Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rue: Dead Heat Part 1

Dead Man Knocking

“Morgan honey, there’s a dead man here to see you.”

I flung the rest of the shaving cream on my razor into the sink. One last scrap of my face and the cheap plastic razor followed it in. I wiped off the last remnants of the rank shaving cream and tossed down a couple ProTabs.

A dead man at the door for me? There went my “vacation.”

I stepped out of the bathroom and crossed the kitchen to the door. Amy was waiting there, watching our guest through the peep hole.

“Any guesses hon?”

“Not really. I don’t recognize him as one of the regulars in our building. He looks a little out of place. He might be freshly dead and trying to figure out what’s going on.”

“Why come to me?”

“Maybe your reputation as detective extraordinaire has preceded you?”

I sighed and opened the door.


The dead man at the door was not, as I was under the impression, a ghost. He was a corpse. Not a terribly fresh one either. The tall, lanky ghoul was turning his porkpie hat over and over in his hands, his lips twitching nervously. His eyes were starting to yellow and the dirt under his fingers was also between his teeth.

“Mr. Chadwick?”

“That’s me. What can I do for you?”

“Sir, someone tried to bury me alive and I don’t know if I can trust the regular police to sort this out honest-like or not. I think it was someone from the police force that did this to me.”

“Come in, have a seat.”

The ghoul nodded and ducked to get past the door. Easily another head taller than me, it was hard imagining anyone do something to this fella without his permission. He sat on our cheap orange couch, his knees up in chest.

I sat in the recliner opposite him and leaned forward.

“What makes you think it was CFPD related?”

“I seem to recall a couple officers standing around. And a priest. I know a priest was involved. I have to wonder if it was some sort of gang initiation thing with how many folks that were present.”

“I see. Another quick question for you… Do you realize you’re dead?”

He blinked through those rheumy eyes at me, a frown creasing his forehead a little.

“Dead? That’s not possible. How on Earth could I be dead?”

“I think you were awake for your funeral friend. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think you still have some sort of business for me to sort out. Those people standing around though, that sounds like a rich man’s burial. You’ve even got the dirt under your nails. No one gets a dirt burial these days.”

The dead man brushed off his jacket and set his hat on his head.

“I think I should get going. Maybe you can’t help me.”

“Wait, just a moment more. Think about what’s happening. Is your heart beating? Have you gone to the bathroom lately? Have you eaten anything?”

He pulled his hat back off and started turning it in his hands again.

“No… no to all of your questions. I just… I was hoping there was another answer. If I’m dead, I suppose… well, I suppose I should just go get back in the ground.”

“It’s a little more complicated than that friend. If you go back to ground now, you’ll still be awake. You’ll sit there, unsleeping, until you fall apart or go mad. We don’t want that. When folks like you sit back up, it’s usually for a purpose.”


“Really. What we have to do here is determine what happened before you woke up. This’ll sound strange, but do you have any holes in you that are unfamiliar to you?”


“Any limbs that don’t work like they should?”


“When you try to think back to what happened shortly before the burial, do you have any sudden spikes of nausea, chest pains, numbness, or fear?”

“Lots of fear. I can’t for the life of me figure out what happened between going to bed on Monday and waking up in that hole as people started throwing dirt on me.”

“I’m wondering if you weren’t poisoned. You know my name, how about sharing yours?”

“Rick. Rick Hatter. I’m sorry I’m usually more polite than this.”

“Rick Hatter? Christ, you’re the guy who was planning to run against Morelli this year for mayor.”

“That’s me. I’m out to clean up the corruption that Morelli’s spread around this town. Do you have any idea how out of control crime is? Of course you do, you’re on the front lines. So many people don’t though. It’s disgusting the way Mayor Morelli hides the facts from the people.”

“This might prove to be more difficult than I originally imagined Rick.”

“Why’s that? Because of the Mayor’s influence?”

“That doesn’t help. He has a little of everyone in his pocket, but no, that’s not why. It’s because you’ve been dead over a month now.”

“A month!”

He leapt into the air, off my couch, running his spindly fingers through his hair. His hat was spinning overtime on the one hand still holding it.

“How? Why? What did they say I died from?”

“You aren’t ready for this just yet Rick.”

“Ready for what?”

“I’ll answer you if you ask again, but you don’t want to know the answer.”

“Yes I do. How did I die?”

“You poisoned yourself after the brutal murder of your three children and your wife.”

He fainted. I didn’t know the dead could faint. Usually they just yelled or cried. Crying was pretty common.

“Amy, I need you to keep an eye on him. I have somebody that needs to meet Mr. Hatter here.”


“The same little bastard I just had breakfast with. Hoff did the autopsy on the Mayor’s personal request. He’s got some explaining to do.”

I tossed down another pair of ProTabs and headed out the door. A big, lumbering, stimulant addict I might be, but I was still a cop. I had a murder to solve.

This was gonna be one hell of a vacation.

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