07 May 2010

"There Will Be Banter"

By Curtis C. Chen

"What kind of a name is 'Migdan?'"

Jake snatched the evidence bag away from his partner and sealed it. "What are you, a genealogist now?"

Andy shrugged. "Could be a clue. Some of the big fake paper operations use software to generate random strings that look like names. Lets 'em churn out more IDs in a shorter amount of time."

"And just think," Jake said, kneeling next to the body, "I'm the one who had to go to cultural sensitivity training. That's what you call irony."

"I'm just trying to help." Andy crouched down on the other side of the corpse, then looked around the alley. "Hey, Cee, can we flip him yet?"

The dark-haired, brown-skinned woman wearing nitrile gloves and holding a clipboard scowled at the detective. "Yes, and when the hell are you going to learn to pronounce my name, Dix?"

"As soon as you get a divorce, sweetheart." He blew her a kiss. She shook her head and turned away.

Jake put his own gloved hands on the dead man's hips. "You done chatting, loverboy?"

Andy nodded and grabbed the victim's shoulder. "On three."

They counted down together, then rolled the body onto its back. The man's hazel eyes were open and glassy, and a stripe of dried blood ran from the left side of his mouth down to his chin.

"Another dumper?" Andy asked.

"I'm guessing that's the good news," Jake said. "Miss Chattopadhyay? May I borrow your penlight?"

The medical examiner tucked her clipboard under one arm, fished a penlight out of her jacket pocket, and handed it to Jake. "My pleasure, detective. And may I say it's nice to see that chivalry is not dead."

"He's playing to your rank, Cee," Andy said, "not your gender."

"Do you hear something, Detective Lanosky?" Chattopadhyay said to Jake. "Kind of an annoying buzzing sound?"

"Can't get rid of it," Jake said, smiling.

"Hilarious," Andy said. "You two ought to take that show on the road."

Jake clicked on the penlight and shone the beam into the corpse's open eyes. The borders of the irises reflected the light, making two golden circles.

"Shit," Jake said.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Andy said.

Chattopadhyay knelt down and pulled a portable tracer off her belt. She calibrated the controls, then pressed the scanning pad against the victim's left thumb. After a few seconds, the tracer pinged, and its screen lit up.

"AB negative," she read. "I won't know for sure until we do the autopsy, but—"

"He's a goddamn blood bank," Andy said. "Great! Now we're going to have feds crawling all over us."

Chattopadhyay stood up. "Sorry, Jake, I have to call this in."

"Yeah." Jake handed back the penlight. "Thanks."

He and Andy stayed there after Chattopadhyay left, staring at the dead man.

"What's your type?" Andy finally asked.

Jake said, "Leggy blond with loose morals."

"Serious here, Jake."

"B positive," Jake said. "Third most common. You?"

"O neg. Universal donor. Hospitals love me."

Jake nodded. It started raining.


Photo: unused concept poster from Homicide: Life on the Farm (The Game, 2001)