Reedy’s Diner was the sort of place Sam always thought of whenever she heard the phrase “greasy spoon.” It was off the highway near Brattleboro and catered to truckers, salespeople and all manner of other travelers. She doubted anyone in the place was local. They probably knew better.
Sam gulped rank coffee from a heavy ceramic mug, trying to get her morning dose of caffeine without tasting the bitter brew. The paper placemat in front of her was plastered with ads for local businesses and radio stations. She wondered briefly how much money “Reedy” made from them.
It was nearly half-past nine. Earnest had gotten Doris squared away early, driving over to the motel to pick her up himself only an hour before. Once back on the road, none of her former anxiety and self-doubt from the previous night remained.
The email message, and the brief exchange of instant messages which followed, had done more than give her a potential story. They had rekindled her passion and curiosity. As Sam read the message through a second and then a third time, a single thought began to creep up on her.
This is something.
There was no way of knowing what the story was, just yet, but she knew a story was there. The excitement had returned. Once again, she felt like an explorer must when standing at the edge of the known world, ready to take a step into that blank space beyond the map.
Play it cool.
It was good advice and she intended to take it. As difficult as it was to contain the thrill welling up inside her, any one of a dozen things could derail the story before it even left the station.
She could still be looking at a hoax, after all. Sam had seen more than a few of those. The paranormal attracted frauds nearly as consistently as it did raving lunatics.
This didn’t feel like a hoax, but Sam had been wrong before.
After ending the chat with her new source, Sam felt even less like sleeping. Instead, she spent the rest of the night and early morning kicking and screaming at her laptop and the meager internet connection her phone provided.
She learned everything she could about Cedar Mills, the Burns couple and the man who’d contacted her. There wasn’t much.
Cedarford County didn’t have the most modern website. They provided only a handful of pages, most of which were concerned with the area’s history. The city of Cedarford seemed to get all the attention, with almost no reference made to any of the other communities. There was nothing whatsoever about Cedar Mills.
Sam did manage to find a page with contact information for various county offices, but there was no mention of a “David Masters” working for the medical examiner. It was the name her new source had given and she considered it vital to confirm he was who he said he was.
She called the county switchboard, and after a few minutes with the automated phone system, she got his voice mail. Sam didn’t leave a message, but listened to his recorded greeting several times until she was confident she could recognize his voice in person. It wasn’t as reliable as a photo, but the trick had still served her well in the past.
After she’d exhausted the county’s web site, she turned her attention to the Burns couple. It wasn’t all that difficult to find several references to their disappearance. David had done some homework of his own and Sam was surprised to find very little information that he hadn’t already included in his first message.
She did find a copy of the couple’s wedding announcement from a Seattle newspaper, along with a photo of them sitting against a tree together, the young woman holding her hand up to show off a diamond ring.
They looked good together and their smiling faces added just enough reality for Sam to feel a twinge of grief for them. What would they have become if fate hadn’t taken them out of the world?
Her search for Cedar Mills offered the least reward. Sam found two local history sites which gave the town a passing mention. From them, she learned that Cedar Mills had supplied much of the lumber used to build the surrounding communities, then later moved into furniture production.
Based on what little she could find, the citizens of the town managed to do quite well for themselves, but Cedar Mills had never really expanded or flourished. Instead, it had sat, sheltered among the forest and marshes, virtually ignored by settlers and tourists alike.
The town had no official website, appeared in no travel guides, and the few stories she found in news archives read more like carefully crafted press releases than real journalism.
Small towns have their share of troubles and violence, contrary to the common myths. People still get into car wrecks, still fight, even kill each other once in a while. Cedar Mills was no exception and she found several stories to confirm it.
A fatal car wreck in the seventies, a missing child in the early eighties, a hunting mishap in eighty-nine. Typical tragedies, but what was far from typical was the coverage these incidents received.
The stories were brief, stuck to the dry facts and all of them had “Cedarford Gazette Staff” as the byline. The stories provided details, but there was no heart.
There were no quotes from friends, family or other members of the community. The initial reports were as impersonal as a form letter and there was nearly no follow up. Even the missing child didn’t stay in the paper for a full week.
Sam had been to a lot of small towns, from unincorporated communities in the backwoods of Maine to hamlets stashed in the bayous of the Gulf Coast. They were places that felt ignored, half-forgotten and left to themselves.
As Sam had researched Cedar Mills, it didn’t feel ignored or forgotten. It felt hidden.
