Geoff, the counties coroner, has his hands on his hips, as he tapping his toe while facing into the cleanest corner in the morgue. The victims body lay on one of the steel tables about ten feet behind him, her right index finger pointing at the drain and her chest split open. Her internal organs have been removed and weighed with practiced exactitude.
“The deceased was in perfect health before the murder. Her own physicians’ reports collaborate this…” the coroner takes a moment to burp, “In fact, she was taking care of herself particularly well recently.”
Ian twists around from the corpse to wince at the coroners back.
“Well, I know this wasn’t an accident, so why don’t you cut the bull and just get to what I want to hear.”
Geoff turns his face just enough to see Ian over his shoulder, his face minced with spite. Ten feet apart, they both can’t look directly at each other.
“Shit, I don’t want to be here either… cutting people up. Taking out their guts… their brains…”
His back kicks as he begins to heave.
“…Jesus Christ… I’m playing God here.”
Ian sighs into his hands to relax himself. Geoff was an old hand at ‘cutting people up’, but he could never stomach the gore, despite his training and the thousands of corpses that pass through the morgue or, as Geoff calls it, the Hospitals Rectum.
“She was pregnant, wasn’t she?”
“Well, no shit Sherlock. Did you deduce that all by yourself or had you help?”
The image of the moth reappeared in the back of Ian’s mind, strong enough to pepper his vision with darkened flutters.
“What happened to the baby?”
“Well, he or she was removed with force while the victim was still alive. She probably haemorrhaged and died within minutes.”
Ian considers the moment carefully while inspecting the body.
“Could the baby be alive?”
Geoff didn’t speak at first but just kicked the wall for a few seconds.
“Theoretically, yes. She was six to seven months into her pregnancy. An experienced hand could have removed the baby and kept it alive but the equipment necessary isn’t exactly portable. More likely than not, the kid is dead.”
“Did the victim struggle?”
Ian sincerely hopes so.
“Not that I could see. Her nails were clean and there were no marks on her body. She could have been sedated but the tox results aren’t due for an hour if you want to wait around. Help me clean up or something.”
Ian mutters under his breath and shuffls over to Geoff.
“You’re by yourself buddy.”
Backed up reports are stacked around his desk, but the Sarge is interested in just one.
“No struggle. No footprints, finger prints, DNA or any evidence to speak of.”
Ian sat down, having just entered the Sergeants office, which is situated at the back of the precinct building.
“Don’t sit down detective. That seat is reserved for people who work here.”
Ian stood up and took note of his bosses face. His cheeks were bloated and red and his eyes would have popped from his skull if he just stopped rubbing them for a minute.
“And her mother is haranguing the mayor. The fucking mayor. Now tell me detective Hamilton, how am I meant to do my job when the mayor is threatening to close this precinct down and make bastards out of my children?”
With one of these moods, Ian could only sweat it out and pray that his boss will just pass out from rage.
“I’m working on it boss.”
The Sarge takes no time crawling onto his desk to grab Ian by his jacket lapels. Several paper stacks crumple over and his chair wheels back with force, denting a filing cabinet.
“I’m glad to hear that.”
His breath knocks Ian for six. Years of smoking and booze have rotted his gut, creating a stench someone could drown in.
“Perhaps you could solve this one, for my kids. So, they don’t have to go to some public school invested with spicks.”
Ian’s eyes water.
“I’ll get right on it, boss.”
The cruisers wipers are swishing back and forth at full speed but they seem to have no effect on the downpour.
“It hasn’t stopped raining in days.”
The rookie had lost his spunk when he heard the grime news about an infant. He tried to make conversation several times on the way back to the Great Hoboken but each time amounted to nothing but a brief pleasantry that always seemed inappropriate despite how innocuously it was meant.
The two men had to duck under a line of tape to enter the penthouse. Inside the room was dark and depressing, the stench of murder overwhelming. The rookie flicks all of the lights on.
“Do we know who the father is?”
Ian wanders towards the bathroom.
“Her mother doesn’t know?” The rookie was surprised.
“No. She wasn’t expecting a grandchild anytime soon.”
In the bathroom Ian could hear the rookie open the balcony doors. Chills run up his sleeves and he feels at odds with himself, simultaneously hot and cool. He shudders for a second, shaking his arms at his side. Something was amiss here but he couldn’t place it until, like the previous night, a moth appears, this time from behind him. Playfully it knocks against it own reflection before corkscrewing downwards, landing on the sink plughole.
“What are you?”
The moths’ wings flutter as it crawls into the hole, disappearing out of view and suddenly Ian knew what to do. He removes his jacket and balls his sleeves to his elbows, getting down his knees. The pipes beneath the sink were exposed, the u-bend attached with a plastic ring. It came apart easily, putrid red water pouring onto the expensive tile. Inside was black, but something fuzzy was visible to Ian who plunged his fingers deep into it. It slipped out easily, wrapped around his fingers, a soaked clump of hair, curly and thick.