Public Anatomy

Public Anatomy by Pearson A. Scott

Book: Public Anatomy by Pearson A. Scott Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pearson A. Scott
He leaned on the ropes as the officers approached.
    The more senior officer commented, “Always thought you looked like a wrestler.”
    The younger officer joined in, “Are you winning up there?”
    “Yeah, yeah,” Lipsky said. “Just help me down, will you.”
    They eased him under the ropes and he jumped to the floor, smacking flat-footed on concrete. Lipsky tucked his shirt back in and said, “Lead the way.”
    They left the small arena and walked through a concrete corridor decorated with posters of the giants in the history of professional wrestling. The corridor opened to a foyer with empty concession stands and a ticket window. Along the wall, a series of arrows and signs with “Smoking” in red capitals directed them outside. They were greeted witha breath of hot air laced with stale cigarette smoke. A smoking hut the size of a one-car garage had been constructed on the outdoor concrete patio. Motion-sensing sliding glass doors parted as they approached. Lipsky thought of all the smoke-filled wrestling matches he had attended as a child. How times changed. Now smokers had a separate house of their own equipped with a wheelchair-accessible door. Nice.
    The room held two rows of picnic tables, four on each side. Metal pails filled with sand sat on top of each table. Ashtrays. In the back, a soft drink machine stood against the wall next to an automatic coffee dispenser that squirted stale cappuccino into a paper cup for ninety-five cents.
    In the back next to these machines, a body hunched over a picnic table. She was seated on the bench, her upper half sprawled face down across the tabletop. Her arms stretched out in front, fingers lapping the far edge of the table as though reaching for something, or someone.
    The lingering smell of tobacco smoke permeated the room. Lipsky moved closer. The victim wore jeans and a brown leather vest. She was of stocky build, arms full and muscular, fair skin with a cracked heart tattoo on her left bicep. A recent sunburn was fading somewhat in death. She was older than what Lipsky considered average for a wrestling fan. Could have been someone’s grandmother.
    “Who found her?” Lipsky directed his question to McCormick, the senior officer. Twenty years on the force afforded him an accurate detection of experience.
    “Cleaning crew,” McCormick said. Then he corrected himself. “I say crew. Really, just one old man here early to empty the ashtrays. Called nine-one-one when he saw the body.”
    “From a cell phone?”
    “Yeah, think so.”
    Lipsky looked at the officer who hadn’t said a word. “Them things come in handy, don’t they?”
    “Yes, sir.”
    The victim’s face was hidden by a tangled mass of reddish-brown hair that fell forward, bathing in a pool of saliva and blood.
    Lipsky leaned in close. “What do we know?”
    “Turns out, the old man knew her. Said she’s a big wrestling fan. Volunteers in the ticket office to promote the matches.”
    Lipsky removed a pair of latex gloves from his pocket and slipped them on. Gently, he raised the woman’s head by pulling back on her hair. Her face was smashed with creases from the hard boards of the table. She appeared to be in her mid- to late fifties but the lines made it hard to tell. The saliva-blood pool had started to thicken and congeal, and a gelatinous bridge ran from her mouth to the table. There were no visible signs of trauma, except that her mouth gaped open. Her jaw was slack, too slack.
    Lipsky let the head fall back into place and looked at the ash bucket on the table. It was in the same location as the others, center of the table, a couple of feet from the victim. Instead of showing the butt-end of cigarettes crammed into sand, a white handkerchief covered the metal bucket. Lipsky saw a thick paper card propped against the bucket, similar to the one found by the victim in the cotton warehouse. The card sat slightly askew as if the sides were uneven. The detailed drawing on it made Lipsky wonder

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