Saturday morning, Grandma Cody discovered rotting meat in her basement. She followed her nose downstairs, cane in hand, and flipped open the freezer chest. She doubled over, gagging, turning her face away. The stench was like rotten fish sautéed in bile.
Freezer must have conked out about Tuesday, she figured. Not that she used it. No, that nice young man who rented the upstairs stored his deer meat there. What was his name? Timmy? Teddy? Something like that. Whatever, she’d have to leave him a note.
Detective Rivera was pissed. Three murders on his watch, and his captain was all over him. The first had been a Friday night a month ago, then one each week for two more weeks. The heads had been left at different bus stops along Hyde Park Avenue, inside Hefty trash bags. Just the heads. No bodies. Rivera had checked all the usual dumping grounds. Nothing. Where does this psycho toss his stiffs, Rivera wanted to know.
He picked up a Post-It note with an address and a time scribbled on it, signed by his crazy partner. Rivera looked at his watch and grunted and grabbed his coat.
“No rest for the weary?” Brockman said, looking up from his desk.
“Goin’ to Thompson Street,” Rivera answered.
“At least you got dead guys,” Brockman said. “They stay dead.” He held up some papers. “Third missing person this month,” he said. He shrugged. “When these guys get tired of screwing around on their wives, they come home all by themselves. Don’t stay missing very long. But who gets to file the reports? Me.”
“That’s what I like about you, Bill,” Rivera said. “Always looking on the bright side.” Rivera let the door close behind him and headed out to the black and white. Time for Cap to transfer Brockman’s ass, Rivera thought. He’d have to leave him a note.
Tommy Mulry was nervous. He and his partner had been working these Hyde Park murders without success. The heads had all the teeth pulled out, so dental records were no help. But Rivera wanted to pursue the DNA route. Send some skin scrapings in to the Crime Lab and see if they got any matches. If they could ID the heads, they might figure out some scenarios. Mulry sat upstairs by his bedroom window cleaning his Glock 9mm. He saw Rivera’s car nosing into the driveway. Finally, he thought. He screwed the suppressor onto the front of the Glock and took his position beside the door. When Rivera knocked and stepped into the room, Mulry put two rounds into his partner’s head.
Ten o’clock that night, Mulry crept down the basement stairs with various parts of Rivera wrapped up in a sack and the toothless head in a separate trash bag. Nobody was sending him up for murder, Mulry thought. Okay, so he had a few dalliances with men in public bathrooms. So what? Everybody gets sloppy now and then. But his bathroom Valentinos didn’t get it. There wasn’t any future in it for them. One even tried to blackmail him.
Mulry’s gag reflex kicked in half-way down the stairs. He staggered into the basement and found Grandma Cody’s note on the dead freezer. Sure, he thought, he’d clean it out. He’d clean it all out. Good thing the old lady was in bed.
Mulry grabbed a shovel and dragged Rivera’s body back up the stairs. He’d start with this one, then move the others out one by one. Then he’d ditch Rivera’s head. He’d catch hell from the old lady for digging up her garden. It’d be okay, he figured. He’d have to leave her a note.
Grandma Cody didn’t like people messing around in her garden. No one else was allowed in there. She was getting a little hot under the flannel collar watching Mulry drag his bags in there and start shoveling along the back wall. That was a bad spot, she knew. Sure enough, he hit something hard and stopped. He bent down, screwing his face up into a quizzical stare.
That was enough. Grandma Cody threw on her bathrobe, grabbed her cane, and stumped on out to the backyard. She came right up to Mulry, who pointed at a bone sticking out of the ground.
But Grandma Cody didn’t look. She touched Mulry with the tip of her cane and twisted the handle, releasing the spring-loaded needle into his back. He jerked around and grabbed for her, but fell to his knees. It would be quick, Grandma Cody knew. It always was.
They knew they weren’t supposed to go into the garden. But did they listen? Now she would have to invent another story about another tenant bolting in the middle of the night, stiffing her for the rent. She grabbed the shovel.
When the police came the next day she led them straight to the basement.
“He seemed like such a nice young man,” Grandma Cody said, prodding the garbage bag with her cane. She held her hand over her nose. “But when I found this, well, that’s when I called you.”
The detectives asked her a few more questions and thanked her for her diligence.
“I don’t get it,” said the fat one, as they waited outside for the Medical Examiner. “Mulry on the run without a car? Why leave the car?”
“Who escapes in a squad car?” the Captain answered. Jesus, he thought, Brockman was dumber than dirt. Better transfer him. And soon. He’d have to leave himself a note.
“Nice garden,” Brockman said, looking at the neatly turned rows of topsoil.
“Yeah,” said the Captain. “That old lady sure can dig.”
Copyright: © 2009 Robert Meade
Copyright: © 2009 Robert Meade
----------------------------------Robert Meade is a transplanted Bostonian now firmly rooted in Mohegan Lake, in Westchester County, NY, with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. He won the Wordweaving Award for Excellence for his book, Daily Bread: Seven Days to aHealthier Soul. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his recent work has appeared in Angels on Earth magazine and online at Guideposts and Apollo’s Lyre.