People came and went around her as she sat, thinking through the information she’d found. Her breakfast had consisted of bacon and eggs on a stale english muffin. It was edible, but that’s all the recommendation she could muster.
As Sam considered the meeting ahead of her, daydreaming of coffee you didn’t have to chew, she promised herself she’d find a nice restaurant that night. She’d treat herself to a steak while she wrote up her notes and figured out where to start digging.
“May I sit down?” Sam looked up at the interruption. She hadn’t noticed the man’s approach.
He was about her age and cuter than she’d expected, with short brown hair that was in need of a comb, glasses and brown eyes. Sam smiled and noted a slight, antiseptic smell about him that reminded her of hospitals. She supposed it was a better odor than the alternatives his profession might bring.
That first look also told her he was nervous, even though he did a reasonable job of trying to look calm and relaxed. Sam was used to reading people’s moods, seeing the emotions and reactions they normally tried to hide.
She supposed that was her mother’s fault.
“That depends,” she said after giving him a once over. “What’s your name, handsome?” His eyes flicked, giving her an up-down of his own before looking around the room.
Sam knew his evaluation of her wasn’t the least bit professional and she didn’t mind. In some ways, it would make her job easier.
“I’m David,” he said, sliding his thin frame onto the seat opposite her. “You look nicer in person, for what it’s worth.”
Her smile broadened as she recognized the sound of his voice from the recorded message she’d studied. He seemed sweet, though Sam reminded herself that didn’t mean he wasn’t a nut.
“Thanks. The photo on my site is pretty terrible.”
“Look…” David started and stopped. She leaned back and let him say what she’d heard many times before. He wanted to get right to the point, which she took as another good sign.
“I just want to make sure you understand,” he said. “I need to know I’m not going to be named when this comes out.”
“What can I get you, honey?” The waitress interrupted them. David ordered a cup of tea and they waited until the woman was out of ear shot before speaking again.
Sam took another swallow of rank coffee, braced herself and played the game.
“David,” she began, “I’ve worked with many people who’ve had a lot to loose when they came to me. I’ve protected every one of them and have never revealed a source. Trust is a two-way street, though.
“You seem sincere and so far your information looks good. Very good. I think your instincts here are dead on, but there’s a lot more to do. Once the ball gets rolling, I have to know you won’t get cold feet and walk out, or feed me some bullshit later on.
“If I do this, we both need to be in it for the long haul, no matter what comes down. You need to remember that my name’s going on it. I’ll be taking the heat. I’m risking my safety to get this out there, so I need to know you’re on my side. We’re partners in this, David.”
She had given the same speech dozens of times. Dealing with paranoid types, conspiracy nuts with more than a little tin foil under their ball caps, was never easy. At least, it wasn’t as easy as getting people to talk about their haunted hotels or the ghosts in the attic.
People who’ve seen ghosts, or just want free publicity, shared their stories with almost no prompting. They wanted to be believed, wanted to give you every detail they knew, if only so that someone will tell them they’re not crazy.
A genuine conspiracy nut believes every word they speak is dangerous, every fact they know a weapon. They believe someone or something with a lot of power would be willing to do anything to silence them if they open their mouth.
The nuts gave up more when Sam played the risk-taker, the outlaw journalist who put her life on the line because the truth was out there and the public needed to know. Throw in the barest suggestion the two of them could find their way between the sheets some desperate night and most of her sources were hooked.
She didn’t know quite where David fell on the paranoid scale, but she played it safe. He watched her for a moment, measuring her words. Sam imagined the wheels turning in his head. He was deciding whether or not to leave, to get up from the table and call the whole thing off. Sam waited.
When she saw his shoulders relax, she knew he’d made his choice.
“Now, run everything down for me again, starting with the medical examiner,” she said.
“Doctor Martin Harley, Doc, he’s the Chief Medical Examiner for Cedarford County. I’m his assistant, working through my residency and fellowship to earn my license.”
“So you’re a forensic pathologist as well?”
“Not yet. I still have a few years to go, but I assist Doc Harley with pretty much everything. I perform autopsies, document scenes, file reports.”
“Underpaid, overworked intern, then.” Sam smiled and David laughed a little, his nervousness fading by inches.
“Something like that,” he said.
The background was important. She’d check out everything he said, making certain he was who he said he was. It also served to help break the ice, to relax him. It never paid to seem too eager to get to the real story.
“Tell me about this ‘Doc’ guy,” she said.
