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29th March
posted by amber

Last Case

The body lies in an alley, next to an over-flowing dumpster. I’ve been called from some kind of family reunion to oversee the investigation, yet I seem to have no idea of how I’d gotten here.

Am I drunk?

I move closer to the body, hovering above it without touching anything. I recognize the face.

It is mine.

Details about the family reunion return to me – many friends and relatives were there who had died. No one currently alive was there. I had been there, and it felt as if I belonged. Why aren’t I there still?

Is it because I still don’t trust my men to solve a murder case on their own? But how can I help, floating above the corpse (my corpse) as I am?

I have to admit, it is a surprise to me that I am dead. I certainly don’t remember how I got that way. I have no insider information for my men, and even if I do, no way to communicate it with them. It’s true, they are uncommonly insensitive to communications from the living, and certainly not a one of them seems sensitive to communications from the dead.

Here they come now, joking as they always do when arriving on a scene. I used to do it myself, to counteract the dread, to provide a layer of insulation. But, of course, that protective layer is stripped away the moment they see that it is me lying there.

It might have touched me, to see how upset they are, but I have noticed something in the arrangement of the trash around the body. Around my body.

The case we’d been working on concerned an organized crime hit, one bad guy who shot another bad guy, but if we solved it, we would have had enough ammunition to put a major player out of commission for the foreseeable future. Our forensics were good, but we needed our eye witness to clinch the case.

The eye witness was in the wind, but she’d called me late last night to set up a meet. And I went alone because everyone had already put in a long day and I was feeling sorry for them. And because the eye witness said that no one had been following her, so all I needed to do was pick her up and drive her to the station, after which we’d get her statement and see about setting her up somewhere safe until the trial.

We were to meet at a well-lit all-night coffee shop. But as I neared the place, I saw someone pulling her into the alley. She was struggling. I called it in and went after her. And there my memories end.

But I can see that I didn’t die immediately. Blood rings my head, flowing in all directions like a red Medusa, the wound in my forehead from which the blood flowed is an angled depression. Not a bullet wound, but a blow from the proverbial blunt object. A nearby two-by-four is the most probable weapon.

Head injury, memory loss, but time enough to arrange some litter just off the end of one arm, a Pringles can. Hovering nearer, I see my fingerprint in red just below the name of the layered stamped out salty snacks. Pringles is the nickname of our suspect in the hit, the one who had most to gain from killing the witness, from killing me.

But the wind is gusting through the alley and the can is rolling back and forth, already it’s at least a foot away from my finger. All it needs to do is get launched over a shallow dam of hamburger wrappers and gravel and dead leaves, and it’ll be gone to the next block, far beyond the standard search zone of my men.

Look! Look at that can! I scream to my men, but not a one of them hears me.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.



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