Storm Clouds II
Continuing the first chapter of this story as it’s too short still to close out, I think it’s long enough now to move to another scene, but we’ll see what happens with that…
“How did she die?”
The question hung in the air over the people surrounding the cold steel table upon which a body laid covered in a white blanket. The medical examiner pushed his thick glasses up his nose with a latex-gloved finger before replying in a disinterested voice, “Looks like a mugging. Stabbed in the back eight times and then whatever she had on her was taken. She was found beside a car in the Summer Hill Mall parking lot.”
The man that had asked the question rubbed the day’s worth of stubble on his chin, “Eight times? Sounds like something more than a mugging Doc. No mugger than I know of would spend the time to stab his or her victim that many times. Too easy to be see or get caught.”
Doc looked back at him before shrugging, “You want facts Tom. That’s all we have here. Nothing else to say about her. Eight wounds with a knife or similar object. No sign of other harm to her. Before you ask, no signs that she was raped either.” He turned away from the table and stripped off his gloves, “Just the usual senseless crime in the big city.”
After Doc left the room, Tom stared at the body for a while. It didn’t make sense. Why her? She was nobody. Nothing special. She probably had a family and he would have to see them next. That was the part he hated most of all. Having to walk up the lawn or path or whatever. Knocking on the door. The person opening it for a moment with hope in their eyes that their loved one would be there waiting. But instead they would see a middle-aged brown haired and brown eyed man in a rumpled suit flash a badge, ask to come in and then a little while later leave the home with wrecked lives in his wake.
He sighed and grabbed the clipboard that held her ID…
And came to an abrupt halt in his thoughts.
There was nothing there. No name. No address. No other ID. Nothing.
He was mulling over in his mind the procedures for filing a Jane Doe report, when a woman’s voice broke into the room from behind him, “We’ll look after her from here, thank you.”
Turning to look over his shoulder from his right he answered, “She’s a Jane Doe. My file. You have…”
He found himself looking at a woman about his height. She had short blonde hair in a bob cut, blue eyes. Slim of build. Cute in her own way, he supposed. She was holding a folded piece of paper in her hand, “Paperwork. I’m here to claim my Sister.” She handed him the paper as two burly men in dark suits entered the room behind her.
Tom didn’t bother to open the paper. There really was no point. They would not have managed to get into the room without having the paperwork to do so, nor would they be able to leave with the body if they didn’t. He watched her go over to the table, lift the top of the sheet from the body, then with a nod say to the men, “It’s her.”
They wasted little time then, within moments they had moved around both himself and the blond before taking hold of the table and rolling it out the door.
As she turned to follow the men pushing the table from the room, Tom called after her, “I’m… sorry for your family’s loss.”
She hesitated in mid-step before replying without looking at him, “Are you really? Or are you just parroting the words that your regulations say you should say officer?”
Tom found himself unable to bring himself to say to her that it wasn’t just words. That he hated his job. That he hated not being able to find the ones that did these things and bring them to justice. Instead he said to her, “Not all words are lies Ma’am.”
Her answer gave him pause, “No. No they are not. But neither are they all truths either.”
He watched her open the small blue purse she held. For a moment, she seemed to be considering her next actions carefully, as if she was about to reveal something that she was not sure she had the right to. A small white card appeared in her hand a moment later. She looked at it before placing it on the countertop to her right, “If you want to attend her services, they’ll be at that address. Tomorrow. Nine in the morning.”
With that she pushed through the door leaving Tom in the room alone with his thoughts, the buzz of the lights, and the card on the table…
And the question in his mind of whether or not he would or wouldn’t…
Tom picked up the card and stuffed it into his inside pocket of his jacket without looking at it. That decision could wait for the moment. Pushing through the door that led out of the room, he turned down the hallway and entered Doc’s office.
Doc’s office was not what you would expect from a medical practitioner. Every other doctor you would ever meet had their diplomas on one of the walls. Books neatly placed on bookcases. Files waiting for them on their desk. All of the stereotypical things you would expect. Doc was not the norm. Doc’s office consisted of a wall of filing cabinets on one side, his mass purchased steel desk opposite to that, and on the wall to your right a single photograph in a frame.
That photograph was of a young Doc with his arm around a cute red head with blue eyes. They looked happy together. Tom always wondered about that picture and what happened to make Doc the old crusty pain in the ass that he was today.
Doc was sitting behind the desk, a bottle of some cheap dime store beer to his right, his concentration on a file in front of him as he wrote something there in the chicken scratch that was common for doctors around the world to use.
Tom took the chair on the other side of the desk and then said, “It’s early for having a beer Doc.”
As he put his pen down and reached for the bottle the answer was, “Nightshift rules Tom. Whatever helps you make it through the shift.”
Tom frowned but didn’t push Doc on this. Doc was one of the few people that still tolerated him. Not quite a friend mind you, but at least Doc would listen. He said in return, “Our Jane Doe was claimed. She was rolled out of here a few minutes ago.”
Doc just about choked on his beer, “Claimed? I wasn’t told? Who released her?”
Tom blinked, “Err… I did. She had paperwork and…”
With a slam of the bottle on his desk Doc said, “Gimme the paperwork Tom.”
It took a moment to draw it from his suit before handing it over still folded up. Doc opened the paper and then shot him a look, “Did you look at this Tom?”
A shake of his head was the answer…
Doc tossed the paper at him as he reached for the phone on the desk, “Nice paper. No work.”
Tom blanched as he looked to see that the paper was… Empty. Blank. Nothing.
Just like Jane Doe herself.
It took a short time, but it became clear that whoever had claimed the body, had gotten out of the building unopposed and unseen. What was more frustrating was that parts of the surveillance cameras in the building would randomly turn off and then back on again leaving gaps in their coverage.
Doc pointed a finger at Tom, “You have any ideas?”
Tom didn’t hesitate, “Nothing. Didn’t give me a name or anything. I figured that a woman and her muscle wouldn’t get down here without clearance, so I didn’t think to challenge her.”
With a grunt, Doc turned back to the phone dismissing Tom…
Which was fine with him.
He stood up and walked from the office heading towards the elevators. After pressing the button for the main floor, Tom fished out the card she had left on the counter. He almost expected it to be as blank as the sheet of paper she had given him. Why didn’t he look at it? He should have. At the least he should have asked for her name or Jane Doe’s name. Something.
Finally the card was in his fingers and he considered the address printed there in a cold formal font…
S. Realm Enterprises, 69 69th Street. We make dreams.
The bell sounded as the elevator doors opened.
Tom had an appointment to keep in a few short hours and some answers to get from that woman over this…