The Watchers 6

Easing his car off the road onto a patch of dead grass Taylor parked his black and white car. The coroner had already arrived. It meant less time spent standing over a dead body. He got out of his car groaning at the thought of what he was about to see.

Seagulls flew overhead their squawks echoing in the wind as he walked down the path. White seashells crunched beneath his shoes until he made it to the sand covered beach where a group of officers stood in a small circle around an inlet of dark water.

He hated this part of his job. He knew some officers looked for these types of calls- the gorier the better. It gave them a good story to tell at the next barbecue or crawfish boil, but Taylor hated them. It always made his stomach turn no matter the situation.

His mother said it was because he’d been a sensitive kid, but he didn’t think that’s what it was. Not being able to eat a po’boy while watching an autopsy didn’t make him sensitive. It didn’t make him any less of a cop or a man in his opinion. It just made him human.

All of that bravado was for show in his opinion. As if indifference to death was an indication of toughness. Taylor didn’t buy that line of thinking, but he knew that blowing his cookies in front of everyone wasn’t going to get him a promotion any time soon either.

He’d hoped Blackfoot would volunteer that way he could hang back, but the older cop hadn’t and Taylor knew better than to ask. He had no choice but to follow up on his own.

Although he hadn’t been there long, he knew Blackfoot almost as well as anyone in the department. Most found him hard to get along with, but Taylor had created a good relationship with the man. They worked well together because neither expected the other to be anything more than what they were. He’d recognized early on that beneath the irritability and bad attitude Blackfoot was a good guy, he just didn’t feel the need to prove it.

“Taylor over here.”  A voice called out. Taylor zipped his jacket and pulled up the collar as he made his way through the marshy weeds to where the coroner was hunched over the body.

The closer he got the sicker he felt as the smell of decomp reached his nose the wind whipping it up from the murky gulf water. It was the smell of death. Even though the body was face down in the water he could see the beginning of bloat.

He felt his stomach drop as he got closer. The body was naked and still lying face down in the wet sand but it was easy to see she was black and female.

            “If this is her, it will be the quickest turn around to a shit case I’ve ever seen,” one of the officers standing off to the side said with a chuckle. Taylor didn’t know who the yahoo was, but he knew he didn’t like him.

“Have some respect.” Taylor said looking the officer in the eye as he passed by. Taylor didn’t out rank him but the cop had enough sense to keep the rest of his comments to his self.

A lot of people in town didn’t care for Trina from what he’d learned, but he didn’t care about who she was.

Ever since it was learned Trina Davenport was the person mugged at the bookstore sympathy had dried up quick, as if the young woman had somehow brought it on herself. What everyone seemed to be forgetting was that Davenport was the victim not the perpetrator.

Regardless of her reputation, Taylor believed the woman deserved the benefit of doubt at least until she told her side of the story. Grimly, he looked on as the coroner worked gathering his evidence hoping it wasn’t too late for her to get her chance.

“Okay, let’s turn her over fellas,” the gray-haired man said as he got on his haunches. He had on his waders, but the marshy shore line was unstable. They had no choice but to pick the woman up and move her up the incline from the water.

“Just watch your step fellas, we need to try and preserve as much evidence as we can.”

After a short count the two officers recruited to assist rolled the woman’s body over. As soon as they did though there was an audible gasp from the group of first responders standing on the ridge. The coroner turned to Taylor.

“I’d bet my last paycheck not your girl, son. This poor gal was pregnant, third trimester at least.” Taylor looked away from the officers as they struggled to get the woman up the hill her distended belly clearly visible in the afternoon sun.

Taylor felt nauseous.  He stood to the side his legs too weak for him to get back up the incline before they could pass. He was glad to see someone had the sense to cover the woman’s body, whoever she was, with a dark blue blanket. A quiet came over the group of officers and other first responders. 

They’d all seen death up close but even the most hardened still had a rough time reckoning with something like this. The woman’s death had been brutal too. Her face was unrecognizable, and she had abrasions and bruising to her entire body.

His feelings were mixed as he climbed back in his car. He was sympathetic to the young woman and the family that he was sure would be grieving once the woman was identified, but thankful to know the Davenport case hadn’t taken a worse turn.

More than ever Taylor was determined to find Davenport. The woman obviously had something to hide since she bolted; he just wondered what it was.

From what he’d been able to piece together she’d been mugged and shot at in the past week she’d come home. It was a hell of a homecoming, and he knew better than to believe it was all a simple coincidence.  Nobody was that unlucky.  

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