The victim lay on the table and the bright lights shining down on the body allowed the Dr. Peter Fontaine to examine the injuries in great detail. The rich, flawless brown skin appeared to be nearly perfect except for the very clear presence of bite marks on the lower left leg.
Who could have taken such a depraved step? Who, seeing this perfect beauty would savagely tear into her with their teeth alone?
Peter adjusted the lights and leaned in to examine the wound more closely, photographing the jagged edges in detail.
They would need to get a forensic dentist in—to make a mold of the teeth for further identification.
Then a long shadow fell across the subject. Looking up he saw Lt. Olson standing, arms crossed over his chest observing him.
“Are you finished?” he asked.
“I think I need a couple more minutes to document this to narrow down the suspects,” Peter mumbled.
“Suspects?” Nick moved around the table to get a clearer view of the injury that had captured Peter’s attention. “To me this seems like an open and shut case.”
Peter glanced up to see the corner of Nick’s mouth twist up in a quirky half-smile. Now that he’d fully broken the surface of his TV coroner fantasy the real world swirled in around him. He felt the heat of the kitchen and heard the music drifting up from where their guests sat in the living room.
Yet Nick stood there frowning down at the turkey like the best crime-scene re-enactor around.
“I found a resident of the house behaving suspiciously and, on a hunch, processed her coat for trace evidence,” Nick went on. “I found evidence of butter, sage and parsley.”
“What do you mean the behaving suspiciously?” Peter asked. He couldn’t believe that Nick was playing along with this. Or that he had somehow known exactly what had been going on in Peter’s head.
Had he been talking to himself out loud? Granted, that sometimes happened but usually only when he was drunk and he hadn’t had even cracked open a single Thanksgiving beer yet.
“The subject was observed standing in a corner licking her chops in an exaggerated manner.” Nick pointed to the corner of the kitchen where their cat, Gigi sat. Her long pink tongue flicked out and around her muzzle as though it was an independent creature. “I don’t think we’ll get a confession out of her, but I think if we subject her to a sniff test we’ll get a whiff of poultry. I’m pretty sure we can get a conviction.”
“But look at her.” Peter whirled around, clutching at Nick’s shirtfront. He seemed slightly taken aback but then resolved himself back into her role of sardonic detective. Peter wound his fingers harder in Nick’s sweater. “She’s clearly starving.”
“But the evidence is right there. Anyone looking at it will know there has been a crime.” Nick pointed to the molested turkey leg. “It’s out of our hands.”
“But what if we take it apart,” Peter whispered.
“You mean destroy evidence of cat lips?”
“Birds get carved all the time. All we have to do is take these legs off, slice the breast and put it on a platter.”
“Dismembering the body, huh?” Nick gave a low whistle. This attracted Gigi, who started circling his leg. “It could work.”
“No one needs to know about the cat lips.” Peter drew nearer. “The bird was already dead anyway.”
“But we know where those lips have been,” Nick pointed out. “Dark places. Nasty places.”
“We can just cut that part off,” Peter persisted. “If I leave it on the floor I’m pretty sure the remaining evidence will vanish.”
Their course decided, they set to the carcass quickly.
It was greasy work. More than once, Peter’s fingers plunged into stuffing, but in the end the bones were picked clean and the slices artfully arranged on a platter.
Nick bore the grand dish into the dining room. Peter followed behind, holding a gravy boat.
Both heard the tiny sound of cat lips smacking behind them, but neither said a word.
Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats as well as a wide and diverse variety of invasive and noxious weeds. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She is also the author of the Bellingham Mystery Series.