I tossed the report on the sheriff’s desk, “There’s your post mortem.”
The sheriff looked down at my scrawl and then back up at me, “And?”
“What? You can’t read now?” I snapped.
“Don’t get cute with me, doc.” His tone was calm but I heard the snarl behind the words.
“Okay, sorry Fuzz but it’s been a rough day and frankly I’d like to tie it in a sack and kick it into the ocean!” A nun shuffling past with coffee for us looked at me and raised an eyebrow, a perfectly curved eyebow above a eye of emerald green. I smiled a smile and hoped to hell no one could read my mind right. As she left, she bent over to pop a chunk of cheese in the cells for Willard and my gaze fell on her curves like honey over a spoon, “Still, it’s had its moments, I’ll admit,” I added, suddenly a little distracted.
“Thank you Sister Mattic,” Fuzz said with a wry smile, “I’m sure Willard can do without his treat for now.” She nodded and bustled off. “Doc, doc, doc, what is it with you and nuns?”
“A habit, Fuzz, a bad habit.”
He smiled a frown, which is a nice trick, “The report? What does it say? How did this guy die?”
“Bottom line he was stabbed, several times, looks like a sword.” I replied.
“A sword? What type of sword? Rapier? Broad?”
“From the wounds I’d say a cutlass. Large flat blade. He was stabbed three times in the abdomen and two in the chest and had defensive wounds to his arms, hands and thighs. I say he fought back but was probably unarmed at the time.”
“Nasty,” Fuzz muttered with a shake of his head.
“Well it was no prom dance, that’s for sure,” I replied.
“What about the green goo around him?” Fuzz asked.
“Hard to say, but my best guess is some form of mucus membrane produced by the squiddy thing to protect itself. Dr A thinks that her wee pet was deliberately mutated to a point where a human could be fed to it, although how she didn’t know.”
“So whoever mutated the goo-beast did so with the intention of getting rid of a body. Only the goo didn’t like what was on the menu, wrapped it up and waited for Mother Nature to work her magic,” Fuzz filled in.
“Sounds about right to me. So you know how he died, but not who he is, why he ended up like a pin cushion and who had a beef with him.”
“Actually I do know who he is,” Fuzz said in a matter of fact way.
I sat up, “You do? Who? How?” I asked like a turkey just being told about Christmas.
“Pinkertons. Came in, saw the body, IDed him as John Doe.” Fuzz stated with an odd expression.
“John Doe? You have to be joking? Who the hell is called John Doe?” something about this case smelt worse than the Skylar child and I didn’t like it.
“Apparently he was. It’s a good ID, solid.” Fuzz said.
“But what the hell are the Pinkertons doing here? And how do they know him?” I asked.
“Turns out he was here investigating smuggling in those precious slums of yours. I’m guessing he found his way to something, or someone, he shouldn’t and was perforated for his troubles.”
The slums? My slums? “You’re thinking the Bing Kong aren’t you? So what next?” the Bing Kong were not just a thorn in my side, but as whole rose bush in my tush.
“Next? Next you go home doc. It’s police business now. Thanks for your help an’ all, but we can take it from here.”
Damn him, I knew he was right, but damn him.
“Look, I’ll let you know what happens, but you’ve done your part. You have patients that need you, and I’ve taken you away from them for a whole day. Get some sleep and get back to them doc.” Fuzz smiled warmly but he looked weary.
“Don’t worry about me, Sheriff,” I stood and picked up my bag, “you look tired enough for the both of us.” I said my goodbyes and cycled off. Sure I was tired, tired like Santi Claus on Boxing Day, but I was damned if I was going home. I cycled off along a shortcut through the hills behind Shanghai and headed for the hotel that rose high above the harbour, although what I was looking for lay deep below it…
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) The murder is discussed for the second time at the weekly town hall meeting here.
3) Read more about the urchin Skylar in his tale about being lost in Steelhead’s wilderness here.