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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chapter Three

David Armstrong threw the cruiser into reverse and began to back up, trying to put as much distance between himself and the Tucker home as he could.

The reporters who had crowded around the vehicle hurried to part, and as the car pulled onto the main road, Billy Margate, the camera man who had been assigned to David by Atlas Communications, chuckled to himself and pulled a freshly-rolled joint out from where it lived behind his ear and beneath his wild curls.

David rolled his eyes, “Holy shit, Billy! Can’t you at least pretend to care that I am a police officer?”

“I could,” Billy smiled winningly at him as he lit it, “But lying isn’t one of my better traits.”

“So you have better traits?” David lowered his window with a grunt of annoyance. He sped down the highway, glaring at the huge billboards he passed along the way that were advertising the newest season of “One Week Window.”

David tried to pretend that he didn’t loathe Jack Thomson, the CEO of Atlas Productions and owner of the newly privatized police force, but every time he saw a picture of the man’s ghoul-like grinning face, it made his stomach churn. He was startled from his reverie by Billy turning the camera on and thrusting the lens into his face as they drove.

“Cut it out!”

“I’m just getting some mood shots, calm down.” Billy shifted the joint to one side of his mouth so that he could grin, “You’ve got the brooding detective look down so well, it would be a crime not to film it.”

David glared daggers down the lens and silently pressed the accelerator down with a stiff foot. They sped the rest of the way to Atlas Production’s private morgue, aware that they would reach it about the same time as Darcy’s body would.

Once they had pulled up to Still Waters Mortuary and Morgue and Billy had tactfully put out the joint, they hurried inside and down a long, suitably creepy flight of stairs to where the now world-famous coroner Dr. Lauren Jamison practically lived.

They pushed the door open to her laboratory, only to find the five foot four, ice-blonde mortician struggling to free herself from a body bag that lay on the floor. Billy switched the camera on as fast as he could while David ran over to her and began frantically helping her escape. He batted the bag away from her face and pulled her into a sitting position before he bombarded her with questions.

“Dr. Jamison, are you alright? Who did this to you? Were you attacked?” he started backwards as the small woman slapped him across the face and glared at him.

“Damn it!” The tiny woman glared at him, “You have contaminated my experiment!” she shook her head and glowered at Billy, “I suppose you got that all on tape?”

“Your experiment? You were trapped in a bag.” David sputtered, his eyes wide.

She glared at him, “I was seeing how easy it was to escape from one of these after being deprived of most oxygen for twenty minutes.” she took a deep breath, and looked like she was about to pass out for a second before she pulled herself to her feet and hurried over to a clipboard that was resting on an examination table and made a few quick notes.

“Did you get Darcy Tucker’s body?”

The coroner glanced over her shoulder at him and nodded, “We did just get a cadaver, but we haven’t had a chance to do anything yet.”

“The victim is twenty-four, light hair and eyes, apparently rather healthy, and she engaged in sexual relations with her killer.” Dr. Jamison lifted an eyebrow and David continued, “We need to know whether she was killed during sex or afterwards and whether there is evidence that the person she had sex with is her killer or whether there’s a third party.”

“Well, fucking A.” Despite the fact that Lauren Jamison was one of the most respected Coroners in the country, those who knew her best also knew that she had a mouth that would make a sailor blush. When she was on camera, Lauren brought a high degree of personality and credibility to her work even though the subject matter was both serious and morbid. Off camera was another story.

She waved over her assistant, a giant woman with linebacker shoulders, the beginnings of a moustache and a lantern jaw named Dr. Daisy Laird, and she looked over a second paper on her clipboard, “Alright, Daisy. Please start Ms. Tucker’s paper work. Once I’ve finished with my findings here, we’ll get started figuring out what soon-to-be dickless piece-of-shit is the perpetrator.”

Every time Lauren unloaded her profane cannon of a mouth, David tried to keep a straight face but it was almost impossible. All he could picture when he listened to her was the poor intern whose job it was to sit nervously over the mute button each time Dr. Jamison went on the air. When David thought about the diminutive and professional coroner that the public saw and the Lauren that he knew, he was hard-pressed to think of her as the darling of the network.

Lauren was, by any measure, gorgeous. Pay-for-view autopsy revenue jumped twenty percent when she replaced the last coroner and income from live autopsies continued to grow as “One Week Window” grew in popularity. If viewers didn’t want to pay the fee then they would have to wait six to twelve hours to see the still shots of the victim’s dissected body and to read Lauren’s findings which of course would put those viewers at a severe disadvantage. David suspected that most of the male viewers who paid to see Dr. Jamison’s work were actually just paying for the chance of potentially seeing the coroner’s breasts.

She looked up at David and frowned, “If there’s nothing else you need, Detective, then I’d thank you to leave. This is a morgue, not a circus.”

David nodded and turned on his heel, muttering, “Sometimes I wonder.”

Billy grinned at him and gave him the thumbs up around his camera, “That was perfect! I couldn’t have thought of a better cut-line myself!”

“Oh, shut up.”

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