Last Year's Model
By Tim Mead
Jesse rubbed his eyes. He'd been reading for hours, and now he felt the beginnings of a headache. Time to quit.
Time to get your eyes checked.
The material he'd been reading about the First World War had been so fascinating he'd not wanted to stop. But his head hurt and he had to urinate.
When he had done his business and washed his hands, he took two Tylenol. What time was it? He looked at his watch. The afternoon was gone. He could have his daily glass of wine. Just one because there were lots of calories in wine.
Yeah, but you don't have to keep yourself that thin any more, Jesse. Why not live a little? A second glass of chardonnay won't hurt.
And a piece of cheese? the voice said. Or you could dunk some Italian bread in a little seasoned olive oil. Wouldn't some pasta go well with the piece of chicken you're going to fix?
Right! And how about apple pie with ice cream all over it? You'll be too big for your clothes if you aren't careful!
A few minutes later, feet on the coffee table, wine glass in hand, he thought back over what he'd read, making a mental list of questions to ask Dr. Handley in class the next morning.
From the course materials, Jesse's thoughts turned to the professor himself. He hoped he looked that good when he was that age. The guy had to be in his fifties, but he had kept himself trim. And the dude wore a little gold stud in each ear. Some days, Jesse had noticed, the prof wore gold wire-rim glasses, which looked a little old-fashioned now that rectangular plastic frames were in vogue. But he must also have contacts, since some days he didn't seem to have the specs with him.
Nice guy, Handley. Excellent lecturer. A bit of a ham, but intense about his subject. Liked to be asked questions. And gay. Not that he was a flamer or anything. But Jesse was pretty sure. He wondered if the professor was single.
Then he remembered that afternoon the first week of classes when he'd seen Handley with the guy at the Union. The redhead who'd come about renting the apartment. The prof and the younger guy had been sitting together. From the way they glanced at him, he was pretty sure they were talking about him. They'd tried to be discreet about it, but they hadn't fooled him. He didn't think the redhead was one of Handley's students. He was a little too dressed up for that. A young colleague, maybe. But why were they talking about him? Perhaps Handley had just mentioned that Jesse was one of his students. But the conversation seemed to go on too long for that to be the case. Maybe they were both gay and were checking him out. He was used to that. Here, where he was trying to stay under the radar, that wasn't a good thing.
He wondered once more about Dr. Handley's sex life. Do guys that old still have a sex life? Shit, the prof probably had a better sex life than Jesse did. His own was non-existent since he'd moved to Ohio.
After he had supper and cleaned up the kitchen, he hunted around for the Gay Yellow Pages. David had given him that as a goodbye gift. Sweet David. Most of Jesse's former associates acted more like competitors than colleagues, but David had been a good friend. Available for a nice fuck occasionally, but not possessive.
According to the GYP, there was a gay bar in Colby. Nellie's. And it was right downtown. He decided he'd check it out sometime. But not that evening. Not ready to pick up a guy in a bar. Yet.
He discovered a Yankees/Indians game on ESPN, so he settled in to watch and root for New York. He remembered several times when he'd gone to see a game at Yankee Stadium and then gone off with his date to have sex, usually in his small but ridiculously expensive Manhattan apartment.
He had no emotional connection at this point with any of those men he'd gone to bed with, but he'd been without sex since he'd arrived in Colby. And he was horny. He turned off the TV while the commentators were still doing their post-game analyses, went to his bedroom, and stripped. Then he reached for the box under his bed and took out a couple of dildoes. Not as good as a live cock, but they'd do in a squeeze. So to speak.
It came as a surprise when, jacking himself slowly while his favorite toy vibrated in his butt, he found himself thinking about the redhead, Dr. Handley's friend.
When Ray arrived at the site of the now burned-out trailer they'd been watching, he found an ambulance, a CPD cruiser, Havers' unmarked sedan, a fire truck, and a CFD sedan. Two uniforms were keeping some spectators at bay. Funny how people would get up in the small hours to gawk at a disaster, no matter how grim.
Havers was talking with Ed Sheets, the county's arson investigator. He turned to Ray and said, "You look like shit. And where've you been?"
Ray looked at his watch. "I got the call a half an hour ago, lieutenant. It's a twenty-minute drive."
Ray waited to be filled in, to receive his orders. Instead, Havers turned back to Sheets, who said, "I can't state definitively what caused this fire. But off the record it's pretty obvious, isn't it? According to the guy who called 911, the trailer just blew up. The sound woke him and his wife, and they could see the flames from their bedroom window. And we know what usually causes that in dumps like this."
