Shadowy Corners

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Mystery Fiction: Lack of Evidence-Chapter 6

Detective Blackhorse remained unbothered by Officer Schneider’s dirty looks. Without missing a beat he said, “I came to see the crime scene photos and the evidence you collected at the scene.”

“It’s down in the evidence room,” spat Schneider.

He reared back in his seat with arms crossed, making no move to show Blackhorse the way. No matter, the precinct was small. Blackhorse would find it on his own. It was better that way, he would be able look through everything without Schneider looking over his shoulder. In short order, Blackhorse found the evidence room, flashed his badge to the officer behind the service counter and signed the log to gain entry.

He took a seat in the small cinder block viewing room and received a medium sized document box. The photographs made it impossible to get an accurate perception of the bodies’ positioning. With no head-to-toe photographs, there was no indication as to the probable cause of death. For all Blackhorse knew, the victims had gunshot wounds in a part of the body which was out of frame. He would have to wait for the medical examiner’s report.

If Schneider’s handiwork was any indication of the quality to be expected from the medical examiner, then Blackhorse would be grasping at straws. He felt his composure slipping, with the realization that Schneider had screwed him over yet again. He slapped the photographs down on the table and shoved his chair back from the table, unable to sit still any longer.

Blackhorse stood and began pacing back and forth, cursing forcefully under his breath. Four men were dead and Schneider’s juvenile pissing contest was going to result in a killer getting away with murder. Accepting this case had been a mistake. Blackhorse thought about calling his superior, then thought and…tell him what, that you want to be taken off of the case because Schneider is being mean to you? That’ll go over like a ton of bricks. Just thinking about it made him feel foolish.

Blackhorse reminded himself that he had accepted the assignment, because he liked challenges. You got what you wanted, now suck it up and figure out how you’re going to overcome this challenge. Blackhorse sighed and sat back down, deciding to take a closer look at the scant evidence. There were at least photos which included each victim’s face. Blackhorse arranged them in a row, recognizing them from his dream. Though he had never met them in life, it was strange to see sightless glassy eyes in their still faces, after interacting with them in the dream.

He rooted around in his laptop bag and retrieved his magnifying glass. Several moments of close examination yielded very little. There was no obvious bruising or discoloration of the skin. He did not see any indication of bullet or stab wounds, no crushing injures. The men whose eyes were closed looked peaceful, as though they had simply fallen asleep. There were dishes strewn about, but that wasn’t unusual at a campsite. Blackhorse lay the magnifier down and sat staring at the photographs, until his vision blurred.

He had slept fitfully, cramped up behind the wheel of his car overnight. Blackhorse was still tired. The ancient looking air conditioning unit in the evidence room struggled to contend with the rising heat of the day, which permeated the small room. It made him drowsy. His eyes slid shut and he was suddenly asleep, his dream self still sitting in the cramped evidence viewing room.

Inexplicably Blackhorse stood, stepped into the narrow corridor and made his way to the holding cells. The guards were nothing more than shadowy, featureless figures standing on either side of the door. Blackhorse made his way along the walkway looking into the jail cells. One-by-one he spotted the four victims among other prisoners, gazing intently through the bars at him.

Blackhorse was about to speak, when a door slammed somewhere along the corridor outside the evidence viewing room and startled him awake. He thought about the dream. Had all four victims been arrested? Schneider hadn’t said anything to him about it, but then again the man was as useless as a rotten tooth. That was just the kind of information he would withhold. Blackhorse shoved the crime scene photographs back into their folder and dropped the file in the box. Blackhorse pulled out his laptop, booted it up and accessed the precinct database.

He realized that he couldn’t search the database without the victims’ names. Blackhorse needed more information. He checked and found that no report had been filed. Blackhorse supposed that he could go upstairs and ask for the victims’ names, but Schneider was the last person he wanted to ask for anything. He was in no mood to play games and couldn’t even be sure any information he received would be accurate. Schneider would probably make him waste even more time searching the database with the wrong names or misspelled names as payback for embarrassing him, in front of his boss.

Blackhorse decided to try the sheriff, catching him in a generous mood, thanks to his earlier compliment, and quickly gleaned that the four strangers had not been arrested. However, the precinct had received several complaints against them. Blackhorse took down the names of the citizens who had phoned in complaints and searched the database for their contact information. He was disappointed to find that none had the same initials as the ring he found at the crime scene. Nevertheless, any one of them might have a motive for murder.

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