Have a good one.”
“Thanks again for lunch, Bill, and I’m sorry about earlier.”
“Don’t give it a thought, buddy. I know you’re only trying to write a good story. Just do me a favor and be careful from now on, okay? Ladies, as always, it has been a pleasure. Until next time.”
With the detective gone, Seth’s heart slowed to a natural rhythm but he did his best to keep to himself. No need to lodge another size-eleven foot into my big mouth again.
“You’re awfully quiet. Plotting to slice us up now that the cops are gone?” Angela teased.
“W-What? NO! I wouldn’t do that to you. I mean, I’d never do something like that to anyone, ever.”
“I don’t know. You’ve already proved you have the mind of a killer. How many characters have you brutally murdered?” Kim added with a wink to her cohort. “What if you’re just sizing us up?”
“I saw that, Kim. I saw the wink. You two are incorrigible. To think I was worried that you considered me a suspect.”
“Me? Wink? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. We weren’t worried. Besides, I’m deadly with a scalpel.”
“Hmm, now that would make an interesting story…the Medicolegal Death Investigator was guilty all along and threw off the investigation because she knew what they were looking for.”