Another Note: Crime Scenes

BY : Resting-Madness
Category: Death Note > General
Dragon prints: 2181
Disclaimer: I don't make money from this work of fiction. I don't own the realm of death note's creation like characters and plot, and world. None of it is mine.

Mello cased the short of the area for security cameras. He really doubted he'd find any considering it's a home for dead people, hopefully, going to the other side; in a world with killer notebooks and Death Gods, one never knows what really exists out there. Kneeling at the doorknob he began to pick the lock, hoping that there wouldn't be a deadbolt in the way. The telltale click brought a smile to his scared face, and he straightened up to stand, permitting himself trespass into the building. Using the penlight he stuck on the house keys, he illuminated the room from left to right unsure of what he was expecting to find but knowing that there has to be something.

'Not really sure if the silence is good or bad,' he turned his head to see better on the left, that being the side of his face with the not-so-good vision at night. What do you expect when you've been burned, though, 20-20?

Mello walked through the large room, watching out for the odds and ends, reaching for something to touch in the dimly lit room. The directory caught his eye but he cruised on by it to get to the main parlor where the grieving is done. The room held nothing spectacular, just a pile of folding chairs stacked against the wall and a podium at the head of the space, pretty standard stuff. After admiring the stained glass floor to ceiling windows, Mello exited the room to look through the directory but a sound caught his attention leading him to a door that's cracked open at the far end of the room.

His flashlight is turned off and he stuffed it into his pocket. The room down the stairs is completely dark; if the sound was man-made he doesn't want to alert them that he is sneaking around- if he wasn't already found out. He had to throw caution to the wind with the cracked door because it would either give him covert access or creak like a siren alerting the person down below. It could be the unsub or merely the man or woman who works here doing their job before morning. Frankly, he hoped for the former. He'd show up and the unsub would turn a skull-faced grin at him and he'd plug him right between the eyes. Case closed. Sicko's reign of terror solved.

Luck was on his side, the door opened quietly and smoothly. He slithered between a wide enough gap regardless the offered stealth; the next obstacle, however, was the stairs. But to Mello's surprise, there was a ramp where the staircase should be.

'A handicapped mortician?'

It wasn't such a strange thing but he's never come across it; plastered to the wall he crept down the slope until he was able to peek around the corner into the room. Someone is there in the center of the large space, not in hiding, but just going about their own business; to Mello it wasn't a business that called for darkness. So what could the man be doing?

A sick, wet cough came from the man then he wheeled himself across the room to a counter where a plastic cup full of water sat. The man coughed again before downing the contents of the cup, afterwards he cleared his throat then rolled himself around the room to another counter where he pulled out a bag of cough drops. After popping two into his mouth, the man rubbed his palm over his moist lips before returning to the center of the room where the body lay.

'This is repulsive,' And he couldn't allow it to go on.

Truth be told, Mello has no interest in this man's sickness and germ spreading as he is in no way a germaphobe, he just needs questions answered. And this man had better be the sharing type because, with cases like this of brick wall after brick wall, he was ready for someone to offer resistance so that he could smack it right back at them with a pistol.

Stepping out from his hiding place Mello startled the man by saying. "It's a good thing he's already dead," Smirking that he got the drop on the guy, Mello then reached for the light switch that he'd seen on the wall across from where he'd been standing. "A lot of people have mixed feelings about being handled by germs."

"How did you get in here?" The mortician rolled to where his phone sat, ready to call the police should the intruder be violent. He certainly looked the type. "What do you want? I don't keep money in the home..."

"I don't want any money, and I don't wanna harm an old man; I just need you to answer some questions for me."

"Questions? What kind of questions?" His guard lowered completely and he wheeled himself closer to the scarred intruder.

"For starters, what are you doing down here in the dark?" Mello looked at the nude corpse laid out on a polished metal table. He's seen many bodies in his life, and just about all of them seemed like they'd get up and move around again, but this guy was dead-dead. His skin is pasty and pulled taut to the bones, his lips are a soft pale blue. People have been arrested for less than molesting the dead. It seemed like that was the only thing that could go on in a dark room with a dead body- wheelchair or no.

