A Pressing Issue of Murder – Excerpt


Chapter 3

Virginia Beach, VA
Day 1

The coroner’s van had already arrived. He could see Gladys’s colorful outfit down the ravine. It seems that spring green is the color of the day, he thought, laughing to himself.

He’d put on the sneakers he’d put into the trunk of the unmarked car for just such occasions. Rachel had finally made him see the wisdom of not having to order his favorite Italian loafers by the dozen.

To be truthful, he’d known he needed to do this for years and just never got around to it. It was one of the things he loved about being married—especially to his own very special FBI agent. She never lets me get by with any of my normal bullshit. She’d state her opinion, and, when he saw how ridiculous he was being about something, he corrected his behavior. He was a smart man, and there is no arguing with logic!

Press and Trace eased their way down the steep terrain. It wasn’t really a deep ravine, just very steep and difficult to navigate. How the hell did Gladys make it down there? She was short but also rotund.

Grabbing the occasional pine for safety, it took the pair of detectives about five minutes to get down to the site where the body was located.

“Damn!”

Press heard his partner behind him and felt the jolt as Trace slammed into his back.

“Sorry, Press,” Trace Evans grunted. “I lost my traction.”

“Yeah, it’s those shoes. You should probably put a pair of sneakers in the back of the car for times like this,” Press admonished his partner who couldn’t see the grin all over his face.

Finally, the pair of Virginia Beach detectives reached the site where the body was located and Chief Coroner of the Virginia Tidewater Branch, Gladys Williams, awaited their arrival. When they were finally within a few feet of her, she stood up very carefully. The back of her jacket and slacks told Press that she, too, had had a rough trip down to the crime scene.

“Morning, handsome,” Gladys greeted her favorite homicide detective.

“Morning, gorgeous!” Press gave her one of his thousand-watt smiles.

She stood there in what could almost be called lime green slacks and a lightweight jacket about two shades darker. Her black African-American hair was in its usual corn rolls with today’s pink pinch-grippers at the ends. The pink sneakers she wore completed the outfit.

“What’ve you got for us this morning, Gladys?” Press asked.

“Male, approximately thirty-five years of age, about one-eighty and just under six feet would be my guess. We’ll get the correct numbers at the morgue.”

She already had the hands bagged to preserve evidence, he thought.

Gladys bent down and rolled the body. “He’s got a very nice bullet hole in his back. I waited for you to get here before rolling him. Let’s see what we’ve got in the way of ID,” she said as she reached into his back pants pocket. Finding a thin wallet, she tugged gently but firmly enough to extract it from the pocket. “Liked his jeans snug.” She grinned and handed the wallet to Press.

“Thanks, Gladys.”

“Looks like a dump,” Press offered.

“Yeah, morbidity and body position don’t match,” Gladys agreed. He’s been dead about six to ten hours. It’s still getting pretty cold at night. Sometime around midnight according to liver temp. We may be able to pin it down better once I get him on the table—take a better look.”

“Thanks, Gladys. We’ll stop by later today,” Press told her as he stepped back from the body and, with Trace looking on, he opened the expensive tri-fold leather wallet and found the man’s ID.

“Yup, this is our vic. Brandon Portman. Lived over by the old lighthouse. According to his driver’s license, you were right on the button with his stats, Gladys. You’re within five pounds on the weight.” He kept turning over cards and found the man’s card key for his office.

“Yeah, well, everybody lies on their license,” she snorted. “I only weigh one thirty-five myself!” She laughed the enthusiastic laugh that Press enjoyed so much.

If she didn’t hit a good 290, he’d be amazed. He worried about all that weight she carried, especially at five feet in height.

Press smiled at her, and then he looked back at the ID. “Portman worked at the new hospital, Hope General. It hasn’t even been open three months. From the looks of the watch on his wrist and the platinum card in his wallet, he was earning a bundle.”

They looked down at the body as Gladys zipped up the body bag. “Makes you wonder what he did to piss somebody off bad enough to get shot in the back,” Trace offered.

“Yeah, doesn’t it though,” Press said, more to himself than to Trace. “Doesn’t it just?”

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