Monday, July 25, 2011

FICTION: Code Eleven by Stephen Taylor

Just four shifts into his career with the Foothills County Sheriff’s department, Deputy Officer Briggs, was riding shotgun today with the Sheriff. When the code eleven went out from dispatch, the SUV’s GPS screen beeped to indicate that they were the closest responders. Briggs sat up straight in the seat of the Bronco

“This’ll be your first stiff,” said the Sheriff, as he switched on the lights and siren.

“I’ve seen a dead person before,” Briggs said.

“Yeah, but this one is special. A code eleven is a suspected suicide. Try to keep your lunch in, Rookie.”

A small crowd mulled in front of the little red brick bungalow as they pulled up. Deputy Briggs got out of the vehicle and holstered his baton.

“Who called this in,” he asked the crowd.

“It was me.” A teen-aged girl rose from the curb and approached the cruiser.

“Where’s the body,” Briggs asked.

“Inside. It’s my uncle, or at least I think it’s my uncle,” she said.

“Can you watch her, please, and stay here until I get back?” he said to the young man standing next to her.

The Sheriff was already in the house. There is no mistaking the sickening reek of death. The methane wall of stink hit Briggs like with a heinous force that displaced the air in his lungs. He held his breath tightly, and bile rising in his throat, he fought the urge to vomit with all the will he could muster.

Don’t barf. Don’t barf.

A nude, male torso lay prone in a pool of coagulated blood on the black and white checkered floor of the kitchen. It had tumbled backwards with the force of the blast and its finger was still locked around the trigger of a short black metal shotgun. Nothing was left above the neck. Not a thing. Briggs felt a twinge of shame as his eyes were drawn to the long, fat flaccid penis that arced to the floor below the pot-bellied mid-section of the naked corpse. The ceiling above the body was stained in a reddish fractal swirl; a kind of macabre Jackson Pollock painting. The little school photos taped neatly in a row on the refrigerator door were spattered with blood. Smiling little children, all with neatly brushed hair. The blood had drained down in narrow rivulets to the floor below.

“He’s been dead for a few days,” the Sheriff said, “although in this heat, it doesn’t take long. Whew he’s ripe!” The sickening buzzing of the flies seemed to get louder and Briggs felt the bile rising in his throat.

Briggs exhaled, held his nose, and sucked in a quick breath through his mouth. He noticed that the ground seemed to move and then realized in horror that a sea of maggots infested the scattered clumps of grey brain matter strewn like hamburger across the bloodstained kitchen floor. Hundreds and hundreds of wiggling white worms. That did it. Briggs felt the uncontrollable expulsion of warm puke as he projectile vomited, first over the headless body, and then on the second heave, directly onto the Sheriff’s starched khaki uniform.

“Goddam it Briggs. Go outside and call the Coroner. Now!”

He didn’t need to be told twice. The growing crowd outside had edged up closer to the house. An Asian man, his hands cupped, was peering in the front door window, to catch a glimpse of the mayhem inside. Briggs nearly flattened him as he ran through the door, bent over double, and discharged the remaining contents of his stomach over the porch railing, onto the neatly cut lawn.

Dr. Horton, the County Coroner, was a very short and fat man. Standing less than five feet tall, his deep booming voice took most people by complete surprise.

“What the hell happened here,” he said, entering the kitchen. “Who blew chunks on my crime scene?”

“It was the damned rookie doc. I should have left him outside,” the Sheriff answered.

He surveyed the scene, and carefully steere his shiny black Bostonians clear of the corruption that littered the floor. Squatting down on his fat haunches to examine the bloated body, he let out a loud drawn out fart.

“That’s better out than in,” he said.

He picked up a single squirming maggot. It wiggled violently back and forth between his fingers and he pinched it in half.

“About three-quarters of an inch. I would say he’s been dead 5-7 days,” the doctor said. “Pretty obvious what the cause of death was.”

“Yep. And we got a note on the table. Case closed,” said the Sheriff.

“Right you are Sheriff. Now lets get the paperwork done on the headless horseman here so I can get home in time to watch the Braves. You need to get changed. Your chest looks like a pepperoni pizza. You got to get your rookie a nose plug.”

“These College-educated rookies these days. They’re all a bunch of pussies,” said the Sheriff

“Not as tough as they used to be,” said the doctor, as he pinched a nostril and blew a red and green snot-ball into the kitchen sink. “Not nearly as tough as they used to be.”

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