firstname.lastname@example.org; D. a. Fletcher.com; facebook.com/D. a. Fletcher.email@example.com
It didn’t take long for Unc to come to terms with the LMPD response team. One savvy lady and men accompanying her just responded as to Unc as if he was still on the job. That gave me at least five minutes; if used wisely to make some progress in the context of my plans. It proved more challenging to pin my client down on why he needed me to extend my stay. Six calls in two days weren’t enough to stir Sanguine. He was determined to employ me on his terms. My determination never waned. On the seventh call my efforts paid off.
“Mr. Wright, we’ve been missing each other by a nose.”
His tone told me that nothing would be accomplished in this conversation.
“I trust my fair city has been treating you well. Things will be more amenable now that most of the tourists are making their way home. All the lights and glamour have been put away for next year.”
Next year’s Kentucky Derby could not be further away in my thoughts. Sanguine’s words were rolling past my ears into rolling Bluegrass landscape somewhere among the Appalachian Mountains. The implication of Sanguine’s words completely escaped me. Unc’s needs were the most pressing thing in my forethought. My employer knew only the diehard revelers were strangling behind going to the track. My name wasn’t going to be on the list. There wasn’t a visible threat to him or his company from my seat. Nothing warranted me gouging a client’s bill by hanging around or wasting anyone’s time. Mint Juleps, OTF, and Kingfish could only go so far. Wading through Bluegrass and my clubhouse seats at the track were beginning to take its toll. Any other time cash would be fine. There was never going to be too much cash for my retirement fund since I decided to include Unc in my plans.
He had done his bit to take care of others. Now I was going to give him the retirement he deserved. It was going to be a challenge to pull him away from is bluegrass and bourbon. All those who could relate were busying themselves with matters they felt more important. By default I was strapping on an apron and anything else required getting the job done. Somebody is always left behind to do the hard part.
It wasn’t fair that his latest fishing trip thrusts him back to the dark side of memory lane. Two things were apparent. Number one, enough time had passed for the butcher who severed this limb to make a clean get away. The second is that Unc’s angling skills had little to do with its condition. Someone had made sure that identification would be difficult. He also enjoyed his work.
The adipocerous condition of Unc’s catch reminded me of a pot roast that had been cooked too long. The top layers of the skin had macerated. The fatty layers underneath was slimy as old soap. Oddly, the bone still was surrounded by flesh. Guess farm raised catfish are picky about their dinner. It was hard to tell how long this pound of flesh had been fish bait. The limb appeared to be severed after death. It’s a good thing too.
Algae and moss would have taken root. Years could have passed if the part was discarded near the time of death. None of us would be certain until forensics did they bit. A dismembered limb didn’t prompt many conjectures. Silence draped our disgust. Our death pale pallor at the crime scene had confirmed that we all were recovering from the shock.
Relics of decomposing bodies and stench filled rooms had faded from Unc’s life. This butcher had spoiled all of that. Everyone in sight was stricken by the sight. Proud, his mind wouldn’t rest if his actions were responsible for contaminating anything. Unc had done nothing wrong. There was no reason for him to remember the decomp power of water and lake vegetation on a body. He managed to surprise all of us.
“Officer, bodies that are disposed of in water are often said to decay twice as slowly as when
the body is exposed to air. This is probably largely due to the lower temperature.”
Unc step back and took a breath giving the uniforms time to adjust to his observations. Unc seem to need acknowledgement for his contributions. Time had allowed Unc to become reasonable in his expectations. Those who served under him in the past would tell you otherwise.
“Sir, what about the rate declines?”
The air seemed to swell with knowledge. Everybody was a forensic expert but none of them were the coroner.
“The depth of immersion might be a factor because of the progressively lower temperatures
and oxygen levels”, mumble Unc.
This officer was smart. He knew better to than to allow his emotions to challenge his seniors. Today his physical prowess probably got the better of him. This uniform was respectful but adamant about showing his intellect. He stepped in at least two steps towards Unc shifting his torso in my direction before responding.
Sir, do have you any thoughts on decomposition rates? You must see saltwater burials all the time in Florida. The salt must speed things up don’t you think?”
Junior office wasn’t smart enough to figure out that my dog wasn’t in this fight. He wouldn’t get a response from me. The coroner didn’t need any help from this party. A Coroner wouldn’t overlook the fact that a dismembered body part meant different benchmarks for TOD. Junior office took my silence as permission to continue his bravado.
“Our lakes aren’t as deep but the decay is notable. All that Atlantic Ocean is convenient for disposal of evidence and the sort. It kinda’ pushes things back a bit. Bodies tend decay more slowly in the sea than they do our lakes.”
