Vengeance is Mine
Brilliant sun bathed the tide pools with singular clarity as Harris stepped carefully around the tangled kelp vines. Last night’s storm surge had left the beach littered with debris and filled the tide pools with unaccustomed inhabitants. The group of gulls that circled and dived into the rock cleft had attracted his interest. Perhaps there was a stranded sea lion there needing some help from the Marine Mammal Rescue Team.
The hand wedged between the cleft on the headland side caught his attention first. Uh, oh, he thought to himself. Climbing up the side of the sandstone outcropping, he worked around to the other side, dodging seagulls irritated by his appearance at their feast. The body was very decomposed with little left of the face, just sandy hair and broken glasses hanging from one shredded ear. The rest of the body had obviously been in the water a very long time since the putrefaction and deterioration were quite advanced. The clothes, what was left of them, looked like fairly expensive exercise togs, with one Nike left on a rather large foot.
“Oh, Lord, your are no sea lion!” Harris was surprised that nausea rose in waves as he turned around and scrambled off the rock. Coughing and spitting as he went up the beach to his truck, he finally sank to his knees and lost the remains of his breakfast. “This must be shock.” he thought, “I’ve never gagged at body parts before. Maybe it is that this is not a pathology specimen. It’s a human being.” Wiping his mouth on the back of his shirt sleeve, he reached into the truck and pulled out the cell phone. “What do I call? 911?. No, this doesn’t require an ambulance. John’s in homicide. I’ll call him.”
Soon, a nondescript gray Volvo pulled in behind his truck. “Skyhawk, over here”, Harris called from a shaded nook under a scrub pine. “You look awful, Harris.” John squatted down and studied the gray, sweaty complexion of his friend. “Not as bad as the guy down there!” Harris rejoined weakly. “He is behind that large rock down there on the left, about 30 yards from here. See that cleft? And, those birds? He is wedged in there.”
Skyhawk swore as sand filtered into his Italian loafers. The California style of no socks and loafers didn’t work on the beach. He reached down and took them off, hoping that nothing sharp was underfoot. Stepping carefully around the seagull poop, trying not to slip on it, he climbed the rocky promontory. The screaming seabirds reminded him of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and he flinched as the wings brushed his long black hair, pulling it across his eyes.
Bits of fetid flesh hanging from sharp beaks flashed in front of his face as he rounded the point. “Oh, shit!” Snapping out his cell phone, he dialed the coroner. “Get a meat wagon out here fast, before the guy is nothing but bones!” Noticing the hand wedged landward, he covered it with a plastic bag, hoping to get a set of prints to help in identification, because nobody was going to be able to ID it from the face.
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