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Exciting news!! Dirk wrote Chapter 7 in our novel collaboration!! Yay!! Thanks so much, Dirk! Now folks, hold onto your hats, cause here come the cops.

Chapter # 7

Posted by Dirk December 8th, 2003

Hundreds of small beads appeared on his forehead as soon as the large door of the sedan swung open. The sanctity of the air-conditioning was gone and before he reached the police line of tape his freshly laundered shirt was a sponge, soaked with perspiration.

“The entire area is cordoned off sir, you’ll be the first to enter, coroners crew are on their way,” the uniformed officer spoke as he raised the tape for McManus to enter.

“Sergeant Thorne has all the kids back over at the lodge,” he was interrupted.

Detective Taylor Robert McManus raised his hand, “Constable, secure the perimeter, I’ll take over here until Ivy’s crew gets here. Donovan’s already been posted at the main gate, join him when you are finished here.”

“Yes Sir!” eager to impress the Detective with all of his two months experience on the force, Constable Douglas Henderson drew his sidearm and proceeded to survey the police line.

“You can take down that mile of tape as you go!” McManus yelled after him.

‘Why could this have not waited until tomorrow’ McManus thought, ‘Two more night shifts and I’d be off to PEI for two weeks R&R and the cottage.’

Mosquito’s rose in clouds as the Constable thrashed about removing the yellow line. The sun was full up now and the humidex, whatever that was, was stuck wide open. The three vans arrived in a cloud of dust and before one full minute had expired a team of eight technicians and their gear were single file at his service. Ivy had trained his department with military precision and they were highly regarded within the province.

“What are we looking at Mc?” Ivy spoke on the stride. Ivan Jones County Coroner for seventeen years insisted his department be the best and to insure that he had drilled into them the full military training that he himself had received during the Second World War. This was his first of many questions.

“I don’t know Ivy, haven’t stepped in yet I was waiting for you” McManus spoke somewhat awkward. Ivan before had scolded him; he didn’t want to be embarrassed again.

“Let’s get on with it then, single file every second man, eye’s to the ground, I only want to see one set of footprints when I leave here,” Ivy spoke with firm command.

For a small man Ivan took large methodical strides as he entered the marsh surrounding the lake. Unconsciously calculating the precise distance to the shoreline and the previous location of the body. His eye’s registered the entire view.

A storm front was moving in fast so time was of importance, any disturbances in the mud would be washed away by rain.

“Weather Doctor is not on our side today we have a thunder cell approaching from the Nor West so let’s get finished up here,” Ivan spoke clearly from the swarm of black flies.

McManus, being larger of stature moved awkwardly along, his footprint overshadowed Ivan’s by a good four inches and he noticed that. His behind the back nickname of Bigfoot was in his thoughts when the woodcock flew.

“Whoa! What the heck was that!” he blurted, and then nervously looked about, embarrassed.

“Woodcock,” Ivan answered without looking up.

“Team A! Skirt the pond at the waterline. Team B! At perimeter identify all paths to the water!”

Quietly the two teams fanned out through the marsh and it was just the two of them, Ivy and Mc.

“McManus, You ever see how long it takes for a tadpole to emerge?” Ivy pointed to the shoreline, just below the water’s surface a tadpole was half emerged from the air sack attached to a reed.

“I was a bit worried your fellow officers may have disturbed precious evidence like this,” he spoke as his digital camera emerged from his vest.

McManus wondered what this may have to do with evidence but said nothing, Ivy had his own way of looking at things and he wasn’t about to show his ignorance by asking stupid questions.

Ivy took a few more pictures of the mud and waterline.

“That about wraps it up for here, I’ll get back to the office and start processing these images and have a closer look at the deceased. I only had a few minutes earlier but there was no water in the chest cavity so we know death was prior to being in the water. Everything will be emailed to your desk sometime this evening so if you want to walk back out, lead the way,” Ivy motioned for the path.

The back of his neck had been chewed upon by the bloodthirsty black flies and was now bleeding from his scratching, this added to the perspiration stain at his collar.

‘I’m too old for this,’ McManus repeated in his head most of the way back to the sedan. Ivy said nothing more as he strode to his van. ‘Must have only saw one set of footprints, Bigfoot.’

“What a way to start a heat wave,” he thought out loud. McManus had already been presented his twenty-five year service pin and watch, payroll had finalised all the required retirement paperwork and November 11th was his official last call to duty as Honour Guard for Veteran Day Ceremonies at the Cenotaph.

Considering the fact that there were more than 200 present, the great hall was in an eerie silence. Only hushed whispers were heard as he entered. Annie rushed to greet him but was motioned to stop by one of the uniformed officers. McManus overruled and approached the Lodge director.

“McManus, City Police, do we have a place we could speak in private?” he offered his handshake.

“Yes, why yes we have our registration office right here,” she nervously motioned to his immediate right.

“Dismiss any one who was not involved in the fishing group, no need to interview them, send in the boy.”

McManus was interrupted by a woman’s voice, “Excuse me! The boy has a name and I am his Mother!”

Fast approaching was Mrs. Bowden, Rosary in hand.

“As I said officers, get everything back to normal around here,” McManus scanned the hall then motioned Mrs. Bowden, Dallan and Annie into the office.

“Shouldn’t we wait for my husband, he was just outside waiting. He didn’t like the crowded hall and his arthritis bothers him when he flies so.”

“Excuse me, Mrs. Bowden, I don’t think we will be needing any lawyers or anything like that, just a few questions for the boy and I’ll be on my way.”

McManus looked to Dallan and asked, “Now, Dallan, when you were down by the lake fishing earlier, you were down by the lake fishing were you not?” McManus used his fatherly tone.

“Well, kind of, I didn’t actually fish but, yeah I was down at the lake,” Dallan looked puzzled at the question and looked nervously at his mother.