“He’s getting old, has trouble getting around and isn’t big fan of technology, but he’s very, very sharp. Doc’s traveled a lot, done a lot of consulting. I know he worked for the FBI a while ago and he’s been out of the country for half his life.”
“Do you know why?”
“Some kind of talent exchange with foreign police departments? He doesn’t really talk about it and I’ve never asked.”
“He must be well-respected.”
“He is. Doc has a lot of friends in law enforcement and I hear his name dropped at every convention I attend. He makes me go to them, says he’s too old and has had enough traveling. I think it’s more because the science is changing and he thinks the digital age is leaving him behind.”
“You assist him both in and out of the office, then?”
“Yeah. I go with him on scene visits, help with documenting the scene, transporting remains. Like I said, pretty much everything. We moved to all digital photography this year, and with the record keeping being done on the computer now Doc has me do all of the scene documentation and most of the office work.”
“Tell me how a typical scene visit works,” Sam asked. “These are crime scenes, right?”
“Not always. The medical examiner gets called in whenever a death is sudden or unexpected, not just when it appears unnatural or suspicious. Most of the deaths we investigate are the result of accidents or natural causes.”
“Who decides a death requires your attention?”
“It’s complicated.” David’s lips pressed together and he uttered a short, almost frustrated sigh.
Sam gave him a curious look. “How so?”
The waitress returned with David’s tea and asked if he needed anything else. He shook his head and smiled, waiting for her to leave before continuing.
“There’s no real national standard for how each state assigns medical examiners or coroners to investigate deaths. In New Hampshire, there’s a single statewide medical examiner that’s responsible for everything. A little more than a dozen states are like that, with no county medical examiners.”
“But, you said you work for the Cedarford County Medical Examiner’s Office.”
“We’re the exception,” he said. “The only exception.”
Sam felt a tingling on the back of her neck, remembering how she’d felt earlier that morning when looking for information about Cedar Mills had seemed like chasing her tail.
“All deaths within the county are handled by us,” David continued. “If the death scene is in Cedarford County, the responding authorities call us.”
“Why the special consideration?”
“I don’t know, but as far as I can tell it’s always been that way. Honestly, that’s part of the reason I applied here. It seemed strange. There’s nothing about Cedarford County that immediately suggests the need for its own medical examiner. I wanted to know why.”
“You like mystery,” she said.
David nodded and Sam found herself liking him a little more. So far he didn’t seem like a nut, which gave him that rare aura of sincerity that worked on her, caused her to set aside some of her skepticism. He’d discovered something he couldn’t make sense of, so he’d thrown himself into it.
David had too much of the “disheveled geek” thing going on for her to feel any real attraction toward him, but she admired his instinct to get to the bottom of things.
“You said ‘all deaths’ were handled by your office?”
“All deaths that do not occur while under a doctor’s care for a known illness,” he said. “Even then, we investigate those where there’s even the slightest doubt as to the cause.”
David’s description seemed to paint a picture of almost unreasonable diligence. The tingling she’d felt on the back of her neck a moment before had migrated to her arms and bloomed into full-fledged goosebumps for an instant.
“Tell me about Frank Burns,” Sam said.
David Masters took a breath and began to go over the previous day’s events. He described the scene he and Doc had responded to, relayed everything he’d overheard and explained the procedures they had taken when transporting the remains.
David went through it all and revealed an amazing ability to recall even small details that would have seemed insignificant at the time. Sam was impressed and had little doubt he would make an excellent medical examiner. Or a journalist.
At the end of his narrative, he reached into his pocket and produced a small, plastic device.
“This flash drive contains everything I’ve had access to,” he said. “There’s an audio file of Doc’s conversation with the FBI agents, another which Doc and I made while performing the autopsy, more photographs and a copy of a file we give to prosecutors and law enforcement which explains the more common terminology and procedures we use. It’s sort of a layman’s guide to forensic pathology.”
He passed her the drive when she reached for it, showing very little hesitation. It was another sign she’d earned his trust.
“I didn’t know how much of the jargon you’d be familiar with,” he said.
“Probably not much, so that’ll help. What about the autopsy report and lab results?”
David shook his head and sipped his tea. He grimaced at the taste and Sam wondered how you could fuck up a tea bag bad enough to draw that reaction.
“Real science is a lot slower than the television lets on,” he explained. “I’ll get them to you as soon as I can, by I probably won’t have anything for at least a day or two. And I can’t promise I’ll see everything, anyway. The FBI is running tests of its own, and I probably won’t have any access to the forensics reports.”
