As Seth slept, visions of massacres and mutilations skipped through his dreams like psychotic demons frolicking through the inner recesses of a tortured mind. The snotty punk from the coffee shop, no longer smug or arrogant, pleaded for help. With arms outstretched and agony etched on his face, he reached for Seth and screamed. The scream grew louder and higher in pitch until the Coffee Nazi disappeared into the mist. A feeling of dread filled Seth’s heart until something jarred him awake. A sharp pain jabbed him in the ribs and he heard a woman screaming. His cell phone on the nightstand was lit up and bouncing from the vibration. Melanie was facing him and even in the dark he could tell it was a death stare.
“Seth, I love you but I swear to God if you don’t change that damn ringtone I am going to divorce you and take Malachi with me,” Melanie groaned. “At least turn off the damned thing when you come to bed, would ya? I have to be up in an hour and I’ll never be able to fall back to sleep now.”
“Sorry, babe. I’m changing the ringtone right now to something less gruesome…and I’m turning off the ringer.”
Melanie grunted and rolled over, hoping to catch just a little more sleep before starting another work day. Though he’d never admit it, Seth was relieved that his phone had gone off when it did. He did not enjoy having murder victims traipsing through his dreams. Cupping his hand over the screen to block the light, Seth checked his missed call log. Kim’s number was on the screen and she’d left a voicemail. He gently eased out of bed and crept to his office to listen without disturbing his wife. Kim’s voice sounded weary as she told him they’d be getting a late start because she wasn’t able to leave the crime scene until the wee hours of the morning. Yes! I can grab a few extra hours of sleep. He slipped back into bed thereby forcing Malachi to scoot over. The dog’s cold nose pressed against Melanie’s exposed spine forcing her to leap forward. It was the thud of Melanie’s body hitting the hardwood floor that made both Seth and Malachi stretch out to see what happened. Furious, Melanie stormed out of the room and, moments later, running water trickled against the shower tiles. When Seth finally awoke, Mel was long gone and Malachi was anxious to venture outdoors. After a leisurely shower and a little writing time, he headed to the morgue.
“Good morning, Angels of Death! Long time, no see.” Seth joked.
Angela and Kim, who were just gowning up, laughed as he strolled through the door. I must be getting used to it in here. The smell isn’t even making me gag anymore.
“Well, well, look who’s back, Kim. Hey, where’s our coffee, trainee?”
“Nope, I got promoted to Detective Crash’s sidekick but I figured I could spring for lunch since I’ve upgraded my pay scale.”
The laughter grew louder until Kim called him over to see what they’d uncovered the night before.
“Care to see what we uncovered last night?”
Seth leaned in just as Kim pulled the cover back on the corpse. At least he doesn’t smell as bad as the body that had been rotting in the river. Kim had placed a small plastic tray near the victim’s feet that contained personal effects, such as his wallet, watch, cell phone, and gray blob that looked a little like silly putty that had spent some time inside a pocket. With a gloved hand, Seth pointed at the wad and asked what it was.
“Well, Seth, that would be Mister Trevor Burbrige’s tongue. Care to take a guess where we found it?”
“Um, I guess… not in his mouth. Do I want to know where you found it?”
The girls chuckled and Angela shook her head, “no”, but being told no made him want to know even more. Despite repeated warnings, he continued to pester them until Kim finally broke the news.
“I’ll give you a hint,” she said as she and Angela carefully rolled the body up onto his side. “Take a look at the clue our killer left for us.”
Seth leaned in to read the words that had been carved into Trevor’s back, only it wasn’t words. Instead, he saw symbols.
A rude tongue is full of shit“What the hell is that?” Seth asked.
“Yeah, that’s what we wanted to know. In truth, we found those markings carved into our victim’s back before we even looked inside his mouth to realize the killer had cut the tongue out.”
“So, who figured it out and how?”
“Actually, it was a freak accident,” Kim answered. “I was typing some notes into my laptop and I hit a button that changed the font. The shapes and symbols kinda looked like what was carved into the guy’s back so I kept playing around with the fonts. As it turns out, those marks are actually the Marlett font in Word. I have the picture of his back on my tablet and the same markings on the Word document on my laptop over there on my desk. Take a look.”
Seth stepped over to the desk and compared the picture of their victim and the marking on the Word document.
“Looks like the same thing to me.”
“Now, highlight the symbols and change the font to Arial or Times New Roman or something like that.”
“Okay, gimme a sec here...Let’s see…A rude tongue is full of shit. So, where? Oh no, don’t tell me it.”
“Yup, that’s where we found his tongue and maybe it wasn’t full of shit but it was certainly covered with it.”
“Oh my God!” Seth exclaimed. “That’s just nasty. Yeah, the guy was rude but damn!”