"Yeah. We'd had a tip about this place and had been watching it. So you'll let us know when you have more info?"
"I always do, lieutenant." Sheets nodded and walked away, back toward the smoking wreckage of the trailer.
"Was anybody inside, lieutenant?" Ray asked.
"Yep. We've got a crispy critter. Identification could be tricky, but it's probably the guy who lived here."
"Do we know who he is? Was?"
"Not yet. We need to talk with his neighbors, run the plates on that truck over there."
"Is the truck locked?"
"I don't know. Why don't you go see?" Havers turned and walked toward two EMT's standing beside their vehicle.
Ray went to the old pickup truck. It was far enough away from the trailer that it hadn't been damaged by the blast. After pulling on the required latex gloves, he tried the passenger side door, which was locked. Then he went to the other side, and found that door locked, too.
He walked over to the pair of uniformed cops.
"Hey, sarge," one of them said. It was Stanek, who'd taken the sergeant's exam with Ray but hadn't passed. Nice guy, just not the smartest copper on the force.
"Hi, Van. I need to get into that truck. You got a bar in your cruiser?"
"Yeah, want me to do it?
"Not necessary. Just let me use it, okay?"
It took Ray only a minute to break into the truck once he had the proper tool. In the glove box he found the Ohio vehicle registration form. The truck was owned by a Carl Scheman, with an address in Springfield.
Ray returned the tool to Stanek and reported what he'd found to Lt. Havers.
"Should I try to get in touch with his next of kin, lieutenant?"
"We don't know the body in the fire belongs to this Scheman. Let's wait until after the medical examiner's report for that. Why don't you talk with that bunch?" He nodded toward the small group of people who'd gathered to watch the fire.
Ray walked over to them, identified himself, and asked, "You folks are all neighbors?"
Six of them were. There were also a reporter and a photographer from the Colby
Courier who'd arrived since Ray. He didn't expect a TV truck from Toledo for something this far away, but you never knew.
"What can you tell me about the people who lived here?"
"Just one guy," said a tall, balding man with glasses. He wore jeans, a tee shirt and bedroom slippers.
"And who are you, sir?"
"I'm Phillip Cremeans. I live on the next place south of here, about a quarter of a mile. I guess you'd say Annie and I are the closest neighbors."
"Do you know the man's name, Mr. Cremeans?"
"Nope. He kept to himself. We'd see him coming and going."
Ray looked around. "Does anyone know his name?"
They all shook their heads.
He turned back to Cremeans. "Was he at home a lot?"
The woman next to Cremeans, Annie apparently, said he was gone all day. "Left about 7:30 each weekday, going toward Colby. He'd come back about 5:30. He was out on Saturday mornings. I suppose he had to do his grocery shopping or whatever. Then he was in that trailer the rest of the weekend. Leastways, I never saw him going in or out Saturday afternoons or Sundays."
"Did he ever have any visitors?"
"Uh huh," Annie replied, nodding her head so that her curly grey hair bobbled, "somebody came on Sunday evenings, regular as clockwork."
"After dark. Lately it's been about 9:30."
Ray wondered what Annie Cremeans had to do that she kept such close tabs on a neighbor she claimed not to know.
"Can you describe the car?"
"Some kind of SUV. Dark color. Can't say more."
"Blue, black, maroon?"
"No. It was always after dark, and I only saw it coming up the highway."
"You never saw it going back toward Colby?"
"No, now that you mention it, I never did. Whoever it was must have gone on north after stopping by the trailer."
Toward Toledo or Detroit, Ray thought.
Ray looked at the small group. "Can any of you tell me anything else about this guy?"
They all shook their heads.
He noticed the Courier reporter had been using a hand-held tape recorder during the conversation. He probably shouldn't have allowed that, but he'd been so interested in asking questions he hadn't thought to make him turn it off. Besides, he couldn't think of any real reason why the press shouldn't know that much.
When he reported what he'd learned to the lieutenant, his boss said, "Go on back and get your beauty rest, Stonesifer. But be in the office early. You can start tracking down that address in Springfield."
Ray looked at his watch. It was almost 4:00 AM. "Yeah, thanks. Sir." Allowing for the drive time and time to get undressed, he might have an hour and a half in bed before he had to get up, shower, shave, and get to the office.
