The house has a strange appearance. It’s too tall for its width, seeming to rise precariously out of the mud and into the sky, and the faux-Tudor boards nailed to its façade only make it more unsettling somehow. She stares at it hard, trying to figure out what is bothering her about the place. She has no reason to draw her weapon, but she finds her hand straying to her hip holster, hovering uneasily over her gun as she walks down the drive and onto the large, crumbling porch.
It could be the smell. Closer up, she realizes that the whole place gives off an unwashed odor, like clothes stripped off wet and not spread out to dry. There’s a metallic tang in the atmosphere as well, old blood evaporating and staining the air, but it’s subtle enough that she recognizes it only when the shovel has already begun its swooping arc toward her skull. She wakes up gasping, clutching a pillow that smells like lavender.
There is always paperwork to catch up on, and she spends an hour yawning and completing forms. Busywork over, she forces herself to think, to go back through the scant evidence she has. She logs in at the FBI site and starts a search for a weapon that could have fired the bullet sitting in an evidence locker. Firearms are not her area of expertise – she pretty much only knows what she likes, what fits in her hand, and how much recoil she can cope with. But she learns quite a bit from the website, and narrows the field down to a nineteenth-century long-barreled gun – or maybe a replica of that style.
Her phone rings, startling her out of wondering how to track a gun like that, whether wills or pawnshops are more likely to yield results. Something that old would be valuable, and it’s easy to imagine it being passed down through generations. “Hudak,” she says briskly into the receiver, waiting for news. Christopher Peters is apparently alive and well and tending bar at his father’s genuine Irish pub; he might be getting into a little bit of trouble with the law, too, if the resignation in the voice of the officer who’s calling her back is any indication. With any other case, she’d be content with the process of elimination and ready to assign a name to the John Doe at this point. But she has no idea how much the sulfur and the disintegration messed up the thumbprint, so she sits tight and waits for an answer from the chief’s friend up in Michigan.
It turns out to be even easier than that. She’s put on hold a few times before she gets connected to Mickey, the chief’s former partner, and he verifies that John Doe is indeed Thomas Q. Graeblowski. Molinson walks by her desk just as she’s saying her thanks and stops to pluck the faxed photo out of her hand. “This is the John Doe?” Molinson asks after Kathleen hangs up.
“Not a John Doe anymore. Got a name. Thomas Quincy Graeblowski,” Kathleen says, too pleased to bother hiding it. She needs to thank Georgia for moving quickly enough to get a viable thumbprint off the body.
“I’ve seen him,” Molinson says, frowning thoughtfully at the picture.
“Where?” she asks hopefully; she still has no idea how Thomas became the victim of a homicide in the best neighborhood in the city.
“In a really awful production of The Tempest that Joe took me to. At the Beacon Theater a couple months ago.”
“That outdoor theater in the state park?” She hasn’t been out there herself, but it sounds like a nice way to spend an evening.
“Yeah. It was hot as hell that night, and I gotten bitten up by mosquitoes and Joe’s allergies were acting up.”
“So a good time was not had by all?” Kathleen smiles sympathetically.
“Things got better once we got home and into bed,” Molinson grins frankly. “And we’ve kind of talked ourselves out of doing anything ‘cultural’ since then.” She stares once more at the glossy photograph. “But that’s definitely the guy. He played one of the sailors.” She puts the picture down and taps it once, right between the eyes. “Good luck on this one.”
She spends twenty fruitless minutes searching for Thomas Graeblowski and then for every variation of the name she can think of. He’s not listed anywhere in Jefferson City or its environs, so she follows the one solid lead she has and heads out to the Beacon Theater. The manager is more than cooperative, fixing her a cup of tea while she scans the employment records for the name. Again, though, nothing pops up, and she asks if they keep old playbills. His picture, tiny and black-and-white, leaps out at her as she leafs through the one for The Tempest, and the name next to the picture and above a brief resume is Tom Tracy.
The new name is much more fame-friendly, she supposes as she plugs it into her search engines. She gets a hit almost immediately. He’s leasing an apartment downtown and she jots down the address and the other name on the lease – Derek Fisher. She catches Molinson’s eye as she gathers up her things and goes.
Still gen, still R-ish.
Word count (today): 883
Word count (total): 18,888 (62.96%)