"I was going to turn on my work light," He pointed above the body to a large movable lamp. "when my bronchitis acted up. I got a drink and some drops then you showed up... Why? What did you think I was doing?" Looking at Mello's skeptical expression the mortician produced one of his own. Disgust. "Get out of my home, I don't have to take something like that from you or anyone." He rolled himself towards the ramp. "This is my place of business and I will not be disrespected..."

Mello rolled his eyes to the bluster and shook his head. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you... okay? I didn't notice the overhead. It was my mistake." Walking to the ramp with intentions of heading up, he asked again if he can ask the man some questions in another room.

The mortician, Quinn O'Laskey, took Mello into his office. He offered the inspector something to eat or drink which was declined, the mortitian assumed was because of his illness. He, however, poured himself a cup of coffee and waited to be grilled for information about a situation he probably knows nothing about.

Knowing the man has seen his share of death because of his profession, Mello brought up the photos on his phone then held it out for him to see the screen as he flipped them. He gauged the mortitian's reaction to them but there was none until Jason Llyod's popped up.

"I prepared his body for a service a while back," O'Laskey leaned forward in his seat for a better look. "What's happened to his face?"

"You tell me," Mello grew the photo to zoom in on the boy's face.

"It looks as if his eyes have been crusted shut somehow..." Looking across the desk at Mello's disfigurement he looked back at Jason Llyod. "Have they been burned shut?"

"Was Jason Llyod buried in your cemetery?" Mello lowered his phone to the desktop, but kept his hand over it incase the germ-spreader's hand should decided to make a grab for it. He should have brought the folder from the car.

"Yes."

"How often do you work late nights like this?"

"Often, it's my free time from the morning activities going on," The coroner waved his hands as if Mello could just look around and get an idea of what he meant by activity. "Jason's plot would have had to have been disturbed long ago, the grass is well grown over it by now."

"Are you the only person who works here, Mr. O'Laskey?"

"No. I've got three other guys who do the moving and a woman who does the desk work," His own words played over in his head bringing him to ask. "Are they in some kind of trouble?"

"Not at all. I just want to ask them if they'd heard or seen anything the day that the body was taken."

"They might have, I'll get you their information." Reaching into the desk he rifled around for a clean sheet of paper. "Why would someone dig up a body and defile it like that," he nodded at Mello's phone.

"That's what I'm trying to find out," Mello folded the papers and stuffed them into his pocket after emptying it of the chocolate bar wrappers he had in there; the brown and gold wrappings were tossed into the trash can beside the desk. "You should keep your eyes open, in case someone passes through again to repeat it."

"I will, but there's no window down in the cleaning room... Kids would peek in through it to get a scare, or a peek at a bit of flesh, so I had it bricked up."

Standing, Mello returned his phone to the other pocket of his vest before asking. "Do you live here?"

"Yes, right upstairs in a loft type single room, and tiny kitchenette with a living space."

"Can you see the cemetery from there?"

"No. It's in the front and I get to bed rather late- usually two or three o'clock,"

"Okay. Thank you for your co-operation,"

"Anytime at all," He wheeled over to the door to show Mello out.

The place looked a lot less grim with the lights on, and they made their ways to the foyer. Mello again glanced at the directory. "Is that book computerized?" He pointed with his elbow while opening the door.

Looking towards the book O'Laskey nodded. "Updated once a week, even when there's nothing to update. The world's gone digital, even if I don't believe in it." And by that he meant keeping his employees down on paper rather than his sending Mello a zip file or attachment. "I've got to keep up with the times."

Mello left the home feeling no closer to solving the case than when it had started, but he did feel they were on the right track.

0 0 0

He walked into the room he shares with Matt, exhausted and ready to fall. Mello crawled over the stretched out lump in the bed and laid himself down right over it. He smiled when smelling the scent of shampoo from his lover's freshly washed hair; he nuzzled his face into the back of the soft burnt-colored strands.