“It’s OK Dallan, you have nothing to be nervous about, do you?” McManus smiled.

“No Sir” Dallan replied, this time looking up at the clock behind the registration counter to avoid McManus’ gaze.

“Excuse me Detective but as Dallan has told me, all he did was tug on the pant leg, why, because he is a boy, I guess that’s why isn’t it Dallan?”

Mrs. Bowden was a rapid talker and McManus found this somewhat annoying.

“Please ma’am if you would let the boy speak for himself,” McManus interrupted her once again.

Showing his obvious irritation he cleared his throat and was about to proceed when Mrs. Bowden intervened once again and spoke as she this time stood, “Dallan, we are leaving this God-forsaken place at once. Go find your father and the car, I’ll be along after I speak alone with Mr. Manus.”

Nodding at Annie she made her point clear and Annie stood to leave. McManus relieved her with his own nod.

“I’ll be outside if you have any questions Detective,” and Annie exited.

“Mrs. Bowden if you would relax for a moment, I really don’t think you are making the right decision here.”

“Detective Manus!” Her rebuttal was very loud. “My husband has very influential friends in the practice of law and I am sure he will make the right decision as to which one of them will be in contact with your department to represent Dallan. So, if you will kindly excuse me I’ll be on my way.”

“It is McManus Ma’am,” were his departing words, he doubted she heard them; she was already out the door. He had lost control of this situation in record time. Women or at least dealing with them was not one of his strongest suits. His failed marriage was testament to that. ‘No time to go there,’ he thought to himself.

Annie was a nervous wreck as McManus exited the office.

“Detective if I can be of any help, in any way possible. I mean, you know what I mean?” she stumbled her words. “This will be the ruination of Laughing Bear Lodge, the papers will have a field day with this one that’s for sure.”

McManus cut her off, “Hold off on that Annie. Just calm down, that Rosary lady and her attitude have been enough for me to handle, we don’t need you going all to pieces now do we?”

He comforted her with that same fatherly tone of voice. “I’ll be heading back to the office for the rest of the day, call me if you feel that you remember or if any one else remembers anything the officers may not have in their notes, otherwise go back to your room and try to calm down a bit.”

McManus sneaked out the side door marked Staff Only and into the full intensity of the midday sun.

“No sense in air conditioning now he thought,” as he clicked it off and dropped all the windows. In his rear view mirror he left a cloud of dust behind him as he raced the engine of the big sedan. Donavan and Henderson were left choking at the gate and by the time the dust had cleared McManus was nowhere in sight.

“Things must have been pretty sour in there,” Henderson spoke. This was the second time today; Mr. Bowden’s exit was much the same.

“The things we do for money eh?” Donavan joked to Henderson.

This was a pickle of a situation; McManus thumbed his radio mike and informed dispatch about the Bowden’s and their leaving of the scene. He was not anxious to open Ivan’s email when he arrived back at the Station House, but he knew it was important. Never really accepting the fact that the department insisted the entire staff become computer efficient, at his age and with such a short time to retirement his efforts had been minimal. Ivy on the other hand, studied technology as a hobby and was a software developer to boot. He was always so technical in his letters and emails that McManus barely ever totally understood them. He was really not too concerned about his inept abilities of computer usage, but was always worried one of the officers may have botched up DNA or evidence again. Ivy was always rampant when things like this occurred and with this department he always had something to gripe about.

Miramichi City Police Department would probably have to call in the RCMP once again if he wasn’t satisfied. He’d be relying on him for this one though his notebook was empty again.

Knowing that Captain Furlong wouldn’t be back in his office until Monday he pondered the idea of calling him. His holidays always surrounded fishing season and hunting. He and a few buddies’ were lucky enough to have their Crown Reserve Waters for the last week of June.

McManus took a chance and dialled his cell phone. “The person you are dialling is away from the phone, or temporarily out of the service area. Please try your call again later,” confirmed Furlong was still at the camp.

2:17p.m. He had forgotten about the heat as he entered his newfangled security card into the slot. The door whirred into gear and the green LED gave him his entry. Instantly his whole body chilled, combination of the sweat soaked shirt and the office air conditioners brought on a dizzy spell. After a few minutes freshening up in the locker room and a clean shirt he felt OK. Not very often he was ever in the building at this time of day, it was quiet and that was a good thing.

McManus was the departments’ only detective, so Ivy’s information was always directed to him, the first initial contact to the Police Department. Not wanting to, he clicked his cursor to Check Mail.

Spam and more Spam, then there it was, County Coroners Office, Topic-Urgent!

Miramichi City Police Attention Detective McManus

McManus, preliminary observations made by my team indicate the deceased had been in the water for a day or two, drowning was not the cause of death, chest cavity was nil of water, discoloration and bruising appear to be post traumatic, a large three prong fishing hook and a short length of very heavy line was attached or snagged to the shirt collar.

Other abrasions look to be of a scraping type with small pebbles and sand within the slight wounds, as though from dragging or possibly from falling or tumbling down an embankment, we’ll have to work on this tonight and results should be in this evening from Sackville lab. Photos from the entire area and team notes will also be made available.

More information will follow.

Ivan A. Jones,

Northumberland County Coroner Sheriffs Department

“Hey McManus, I’m heading down to Tim’s for coffee you want anything when I’m there?” It was Maggie the new summer student hired as auxiliary for the summer.

“No thanks dear,” was his reply, and then he wished he didn’t. Politically incorrect he thought to himself, no just stupid.

“OK then, I’ll be right back if anybody is looking,” smiling her way out the door. He watched her leaving just as the cruisers arrived back from the Laughing Bear Lodge.

‘I hope you guy’s have something for me,’ he thought out loud again.

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