Having set his alarm for 6:00, he made it to the station by 7:00. He noticed none of the brass was there. He was, in fact, the only plainclothes cop around. One of the uniforms who was just leaving told him there was fresh coffee.
He'd skipped breakfast, so he took his mug from his desk drawer and filled it with the strong brew preferred by his colleagues. He flipped on his computer and ran the license plate number of Scheman's truck. The address was the one in Springfield that had been on the registration form in the truck. He ran Scheman's name through the various law enforcement data bases available to him, but came up with nothing.
He smiled wryly, thinking of Abby, the cute goth lab tech on NCIS. She always made it seem so easy.
He checked one of the online phone directory data bases and found there was an Edward Scheman listed at the address on Handleman Parkway in Springfield. The neighbors had said Carl was a young-looking man, so Ray concluded that perhaps Edward was his father.
Just then Lieutenant Havers came in and asked what he had been doing. Ray reported his findings.
"And what are you going to do now?"
"I thought I'd call the Springfield Police and ask them to check out that address."
"Hold off on that. Let's wait and see what the medical examiner has to say. After all, we're only guessing the body was Scheman's."
"Seems like a pretty fair assumption."
"But it's still an assumption. We don't want to go upsetting somebody down in Springfield if our corpse doesn't have anything to do with them. The truck could have been stolen, you know."
Ray thought the simplest answer was usually the right one, but he deferred to the lieutenant's experience. And rank.
"Meanwhile," Havers said, "I'm sending a couple of uniforms out to knock on doors. I'm sure the people you talked to aren't the only ones who live along that stretch of road."
"And what should I be doing, sir?"
"You might see if anyone has reported Carl Scheman missing. Or if he's been admitted to any of the local hospitals."
"How close is local?"
"Good question. Start with the ones closest, like Colby General, and branch out. "
So Ray spent a frustrating and fruitless morning.
Shortly after noon the lieutenant came back.
"I've just had a talk with the M.E. He says even though the body's badly burned he was able to get a tissue sample where the DNA might still be there. If it isn't, we're stuck with trying to find his dentist."
"So what do we do now, sir?"
"I think I'll go call the Springfield PD and talk to someone. Meanwhile, now the fire scene has had time to cool off a little, I'm sending our crime scene crew out there to see if they can come up with anything Sheets might have missed."
"Not much chance of that, is there?"
"Trust but confirm, Stonesifer."
"Right! What about prints on the truck?"
"It's been towed in. Burgess is going over it. Maybe we'll get a lead there."
It wasn't until he had left the station and started home that Ray remembered Bernie. It seemed a week since the two of them had been rolling around together on his bed, yet it had only been the night before. He yawned, but his dick plumped a little. It couldn't grow as much as it seemed to want to because of the seat belt. Bernie had turned out to be the most aggressive bottom Ray had ever been with. If he hadn't been so bossy, Ray himself might have wound up taking. He liked to go both ways, and Caldwell had a nice cock.
Actually, if it was someone he really liked, he preferred being the bottom. Like when he and Spike had been together.
That memory brought him down. He'd really liked Spike. He realized that as a Feeb, Spike couldn't be open with him about why he was in the area. But he felt betrayed somehow. He couldn't forget how gently, how sweetly Spike had fucked him and then cuddled him that night.
Well, forget about Spike. Which isn't his name anyway. You'll never see him again.
He sighed. And yawned again.
The next morning he tapped on Lt. Havers' door.
"Anything new on the trailer corpse, sir?"
"Yeah. Come in and take a load off."
After Ray moved some papers off the chair facing Havers' desk and sat, his boss said, "I got some info from the Springfield PD. Where the fuck is Springfield, by the way?"
"It's just this side of Dayton."
"Oh! Well, anyway, there's nobody named Scheman at the Handleman address anymore."
Ray waited, knowing he hadn't been told the full story yet.
"According to the neighbors, the father, Ed lived there. His wife died some time back. The son, Carl, was away at college. Nobody was sure where. Apparently the Schemans weren't close with the neighbors."
"That's kind of sad."
Havers frowned. "Well, maybe the Schemans weren't the neighborly type." He scratched his cheek with the middle finger of his right hand. "Anyway, the old man died last summer. The kid came back for a while. He must have gotten in touch with a real estate agent, because the place went on the market and sold fairly quickly."
"I'm surprised the whole thing went through probate that fast."
