My City by the Bay (Chapter 2, Part 6 of 6)

A colder wind blew in off the bay carrying the sooty clouds of a rain storm. First North Harbor, then Old Town, Eddingsbrooke, the Dip, Hooker, Uptown and the Shelf were soon covered in a thick, fluffy, wet blanket. Bricks that have seen so much, coated in years of experience and age, were now coated in rain water. The precipitation sped down the sides of the ancient edifices to form continuous “vees,” as if to recall its origins.

Sig was born in the breadbox of America, in an obscure town nobody thinks about after he explains its whereabouts. It’s as irrelevant as the time he spent there. He packed his bags at 18 and headed as far west as a beat up Greyhound bus could take him. His ship landed him here. Over the years, he dismissed that period of time and considered his true birth the moment he walked off that bucket of bolts stiffer than a med student’s specimen. Since then, he has spied every nook, cranny, alley, storefront, bypass, rooftop, park bench, and sewer line this place has to offer. He knows more people here than many of the actual natives and can give you a dossier on plenty, from the junkies in Hamilton Park to the blue-satin-party-dress debutantes of Uptown.

This place. This chunk of dirt. This is his town, and these are his people. That’s why he joined the force all those years ago. You protect the ones you love, and if you’re lucky, they’ll love you for it. Sometimes, when he feels lost, he’ll drive up to Bailey’s Point on the Shelf. There he’ll watch the twinkling lights of the neighborhoods and the spike-like spotlights of uptown. Whether it’s his imagination or not, it always seems like those lights are winking and waving at him. Like she’s waving at him, as if to say she appreciates what he does and loves him as her son. She doesn’t care how much of a screw up he has been, because she knows he’s only trying to do her right. Today, though, she was crying.

Rain falls from such a height you barely think about when it initially starts. You know when it hits you. It’s like out actions. For try as we might, any action can have unforeseen consequences. This unforeseen consequence lay dead in Chestnut Grove.

Benelli threw the GTS in park at the cemetery gates with all of the other flatfeet. Yellow police tape made a challenging cat’s cradle at the front entrance, which the two detectives straddled with robotic accuracy. For its ominous reputation and unfortunate location, Chestnut Grove was a rather charming spot. Goth geeks would love its old-school approach to death and grieving with its worn mausoleums and towering obelisks decrying a faith they discarded ages ago. Half-broken angels by vandals with a beef with God, and ditches from the occasional grave robber foretold of its security (or lack thereof). The unkempt trees gave the perfect signals to criminals that this place was low priority on the city’s watch list.

“I thought you guys rarely patrolled this area.” Sig said in a rather cynical tone.

“We do, plenty of times. This time we got an anonymous call.” The cop was almost trying to save face, but not quite.

“Who’s the victim?” Benelli stopped the argument before it started.

The cop rolled his tongue around in his mouth and proceeded. “We’ve got a John Doe here. Time of death was only a few hours ago. He’s missing both eyes and his kidneys. We fairly sure it’s linked to the organ trafficking.”

“Also could be a message.” Sig’s eyes shot up from the reflections the puddles made on the ground. Their wobbly images reminded him of a funhouse he went to a long time ago. “He probably saw something has shouldn’t have.”

“It’s possible.” Benelli glanced at her watch, “let’s go check John out. Lead the way officer.”

All four proceeded into the graveyard. There were plenty of overgrown paths and trash strewn about the memorials. Sig squinted in the rain to catch the names on the tombstones. Some of the white marble slabs have faded into obscurity, but there were enough to keep him guessing how the deceased was once connected with the town, where they lived, what they probably looked like. No one else said a word. It, in and of itself, was like a funeral procession: everyone thinking along the lines of their personalities. Benelli was probably reviewing the case and trying to think of leads before she had evidence. Sig was trying to recreate the past, and the two officers were probably thinking about lunch.

“Herrrrrrre’s Johnny!” The one officer said, probably trying to shake off his nerves. “They really carved him up like a Thanksgiving turkey.”

“That’s not John.” Sig said with a sick stomach.

“What?” Benelli twisted her head around enough to catch Sig with her right eye.

“That’s Sal.”

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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