“They used to have good subs here,” said Carter as they pulled up in front of the moldering delicatessen. “Slabs of capicola as thick as Annie Cruz’s ass. Just incredible.”
“Don’t know that name,” said Gray.
“Porn star,” said Carter, who produced his badge and flashed it at a streeter who was approaching them. “Way before your time. Put on your war face, here comes the Pacifier.”
Carter’s Amber Shield glowed like the very words of God Almighty in the low light. “Carter and Gray,” said Carter, keeping his identification held up so that the streeter could see it. “Homicide Solutions.”
“Lem Martin,” replied the streeter. “Pacification Officer, patrol region 927.”
“This is your beat then,” said Gray, who produced from the inside pocket of his suit coat a slim Sony microcomp and engaged its holographic display. Data from the Nexus sprang to life above the palm-sized slab. “What do you have for us, Martin?”
Martin winced a bit at the lack of ‘Officer’ before his surname – you got a lot of that with Pacification Services, of which street patrol was the biggest group. They didn’t like being talked down to. Gray outranked him, however, and didn’t give a shit besides. “Nasty stuff,” Martin said, jerking his head toward the alley mouth. “Victim’s name is Anderson, Ronald P.. Administration. His panic implant was set off about an hour ago and flatlined soon after; me and my partner were in the area, and when we found him…well. Real horror show back there, is all I can say. I called for backup. Dunno what they used, but…well. You’ll see.”
Carter and Gray looked at each other – streeters saw all sorts of things. If they said it was a nasty scene, they’d probably do well to get smocks and rain boots. “All right, Officer,” Carter said, at which Martin seemed to relax a bit. “Were there any witnesses, security footage, anything like that?”
“Yeah,” said Gray. Don’t want to get arrested for just being around. “All right, thanks, Officer. If you and…”
“Conklin and Peavey,” Martin replied. “In the other car. Patel’s with me.”
“…Right,” Carter replied with a nod. “If you fellas can keep up the cordon on either side of the alley, we’ll have a look. Call the coroner while you’re at it.”
“On it,” barked Martin, who stepped away from the alley mouth while touching the side of his throat where a subvocal mic, standard issue for street patrol, had been implanted. Carter waited until Martin had backed up a few steps and was well into conversation before he gestured for Gray to follow him. The two men passed through the holographic cordon, the barrier no more solid than the air around it, and took a few steps into the feebly-lit alleyway. The space behind the deli was dark and thick with shadows, lit only by the dying bulb of a lamp set over the shop’s sealed back door. A figure slumped or lay in the cone of dim light that spilled across the building’s crumbling facade. The air was faintly tinged with the smell of ozone and cooked meat. The two men approached; Gray held his computer in one hand while Carter fished the flat, card-sized shape of a palm lamp from a coat pocket. Cupping the lamp in his hand, Carter threw a beam of bright blue- white light across the alleyway and clearly illuminated the corpse.
Lean and muscular in life, that which had been Ronald Anderson half-crouched, half-sprawled across the alleyway, his handsome face pointing down toward the filthy concrete. The corpse’s posture reminded Gray of an old girlfriend; she was a yoga fanatic and used to do something similar called the Child’s Pose. Anderson’s formerly clean white dress shirt had been cut open, straight down the back from collar to waist, and his belted slacks had also been cut down to the base of the pelvis. His back had been tattooed with a medieval Japanese wave scene.
Without the slightest drop of blood, Ronald Anderson had been boned like a fish.
“Damn,” muttered Carter, stepping forward so he could track with his light the awful wound. “Never seen that before. What do you make of it, Dan?” For Gray, who had only experienced the more pedestrian horrors of stranglings, stabbings and gunshot wounds in his brief career, there was no clean reply. “That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” he breathed instead, staring down at the carved gutter. Gray had said ‘strangest’ – however, what he had truly wanted to say was ‘most horrible’. Looking down at the murdered man, Gray knew that his ‘sexy’ case had arrived, just as he had wished for it, but the only thing he could wish for now was to be anywhere else.
As if sensing the truth behind Gray’s words, Carter snorted softly. “Lucky you, kid,” he replied in a wry and vaguely weary tone. “Lucky you.”
Title: Bone Wires
Publisher: Curiosity Quills/Whampa, LLC
Pages: 380 (paperback)