“So nothing on the paper and notes you told me about?”
“Probably not. Like I said, though, Doc has a lot of friends and he seems to know these agents personally. People have a habit of keeping Doc in the loop whether he needs to be or not, so there’s a chance I could overhear something.”
“You’ve done really well, David. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with your memory and attention to detail.”
He smiled. David didn’t exactly blush, but he definitely appreciated her praise. “I need to get back.”
“Before you go, David, I need to go over something with you.”
Sam leaned forward and began to go over the finer points of their new relationship.
“I need you to tell no one else about this or our arrangement. There’s a lot at stake for both of us here. When you need to contact me, call me on my cell phone. Get one of those pre-paid phones for yourself and give me your number as soon as you can. Pay cash for it.
“When either of us has any information or questions, we’ll arrange to meet in person. For now, don’t send anything else electronically. And if we meet face to face as professionals in this investigation, don’t let on we’ve met before and don’t try to give or tell me anything then, no matter how important.”
David listened carefully to everything Sam told him. Mostly, it was more of the same. Sam walked a fine line between putting her sources at ease and tickling their paranoia. They had to be willing to share information with her, but also needed to feel that what they were doing was exciting and dangerous.
And in this case, it was. David was violating the terms of his employment by speaking with her and had likely violated state and federal law when he recorded the agents’ conversation with Doc Harley. If they were caught, it would get ugly fast.
After she’d given him the speech, they said their goodbyes and she watched him leave. David Masters had given her a lot to think about and most of it worried her.
Sam had been in more than a few creepy old houses, dirty basements and even spent two nights being led through the sewers and steam tunnels under New York City by a group of self-proclaimed urban explorers. Places rarely inspired fear in her, but people were a different matter entirely.
Especially people with secrets to keep.
Cedarford County didn’t feel right and Cedar Mills, while not the county’s center of government, certainly seemed to be a center of some sort. To Sam, it looked like someone, some group, had gone out of their way to keep the area off the radar.
She had to admit there was a certain insanity to the idea. The feeling of secrecy, the sense that Cedar Mills had been deliberately hidden away, was just her gut talking when you got right down to it. And her gut might not be all that reliable right then.
She’d been doubting herself, her work, only a few hours before. She’d given up her belief, lost the faith and came to terms with it. And yet, the very next story to drop in her lap had her ready to howl at the moon.
This is something.
“Yeah,” she said to herself. “Maybe.”
A few minutes later she dropped a ten on the table and walked out to her car. The body was in Cedarford but her instincts told her the real story would be in Cedar Mills.
She hoped they had a decent steakhouse.
Susan was quiet as Joe drove them back to Cedar Mills. She sat in the passenger seat and stared out the window.
The leaves were changing color, the chill of the night hadn’t yet left the air and no small part of her wondered where the summer had gone. She thought of her mostly-forgotten dream from the night before, remembered the sound of rustling leaves around her feet as she’d walked through the woods with her father on some hunting trip long ago.
Joe held his tongue for a while. He’d driven up to Cedarford early to meet with Mary and her daughter at the hospital after catching two hours of desperately needed sleep. He’d stopped in to check on Holt’s status and listened to Susan’s mother carry on for a while. He’d given the girl a sympathetic look and she’d asked if he could drive her home.
Mary had been taken aback, but said nothing. Instead, she gave her daughter an icy look that convinced Joe to say yes. His better instincts told him not to get involved, but he pushed them aside. Susan had been through a lot and another day at the hospital with her mother was too much to ask.
Bill Holterman had made it through surgery and his condition had stabilized, though the doctor told Joe the odds Holt would recover were next to zero. If he made it through the next twenty-four hours, he’d probably live, but he’d never regain consciousness.
The doctor had told him something else on his visit, something which Joe couldn’t make sense of. Their conversation had been interrupted before he could ask any questions and now he wondered if he’d made a mistake in not sticking around to follow up.
The doctor’s words nagged at him, but not as much as the silence of the girl sitting next to him.
“I ever tell you about my mother?” Joe asked. Susan looked over at him and shook her head. She couldn’t remember Joe ever telling her much of anything.
“She was a trucker’s wife,” he said. “Husband on the road all the time, that sort of thing. Rumor was she never had to look hard for a man’s attention, if you know what I mean.”
Susan realized it was a pep talk. Inwardly she groaned, but kept quiet.
Joe’s got a full plate and can’t find a fork.
