The Fantastic Murder of Lawrence Pearce

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"Well, this is a hell of a mess."

Cherry asked me to do this one special. Hadn't told me why. I could hazard a guess, though, that she'd seen it coming. Something on the computer screen or under those papers she'd hidden when she saw me. For an ADA she wasn't a very good liar.

The officer in charge of the scene cracked her gum behind me. "Looks pretty clear cut to me."

"You know the law. Hasn't been ruled on, and the Special Investigator wants me to take a look before you ship the body off."

She shrugged, but didn't argue. Too many cases of paranatural or psychic-assisted homicide for her to argue.

"The truck didn't even stop."

"You thi--" she stopped mid-remark when I stared at her. That alone would have dropped down my guess on her service years a few notches, but she gave ground and shifted back a couple steps, too. Smart girl, but she'd traded on her pale blonde hair and pretty mouth a few times too many to be confident in her abilities.

"So," I cleared my throat, "It's not like trucks don't go steaming down here all the time, but what makes this one special..."

Poor bastard had been knocked out of his shoes. One of them dangled on the edge of the awning across the street. "What makes you think he's special? Wrong place, wrong time, stepping out to cross the street to mail a letter..."

"What letter?"

She pointed. "Witnesses said he was fussing around with some envelope, there's the mailbox across the street..."

And no letter on the sidewalk. She figured it out after I crouched down to look under a couple cars, joining me in my crawl on the pavement. No letter under a car. I looked up where the shoe had gone, checked the other ledges. Maybe it had fluttered off down the street, but that didn't seem likely, either. Someone had run off with it while everyone watched the paper doll man blowing through the air.

"Yeah, you can take him, now."

Officer Pretty nodded to the medics, who rolled him into the bag and zipped it on up. I leaned against someone's car and went over my notes. Some writer, pretty decent but not the kind of guy who attracted radiator grills. The answer had to be in the letter.

Or so I guessed until I realized whose car I was leaning on. "Shit..." I looked down the street just in time to see the ambulance swerve around a corner. "Shit, shit..." Cell phone, where was my damn cell phone.

"City Morgue."

"You've got a live one coming in."

The bored voice on the other end perked up quick. "Hot?"

"Kicking. Pinkerton's back in town, the scrawny skullslinging bastard." Now I had to tell Cherry she could look forward to more of these.

It had been such a nice day.