The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Series
Spence slogged down four flights of stairs and tipped a badge flashing hello at the receptionist. “Choi?”
“In his office.”
Spence pushed through the swing door to the right of the reception desk into the office area of the morgue. Choi was at his desk eating a bowl of scrambled eggs, steamed vegetables, and black beans.
“Detective, I’ve about finished up the preliminary report. I’m glad you stopped by though. I need to talk to you about a few irregularities.”
Spence nodded and eyed the late lunch.
“Slow carb.” Doctor Choi smiled. “It’s the wave of the future.”
“Had Chinese myself.”
“Do you know what’s in most of that?”
Spence shrugged. He was too tired for this sort of debate. And he didn’t even have an opinion to debate from. Food was good. He liked food. End of story.
Setting his bowl aside, Choi stood, “Follow me back?”
“Back there?” Spence asked with a modicum of apprehension.
The ME nodded. “I don’t think anyone’s open right now, if that helps, but I need you to see what I am talking about.”
“Couldn’t you tell me what you are talking about first?”
Choi mulled this over. “You really need to come down into the suite with me.”
Spence sighed. “Let’s do it then.” He followed the ME through the office and into the autopsy suite. As they walked Choi seemed to be talking to himself. He certainly wasn’t speaking directly to Spence but he caught the gist of the ME’s discussion with himself.
Once they were in the room Spence leaned back against the counter and rubbed his right eye with the heel of his hand. “Let me see if I caught what you were saying. It looks like a drowning but you don’t think it was?”
Choi sighed. “I know it sounds ridiculous. I found water in the lungs. The lab tells me it’s a match to the chemical composition of the pool he was found floating in. But there was no froth in the esophagus or mouth.”
“And that precludes drowning?”
“No, no it doesn’t. But I also found something that makes me question a straightforward finding of drowning. And that’s why I called you down here. Take a look at the chest. I’ve used methylene blue on the skin to highlight the abnormalities.”
Spence crossed to the autopsy drawer the medical examiner had opened. He steeled himself for the moment when he would actually need to look at the body. He trailed his eyes down from the closed drawers to the stomach of the dead man, then up to his chest where Choi touched several oddly blue spots with gloved fingers.
“Eight narrow gauge injections were given to this man.”
“What are possible uses?”
“Given the locations, I can’t think of anything medical. And these injections are fresh. The killer or the people who found him made these marks.” The medical examiner looked down at the body. “I have this idea in my head and I can’t get rid of it.”
Spence nodded, he’d been there before. “Give it to me.”
“I think someone, the killer maybe, injected pool water into this man’s lungs after death to make it look like he was drowned.”
“You can do that?” Spence was intrigued, adrenaline surges refreshed his energy.
“Sure. Once the body is dead it’s not going to expel the fluid. It will sit in there and soak in a little.”
Spence’s head was awash in ideas.
“What are you thinking?” Choi broke Spence’s train of thought.
“If he didn’t drown, how might he have died?”
“It’s essentially a process of elimination. I suspect smothering, perhaps.”
“And time of death?”
“The water skews the time line. A naked man in a cold water loses a lot of body temperature per hour. I estimate his death occurred between six and eight that same evening.”
Spence would need to start checking alibis.
“How long until you have the full report for me?”
“Depends on the lab. I need to know what was in his blood before I can make a definitive call.”
“But you’re thinking homicide?” Spence wanted a concrete answer.
“Well, I don’t think the man cut his own dick off and went for a swim.”
Spence laughed. “Did the results come back on the mystery meat?”
“Any chance I’ll see this stuff tomorrow?”
“Will the lab kick out top quality results on a Saturday? Survey says, unlikely.”
“But not impossible.”
Doctor Choi gave Spence a skeptical look. “You’re deluded. When did you sleep last?”
“Heading home now. I need to stop for ice cream first or the wife might let the dog sleep on my side of the bed again.”