The thought came wearing her father’s voice. She’d heard him utter the expression a few times and knew it applied. Joe was hell-bent on fixing something that morning, whether it needed fixing or not.
“My father, well…I don’t really look anything like him,” he said. “That don’t sit too well with most men. I took a lot from him while he was around. He walked out when I was ten. ‘Course, that still left all the kids at school and around the neighborhood. They all knew what was what.”
Susan let his words wash over her and felt a slight sting. The town all knew, that much was true, but she’d never caught any grief over it. The kids at school, once her friends, they’d never bothered to care about her mother’s affairs or hand Susan some share of the blame.
Most were too busy holding something else over her.
“I think I was about your age when I finally figured it out.” Joe let his words hang in the air.
“Figured what out?” Susan asked. She closed her eyes and wished the ride was over.
“That I didn’t care what people thought of her. It was what they thought of me that mattered, and even that not as much as I gave them credit for.” Joe turned to her and smiled, happy his nugget of wisdom had been shipped and delivered.
He reached for his sunglasses, the glare of the morning sun making it hard to see through the windshield.
“Once I figured it out, I stopped,” he said.
“Stopped hating her. I studied, went to school, came back and everything just sort of worked out. I got through it. I’m just sayin’,” he paused before adding “It can be a tough thing to endure, but sooner or later you get out.”
Susan was quiet for a minute. As the silent seconds ticked away, she realized Joe was waiting for a response. The trees slid by the window, the bright sun stung her eyes and although she tried to bite her tongue, she felt the words come out anyway.
“It’s funny,” she said. Joe gave her a look.
“Everyone has the same advice,” she said. “Grin and bear it, things will get better. It’s like everyone forgot.”
“Forgot?” Joe looked at her and saw a small smile on her lips, though nothing about it suggested happiness.
“A mother isn’t supposed to be someone you have to endure,” Susan said.
They passed the rest of the drive in silence.
Jenny was worried. Ralph hadn’t come in yet and it was already ten o’clock. She’d bounced back and forth between the grill and her customers for the first hour, then called Rachel. The girl wasn’t scheduled to work on Sundays, but she needed the extra hands.
With three-fourths of the town either sleeping in or going to church, Sunday mornings were easy, but even a slow day can drive a panic if you have to do everything.
Rachel had answered the phone on the second ring and seemed delighted to come in. Perhaps she wanted the extra money, but Jenny thought there was something else in the girl’s voice, some other reason for her eagerness. She shrugged it off. Jenny had other thoughts on her mind.
Ralph was slipping, falling over the edge of the cliff she’d watched him cling to. Her thoughts from the night before filled her, possessed her, rang more and more true with every passing minute of his absence. She was losing him and she was powerless to stop it.
They’d been there too long, she was sure of it. She’d felt the pull of the place around them from the moment they’d arrived. Resisting, felt like breaking a bad habit, like trying not to bite your nails. It had been easy at first, almost effortless, but the pull was constant.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Once she arrived, Rachel handled the customers while Jenny threw on Ralph’s apron and took to the grill in earnest. She wasn’t much of a cook, but then neither was Ralph.
By ten, though, she’d fallen into a routine and felt herself begin to relax, the simple task of frying eggs and bacon slowly taking over, pushing away the thoughts of her brother. They weren’t gone completely, but they receded to the back of her mind.
Part of it was Rachel’s mood. She was cheerful and happy in a way that was infectious. Despite the worry and dread within, Jenny found herself smiling, her spirits raised.
The diner closed at two on Sundays. Jenny had four more hours to get through. After that, she’d look for her brother, though she had no idea what she’d be able to do once she found him.
Joe made it to the sheriff’s station a little after ten and rubbed his eyes to clear away the tired. He’d dropped Susan off and drove straight there, though he’d had to fight a strong urge to go home and collapse in bed. The two hours of sleep he’d had before the trip to Cedarford was wearing off and it felt like his mind was wearing thin.
It had been a long night and a long ride back from the hopital. Joe’d taken the night duty with Roy, though by rights that night should have fallen to Lou.
“You’re too soft for this, Joe,” he said to himself as he pulled his car into the lot outside.
The larger part of him disagreed, but then he had Bill Holterman’s boots to fill. Holt was a hard ass but he’d never given Joe reason to doubt it was necessary in the sheriff’s eyes. Holt made it seem like the world turned on the roof of the Cedar Mills Sheriff’s Department, that it was carried on the backs of the men and women who’d worked there through the years.
