“May 8th, 11:22 am. Cause of death unknown. Auburn hair, blue eyes, about 5’6’’, slender build. She was found by a group of boy scouts cleaning up the river bank at 8:15 am this morning. The victim was physically abused before being dumped. Multiple bruises all over her body, black eye, and fat lip.” The tape recorder buzzed over the silence of the stark white room. “Rope burns around the ankles and wrists. Tape residue around the mouth. Strange tattoo on her lower right arm.” The coroner’s gloves squeaked as she lifted the lifeless arm to examine the tattoo. She wiped a rubber finger across the wet tattoo. Slowly it dripped and smeared down onto the white sheet covering the metal table. Carefully she placed the arm back on the table, making sure the forearm was faced upwards. She reached over the table and grabbed the camera. As she snapped pictures of the wet inked tattoo, the coroner’s coat pocket buzzed to life. “This is Melissa.” The woman listened to the voice on the other line. “No officer, I’ve just begun the autopsy now. You’re welcome to come in and examine the body further-” Melissa walked over to a small tray containing the belongings found on the girl’s body. “No, no ID was found.” She scanned over the drying items. “There is a pocket knife.” Puzzled, she carefully lifted up the silver pocket knife and switched open the blade. “There’s blood on it, but there were no cuts on the victim, I under stand, I’ll get a DNA test on this right away.” The click of her cell echoed through the silent room. Melissa clicked off the tape recorder and let out a sigh. She placed the knife into a paper bag and headed off to the DNA lab.
Tires squealed as the vehicle came to a sliding stop on the slick, rain stained pavement. Two bright eyes shone at the driver. For a moment they just starred at each other, his almond chocolate eyes and the round black eyes on the road. The driver shook his head making his wet brown hair spray water onto the windshield. “Move you dumb deer!” he yelled as he honked his horn. The deer leapt off the wet p8avement and back into the thick woods lining the road. His tan hands shook as his he gripped the steering wheel. Just breath, he thought, no ones following you, no one even knows what you’ve done. After taking a deep breath he took his soaked Nike tennis shoe off the break and leaned it onto the gas. A blur of sea foam green disappeared around a bend as the 1958 Ford Ranchero’s speedometer leaned towards 60.
The squeak of wet loafers echoed in the hall of the coroner’s lab. Melissa rolled her eyes at the familiar heavy, foot dragging walk of the officer now inside her lab. White doors swung open and the police officer’s squeaking shoes stopped.
“Didn’t your mother tell you to pick up your feet when you walk?” Melissa said without turning around. The officer sarcastically chuckled.
“No, I got that enough from you.” He said in a playful tone. Melissa tried not to smile.
“How’ve you been Jake?” She said finally turning around to see the man’s tall frame standing across the room. He was in his uniform, thumbs in his belt, gold badge beaming ‘Officer Walter, Venango County’. His pants were slowly dripping water onto the clean floor. Melissa made a mental note to clean up the now forming puddle at Jake’s feet, after he left.
“I’ve been alright, sleeping better now that your snoring doesn’t keep me up.” Jake gave Melissa a half smile making his dimple cave in deeper. She avoided the knowing dimple, one of the things she used to love about him.
“Did you come here just to insult me?” Melissa folded her arms across her chest, her brown eyes starring down Jake. Although she was a good five inches shorter than Jake’s six foot structure, that stare made him feel very small. He shifted his feet and ran his fingers through his light brown hair, avoiding those russet eyes.
“No, actually the Chief sent me down here. We think we may have identified the body.” Officer Jake pulled out a folded photo from his back pocket and held it out to Melissa. Her heals clicked as she stepped towards Jake’s outstretched arm. As she took the photo, she felt the familiar touch of Jake’s warm hands. Quickly, she pushed away the thoughts of all the memories with those hands. They both walked over to the body, Melissa held up the photo of a vibrantly smiling girl. Bright blue eyes shone through the picture, the girls auburn hair was neatly curled with a small blue flower bobby pin holding back her hair to reveal her smiling cheek bones. The girl lying on the autopsy table barley resembled the happy girl in the picture. Her hair was slowly drying with mud and river water, her skin a pale yellow color and her lips were blue, not the pale pink in her photo. Melissa wiped away a stray hair from the girls face.
