That evening over dinner, Seth prattled excitedly, relaying all of the details about his trip to the morgue. It wasn’t until he noticed his wife, Melanie, slipping most of her food to their spoiled pup, Malachi, that he stopped his colorful recount of the corpse’s raw-oyster-hued flesh.
“I thought you said we weren’t allowed to feed him from the table.”
“Yes, Seth, I did but I never expected you to give me a blow-by-blow of an autopsy at the morgue during dinner. Gross!”
“Likely excuse…you’re just trying to bribe Malachi into loving you more.”
The playful banter between them continued; both knowing full-well that they frequently spoiled their new rescue dog to make up for his earlier life. When they first adopted him, Malachi was little more than skin and bones, with matted fur and a broken leg. It took nearly a week for the poor dog to stop cowering the corners but it was worth it. Unless someone raised their voice, it was hard to tell their lovable dog had ever been mistreated.
“Sorry, babe, I guess I just wasn’t thinking. I was so blown away by how much I learned and all the intricacies of the job that I forgot how easy it is to gross you out.”
“Does that mean you’ve kicked your writer’s block then?”
“I did not have writer’s block. I told you; I was just stuck on some of the details.”
Melanie threw up her hands in mock surrender but she knew her husband better than anyone and regardless of whether he would admit it; he’d had writer’s block. She’d never seen him so irritable before and she hoped she'd never have to see it again. If revolting dinner conversation about rotted flesh was what it took to get him back on track then Melanie was prepared to endure it. She was just about to mock-chastise him for slipping a slice of roast beef to Malachi when Seth’s cell phone rang.
“Sorry, sweetheart, I know we agreed no calls during dinner but it’s Angela. She said she’d call me if they had any real cases come up. Do you mind?”
Melanie shook her head and smiled. At least he asked, she thought, and at least he is writing again. Too bad his contacts aren’t two burly old men instead of pretty, young, women but… She chased the worrisome thoughts from her mind. Seth had always been faithful and she wasn’t about to let doubt creep in and infect their marriage like it had to so many of her friends’ marriages. Instead, she wrapped up his dinner as Seth rushed off to get an insider’s view at a possible murder victim.
“Looks like it’s just you and me tonight, Kai. I’ll pop the popcorn and you pick out a movie.”
Seth raced to the morgue where he met Angela and Kim. Together, they rode to the scene of the crime.
“Seth, there’s a lab coat and a badge that says ‘trainee’ in the bag. You’ll need to put that on or they won’t let you through. Just stay back and keep your mouth closed, okay?”
“Yes, ma’am! I am your humble trainee.”
“Good, trainee, tomorrow morning you can bring coffee to the morgue when you show up.”
Their laughter ceased the second they arrived on the scene. Yellow police tape cordoned off the perimeter surrounding a bloated body that had washed up from the river. Already, teams were bagging and tagging anything that could possibly be construed as clues. Seth did as he was told and remained off to the side while Angela snapped pictures. He was the silent eyes and ears, watching every move from a safe distance. Remarks overheard by the police and details of the surroundings were all added to his notebook while he waited for Kim to prepare the body for its trip to the morgue. He knew the real work would begin in the confines of Kim’s realm and he wanted to be there for the whole thing. He sent a quick text to Melanie telling her not to wait up and he’d be home as soon as he could. He hit send then immediately typed in, “P.S. I love you”.
“Aww, that’s so sweet.”
Seth spun around and Angela was grinning at him. She gave him a playful punch and again he was treated to another chorus of “awes”.
“Hey, in all seriousness, we might be a while. You don’t have to stick around. It’s not like you’re getting paid to be here.”
“No, I need to get the specifics down right. It’s like they say…the devil’s in the details. I kicked out three chapters in the morgue without batting an eye; and then two more when I got home. This was just the shot in the arm I needed to give my manuscript that authenticity I was looking for so there’s no way I’m leaving early.”
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”