Matt mumbled "You find anything?" into the pillow. Slowly waking himself up so he could listen to the report- granted Mello decided to give it; judging by his weight he's ready to nod off too.

"We'll find out in the morning," he mumbled in return then peppered drowsy kisses against the back of Matt's neck and head.

"Mhmm." Matt returned to dreamland followed closely by Mello.

By morning the house was alive but with the living dead. Not one occupant seemed ready to greet the day, save aside L, who never sleeps anyway, and the servants who were in bed as early as 9:45 pm. The breakfast table was buzzing with clanks of a fork or spoon, and taps of the multiple keyboards as the investigators worked on the minutes missed from snoozing after working into the late hours.

L was working on the sixth spoonful of sugar for his bowl of chocolate and banana bread- with fresh homemade chunks of banana bread sprinkled in- oatmeal before he spoke to everyone at the table. "Your latest victim has caught the attention of the local news, and the media is in a frenzy of reporting speculations about the serial killer,"

That caught the divided attention and they all looked up from their activities. Seeing that L wasn't saying anything more they then turned their attention to one of the many televisions playing in the background. Whichever feed they chose to look at the reports were all reporting the same thing: There's a serial killer on the loose.

"I can send Rester to do damage control, it shouldn't take long," Near informed them nonplussed because of the latest developments.

It was only a matter of time in his opinion, Near's actually surprised that it took this long. He would have expected the murder of four women in a well-known hotel to be a hot topic. But then, he supposed, the media has no way of connecting something to one person when killings seem to be a day to day occurance if you lump every inch of life into one whole. He wouldn't normally send the quiet, officiant man to do liaison tasks but with Halle not on the team and his original liaison killed by Kira he needed someone. And Rester's face has already been seen out in the city. If this was a case of a Death Note then it would be better to keep Gevanni under wraps for the time being. He needs the man's abilities far more than that of Rester's limited ones.

L's finger cruised the sticky residue left around his empty bowl, "It's settled then. Have a productive day everyone," he sucked the leftovers from the digit then rose from the table and promptly left the dining room.

Light recalled what he'd overheard last night between L and Near; his honey colored gaze landed on the white haired detective and he began to wonder what was going on? They, in his opinion, had no reason to be upset with one another. Could it be because of him? Was L mad at Near and the others for being as disrespectful as they possibly could just because he, Light, was closer to L than they could ever imagine anyone being? When he was younger, about six, he often shot glares at his father's partner. He thought the man wasn't right to be at his dad's side, that the force could have done better in their choosing. But he had been there, like it or not. It seemed unlikely. L, no matter what affections he might hold for him, would never assert himself into their domestic dispute. So what then?

"I can address the media, Near," Light asserted himself. "Rester would need a prepared statement, but any off course questions and he'll simply drop the matter which will drive the panicked public into a fit. It's better if I do it."

Seeing that Light wasn't going to back down, Near nodded. He actually hated that the docile serial killer was right. Rester isn't an idiot by any means, but he's more the grunt work even if he does make a nice front of the house presentation. Light's face, for all the deceit behind it, he does hold a certain charm that will put fears at ease.

Matt snagged Mello by the arm and left the room with his boss; his closed laptop and tucked under his arm. When they were out in the hall, despite others nearby in the room, he lifts the screen showing to Mello what he'd discovered. Beaming proudly at his find, he said. "Good thing my arms are in shape because I found a Bingo," He waved an arm in the air.

"I knew it!" Mello took the laptop into custody for a closer look. "I knew that place had to mean something,"

"Yeah, the only thing is- what about it? Is this where the unsub picks his victims?" Matt watched at the corner of his eye where Light was watching them through the open doorway. "Or is he someone who works there?"

