It didn’t take me too long to get ready. One of the advantages of being a poor doctor in the slums is that I had very little to get ready with and with my satchel lashed to the back, I set off on my bike, more rusty than trusty, to see the John Doe in the jello.
The ride was smooth and quick, the streets of Steelhead still smelt of recent work and tax-payers dollars; if only City Hall would throw a few in the direction of the slums but hey, I was always a dreamer. I even managed to cock a rye smile as I passed the Justice League Halls – the last JLUer who wandered into the slums to, and I quote, “sort out the Bing Kong ruffians once and for all!” was last seen dressed as a girl guide tied to a mast on a very slow boat to Zindra. I shouldn’t laugh. No, I really shouldn’t.
I rounded the hall and drew up to the wall of the aptly named Evil Tiny Kitty Laboratories. I could see yellow police tape and warning signs all over the place, but no Sheriff. I propped the bike against a wall and walked over to get a look at the stiff in the green squiddy thing, and if the stiff looked stiff then the squiddy thing out stiffed him with ease. Hell, you could practically run a flag up it and salute St Peter and all the angels to their faces. I was no squiddy thing expert, but even if the damn thing had eaten the poor sap on purpose, I’d lay money on the fact he didn’t agree with it.
“Doesn’t look well, does it?” a voice like someone pouring molten steel down a valley suddenly appeared at me ear. I spun round and found myself face to face with a gargoyle. A six foot gargoyle in a top hat with a grin that would give a crocodile a complex and skin colour the envy of every battleship in the fleet. I did my best not to look flustered, but sometimes your best just isn’t good enough.
“Which one? The giant green spear of snot or the poor sod inside?” was all I managed in return.
“Ha!” gargoyle boy laughed, “either, both, take your pick. Shalmendo Glineux.” He held out his hand in greeting. I took it and let out an involuntary gasp – he was cold, cold like ice, cold like stone, cold like “Metal?” I asked.
“Heh, I’m made of it in exactly the same way you aren’t,” he replied with a smile that made me think of steak knives, “Dr Beck, I presume?”
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Well the doctor’s bag on your bike was my first clue. The Sheriff told me to look out for you, point you to the body, not that you could miss it,” he nodded his head towards the still stiff stiffs.
“No, guess not,” I said, “I’m going to take a closer look.”
“The sheriff said you’d want to, asked me to keep an eye on you in case Squiddster there did eat a passer-by and is still hungry. I’ve got some rope.”
I raised an eyebrow, “Rope?”
“Yeah, rope. You know, like mountaineers? Round your waist and heave ho if you fall of the edge into the goo. Rope.”
What could I say? Well, there was an endless supply of thing I could have said, but in the end I let a metal gargoyle lasso me before I gingerly approached a column made entirely of green goo and dead person. Just your average day in Steelhead, I told myself for the thousandth time…
To be continued…
All the “Goodunnit? Murder in Steelhead!” posts can be read here.
Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Sheriif Ortega’s intial desk report is here and here
2) Dr Alter notices the body here and here.
3) Elle reports that the issue was raised at the town hall meeting here.
4) The murder is discussed at the weekly town hall meeting here.