Harrison took a last drag of his cigarette, tasted the bitter filter, and dropped the butt onto the ground. Despite the fact there was a ashtray next to the door, he crushed it with the toe of his shoe, reducing it to a brown tuft that blew across the concrete in a July breeze. He shot a final glance across the parking lot to the Aston Martin, parked neatly in the only area of shade. Probably a doctor’s. Sometimes he couldn’t believe how much their salary could get them.
He hit the buzzer next to the door and it clicked open for him. As he moved down the hallway he checked his watch for another time that morning. He had made a special effort to arrive early for his appointment, something new for him as he rarely considered himself a very punctual man. But now he was making great pains to stay one step ahead of the FBI. That pale bastard had come in and taking the case by the helm. Let him think he’s in control, Harrison thought, but I can let the wind out of his sails whenever I want.
The waiting room was drab and outdated. He’d never seen anyone use the grotesquely upholstered chairs. The middle-ages woman behind the reception desk didn’t look up from her magazine as he stood inf front of her, even though he’d made enough noise coming down the hall. The room stank of cheap air fresheners, plugged into all of the sockets and hidden behind the computer monitor. He finally cleared his throat to get the woman’s attention, then she looked up at him under a hood of deep purple eye shadow.
“I have an appointment with Dr. Stafford. I’m here to see the body brought in last night.”
“Sign the book and go on in. Second door on your right.” She didn’t ask for any identification, just watched him, uninterested, noisily drinking from a cup of coffee.
Harrison took a pen and entered his name in the log book. He took a moment to look over the names above him, those who had come before him. No Agent Boxer, or whatever his name was. He could not help but smiled triumphantly; he’d beat him there, and the Medical Examiner’s report was all his. With a mild spring in his step, compensated by his girth, he made his way to the autopsy room. He hadn’t felt so energetic in years.
But as he came to the door, the apprehension of what lie beyond dissolved his smile. He was not an autopsy man. His weak stomach had never been able to handle the odor or viscera. The two Krispy Creme jellies and luke warm coffee he’d had for lunch were still weighing heavily someplace just north of his belt. He burped into his fist, inhaled the last bit of fresh air he’d have for a while, and shouldered his way in.
The autopsy room was frigid and the corpse ripe. He gasped and the stench hit him and he wiped his nose with his sleeve. “Son of a bitch.”
Dr. Colton Stafford looked up from the scale, his face hidden beneath a surgical mask and plastic shield. He waived with a gloved hand, awash with blood, then heaved a pair of kidneys out of the metal dish. “Good morning, Lieutenant. Catch!” He...