Chris was sitting on a couch with the TV on in front of him, showing an old baseball game. He wasn't watching though, his mind was somewhere else. No, he wasn't thinking about the burnt cigarette butt or the fragment of glass he found near the highway earlier today. His mind kept going back to Elena, the new chick in town. Russell said that she's married. Well, that's too bad. Because there's something about her that made him want to ignore all that shit and give it a go. A personality, something that was seriously lacking in the girl he was banging these days.
He sighed and got up to dial a number on his telephone. A female voice answered, Hello.
What's up, Hailey? You free tonight? he brought about a silky tone in his voice.
Hailey gave a little dry laugh. No guests at the B&B either.
Ah. So do you want me to bring dinner?
That'll be nice, thanks, she said. Then after a pause she added, I'm a little, you know, moody these days. So, are you sure?
Chris suddenly remembered that the dead guy on the examination table in his lab was Hailey Becker's father. He said softly, Of course. And hey, it's ok. Would you rather be alone?
She said, No, no. Come over. It's just... you know...
Chris momentarily thought, even these sluts are so high on feelings. Then immediately he cursed himself for thinking that. Hailey wasn't two-timing, at least. She deserved her due respect.
All right, tell you what, he said, I'll also bring beer and rent a movie. But I gotta stop by at the lab first. For an hour maybe.
Ok, she said.
I'll see you around 9. He hung up.
Chris felt the corpse's forehead with his gloved right hand. He didn't require a craniotomy during the autopsy. All the visceral and internal examination were generally uneventful. The only catch was the forehead being smashed with some sharp object. But what?
It didn't pose a problem to make his report now, though. The cause of death was concussion and possible intracranial hemorrhage from a blow to the forehead by some sharp object. The other injuries caused by a collision with a moving vehicle were only contributing damages. So it was definitely a murder. His job ended there. Now it's for the police to find out the actual murder weapon.
Only this time his interest ran further than that. There was something very weird about this particular case. First of all, it really didn't seem like a murder at all. The whole scenario screamed accident' from the very beginning. Even the sheriff and the other guys at the station had accepted beforehand that this was an accident. Chris had a feeling that they'll be absolutely skeptic when they hear his report. And not happy.
He took out the cigarette butt and the fragment of glass from the sterile plastic pack. What were these things doing there? Probably totally unrelated. But they were on the car trail. One thing he was sure of was the fact that some car was running off track. And he had a hunch that it was chasing George Becker.
Nah I can't work like this, he thought. He got up and turned on the radio. At once Dave Grohl's voice filled the room. My head is giving me life or death, but I can't choose... Now that's better, he thought, although somewhat ironic.
He put the cigarette butt under the magnifier. Nope, nothing extraordinary. A regular Benson & Hedges cigarette butt. It's true that not many people here smoke B&H. But that doesn't prove anything. This was probably a waste of time. He was about to throw it away, but thought better of it and put it back inside the plastic pack. Then he took out the glass fragment.
Rather thick dark coloured glass. There's a curvature, maybe it was a glass pipe or a bottle or something like that, Chris thought. He put it under the magnifier.
Now what's that? Chris found some dried stain at one end of the fragment. It didn't seem like dirt. Animal shit? unlikely, he thought. It was a little shiny. He touched one corner with a thin probe. The stain broke into fine granules. He collected some of it on a thin microslide. Shit, he thought, it's blackish red under the magnifier. He diluted them, and then put a drop of activated Luminol over the microsilde. Then he turned off the magnifier light. There was a bluish luminescence on it.
What's wrong? Hailey asked, lying beside him.
Chris didn't answer. His mind was right back at the lab.
You seem really distracted tonight, she said, You didn't seem so when you called up. I mean, the sex was good, but I... I felt that your mind was somewhere else.
Chris sighed. It really didn't seem right to discuss about all this especially with Hailey. Strange, he thought, I'm investigating the cause of this guy's death and at the same time fking his daughter. What does that make me, he wondered.
He said, It's just... you know... a little trouble at work...
Hailey got up from the bed. She was naked. She walked over to the table, got herself a glass of water and sat down on the chair. Is it about my father? she asked, Something wrong with the way he died?
Chris shook his head. He didn't want to bring this up.
Hailey sighed and lit up a cigarette. She crossed her legs and took a drag. You know, Chris, it's not like me and my father were close or anything. I didn't give a shit about him. He was a drunk, abusive son of a bitch. I only came to him because I had nowhere else to go. My mother died, a woman he knocked up but never looked back to. And I got pregnant. I had no money. Where am I supposed to go, hm? Yeah, he paid for the abortion. He let me stay with him till I turned 18. Yeah, he never tried to have sex with me while I was with him. But that's all. It's just I had to turn up at the diner every morning to wait for tables with bruises on my arms and face.
Chris didn't say anything. This was a bad idea to come here.
Hailey continued, So you know, I don't give a fk even if you tell me he was murdered or his balls are gone. He made every guy his enemy in this town. Even the woman he used to love, Camilla or something, I heard she even turned against him. Freddy, Luke, Big Tommy, sheriff Bob, Doc Harper... every guy had something against him. So you wanna tell me what's going on?
Chris sat up. A new thought entered his mind. He said, I will, maybe later. But now I gotta go. Can I use your phone?
She looked away. Sure, she said.
Chris got up and looked at his watch. It's ten-thirty already. He went over to the phone and dialled the number. Hey Russell? Listen carefully
Sheriff Bob O'Reilley was definitely a little surprised to see Chris when he opened his door.
Hello, Chris! What's going on? Come inside. He led him inside.
Tell me, what do you have in mind at this time of the night. O'Reilley looked at the wall-clock. Damn it's nearly Eleven.
Chris panted a little. Then he said, Sheriff, I think I know how George Becker was murdered.
O'Reilley's expression suddenly turned serious. So he was murdered, eh? That's your report?
Chris nodded. Yes, sir. Sharp blow to the forehead. And I have an idea by what.
Well? What is it?
Chris smiled thinly. Beer bottle, sir. He was hit by a beer bottle. The first hit was blunt. Hence the concussion. But the killer hit him again on the forehead with the broken bottle. The sharp fragmented glass end caused an injury exactly like a dagger or a big knife. He paused.
The Sheriff stared at him for a few seconds. Then he took out his cigarette case and put one cigarette in his mouth. Go on, he said and lit it up.
Well, sir, now the question is how could the kil Chris froze in mid-sentence.
Sheriff Bob O'Reilley was smoking a Benson & Hedges.
(to be continued)