by Jim Gause
The Story of The Djinn Chapter One: Saturday Saints a NANoWriMo project
Regal, Georgia after a turn of misfortunes brought on by ambitious policies created by distant politicians finally got a small part of its groove back. Small furniture companies and manufacturers from Up North fled their heavily taxed bases and made their new homes in the outskirts of the medium sized town,lifting them out of a mediocre depression but not quite sending them to a stratospheric boom. Most residents experienced little change, they had been military retirees, schoolteachers, police officers, small store owners and farmers whose incomes depended on pensions and one another anyway. The younger ones who cared to stay, found employment with the new masters and settled in to jobs with machines and boxes, work boots and gloves, presumably for twenty years or so until it was their turn to take to a porch and become observers of the world that went by.
When the Saturday Saints arrived, no one saw anything. They looked human, with their well crafted black suits and ties in tall manly bodies. Jones was dark, the kind of deep brown that ages well with a face that suggested a beaming, clueless smile. He did not smile, however. Dominguez was slightly thicker than Jones and was a tan colored gentleman with soft features and a gliding movement.
They came directly to the police station, a white brick building built in those post war days with colonnades and two pillars topped with green glowing orbs.
It was smaller than the facade suggested, made for practical administrative purposes rather than the pursuit of criminal justice - even after the war Regal never made the crime statistics of a Bradley or Utica. The residents were a law-abiding group, not really interested in the drug trade or immorality. Maybe someone would amble into Henry's Bar and stumble out again a few hours later, looking to impress the town with the sound of their voice. Once someone tried to impress the town with the size of his butt and to that end removed all of his clothing. Sometimes people would tinkle in public. A kid once broke a window at Regal Elementary. The Church wasn't always full of a Sunday but the town was generally of the spirit of obedience to a higher power.
Jenny is working Friday because Carl had his wife in Hospital and was most likelihood going to lose her. She didn't mind, she liked Carl and her prayer group had gone to Town on that devil cancer. The Lord would do the right thing. Besides the Station was air conditioned and her was broken. The Kids would be fine over at Evelyn Swinburnes Pool as long as little jimmy kept his gosh darned swimming trunks tied up. If Phil was worth his salt he could e taken the unit apart and found out what was wrong back in Juni when the head Index started to spike. Here it was two days to September and Georgia was an oven. But a Thursday isn't bad in a small town Police Station, Regal didn't have a significant criminal presence so most of their work consisted of record keeping, Hospital runs, fire reports, some light vandalism, domestic dispute which usually had to do with wayward pets and an occasional wandering cow. It was Kind of a surprise when Floor Paul turned up dead. The last time that had happened was Aide Samson back in 04, Nobody had heart from her for a month before Chief More had been convinced to send Carl and Ben Bliss out to Holyfield to check on the old biddy. They found a mummy in the living room, sitting in a Rocker, waiting for visitors to a tea that was never going to happen. Floor had missed two days of work before someone called him in. He lived alone, check. No one had seen him for an unexpected length of time, check. An attempt had been made to contact him and failed, check. He was an at risk individual, being either infirm elderly or suicidal, ok not-check he was a healthy 54 year old who was reportedly so arrogant he might have thought he was immortal. Other risk factor didn't apply he wasn’t a battered spouse cause his wife had divorced him and took off to Texas with some jose about ten years ago.
"Hello I'm Darrel Jones from the FBI Atlanta bureau and this is Ed Dominguez" Jones said tot he officer at the reception desk.
"Police Chief Carruthers is waiting for you - you're early" she said, surrendering a brief professional smile, "Have a set and I'll get him out here for you."
They sat. The Chief came out of an office to the right within two minutes. In that two minutes the two did not speak but gently nodded to each other as if they were.
" Feds" said Carruthers, a thick, ruddy man, with a cliche voice that meant he'd never spent more than six months out of the State of Georgia." Good to have you gentlemen, come on in."
His office was newly cleaned and arranged, it smelled of lemon and chlorine, the windows were still streaked with swipes of a vinegar soaked rag, the carpet was streaked from vacuum passes, the book shelves were recently arranged and the plaques and photos on the wall had been liberated from dust. His modest desk had a laptop but it was more used to Free Cell than statistical management.
" How was your trip? Can I get you something? Coffee?"
" Thank you - We had breakfast at he motel" Jones said.
"You have a lovely little place here" Dominguez offered
" Yes, we keep it kind of righteous here in Regal. That's why you being here is kind of a surprise. Atlanta says you're interested in the death of one Floyd Paul - military veteran warehouse packer."