“That’s her.” She said handing the photo back. Jake nodded.
“Then we’ve got another body for this case.”
The summer night was just as humid as the day. Camden lay on his bed, eyes closed, striped down to his boxers, as the house heated up from the stove cooking dinner. The fan turned itself left to right, humming as it strained to keep the small bedroom cool. Light boomed into the room, along with the kitchen heat, as his mother entered the room.
“I’ve been calling you for fifteen minutes!” Her thick Italian accent cut the nice silence. She placed her hand on her thin hips waiting for a reply. Camden opened one eye to see his mother, dark hair pinned up in an untidy bun, apron dirty from dinner, starring at him. “Look at this room,” She changed the subject. “Your clothes are all over the floor, your fathers on his way home, you better have this clean before he gets here.”
“Should I clean up my clothes?” Camden consulted the fan. It slowly turned left to right as if to say no. His mother stamped her foot and called him by his full name. Camden rolled to his side, drowning out his mother’s voice. Suddenly, her eyes widened, the front door opened and heavy footsteps entered the house. She rushed to greet Camden’s father. Almost immediately the fighting started. Camden concentrated on the fan, its rhythmic movements, its loud vibrations. Eventually the yelling over powered the fan. Camden picked up his dirty jeans and a maroon t-shirt from off the floor, pulled them on and snuck out the bedroom window.
Crickets chirped on the quick walk through the forest to the familiar blue house. The paint was chipping off the outside of the house and blue garage. A Ford Ranchero sat in the gravel driveway, Camden admired it as he bent down to pick up some small stones. He made his way towards the wrap around porch and began lightly tossing the stones at the upstairs window. A moment later a soft face with auburn hair appeared in the window, beautiful blue eyes smiling down at him.
The tapping of the stones echoed in his ears as he pulled himself away from his dream. But the tapping continued. Camden felt the vibrations of the tap turn into an urgent knock. He turned to see a rather plump hand knocking on the driver’s side window. Quickly, Camden glanced around to see if the man had come from a cop car, but none were around. Two very deep set eyes with dark circles underneath scowled at him through the window; the man was wearing a blue collared shirt with the gas station logo stitched beside his name tag labeled ‘Larry’.
“Hey buddy.” Larry’s voice was deep. “This isn’t a hotel.” Camden glared as Larry pointed with his thumb for him to vacate the parking lot. The key turned and the engine roared. Pulling it into reverse, and throwing it into drive, Camden left the vacant gas station parking lot, and rolled onto the deserted highway.
Camden rubbed his eyes and pushed back his messy hair trying to concentrate on the road. His mind lingered on his dream, the memory of her made him clench his teeth as he held back tears. The sun slowly made its way up, peeking just over the top of the hills to his left. Bright yellow flooded his eyes, making them water. He let the tears drip down his cheeks as he rolled the window down to let in the morning air. If he didn’t know any better, this would be a beautiful morning, watching the sun rise, with the wind blowing, but as his watery eyes turned into crying ones, all he could think about was what happened only a day ago.
The police car crept up a gravel driveway and pulled up to a small blue farm style house. Melissa stepped out of the car, her high heels slightly sinking into the loose gravel. It was already early morning; this case was taking longer than she had thought.
“This way.” Jake said. Melissa followed behind. The top of the roof held a rooster weather vane it squeaked back and forth as the morning breeze carried it from west to southwest, west to southwest. On the top floor, the same wind tugged at light pink curtains to blow through an open window. An officer nods at Jake as he lifts the yellow caution tape blocking the front door.As they dip their heads under the tape Melissa took in the scene. A few police men were taking photo's, others sipping their steaming black coffee. The smell hit her face, it reminded her how tired she actually was, the idea of a warm latte sounded perfect about now. Behind the men casually having a conversation about some football team who had miraculously one some game, she saw the dark striped chair holding the body. It's brown and burnt orange stripes faded from the sun and now splattered with stains of blood.