Tag Archives: Graveyard

My City by the Bay (Chapter 4, Part 3 of 4)

Chestnut Grove

“Do you see her?” Benelli slowly rolled the SLS down a side road bordering the graveyard. Evening was making its way toward the bay, and the two of them wouldn’t have much time to screw around. The somewhat honest people of the neighborhood started to wrap up their day and lock down their possessions. Few were up for the hilarity and hijinks the slum provided in the night time. There were enough hassles in broad daylight.

“Nothing yet. Let’s park the car and search on foot.” Sig indulged his nervous habit of smoothing out the wave in his hair. He was getting nervous. It may have been the coffee though. “She can’t be too far.”

The vehicle slid into a parallel spot, and they stepped out into the misting rain. The whether there wasn’t the most predictable, but Sig always thought weathermen didn’t know rain from shine regardless. What exactly did they do all day in meteorology school anyway? Who knew? It was best to just roll with the punches and deal with the consequences.

“We’ll need to work quickly, if we want to find her. I don’t know too many cart vendors that will work in a darkened downpour.” Sig stared up at the sky.

Walking the perimeter didn’t reveal much. Light, while giving a valiant effort, was on its way to a retreat. There wouldn’t be enough time to accommodate to a search of the interior.

“Dammit! She must be gone.” He slammed his palm on the wrought iron gate.

“There’s always tomorrow.” Benelli knew it wasn’t much of a consolation prize.

“No! We need this now! Nownownownow!” Each command was summoning a blow to the gate. Rust from the neglected iron covered his hand.

“Come on now, Sig, I know you were close to Sal but we haven’t seen her anywhere. She’s probably gone for the day.” That would be the only logical explanation for it. How else would an old lady be able to evade them?

“God damn it, Benelli! I want her now!” His brittle side surfaced after several days of stress.

“Calm down!” She was starting to lose her patience as well.

“Calm down?! I’m perfectly fi…” Sig stopped in mid-sentence and completely forgot his frustrations at the moment. “Do you hear that?” He scanned the horizon.

“Hear what?” Benelli was less than impressed with the non-sequitur.

“It sounds like some sort of… cowbell.” It certainly wasn’t a sound fit for the city.

“No, I don’t. Wait, yeah, it sounds like a cowbell. It’s coming from inside the cemetery.”

No sooner did she say that then a small figure with a catering cart appear at the mouth of the graveyard. She was aged and petite, with grey hair wrapped up in a scarf and in a black dress. She stopped her plodding to look at the two officers with annoyance. “You shouldn’t be carrying on like that, young man. There are still dead here to be respected.” She was quiet but got her point across.

Wasting little time on debate, Sig spoke up. “I apologize for getting out of line, ma’am, but you see I’m the doghouse with my girlfriend and a vendor recommended you. It sounded like he was your husband. The other florists around here didn’t have anything I wanted, and he told me to give you a try.”

“I would imagine so, on all accounts.” She was a judicial person; there was no doubt about that. “He always enjoys making money. You wouldn’t happen to be this gentleman’s attachment, would you miss?”

Benelli took a moment to register the question and with a few awkward, jerky movements answered, “What? Oh, no. I’m his par… friend.” She always came down hard on herself for not being as fluid an actress as she could be. Like most people, she was her worst critic.

With a suspicious tone, the elderly lady turned to Sig. “Well, I can see why you’re in such trouble with your romantic life. Brazen men like you always do first and ask for forgiveness later. If you don’t take care of it now, it’ll catch up with you.”

Even though Sig reddened out of injury, he thought it provided a more convincing act. Knowing when to bite one’s tongue is important in this line of work. “Err, well, yeah. I’ll make it up to her, starting with this.” The nervous smile was ambiguous enough, but the whole act was starting to require effort. He really didn’t want it to unravel on him so soon, but the needling was getting under his skin. “What do you recommend for sweeting up a significant other?”

The old woman stood back and surveyed her inventory. After a moment of moving flowers back and forth, she pulled together a mix of blue delphinium, white roses, and yellow aster. “I think this should do nicely. If it works for that one man, then I’m sure it’ll work for you. That will be seven dollars, dear.”

“One man?” Sig almost fell over himself to pull out information.

“Oh, yes, there’s another man who’s frequently in trouble with his woman. You two seem to have something in common, but he’s much larger than you. Sweet little boy, though. He visits me all the time. Most people buy my flowers for graves. It’s nice to have the recipient see them every now and then. Here, take the bouquet, and you get your life together. Do you understand me, sonny?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he shot a tired look at his partner. This routine had worn out its welcome. “If I ever need you again, where can I find you?”

“Oh, my dear, I walk this area all the time. You heard the bell before I showed up, correct? Just follow the ring and I’ll be around.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

The matriarch laid her bony hands on the cart and moved it down the sidewalk. Since it was getting dark, she was more than likely going back to her house for the evening. Tiny would have to wait to buy flowers either tomorrow or the next day.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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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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