Dodging Death Pt. 3

Frank exited the police department an hour later. Chief Dobbin offered some time off. Frank declined, requesting to continue his current caseload. He was especially concerned with a recent murder that happened in the water plant. Earl Kelley was the last operator at the plant two weeks ago. He was found decapitated the next day by his supervisor. 

Frank was worried by this additional murder. One murder was odd enough in Fishbanks. Two was bizarre. Frank drove by Dave’s barber shop. The door was plastered in police tape. A memorial was beginning to develop along the window wall of his shop. Frank slowed, watching a pair of young boys set a potted plant near several others. Magnolias? Or were they marigolds? Frank didn’t know, but his wife would. He decided he’d visit her in the evening. 

Frank’s partner met him outside the coroner’s office. Larry was the fattest cop in town. He wasn’t obnoxiously large, but at 275, he struggled to maintain his physical fitness exam scores. But he did. Larry didn’t really worry much though about his weight. He had managed to keep a quiet career. He hadn’t fired a shot from his pistol aside from training. Larry’s wife, a fierce opponent of police in general, was more than happy with his track record.

Larry shook Frank’s hand. Frank wasn’t a lightweight, but he couldn’t compare to Larry’s large palm. As Larry’s hand engulfed Frank’s, he shook his head slowly. His chin touched his chest.

“I am so sorry about Dave,” Larry said.

“Thanks, Larry,” Frank replied.

“If there’s anything I can do, please ask.”

“Appreciate it.”

A silence ensued similar to ones experienced at the theater in between the conclusion of a striking scene and the applause that follow. It was maybe two seconds. Probably closer to one and a half. Frank eyed their first victim’s metal door. Erik Conner had been a lineman for the electric company. Found hanging from a power line by the newspaper boy, Erik was due for a funeral in three days.

“Coroner reports on Erik?” Frank said, breaking the awkwardness.

“Yeah. As we heard earlier, Erik’s carotid artery was severed by a clean and sharp tool. The coroner found no indications of other injuries. A bruise on his shin, probably from work. He was extremely healthy all around,” Larry read off the paper report.

Larry held the door open for Frank. Inside, the two men met Tom Goggin, Chief Medical Examiner for the State. They exchanged handshakes and Tom added his condolences.

“Shitty day, Frank. Shitty day,” Tom sighed. He walked with them down the hall to the examination room.

“What brings you to Fishbanks, Tom?” Frank asked.

“Two murders is quite a bit for this town. Figured I’d check in on you all.”

“Let’s review both while we’re here. Kevin already has Erik on the slab. Do you want to step out for Dave’s section?” Larry said.

“Nah, I wanna see my boy.”

Kevin, the second tallest man in Fishbanks at 6’ 7”, was jotting the last of his notes when the trio entered. He moved to Frank, offering a grimace and sad eyes.

“Thanks, Kevin. I’ve had enough condolences today. I appreciate it, but let’s focus on our two victims,” Frank said, taking Kevin’s hand, but preventing him from speaking further.

Kevin nodded, “Understood. We have Erik here and Dave over on the other table. He’s covered because I wasn’t sure you’d want to be here for that.”

“I’m fine, thanks,” Frank replied.

“How’s the wife?” Tom asked Kevin.

“Decent. Busy with her restaurant,” Kevin uncovered Dave.

Frank looked over briefly and saw his son’s grey face. A deep cut sliced through his throat. Even from afar, Dave looked cold. Frank thought to move to put a blanket on his boy. He took a step forward, felt dizzy, and collapsed as the grief finally overtook him.

Published by Nick Bucci

Videographer. Photographer. Writer.

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