“Got anything for me, Doc?” Detective Sergeant
Joe Scanlon asked as he looked at the body of a beautiful teen-ager, her head
listing at an angle impossible to attain in life. She could be a model for Picasso
now, Scanlon thought before he shook his head to banish the nightmarish image.
“I got alimony payments to two ex-wives and four ingrates
for children. You want some?” Abrams responded in a sing-song voice as
he peered over glasses perched precariously on the end of his nose. Judging
by the bumps and curves, the doctor’s nose had been broken at least twice,
“Why can’t you be more like those TV medical examiners?”
Scanlon griped. “Cripes, when Quincy’s around, the cops can take
the day off. He always gets his man.”
“Yes, and even though he has a face that was rejected
for Mr. Potato Head, he always gets the girl. What do I get? A hard time and
hemorrhoids. There is no justice, my friend,” Abrams kvetched in mock
The aged M.E. had a reputation for being painstakingly meticulous.
He didn’t make mistakes, and he didn’t stack his findings to help
the police or the district attorney sandbag a case. Scanlon enjoyed working
with him and had come to treasure his banter with the misanthropic medicine
Abrams walked slowly, painfully, knees crippled by arthritis
from too many years of kneeling at crime scenes. He could have retired years
earlier, but he continued to work. Abrams maintained he needed the money. Scanlon
thought the M.E. needed to continue trying to understand why people acted so
savagely toward each other.
The doctor removed his glasses, slid them into a case and sighed
heavily as he rubbed his temples. “Bad business, this,” Abrams told
the night sky. “She was tortured, raped, denigrated, then her throat was
cut. We have hair and semen samples that should give us blood type, hair color,
sex, race ... real genetic fingerprints of our poor, misunderstood sociopaths.”
“Anything else, Doc?” Scanlon interrupted impatiently.
He looked at the beautiful terra-cotta ornamentation adorning the roofline of
the art museum. His eyes came to rest on the granite griffins standing silent
sentry on the cornices, mute witnesses to the savagery that had unfolded below.
“Yes, one big thing. She probably IDed one of them for
you as she was dying. Under her nails is a lot of tissue. Looks like she scratched
the hell out of one of her attackers. I’d say if you find someone with
deep scratches, probably on the face, you could break out the rubber hoses.”
“Doc, there’s a bagel with your name on it waiting
for you back at the office,” Scanlon yelled as he headed for the fountain
in front of the museum, where a young man’s body had been found.
“Great, Quincy gets the girl; I get a bagel,” Scanlon
overheard Abrams grousing as he trudged off. “There is no justice.”