It was a cold Virginia day. Early in the rainy season. The reason we were all standing here. The wash down from West Virginia had stirred up a corpse. Darrell Sheffield. At least that’s what we were all hoping.
Sheffield’d been missing since last October. Right after his wife left him. Went on a bender and never came back. Still, his son was a star football player for the Westerville High Panthers. Sheffield never missed a game.
Not that we wished him dead. We only wished closure for his son. Mom left. Dad disappeared. His senior year. A cold way to start adulthood. Thinking his Dad had left too might have been too much. Not that Dakota thought that. Still, everything looked like Darrell’d split. Gotten drunk in a bar. Bought another bottle at Tooley’s drive-through, and that was the last anyone seen of him til now.
“You think it’s him?” grunted Slater coming up on my elbow.
I grunted back.
“Got the perimeter all put up. Thompson and Brooks got the lookie-loos back up on the road. You want us to do a grid search, Chief?”
Shadows moved around near the trees on the river’s edge, higher now with the spring thaw. The ground was marshy underneath; it squished when I shifted my weight and narrowed my glance.
“You think I should do it, Slater?” My growl was worse than my bite, but Slater was just green enough not to know that. He turned three shades of red before stopping at heart-attack. I softened my voice, made it low, “Round up Smith and Lopez. Then get Thompson to help. Brooks can hold the perimeter. …and, Slater –“ I paused to be sure I had his attention. “Pick up everything. And use gloves.”
I’d already made them all put rubber bands on their shoes – a trick I picked up from some CSI tech I’d dated a while back. Best part of living in Virginia was the access to good labs, and seminars where you could learn a thing or two, and maybe even get laid, all on the man’s dime. Pay as a cop, even a Chief, was piss-poor unless you worked in a burg of any size, and I was done with burgs. Thank you, but your t-shirt no longer fits me and my tired-ass attitude. Nice and quiet. That’s what I thought I’d find out here in the po-dunk western hills of Virginia. But truth doesn’t always meet its hype.
I expected a little drunkenness, a little hell-raising, not the good ol’ boys gone bad with meth labs and such. So, quiet it wasn’t, and occasionally we had pieces of meth lab geniuses to be scraped together and sent to the labs for unscrambling, but nothing sinister. Nothing evil. Nothing that made you suspicious of your neighbor.
The body wagon finally showed up, and our prize for the day was hauled up the hill for its ride to the funeral home, where Westerville used space for its morgue. Identity would come later.
Inspired by 3WW's Three-word Wednesdays and the words Growl, Justify, and Hype. Check out this link to read more of the works inspired by these three words.