Unc wasn’t going to be outdone. He did the one thing that allowed everybody to save face. He answered his cell phone. Unc stepped in closer making sure the officers understood that he was in control of his facilities in spite of his retirement status. He wanted them to know this call was a deal breaker for somebody. No one had any idea of whose deal was at stake.
“Yes, we’re stirring up work for you on a Sunday morning. We’re doing you a favor. You know you will do anything to get out of Founder’s Day service. Unc paused for three beats. “We’ll just see about that when you get here.”
The opportunity for him to continue his spill about freshwater containing fewer marine micros – organisms was put on the back burner. Unc had rightfully established himself for his perceived rewards. Chiding the powers that be was his second favorite pastime. It gave me more time to think about how to maneuver Unc’s departure. My need to return home was escalating.
Make no mistake; Unc wasn’t one of my setbacks. He was the mainstay of my conscience. Relationships confirmed your humanity when you bleed blue. Unc was the only thing motivating me to hang around. My thoughts trailed back to Sanguine’s words.
“Mr. Wright, we’ve heard about your unfortunate morning.”
Sanguine continued crafting his own drama and invitations. Everything was veiled with implications of business but nothing rang true to form about his propositions. He made no mention of my expenses or my discoveries. He rambled on about security and corporate training. Sanguine stopped short after confirming my appointment at his corporate campus.”
“Nine o’clock will be fine Mr. Sanguine. I’ll be sure to note anything out-of-order. Are cards the tool of entry?”
“No, Wright why do you ask?”
Sanguine didn’t even draw a breath to let me answer.
“Well Mr. Wright that will have to be something we discuss face-to-face. How about you and your uncle come to Lexington for a visit to the ranch? You’re a little early for the Kentucky-Louisville game. This year it’s played in Louisville this September. Louisville will host the game at the YUM KFC stadium. The corporate jet can fly you up. So horses are all I can offer your uncle in the way of entertainment. There are plenty of night spots for a man with your taste.”
Sanguine had reviewed my charges. He noticed my silence.
“Wright, guess you’re not football fans.
“Gators and Hurricanes get my blood running. I’ll mention it to Unc.”
“Well, at least the visit will give you a chance to see the state as it should be seen. “It will also give us time to have a meeting of the minds, so to speak.”
His words heightened my paranoia. There was no reason for Sanguine to know anything about Unc.
“If you know about my uncle, you know this isn’t a good time for a trip. A man who lives stones away from a track might not want to see more horses.”
The background voices told me that Sanguine wasn’t prepared to take no for an answer either. Sanguine was giving orders as if he was making preparations for entertaining house guests.
“Wright, that’s just it. Men used to horses and bourbon can’t get it out of their blood. A trip to a breeding ranch will flush out the cobwebs. The ride will do things for him that you and I won’t be able to understand. Sanguine accommodated a staff interruption again.
It was clear he wanted to make sure that we are on his list. He even tried to remain sincere when he returned his attention by to our conversation.
“The bond my father and uncles shared with this land was something I never understood. I’ll wager this trip will do the same for your uncle.”
Sanguine could be quite convincing. Listening to him had me almost convinced that he knew men like Unc. He was right. Unc needed something. It probably couldn’t hurt for him to see more of the countryside. The whole state had been his stomping grounds. Sanguine seemed to have a handle on that. Maybe the trip could offer a way to ease Unc into seeing his way to take a longer trip. Sanguine’s words faded behind sounds in my own room. The hotel phone blared in my right ear. Then a knock on the door blared in my left ear. Both of them would have to wait. Trust him or not, Sanguine deserved the attention he was paying for. Those sounds continued while my attention returned back to Sanguine.
‘Wright, it really is too bad that your uncle made such a grizzly discover. Let’s not let this mishap during your fishing trip alter anything. Let me make this up to the both of you.”
Our call ended on the same note it began. No answers and mounting issues. This return to the Midwest was proving to be more of a challenge every day. Nothing in Sanguine’s voice told me he was worried about running up a tab. Three hundred dollars a day probably was chump change for him. He’d rather lay out the cash than to explain himself. Resolving to relax and collect receipts would take some doing. He was right about one thing. Some things required face-to-face discussions. Insistent knocks on the door announced that someone had just that in mind.
“Detective Wright, Officer Blatt here. Can you please come to the door, sir? We have some questions we need to ask you.”
Officer Blatt was making lots of assumptions. It was Sunday, the day had been a wash, and answering more questions about stray body parts wasn’t appealing. What my body needed was some sand in my boat shoes and sun on my backside. One body and a dismembered body part in Bluegrass Lake will make you wish for better landscape. Officer Blatt arrived at my hotel room door to remind me that any thoughts about returning to Bay City floated away with a tainted body part in Blue Grass Lake.