"Looks that way; and if that O'Laskey guy keeps his mouth shut to his workers we can stake the place and catch him in the act. This is too much of a red light to not lead somewhere,"

Matt shook his head in wonder of how he'd missed something so obvious. One of the women, Felicity Honeycut, and the Talbotts both had been to the funeral home within the past three months. Felicity attended for the death of a classmate she must have been close with at one point, because the dead schoolmate was not present in any of her social media feeds or photos so she wasn't a dear or close friend just a friend, and the Talbotts for the death of Mrs. Talbott's mother. So the unsub either knows both Mrs. Honeycut and the Talbott family, or he's one of the four employees at the funeral home. And needless to say, Jason Llyod's gravestone is there, and once he's released from the morgue so too will be the young Llyod.

"Let's finish breakfast then head to the home," Mello walked back into the dining room where his breakfast of bacon with Nutella slathered french toast, amazingly considering how close he is to the sugar-fiend detective, sat untouched after three forkfuls have been cut from it.

Matt followed him with his, once again, closed laptop. He set it down on the long dining table; locking eyes with Light who looked across the table at him when he sat down. With a raise of his brows in the wonder of what was so interesting about himself? Matt lowered his head then scarfed his breakfast down as quickly as he could so they could head out. It sucked to race food down your throat when it tastes so good, even something as simple as french toast with caramelized onions spread over the pepper jam. He wanted to go traditional but when the air usually smells so heavily of sugary sweetness it can be a little bothersome to the senses, so he went savory.

Light was curious about the pairs' behavior in the hall, but he left it alone. He needs to get to the police station and set up an interview for the news at noon. And he made plans for himself to head to The Daily Mirror to check up on Quimby. It wasn't ever his plan just to be lead around by the nose or flutter around by instructed movement to the letter from the Wammy's detectives. He's beyond capable of doing well in any field given to him. Murder investigations are no different. His father had only invited him in on research for things like insurence fraud. Which is why L had assigned him to begin majoring in paper trails, a Tactitionist; it's a hard profession to master easily, but he wasn't threatened by the work and he knew he could do well. It's close to what he'd done whenever he helped his father with cases as a teen. Frauds are craftier than they seem. And extortion can ruin worlds.

0 0 0

Quimby was like a demi-God. He walked into The Daily Mirror and all eyes were on him. He was a newborn celebrity. At least, he imagined that this is what it looked like from the inside of celebrity culture. Eyes on you, whispering about what you've done and who you are, a cleared path by those not brave enough to approach. However those who're brave would take a step closer to him. It was a wonderful feeling. Even Dana did something cute by brushing the hair beside her ear, and looking away from him as he marched with a steady pace to the boss's office.

The killer contacted him. He was happy with what he'd done with the false story. It was... He wasn't even sure how to describe it. In a way, it was sick to get pleasure from helping exploit a man who's killing people, but at the same time, he's helping a man be who he's always wanted to be. Is he wrong? It's not as if this killer won't be caught... And in the meantime, they'll both get something out of it; no matter how the end result is for one of them. As long as it's not him, it's fine. This could open a whole new world for him. Best-selling author! Crime writer extraordinaire! He'll be close to the cops to do these things, and maybe he'll even get contracts to write movie scripts! He couldn't suppress the grin spreading across his face about it.

"Mr. Hanley?" Quimby's bravado deflated the moment he locked eyes with his boss.

He wasn't the usual kind of boss that heads a newspaper office. He's handsome, like a model. The chiseled jaw, chin with a dimple, the thick full coffee brown hair, and the deepest dark brown eyes that a human being could possess. The only thing that doesn't fit the picture is the voice, it's seedy and cruel. And sickeningly authoritative. Which is why when he addressed his employee, Quimby felt on edge because Dick Hanley spoke in a soft tone accompanied by a personality that was nice.

"Ellis Quimby, have a seat! Be comfortable, get comfortable," Hanley stood from his comfortable leather chair to walk over to the sideboard where a pot of tea brewed and steeped with a delicious scent of maple or perhaps a nut of some kind. "Let me get you a cup of tea,"

Quimby just blinked at the offered then nodded shakily. "Y-yes, yes, thank you." Straightening, he regained his composure of elevation.

