Monday, August 13, 2012

Rue: Dead Heat Part 2

Speaking For The Dead

“Morgan, if this is about the eggs, we can always go somewhere else for breakfast. You know that.”

I had Hugo up against the wall of his morgue. I still hadn’t told him why either. The question had really been whether or not he’d figure it out on his own. If the guilt was too great and he buckled, it made my life all the easier.

He honestly had no idea why I’d be here.

I let him down into his little black leather circle seat and sat on the counter in front of him.

“You remember doing the autopsy on Rick Hatter about a month back?”

“Yeah, I remember. He had an unidentified toxin in him. Wherever he got it from, he got enough of it that he could’ve drowned in it likely as died from it shutting down his nervous system. Why? Don’t tell me you’re looking to screw with Morelli. That’s nuts Morgan.”

I shrugged.

“I’m not looking for anything Hugo. Someone came looking for me.”



“You’ve got to be screwing with me. You told me yourself that these sorts of things either happen within the first couple days or don’t happen at all.”

“Amy was more than a little surprised herself. I could see it on her face. She’s keeping an eye on my guest right now, but I need to figure out what happened.”

“You should just find a way to get him back in the ground. Morelli’s trouble.”

“Hugo, you’re a bright man. You know better than to bother telling me that. Between the two of us we’ve seen just about every single one of the mayoral candidates opposing Morelli in here on a slab. I’m not all the keen on what pursuing this could mean, but there are two things I can’t ignore. Number one, he’s the first one out of seventeen to get back up. At very least, he’s the first one to coming looking to me for help. Number two, his entire family was killed Hoff. If he did it, I’d glad put his ass back in a hole. Rei out at Kemmeler Cemetary owes me. I’d give him over to her and her bunnies and let them gnaw on him until doomsday. If not… You know what I think about those kinds of killers.”

Hoff sighed and leaned back in his chair.

“I didn’t get to do the autopsies on the family. They were in small enough pieces and Rick was covered in their blood. Morelli had the entire family cremated except for Hatter. It was the Green Gates Crematorium that he sent them to.”

“Where did Rick’s body go?”

“I signed the release forms and handed over the corpse to Sergeant Johnson, Morelli’s chief of security. What he did with it, I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I swear I don’t Morgan. Johnson is one scary bastard. When he tells you to do something, you do it. You don’t go asking questions or you’ll be the next one he’s coming to collect.”

I ran my hand through my hair and sighed.

“All right, thanks Hoff. Looks like I’d better be going.”

“Where you off to?”

“Green Gates. Maybe I can wring something out of somebody there. I know you’ll be calling Johnson as soon as I leave, so you can tell him I’ll be expecting him. Oh, and Amy will already be moving Hatter to a different location.”

“Jesus Morgan, you think I’d stab you in the back like that?”

I didn’t answer him. I just popped two ProTabs and headed out the door.

Green Gates wasn’t that far a drive. Another twenty minutes past the station, away from the house, and I was there. Like most of the new buildings, Green Gates reached into the sky. Thousands of paying customers had their ashes interred here. Another couple thousand couldn’t afford the cost and had to have corporate advertisements emblazoned across their little drawer of ash. It seemed that was the way things went these days.

I stepped out of my car and headed towards the pair of unassuming stainless steel doors leading to the lobby. The lobby proclaimed happily in bright neon letters the benefits of having yourself cremated over searching for a dirt plot. Grand murals demonstrated the cremation process. Not a single person stood in the lobby though. Never had. It was just another way to make you feel like a mandate was optional.

I kept walking, through the fields of pamphlets and brochures, for the visitor’s entrance. As I pushed past the second set of steel doors, the wave of antiseptic cleaner plunged into my nose. It was like this every time. I pushed the doors closed behind me and tried to get used to the stink of clean.

A little voice crackled out of the terminal to my left.

“Who are you here to pay respects to?”

“The Hatter Family. Georgette, Sarah, Michelle, and Rick Jr.”

A green line lit up on the floor in front of me.

“Third floor, lots twenty three through twenty six. Follow the line.”

The line wasn’t leading to the third floor. I had been here before when Amy had been murdered. That line was leading to the furnace. I had to assume that’s where Johnson was waiting as well. Good. More respect could come from getting answers than from pining over ashes that might be the wrong person.

As I followed the line, I heard Amy’s voice in my ear.

“Thought I’d pop in and let you know that I got Mr. Hatter to a safe place.”

“Good to hear baby.”

“Why are you here Morgan?”

“I have to find out what happened to his family.”

“If they came in here, they didn’t leave. I’ve never even felt any ghosts around this place.”

“I know. I have my doubts about what they’re doing here. More importantly though, there’s a very large man waiting for me behind that door that’s going to answer some questions for me. You just keep an eye on our guest and I’ll be home before you know it.”

She nodded and kissed me on the cheek before disappearing again. I shivered and pushed open the door to the furnace itself.

Sergeant Johnson was sitting on the conveyor belt into the furnace, waiting for me.

“How are you Rue?”

His head was gleaming, even in the murky dancing of the furnace light. Most people never saw him with his helmet off. That was probably a good thing, especially for the children. I had been there was Johnson had taken a grenade to the chest for Morelli. It was never made public that he had been scattered into nearly as many pieces as Amy, nor was it revealed how he had been put back together.

A little of this, a little of that, a few extra stitches and he was just as bad as new.

He was wearing his body armor with the mayor’s seal on it. Good luck trying to get through that.

“Not as good as I could be. I’m on vacation right now, you know?”

“That’s a shame. You should be getting hazard pay right now.”

“You hazardous?”

“That’s what they say.”

“You going to tell me what I want to know Johnson?”

“I’m going to let you hear what you need to hear.”

“What’s that?”

“The sound you’ll make when you’re burned alive.”

And that is exactly why I hate vacations.

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