"Yes." Dominguez said, "there isn't anything that should alarm you but there were some online suggestions that he might have contact with a person of interest in a federal case, the details are classified but his death might have been mitigated by an external agency."
" It's not likely that it's murder it could be that there was some contact with suspicious substances or persons" Jones said, pretending to clarify his partners words.
" He died of a heart attack" the Chief said.
" Yes, we saw that in the report you forwarded, and thank you for that," Dominguez said, "still we need to consult with your medical examiner, Jones here is a pathologist so he'll want to examine the cadaver and collect some tissue samples."
"Yeah, that was all in the email and I called and talked with your supervisors about the suspicious agent - domestic?"
"Yes, we think there is a domestic threat - it's yellow - there's likely nothing grave and the events are probably nothing more than a coincidence but our investigation gives us some reason to probe a little further."
"Paul's death just came at a time when we were collecting information on an unnamed agent who we think might be responsible for threats against the government." Dominguez put two fingers against his temple and smiled. It was a sweet, boyish smile.
"So you're here for the autopsy." Carruthers said.
"In part, we also need to examine Mr Paul's residence, his work place and interview a few of his colleagues and friends, he had family?"
"Not that I know of - a cousin I think over in Hadleyfield, but he kept to himself out in a trailer off of Route 10."
" We can go there?" Dominguez said, the smile was smaller he was recovering his professional demeanor.
" Let me finish my coffee and we can ride out to the hospital real quick and check on what Dorian's found - you don't need to take any parts of him away now do you?"
"Not likely" Jones said, "probably some negligible tissue samples, a general examination of the body, honestly I don't think we're going to find anything, but we have our orders."
"Okay, okay - sure you fellows don't want anything?"
"There's a little diner by the motel, I think it's on Route 10 - we can pick up a tea on our way back."
"Of course." Carruthers sipped his coffee, "so where are you guys from, originally?"
"Chicago" Jones said, "Dominguez is from New York"
"Good Lord, what'd you do to get sent to Atlanta?"
"My mom's from Rome" Dominguez said, "and I volunteered to see what it was she grew up with." The chief gave him a curious look, a 'what-the-hell-is-that-supposed-to-mean' look, but they all let it pass.
"I was rotated here as a matter of course." Jones said. "It's a good place"
The Hospital was a two story clinic outside of town. It was a silent building, except for the dozen cars in the parking lot it could have been abandoned. They went directly to the basement where they were met by a doctor the chief called Dorian.
" These are the two federales," Carruthers said "they're here to check out the body of Mr Floyd Paul and see if there might not be some sort of foul play involved."
"Oh" the doctor's face betrayed an order of shock," I finished that examination about an hour ago, we'll share the chemical and toxicology..."
"Of course, we expected that" Jones said, "the Bureau wanted a pathologist to make an official examination, I'm not going to supersede any of your work, I'm just here to verify your findings in an official capacity."
"I can give you copies of my findings" Dorian re asserted, but Jones wasn't paying attention to him, he seemed to be listening something else.
"Where is Mr Paul, now?" Dominguez asked.
"Gentlemen I'll be waiting for you here" Carruthers said, eyeing a vending machine down the corridor.
The morgue was cold and small. there were three steel tables, and three cadaver storage tiroirs. the shelves were crammed with bottles of reagents and jars of organs. There was a shrouded body on the middle steel table.Jones looked back at the door and the flapping cold guards.
"Is he going to be a problem?"
"Not really." Dominguez said. He fixed his gaze directly into Dr Dorian.
" The body?" The shroud, a white hospital sheet, fell off of the body on the table, sliding away like sea creature flapping under the waves. It slipped under the table. Jones approached the corpse, head cocked, eyes slit.
" Caucasian male of approximately fifty-four years, body shows signs of rigor, modestly hirsute, unremarkable markings upper right arm tattooed with Us Army coat of arms, no external bruising, some old scars, regular deposits of subcutaneous fat, Y incision from autopsy - let's see what we've got in here: heart has been extracted - stomach extracted, liver present and unremarkable, pancreas unremarkable..." Dr Dorian stood, staring into space. He did not speak or react. "Dominguez, where's his heart?"
Dominguez looked into the face of the unresponsive Dr Dorian. His smile radiated through the soul of the M.E.
"There - on the shelf"
A mayonnaise jar or something of that size trembled on one of the shelves. Jones walked over to the jar. the liquid suspension was clear but particles of blood and flesh floated in it. The heart was severely damaged, like a chunk of torn and riven flesh. It was a single piece with the top part torn away from the bottom part, the veins and arteries wound around it like red spider webs, the lower portion nearly separated from the rest.