Iced coffee in one hand, notebook in the other, I glided into the crime scene ready for my first day of detective work. I unzipped my black jacket so the sides would flap, slow motion in the wind. Years of study prepared me for this moment. I even had a few catchphrases ready to employ at the right moments. Life was great!
Call it a hunch, but I was already envisioning the award-winning podcast series that would accompany the yet-to-be-started investigation. In case the media were already there, I made sure to tuck my sunglasses perfectly into my breast pocket so just one aviator lens was showing, with the shininess of the platinum frames matching the freshly-polished badge. Just like my police heroes always did.
The first person I saw was a forensics expert who acknowledged me with a nonverbal nod, as she kneeled outside the apartment, dusting the doorknob for fingerprints. I’d watched enough crime procedural shows to know that my forensics specialist would be quirky but imperative to the case, and someone I wanted to keep on my good side. I should have bought a second coffee. Rookie move.
“Good afternoon,” I offered cheerily, like I was arriving at a friend’s apartment. I scanned the hallway for evidence or a telltale sign of what I was dealing with. Maybe a note left behind with a clue or a brain teaser that would get the investigation off and running.
“So… what did they tell you?” forensics asked, skipping ahead to formalities. I was disappointed to miss out on some witty and fun tête a tête, like old friends diving back into the breaches together, but at least I gave off the vibe of being one of the regulars.
“Double homicide. No witness at the scene, but the neighbor heard some shouting. Surveillance cameras, a few blocks away, caught a suspicious white sedan.” Just the facts. Very Sipowicz of me.
“Alright, I’ll let you take a look for yourself,” she said. “Gotta call back to the precinct anyways.”
I put on a glove, opened the apartment door, and was face to face with one of the victims and ohmygod there was so much blood. Blood everywhere. Bloodbloodbloodbloodblood. Was the pool of blood around the victim still getting bigger? It was definitely growing! Where was the sheet that lies over the victim? Why hadn’t anyone cleaned this up some?
I tried to look away but there was no looking away from the smell. How come no one ever mentioned the smell? Law & Order really skipped over some important details! It was then that I realized that there was a whole nother body here somewhere, emitting the same stink and mess!
Why didn’t detective academy prepare me better for the horrific goriness of a real life crime scene? I knew there were budgetary compromises to signing up for online classes but these seemed like pretty important details. Why didn’t the movies or TV show this?
There was no way I would be able to figure this one out. With all of the blood, where would I even start? I was not going anywhere near that body. I thought every crime scene was supposed to have all the evidence neatly labeled. But I saw no little paper cones to signify where the bullet casings were. No chalk outline. No foot or hand prints. At least escape rooms were over after an hour. Where the fuck was that forsensics lady? I needed the FBI, CIA, and maybe the UN, if they were available.
Oh and nausea too. What would happen if I barfed on a crime scene? Was there protocol for that? I was still standing only one step inside the apartment as I started to wilt, leaning down slowly, gradually, until I was barely standing. Then I was lying down, fetal position, succumbing to my body’s visceral response.
A half hour ago I stopped for coffee, like a total dope! And I sent it back when she said it was made with skim milk! I picked out my outfit last night. How did I even get here? I wanted to call my mom. I wanted to be held. Life was futile.