"I'm no lawyer, but I'd guess young Carl was the sole heir. That could have speeded things up. Anyway, the house is now occupied by its new owners. I have their name in my notes here somewhere, but it doesn't matter."
"Did Burgess turn up anything on the truck?"
Havers nodded. "Yep. Lots of prints. All the same guy. But whoever they belong to isn't in the system."
"So where does that leave us? We still don't know whether our corpse is Carl Scheman or not."
"How'd you make out with the hospitals?"
"He's not been admitted to any hospital within a hundred miles of here. Do you want me to widen the circle and make some more calls? If so, could you let me have some help?"
"Don't worry about that for now."
"Have you heard from the fire department investigator?"
"Yep. Scheman or whoever was living there was definitely making crystal meth and it was definitely your standard explosion."
"Well, at least we know something. But the case is still open, right?"
"Listen up, sergeant, the case isn't closed until we know who that body is. We know someone was committing a crime in that trailer. We know someone died there. We don't know whether the dead person was the criminal or somebody else."
"Seems to me we're stymied, lieutenant."
Havers yawned and stretched his arms over his head. "We never admit to being stymied. Keep digging around and see if you can track down Carl Scheman. I don't think Captain Marlowe would approve a trip to Springfield," he chuckled, "but it would be good to find out if any of the neighbors down there knew of relatives Ed and Carl might have had." He drank the last of the coffee in his mug and grimaced. "Of course, a hotshot like you could probably find out something like that on the Internet."
"I'll see what I can come up with, lieutenant."
"Keep checking NCIC for Scheman as both a perp and as a missing person."
Ray spent the next day at his desk, trying without success to track down more information about the Schemans.
As he left the building that evening a voice behind him said, "Hey, Sarge!"
He turned to see Rachel Miller. She'd changed out of her uniform and was wearing jeans, a blue Case Western Reserve tee shirt, and sneakers.
"Hi, Rachel. Finished for the day?"
She smiled. "Yeah. Like to go for a beer? Just us guys?"
Ray chuckled. "Sure. Where do you want to go?"
"How about The Cougar? It's not far away."
"Okay, but I don't have my car. I walked to work this morning."
So they walked the few blocks to the bar, exchanging small talk along the way.
One of the few women on the Colby Police force, Rachel was certainly the best looking. In fact, she was beautiful, with her fair skin, light brown hair worn short, and blue eyes. She stood about 5'8" tall. At work she was all business, but off duty she smiled a lot. Today, though, Ray thought she seemed a bit nervous. Still, not just any woman would ask a man to a bar, much less one who out ranked her.
The Cougar had a few late-afternoon drinkers, but it wasn't nearly as crowded as it would be when the hordes returned at the end of the summer. They found a booth and sat. Ray ordered draft beer and was surprised when his colleague did as well. While they waited for it to arrive, she made some comments about the fire and the subsequent investigation, but Ray didn't think that was why she wanted to talk with him.
So far as he knew Rachel wasn't in the habit of stopping by a pub when her shift was over to bend an elbow with "the guys."
After the beer arrived, she lifted her glass. Ray matched her. They said "cheers" and drank.
When she put down the glass, she gave him a brilliant smile. If I were inclined that way, she'd be damn near irresistible, he thought.
"It's all right to call you Ray when we're off duty, isn't it?"
"I hope you won't think this question's out of line."
He smiled back at her, hoping to reassure her.
"What's it like being gay and on the Force?"
He hadn't seen that coming. He took a swallow of beer while he gathered his thoughts.
"Not bad, now, I guess. It's a lot better than it used to be. The Chief and Captain Marlowe are good guys. They don't just enforce the County's non-discrimination policies, they believe in them."
He paused, waiting for her to say something. Instead, she looked expectant, as if hoping he'd say more.
"Some of the guys on the force are still pretty distant. You know, they don't do or say anything I could actually complain about, but they don't want any more to do with me than they have to."
Though he had been looking at Rachel as he spoke, a movement attracted his attention. Looking beyond Rachel, he saw Jake's student, Jesse, a book open on the table in front of him. The waitress had just put a mug of coffee beside the book and was walking away.
He continued, "Most of them are okay. They treat me as if it doesn't matter." He paused, still looking at Jesse. "Whatever they think privately."
Jesse looked up, recognized him, and nodded. He was dressed as he had been the previous time, except now he wore a Yankees cap, navy with the white logo on the front. He resumed his reading.
