Things That Go Bump - The Unlife and Death of Uncle Bumpo, Part V
"There's somebody up there! Get him!"
I wasn't going to blow the whistle here, for Christ's sake! All I wanted to do was listen a little! I was watching these guys hoping they'd mention their boss. I wasn't the cops, I couldn't pull one of these bozos into a little room downtown and sweat him until he flipped?this was the only way I could think of to follow this up the chain of command, find out who was really smuggling this crap into the country.
But one of the pricks just had to spot me.
Squatting on the catwalk, knowing it was too late to hide, I reluctantly drew my gun. I'd never been good with one, and I'd gotten even worse earlier in the year when I lost one eye, and thus my depth perception. Gunfire erupted below as the one prick pointed me out to the others. Bullets tore up the crate I crouched behind, shot after shot smashing cheap pine into airborne splinters. Stray shots struck sparks off the concrete wall behind me.
I spun to my knees, leveling my gun over the crate, squinting my one eye against errant shards of wood, drawing a bead on the one with the big mouth.
The first bullet took me high in the shoulder, throwing my shot wild. The impact was terrific, rocking me back and up, and before gravity pulled me back to the safety of cover two more bullets smashed into my chest, tearing great hunks out of my back as they exited and completely ruining one of my lungs in the process. The pressure of the slugs mushrooming and exploding through my torso forced the air out of my remaining lung in a great whoop that tasted of blood and cordite; that latter carried into me by the killing lead that tore through my body.
Gravity finally caught up with the action as I bounced off the bullet-chipped wall behind me, yanking me down and forward. The gun slipped from my hand as I toppled forward over the crate that had been my shelter, off the catwalk and out into space. The warehouse spun crazily as I tumbled through the air, ceiling swapping with floor, and then again, until the floor hit me in the back with more than enough force to shatter my spine. That one good lung puffed a geyser of blood-tinged breath into the air. The bloody mist settled back onto my face as I lay there twitching, the smugglers gathering around me to check out their handiwork. The blood covered my one eye, tinting my world red as the men argued above me, my wet, raspy breaths slowing . . . slowing . . . stopping.
One of them said "You shot him first, right?"
"So," said the first voice, "you get to explain this to Mr. Roscoe."
John Roscoe. I had my name. But what I had to go through to get it!
* * * * *
The smugglers finished loading their trucks, then the trucks roared away from the warehouse just as sirens began to be heard. By the time the police entered the warehouse, responding to a reported shooting, all they found was an empty warehouse and a body with three bullet holes and no identification.
The medical examiner showed up, and their John Doe was pronounced dead on the scene, although the M.E. found a few things he thought were a little . . . hinky. The victim was loaded in the bodywagon and brought to the ME's office for autopsy. He had some questions about the new John Doe and decided to start the autopsy right away.
"Subject is John Doe 58-2012," he said into the procedure recorder. "Operating pathologist Dr. James Pannaki. Subject pronounced dead at the scene of a possible drug-related shooting. Actual time of death is so far unknown. Core temp at the scene was 64 degrees, matching the ambient room temperature, indicating a time of death much earlier than the shooting, as does the complete lack of rigor, which should have begun by now if the subject died in the warehouse shooting."
There was a steely ting as he picked up a scalpel.
"What complicates this is the complete lack of livor mortis, as if the fluids in the body have not had time to settle, which is completely inconsistent with the core temp. The lack of blood at the scene would indicate that the shooting occurred elsewhere and the body moved, however the pattern of tissue found on the upper catwalk is consistent with a shooting that would match the wounds on our John Doe. Then there is the putrefaction associated with the left orbital cavity, which appears consistent with a time of death somewhere between two and four weeks ago, though there appears to be no further putrefaction of the corpse."
He leaned over and readied the scalpel.
"I'm beginning my exploratory with a Y incision?"
That's when I spoke up. "Sorry about the eye, I know it's nasty. It happened before I learned how to take better care of myself."
The doc straightened in shock, and that gave me room to sit up. So I did. With a smile.
"What's up, Doc?"
The ME went over backward in a dead faint.
I got off the table and made sure he wasn't having a heart attack. He was just unconscious, so I hit the Delete key on the procedure recorder and went in search of my clothes. I needed to find a phone so I could call my partner Terry and tell him about Roscoe. If it was dark he could give me a ride home. If not, I'd have to wait.
It's one of the drawbacks to working with a vampire. As a zombie I might smell a little ripe sometimes, but at least I could snoop around during the day, if I was careful.
Dead of Night Investigations?we never sleep.
We might die occasionally, but we never sleep . . .