[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
001 002 Prologue 001-002 003 004 005 Chap 1 003-005
Chap 2 006 007 008 Chap 3 007-008 009 010 Chap 4 009-010 011 012 013 Chap 5 011-013 014 015 016 017
Chap 6 014-017 018 019 Chap 7 018-019 020 021 022 023 Chap 8 020-023 024 025 026 027 Chapter 9 024-027 028 029 030 031 Chapter 10 028-031 032 033 034 035 036 037 038 039 040 041 Chapter 11 032-041 042 043 044 045 046 047
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 048
Chapter 12 (7 of 7): The Detective
The coroner was standing on the other side and together they rolled the stiff corpse over about thirty degrees in the direction of the coroner. As they did so, the shirt flap on that side cracked and fell to the ground. “O.K., hold it. That’s O.K.,” Phoebe yelled. “Barb, can you pick that up?”
Barb darted in beside the coroner and retrieved the broken bit of cloth. “See anything in the pocket on your side?” Phoebe asked the coroner.
“It looks empty to me,” he said, and felt tentatively along the contour of the pocket. “Nothing here,” I think.
“Yeah, looks the same on this side,” Phoebe said with disappointment. “Anything in that shirt?” she queried Barb.
She had turned it over and examined the obverse. She had also ducked down to inspect the underside of the other half of the shirt still attached to the body, or what was left of the shirt back. “Nothing here either,” she reported.
Phoebe’s face wore a pained expression. “So we have no idea who this person is.”
They all looked at her, but nobody said anything.
“This should be interesting,” she said. “At least we have a body, and in time it will tell us something.” From the present vantages she had little difficulty seeing that the back of the head was a mucky mess of darkened tissue and black hair. Somebody had indeed given her a crushing blow to the parietal region of the head.
“Load her up, Mr. Schwenicke,” Phoebe said. “I’m going to ask you to take her to Pathology at the University. Make sure you tell reception that I’d like Professor Wendel to handle this case – he regularly works with us on these kinds of cases.” The coroner was reluctant to get started. “And you file the normal transfer charges with our office in the city, and you’ll get the standard reimbursement for your services.”
Schwenicke’s face relaxed. “Yes, ma’am,” he said briskly and turned to the deputy. “Come on, Vernon, give me a hand here.”
“And cover her chest again, please,” Phoebe said. “Use that same plastic and blanket Barb had before.”
With great solemnity the two of them did as she had requested and then began pushing the gurney towards the hearse.
Phoebe pulled Eaton off to the side.
“Bud,” he said, “do you know off-hand of any Asian families living around here?”
“I was just thinking the same thing myself,” he answered. “And the truth is I can’t think of any. Sometimes on Fridays we’ve had some students come up from the university for a few drinks and some pool at The Lounge back in Marloe. As far as I know, always men, by themselves. Jennie tells me they’re quiet and stick close to each other. She’s never had any trouble with them, and the locals don’t seem to give them much mind.” He wiped his nose with a sleeve. “But as for any of them living here, not as far as I know.”
Phoebe touched his forearm.
There was a sound of ripping from the hearse. Everybody turned in unison to the source. The coroner had broken off the other shirt wing and was placing it on top of the body. “She’ll never fit into the bag otherwise,” he explained sheepishly to the watching crowd. It would have been normal procedure to encase the corpse in a body bag before loading it on the gurney, but the precarious incline on both sides was slippery with snow and they had decided to wait to bag her until they got her up on flat ground.
Phoebe allowed herself a final look around the scene. “I think we’re done here, people,” she said. Addressing herself to the tech assistants, she explained, “I’ll be heading back to the city in a few minutes. You three go ahead, and I’ll catch up with you. Get on that sample you scraped off the ground as soon as you get back, Barb, and let’s hope we find something there. Pete, no need to remind you I’d like all those photos by this afternoon. There’ll be a full organizational meeting in the conference room around five o’clock. “That gives you,” she looked at her watch, “a little over four hours.”
The tech crew shook hands with the sheriff’s people and got into their van.
“I’ll be writing up the prelim on this in the next few days,” Phoebe said to Eaton. “I’ll be glad to send you my report. It may save you some work. Just let me know if you disagree with anything you find in my version.”
“Appreciate that, Phoebe,” the sheriff said. “Reports are not my favorite way to pass the time.”
Just as they were breaking up and heading for their cars, there was an excited shout from the hearse.
“Hey,” the coroner yelled excitedly, “I think I found something here.” He had been bending over the body to zip up the bag they had stuffed her into. He was peering intently at the midsection of the corpse. “There’s a piece of paper in the coin pocket of the jeans.”
They all rushed over, including the technicians who had been just on the point of taking off. Inside the woman’s right jeans pocket there was a smaller flap for keeping change. It had frozen in such a way that it stood out slightly from the cloth forming the larger pocket.
“There,” the coroner pointed with his bare finger, “right in there. See it? I just happened to notice it as I was pulling up the bag zipper.”
They all bent forward and stared intently at a small white piece of paper. “It must have come loose when we moved her around. Explains why no one saw it before when she was lying in the ditch,” Schwenicke announced.
“Yes,” Barb seconded him. “It looks as though it’s the only part of her that wasn’t frozen stuck. She must have had it in the coin pocket all along, which somehow made a pouch. Maybe from the way she had been moved or transported by the killer.”
“Get me a pair of tweezers from the kit, would you, Henry?” she said to her assistant. “And an evidence baggie.” Henry was back in an instant.
Barb proceeded to extract the piece of solid paper. “Easy, easy,” cautioned Phoebe. “There’s something written on it. Maybe that’s our clue to who this lady is.”
Barb got the paper out in one piece from the jeans. She placed it inside the transparent plastic and set the baggie on top of the dark rubberized canvas of the body bag. There were some clearly legible letters done in a black felt tip and, below and to the right side, what looked like a telephone number that was totally smudged.
Phoebe read aloud the cryptic message from the dead woman, “Mazarine.”
TO BE CONTINUED