Distracted, Ray had to force himself back to the conversation. Why was Rachel asking him this? He took another swallow of beer and focused on his colleague.
"Do you have a particular reason for asking, or were you just making conversation?"
After a moment's hesitation, she said, "I'm gay, too."
Damn! Rachel is a lesbian? Well, you can't always tell about people by looking, can you?
"I'd never have guessed. But why are you telling me, Rachel?"
"I just had to talk to somebody. You're gay and you're a nice guy. I thought you'd be sympathetic. I've kept it quiet up until now. But I've met someone, and I don't know what to do."
Ray took a deep breath and expelled it. "You're asking if you should come out?"
She nodded. "Uh huh."
It would, of course, be more complicated for her. She already had to face the prejudice of some fellow cops because she was a woman. He could just imagine what some of the guys would say if they learned Rachel was a lesbian.
He shook his head slowly. He wasn't sure he was ready for the responsibility of giving Rachel advice. She had to be tough to be a cop, but she was also in a highly vulnerable position.
"Something inside me says we should all stand proud, tell the world who and what we are."
She nodded, but said nothing.
"But it could really be tough for you if you came out. I think you could count on support from the top brass, but the guys – and maybe even some of the women – you work with every day could make your life pretty miserable."
When she looked at him, her eyes were moist. "Yes, dammit. I have always wanted to be a cop. My dad was a cop. And I like it. Besides, I think I'm smart enough and have the guts to be a good cop."
"Still . . ."
"Yeah, I know! So you're saying I should stay in the closet?"
"I think I'm saying you should be discreet. Does this person you've met live in Colby?"
"No, she's in Toledo."
"Well, there's no reason why you shouldn't be together when your jobs let you. I know you'll hate it that you can't tell the world how you feel about each other. She does feel the same way about you, I hope."
"Then why not take it slow? See her in Toledo. If she comes here once in a while, no problem. Just no PDA's."
She nodded again, staring at her beer glass.
Ray looked beyond her at the table where Jesse had been sitting. He was gone. Ray felt something, he couldn't exactly say what. Loss, perhaps?
"I know you're giving me good advice, Ray. I just hoped you'd suggest something that would make it possible for Tiff and me to be open about our relationship."
"Sorry," he said. He put his hand on hers. "It ain't easy. But whenever you need to vent, come talk to big brother, okay?"
"Yeah, thanks." She stood and dropped a bill on the check.
When Ray stood, she kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, Ray. You're a good guy."
They walked out together and parted on the sidewalk, going their separate ways.
Several days passed and there were still no viable leads on Carl Scheman. It was tempting to conclude that the hideous body they'd recovered from the fire was the man from Springfield. But Havers wasn't ready to make that assumption official yet. If, as he pointed out, the body was Scheman's, there were no unsuspecting relatives to notify. On the other hand, if it wasn't Scheman's they needed to keep trying to identify it. Him.
Late Thursday afternoon, the phone on his desk rang.
"It's Farkas at the desk. There's a gentleman here wanting to report a missing person. I'd take down the information myself, but I thought maybe you'd want to talk with him."
Ray wondered why, but he didn't ask. "Send him up. This isn't about a runaway kid or spouse, is it?"
"No. Like I said, you'll be interested in this one." Farkas hung up.
Ray went to the elevator. Just as he got there, the door opened and a plump, middle-aged, balding man with rimless spectacles stepped off. If he'd had a white beard he'd have looked like Santa Claus. He was wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt with a blue and yellow striped tie above khaki trousers and the kind of thick-soled leather shoes chosen by people who cared more about their feet than about fashion.
"I'm Sergeant Stonesifer."
The man extended his hand. "I'm Donald Jensen." After they shook hands, Ray led the way back through the cube farm to his desk.
"Someone you know is missing?" Ray asked after they were seated.
"Yes." The man looked uncomfortable. "I debated whether I should come in or not. He may just have had some sort of emergency and didn't have time to let anyone know."
"Who are we talking about, Mr. Jensen?"
"My graduate assistant. I'm the head of the Chemistry Department at the University. My assistant has always been completely reliable. But he hasn't been in all week. And that's just not like him."
Ray grabbed a pad and pen. "What's his name, professor?"
"Everyone at the university calls me `Doc'."
"Okay, Doc, what's your assistant's name?"
"Scheman. Carl Scheman."
"Do you have an address for Mr. Scheman?"