He can see it now, what's going on; Mr. Hanley wants something from him. And he knows just what that something is. Crossing his legs, he watched his boss fix him the perfect cup of tea waiting for the grovel. Give us an interview! Let us have your story! Make The Daily Mirror the most read paper in all of the U.K! Ha. Newspapers. Such small potatoes when his face can be live on television or a pre-recording so that he could be at home watching his interviews. The article, eh, that's fine for a scrapbook. But interviews can last and last the more he's placed at the locations of these murders. They could be a dynamic duo! The sicko will kill the victims and he'll write about it. The book will be a huge hit! It might even become a movie! He'll be a legend.

"Quimby?" Hanley handed over a cup of tea when the glossy look in his employee's eyes focused on him. "How would you like a raise?"

A raise? Quimby blinked his confusion then asked. "A raise?"

"A promotion of sorts deserves a raise, don't you agree?"

"Yes, si..." The means to address his boss as 'sir' became lost to him as he felt a bit more wind beneath his wings today. "Yes, Hanley, that does sound befitting. What were you thinking exactly?"

"The headline: The Man Who Saw Murder, it'll be a huge success and all you have to do is tell it. Each week we'll dedicate the full front page to you and your brave tale of waking up at crime scenes- the news is showing that there might be a serial killer on the loose. We think he's the one who's been doing this to you. Can you imagine the publicity this paper will receive, and all because of your wonderful bravery," The grin was velvety and lovely as he watched his lowly employee suddenly look like a shining trophy on the shelf behind him. Or a gorgeous plaque on the wall. "You can be like Scheherazade, One Thousand and One Nights of storytelling, each ending on 'To Be Continued'..." He swept his hand through the air to indicate the length of time it would last.

Byran tossed the scalding hot tea in Hanley's pretty-boy face before he lunged across the desk with a pencil pulled from the cupholder at the desk's edge to stab his boss right in the eye before the point moved to the side of his throat. Hanley's eyes widened from shock- a controlled shock that he's just been fatally attacked, then an uncontrolled shock took over his panicking body. He convulsed as his body is trying to hold on to its departing soul; blood gushed from the hole in the neck of the head of The Daily Mirror.

Snapping out of his daydream,

"You'll be the head story writer," Hanley explained.

"What about Tibbons and Watson?"

Hanley scoffed. "Tibbons will take your job as scat producer,"

Scat. 'He thinks you do shit pieces. No. He doesn't think it, he believes you were suited for it- that's why he stuck you there in the first place.' Quimby finished the cup of almond tea then set the tiny glass cup down on the desk. He rose from the chair before the desk and helped himself to a few biscuits in a box on the sideboard before declining the offer. "I'm not going to let you turn my pain into a spectacle. I have my pride."

"You have pride? You write for the gossip section," The head of the paper informed.

"Not anymore. I quit."

He nose held high, Quimby exited the man's office and didn't look back.

0 0 0

"And currently that's all we've been able to obtain. If you have any information after hearing our statement, we ask that you get in contact with the police and tell them what you know. I believe that you, the people, are the real eyes and ears of the city. And you have the authority to make it a job of action by helping us instead of staying silent. You can be a hero by being informative. This is your city and your right of safety being jeopardized, show yourselves that you care by helping us with our job not relying on it. We can't help you if you don't, in turn, help us."

Matt was gonna gag. This was the fifth time they've shown the report since it aired. "Gimme a break,"

"I thought Light did a good job," Near commented from his workspace in the back of the library where he and Matt have been working since after breakfast. He's currently playing with a paddle ball while reading over a case in Puebla de la Sierra, Spain.

Light didn't get into the gore of it. He didn't needlessly create any kind of fear. He gave the facts. Plain and simple. It calmed the few uncertain questions, delicately ignored the questions that shouldn't be answered and then belted the people with the means to keep an eye out, and take safe action should they see something. He would make a great permanent liaison. Only seen when needed.

Near smirked at his private joke of having Light Yagami out of the house and away from the investigators.

"Speaking of which, where the hell is the pretty boy?" Matt set his empty lunch plate onto the service cart by the door for the butler to retrieve whenever he can. "It's one o'clock, he should have been back by now."

