The question hung in heavy in the room like the vile stench of the rotted, waterlogged, corpse. “Do you think someone ate it?” No sooner had the words slipped past his lips; Seth wished he hadn’t said it. The two women were eyeing him curiously.
“Well, what I meant was, do you think this guy could have been one of Gerald Rhymes’ victims? You know, since the body was anchored down and all…he could have been, right?”
“I doubt it, Seth. This body is too fresh to have been one of his victims.”
“I’m sorry; did you seriously call this body fresh, Kim?
Both she and Angela laughed until they were gasping for air. Seth’s puzzled expression only fueled their mirth. Eventually, Angela nudged Kim with her elbow and both tried to contain their amusement. When the ladies finally caught their breath, Seth was glowering at them and tapping his foot impatiently. I’d love to know what the hell is so funny. I don’t see anything funny about this, at all, he thought.
“Sorry, Seth. I think the reason we both laughed so hard is because we both remember being a newbie and thinking the exact same thing. After a while, you get to the point where you can look at a dead body and get a pretty good feel for how long it has been dead. There are certain telltale marks that we know to look for and that helps give us an estimate, at least.
“Oh, well that makes sense, Angela. Thanks, I was beginning to think you two were making fun of me and that would be awfully rude.”
A wide grin cut across Seth’s face but his eyes seemed to have lost the playful spark that usually made them appear to dance. Instead, they turned cold and even appeared darker than normal. Unsettled by the expression, Kim continued with her work. She deliberately pointed out some of those telltale marks to Seth and he scribbled them into his notepad. Inside, he was silently cursing himself for getting up so late and rushing out of the house without his laptop. Angela also accessed photos on her tablet to show Seth the different states of decay. Afterward, he started to realize why they’d laughed so hard and even managed a chuckle himself. He did not; however, find the diabolical odor permeating the morgue even remotely amusing. As Seth jotted a note to himself to pick up nose-plugs, he was startled by a knock at the door.
“Man, it smells like something died in here!”
Detective Bill Crash’s jovial laugh seemed to chase away some of the foul-smelling gloom.
“Hiya, Bill. How’s it going?”
“Ah, you know…same crap just a bigger pile. No need to ask how you three are doing. I can smell it. Don’t you just hate when they dump bodies in the river?”
“You know I do.”
“Well, I just thought I’d pop in and see how things were going. Captain Mulish was hoping you might have some insight and I wanted to apologize…I didn’t realize who you had with you last night. I feel so foolish. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you. I’m actually a huge fan, Mister LL-”
“No, please, call me Seth and there’s no reason to feel foolish; you had more important things to focus on last night.”
“You’re very kind. I’m glad you didn’t take offense. Any chance I can hit you up for an autograph after lunch?”
“After lunch, Bill? Angela questioned.
“Oh yeah, I came to invite the three of you out to lunch, assuming you didn’t already have plans and your appetites aren’t ruined.”
***Please return Monday, August 18th for the next installment of Serial***