Holt didn’t possess any of the cruelty and sadism that motivated most of Roy Arnette’s existence. Roy was a bastard because he liked it. Holt was a bastard because it was necessary, or at least he thought so.
The department had only ever been run one way, Holt’s way. And Holt’s way seemed to work.
Then there was Joe, who’d taken the night duty three nights running to give Lou time to get ahead of the bug he’d caught.
There was Joe, who’d run himself ragged, on the road to ruin, with only six hours of sleep over the last three days.
There was Joe, who two nights ago had told Roy to get on home to his wife, everything would be fine, nothing happens anyway, he could handle the night duty himself.
Joe hadn’t given two shits where Roy went, he just couldn’t stand another night spent listening to the little bastard on the radio.
He’d patrolled alone that night and where did it get them? A body in the lake, Holt two-thirds dead, feds on their way in and now the nagging feeling that he’d fucked up royally at the hospital.
“I have a concern regarding Mr. Holterman’s injuries. I’ve asked some colleagues of mine for their opinion. We may need to take a look at Mr. Holterman’s vehicle.” The doctor’s words. Words to that effect, anyway. Joe hadn’t been listening, he’d been watching.
He watched Mary and Susan sitting together in the waiting area of the ICU. He’d seen the look on Susan’s face and something in it had gripped him.
It was a look of emptiness, loss and resignation. The look of someone who’d realized they’d built their life out of bad choices. He’d seen his mother wear that look from time to time and it had no business on the face of a sixteen year old girl.
At least, that’s what Joe had seen with eyes so tired they didn’t have any right to be open. Susan was right about him, he’d been hell-bent on fixing something. He saw a damsel in distress and leapt to her aid.
She wants to go home? By Christ, he would have carried her on his back and ran the whole way if he’d had to.
“Right, doc. Whatever’s best,” he’d said, then he walked over to Holt’s family and agreed to take the young girl home.
He hadn’t put a mile between his back and the hospital before the nagging started.
What’d he mean he needed to look at the wreck?
He had talked about Holt’s injuries, talked about specialists. The doctor had a question and the wreck might answer it.
Concern about the injuries. What about the injuries?
Joe had studied criminal justice when he’d gone off to college. Majored in it. As he sat in his car, he remembered something about medical examiners.
They study death.
It was a deeper thought. Something hidden in the back office of his brain, locked in a storage room filled with cardboard boxes. That dust place where nothing is forgotten, just mislaid.
They study sudden, unexpected death. Investigate sudden, unexpected death.
His mental fingers did their magic, tracing the labels on each of the boxes of memories. He imagined picking at the swollen cardboard until he flipped the lid off one and remembered the man who’d given a lecture in one of his classes.
“There was, if I recall, a case in Massachusetts quite some time ago where an automobile accident appeared to have claimed the life of a young woman,” this man had said.
He remembered almost nothing else from that class, but the lecturer’s words came back to Joe as clearly as if he was still sitting in the room listening to him.
“It was apparent from the circumstances and the extent of her injuries that this poor girl had zigged when she should have zagged, I believe the expression goes.”
The lecture played like a recording in Joe’s head. He felt impatient, waiting for the good stuff with no fast-forward button. He remembered thinking the same thoughts back then, waiting for this man with a flair for the dramatic to move on and make his point.
“The turn in the road was particularly nasty, a near right angle which had caused more than its fair share of tragedy. A preliminary test showed a high concentration of alcohol in her blood, making the investigators’ task seemingly simple.”
Joe felt anticipation build within as he sat parked in the lot, felt his mental fingers reach into the box. He reached in, and took hold of what he wanted.
“The medical examiner, on the other hand, had quite another story to tell. It is our professional duty to investigate any death which is sudden or unexpected, including those cases where every available fact appears to exclude foul play.
“The medical examiner found that some of this woman’s injuries were consistent with a car accident. Some, but not all. In addition to what one should find following such an event, she’d sustained massive, blunt force trauma to the back of her head.
“What’s more, every one of the injuries present on her body—apart from that single blow to the head—were inflicted post-mortem.
“It was her lover you see, who’s marriage wouldn’t hold once his young girlfriend’s pregnancy was revealed. He’d concealed her murder so neatly within the chaos of the crash that were it not for the diligent medical examiner, he would have gone free.”
He has questions about the injuries. He wants to see the wreck.
“What the fuck happened to you, Holt?” Joe whispered.