Near muttered that he didn't know. But he kept it to himself that he didn't care. Light was under his skin whether he be Light or Kira. He bothered him, more so with L in the works.

0 0 0

Light Yagami found Quimby at the St. Giles Hills park, where he was told to meet him after he'd called the tabloid reporter asking to meet with him. The foreign investigator took a cab since he doesn't yet feel comfortable driving the roads in England. Winchester is beautiful, especially the rural area which L's manor resides before it branches into the bustling city life. He could see living out here if he was never to go back to Japan. It never dawned on Light until just now how much has changed for him. He's not one to fight change and new adaptations, but he's also never thought of leaving his home in Kanto. And what would come from his new life as a detective under L? Travel. Never really calling anywhere home? He began to wonder if he'd miss stability or flourish in the hustle life?

"Mr. Quimby, nice to see you again," He greeted the journalist with a handshake. "It's late, have you eaten yet?"

Quimby looked up at Light from his seat on the bench, a kicked dog expression on his face despite the pleasantries given to him. It took a moment before he realized a question was asked then he shook his head.

"I saw a cafe on the way over, Coffee Lab, would you like to go?" Light wondered if he should sit down, Quimby looked disturbed and like he needed to talk. "My treat."

The former reporter looked hesitant then nodded as he stood.

The couple took a drive down the road of St. Thomas Street to the Coffee Lab. They found a seat at a table for two in the semi-crowded room; it reminded Light of a bookstore rather than a cafe- save aside the menus on each wall and the large service counter hosting spigots for drinks and cases for cakes. It was comforting, it seemed like a place one could really get some thinking done. The tables are polished wooden squares with homey seats to match. They ordered a plate of sandwiches on freshly baked croissant bread, they're filled with roasted vegetables and smooth cheese, and they sipped some of the finest coffee that Winchester has to offer.

"I needed this," Quimby munched on one of the sandwiches, glad for the distraction of food.

His stomach was doing knots now that he's quit his job. What was he thinking? Quitting! He must have been out of his mind! This is all that lunatics fault. He's got him thinking that he wants more- should have more. What a disaster.

"This is all starting to get to me... I quit my job earlier, and now I'm thinking about groveling my way back in..."

Light's brows furrowed over the man's ramblings, that seemed to have no end to them so he cut in by asking. "Why did you quit your job?"

"Ohh, my boss wanted me to tell the story of what happened to me, day by day like some cryptic storyteller to boost the paper's ranking."

"I see. It makes sense,"

Quimby nodded. "Tell me about it, but that doesn't mean he can take advantage of me like that." Even as he repeated his words from earlier he didn't feel the conviction behind them. "I have my pride, after all."

"I can understand that as well, but you weren't fired for declining the request... You quit. Why?"

"Isn't pride enough?"

"I think you were feeling more egotistical than prideful right then, otherwise you wouldn't be here now worrying about it."

Quimby's jaw tightened and his eyes sharpened. He knew what his character, Byran, would do right about now. And in his mind, he smashed the plate against the edge of the table causing it to break into shards, one of which he used to thrust into the foreign detective's mouth to stab, repeatedly, into the spite-speaking young man's tongue. A sharp figure like this Lethally Legal would fight back and he would force bits of the plate down his throat to discombobulate him as he tried not to choke on the porcelain. Then he would finish his lunch and walk casually away. A nobody, who lived life unseen.

Outside in the real world, he took a sip of his perfectly made cup of Hibiscus tea, choosing golden silence.

"Quimby, has the unsub contacted you again?"

"Just once since the last time," He might as well put it out there. "He likes what I'm doing with the novel, so far. That was all he'd said."

"How did he contact you?"

"We hadn't met like this or anything, if that's what you're asking, but I found a note attached to my back door when I went out to dump the rubbish for tomorrow."

Light couldn't figure out how this guy was skirting the policemen watching the home. It's unheard of for anyone to be that stealthy. Is he getting someone to distract the police from the home momentarily? Or is he simply a fixture of the area? Hiding, not even four feet away, as he had in that alley when he'd lost Mello and Matt.