"No. He told me he'd moved a while back, but he didn't say where. I have his cell phone number, but he hasn't answered it since my secretary started calling him the first of the week when he didn't show up."
"What can you tell me about him?"
The professor was beginning to look worried. "As I said, he's my graduate assistant. He's working on an MS in chemistry. Bright young man. Good in his classes, excellent as a course assistant for me. Works well with the undergraduates. Quiet, though. Never talked about his personal life."
"So you wouldn't know if he has family anywhere."
"No, sergeant. If he does, he never mentioned them."
"And when did you last see him?"
"Last Friday afternoon. He finished up his work, said goodbye, and left about 4:00. Was due back in at 8:00 Monday, but didn't appear. His absence caused me a good bit of inconvenience, but he's always been so regular I assumed it was some sort of emergency. It's been so long I'm worried." He sat up straighter and squared his shoulders. "So, what's the procedure? Are there forms I should fill out or something?"
"Um, not in this case, sir. A male was killed in an explosion in a mobile home early Sunday morning. According to the Fire Marshall and our crime scene people a meth lab blew up. We have reason to think Carl Scheman is the person who was killed. The medical examiner was able to find tissue so we could check the DNA. But we have nothing of Scheman's to match it with."
"I can't believe it was Carl!" The professor looked stunned. His hands, which had been resting on his thighs, clenched into fists.
"He would have had the knowledge."
"You don't have to be a graduate student in chemistry to make crystal meth, sergeant."
"Yes, sir. I understand that. But his truck was found parked near the trailer. Neighbors said a young man had been living there for a while. Would you have a picture of Scheman? We have his vehicle registration but not his driver's license."
"Probably. My secretary took lots of pictures at our department Christmas party. I know Carl was there. I'll ask her to go through them if you like. And we can send anything she has to you via email if you'll give me the address."
Ray handed the professor one of his business cards.
Jensen rose, so Ray did as well.
After they shook hands again and Ray thanked him for coming in, the professor said, "I just can't believe it was Carl. I suppose it goes to show you don't always know people as well as you think you do."
Ray nodded. He couldn't help thinking of Spike.
The next morning Ray received two good close-ups from the Chemistry Department. Both pictures showed more than one person, all obviously in party mode. One man appeared in both. He seemed to be in his twenties, was of average height, as was the corpse, with dark hair and brown eyes. Ray arranged to have the others cropped out of the picture and blowups made of Scheman's face. Then he took what he had to Lt. Havers, who sent a team of uniformed cops to show them to Scheman's neighbors.
Mid-morning Ray was looking again at the pictures Dr. Jensen had sent. And he smacked himself on the forehead. How could I have missed that?
Even if Scheman hadn't told Jensen about his move to the mobile home, he surely would have reported his change of address to the University. Especially if he received a stipend for his work as grad assistant to Jensen. A call to the Registrar's office confirmed that Carl Scheman had an address on Township Road. Okay, it wasn't proof the corpse was Scheman, but with all the other evidence they'd collected, it made the presumption a strong one.
Later that day the report came back: though most of the neighbors interviewed said the guy in the pictures might or might not have been the guy from the trailer, one woman was sure. She'd seen him filling his truck at a nearby gas station when she was there doing the same thing.
Ray reported to Havers what he'd learned about Scheman's address.
"I'd thought about that," Havers said, "but I just hadn't gotten around to telling you to make the call."
"Are we ready to close this out, Lieutenant?"
"We may have to. Still, I'd like to get a positive ID somehow. Check local dentists and dentists in Springfield to see if any of them has ever had Scheman as a patient. Maybe we can do it that way."
Before he left the station that afternoon he received a phone call from Doc Jensen.
"Sergeant, what's going to happen to Carl's body?"
"They'll keep it for a while longer, but if no one claims it, the County will see that it's, uh, taken care of."
"I'd like to see him given a proper burial, if that's possible."
"Yes, sergeant. If he was making an illegal drug, he was obviously doing something wrong. Something I don't personally approve of, for what that's worth. But I knew him as a brilliant young man. I enjoyed working with him. He was a great help to me. I don't know whether he did what he did from greed or for some other reason. But I don't want him put in a pauper's grave."
"I understand, professor. You want to copy this number?"
Ray read him the number of the county morgue.
To Be Continued
Emails encouraged at firstname.lastname@example.org Please put the title of the story in the subject line so I'll know it isn't spam. Thanks. --Tim