'No. That's impossible; even the best illusionists couldn't pull off something like that...' He looked across the table at Quimby who's eating a sandwich looking, once again, like a kicked dog. He couldn't imagine what a hard time he must be having. Under constant watchful eyes- the police, the unsub, the ragtag investigators he's working with.

"I just don't think that any of this should be taken advantage of," Quimby muttered into his cup of tea.

"I agree with you, you're right." Light tried to remedy the situation. "Your boss was out of line; and had I been you I would have quit as well. It would only lead to being pressured by him every day to do his bidding. It was insensitive."

"Yes! That's exactly what it was!" Quimby really had this man all wrong. Maybe he does understand? It's just the polices' job to be infuriating, he presumed. But, the man himself is understanding and kind. And that's why he invited and treated him to a meal. "What am I to do anyway, about this book?"

"What do you mean?"

"Am I supposed to announce it to the general public in some way? Or keep it under wraps just to appease to the killer?"

"By now the public is suspicious that Jason Llyod's resurfaced body had something to do with the recent deaths of those four women and the Talbott family... It isn't likely they'd expect you to be writing about it so soon- at least not until the case is solved. It's better you keep it under wraps while working on it."

Nodding, Quimby then picked up the last of the sandwiches to eat. "Inspector Legal, what should I do if the killer does show up and talks to me? He must know that I don't know the specifics of the case from the police point of view,"

"I doubt he's after that much. He'd just like to look like he's in charge and he's got everyone in a tailspin. Focus on the murders and what you remember from being at the scene, that should be enough."

"Won't be much of a book."

"Improvize. You're creative at your job with exaggerating what a celebrity is doing, you can make up something as far as policing goes."

"Can't you tell me?" He slurped his tea then set the empty cup back onto the table.

"I'm afraid I can't. It's confidential, plus the unsub is watching you and judging your work. We wouldn't want to give him details about how far we've come in catching him."

"How close are you to it?" He didn't want to sound worried, but he also wasn't sure that he wanted to sound hopeful either.

"We've got a few good leads, in fact, there's someone looking into one right now."

The cup of espresso was set down on the serving dish, the brown liquid wiggled back and forth just as a puddle on a rainy day. A puddle which Mello just stepped in as he walked through the parking lot of the funeral home. The weather is fantastic today, the sun has been shining since first thing in the morning and a cool late Spring breeze has been blowing around trying to thin out the puddles from the sprinkles of rain the day before. The chocoholic detective would much rather be cruising around the city on one of the many sweet bikes that are parked in the garage of the manor than working a case. Even the best detectives need downtime.

Mello didn't expect a funeral to be in session when he arrived, and he wondered if he should wait it out or interrupt? But the decision made itself when he opened the door of the home and wandered in through to the second floor where the mortician lives. He could ask the employees up there to speak with them about the grave robbery. Mr. O'Laskey wasn't in his home which meant he was either down in the grieving room or in the basement preparing another body for its procession.

He walked around the living room looking at the photos which consisted of his workers, his family and a couple of dogs. All in all the man seemed pretty cheerful for an undertaker. Although, he supposed it's a common stereotype that anyone working with the dead would be depressed.

'That kid sure looks familiar,' Mello studied the photo for a moment, but his attention got called away by the sound of a flushing toilet. Walking to the doorway he sees one of the directors exiting the bathroom. "Hey,"

The man looked spooked by the unexplained and unexpected guest in the private area of the home. But when he was asked if he could answer a few questions, he quickly complied without resistance. Anyone with a scar like that must mean business and he wanted to quickly separate himself from whatever business which that could be. The questions were both easy and hard to answer, the ones that were about himself and how long he's been working at the home, or where was he on the night of such and such was easy because he was at home with his family. But when he was questioned about a date in January, he drew a blank.

He couldn't remember back that far, especially if the event happened at night. But it seems a body that they'd buried was dug up the same day because the young boy inside the casket turned up in a tree just a day ago. When the odd looking detective let him go and asked that he tell Baker to come up to speak with him, he felt a huge relief wash over him.

"So you've been here longer than Mr. O'Laskey?" Mello asked director Baker, he's a brawny man and the detective can tell he'd come in a pinch for moving the caskets and bodies for a man who couldn't even walk. Hell, he'd of hired him back in his old mob days as one of his "heavies".

"Oh yeah, this place used to be family owned but then Mr. Quigley gave it to Mr. O'Laskey," He pointed to the photos.

'Quigley?' The boy in the photo that looked familiar flashed through his thoughts. "O'Laskey's not an English name, is it?"

"Course not, the man's whole family is full of mutts actually. We don't mind it, though." He grinned in a friendly way. "He's a good bloke."

"And you'd consider him an honest man, that takes care of what your former boss built?"

"Oh sure, he even upped our pay because some people were let go."

"Which people? Why?" Asked Mello. If he could raise workers pay but still let some go, then why let them go?

"It wasn't malicious, and it wasn't many either. Just two. The former clerk who works the books, and his nephew. The kid wasn't cut out for the business." He shrugged a beefy shoulder. "A squeamish little thing- he's about... 30-years-old now, new job- bit of a loner, though."

"Do you think he'd hold a grudge towards his uncle for being fired?"

"No. Like I'd said, he wasn't cut out for it... He's got a new life now, probably a blessing that he was let go."

"Mm. Do you remember Jason Llyod- from before the other day?"

"Oh yeah, I always remember the days that I have to work late nights- because they're so few." He took a moment of silence to think about it. "His family came in for the wake, they sat with him for a long time... I kind of thought it was beautiful. Most people don't take the time to just spend some silence with the deceased, the smell gets to them,"

"What smell?"

"The fermented scent that keeps the bodies from rotting, have you been downstairs? That stink is all over the place, no one likes going down there," he huffed out a laugh. "Mr. O'Laskey's a brave one in my eyes."

Mello had noticed the smell, it was god awful. He'd been sort of holding his breath in gulps to prevents catching a sickness in the air from the mortician, but in-between breaths there was an awful smell like rotting meat, the stink being covered up by tangy chemicals and burnt skin and hair. Having had burnt skin and hair himself, Mello knows the scents.

"It's a joke amongst funeral homes that most of the mourning tears are because they can't take the bad smells in the place, it's why we hold the funerals outside- unless it's raining."

"Do you remember what happened after you put the body into the ground? Was that in the morning or at night after the wake?" It wasn't unheard of to bury bodies at night.

"We certainly didn't bury him at night, we did it early in the morning around 9 o'clock."

Now they were getting somewhere. Beryl Cowell, the other director, wasn't any help at all. "What were your movements after that?"

"I was washing my hands and getting ready for the next procession at ten."

"Could you see the cemetery from the window?"

"Yeah, it's at the back of the home." He pointed as though the location was nearer than a room away. "Nothing stirred in all the time it took until the next group came in."

"I see. And after the day ended?"

"We cleaned up, and helped with the next body that came in,"

"How long did that take you?"

The director thought it over then replied. "About two hours. There was one body downstairs to be cleaned and another to be dressed since it was done. It's all a hurrying process to beat rigor mortis and embalm the bodies."

'With loose dirt and enough time and help, Jason could have been removed from his grave by then. Who would know?' Mello mused.

"Whoever took the kid would have had plenty of time to remove him, the dirt is only somewhat scattered over the body while the mourners are around. We officially bury them once they've left and we have the time."

Mello thanked the man for his help then he left the room and walked down to the first floor. He waited for a group of mourners to pass while they made their way to the back of the house to where the body would be placed into the ground. Mello's teal colored gaze fell upon a little girl who was crying that she was bored rather than sad, while her mother cried because she was sad. The whining little girl looked like her mother's twin. And if the killer is choosing his victims from screening the funeral goers then he could have just found the next victims.

x x x

Commentary: December 13th is Mello's birthday so it's kind of great that he reigned supreme in this chapter.



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