"Why he doesn't look bad at all. Considering."
On his best days Donald K. Bascombe's image was not impressive but his appearance hadn't deteriorated as much as I'd expected. The body was his. I was certain. Even death couldn't wipe the perennial scowl off the executive's face. "I was afraid he'd be all gruesome and bloody but really, he looks pretty much like he's asleep. Not that I ever saw him sleep, mind you. Actually I never saw him lying down before but you know there's that thing when you lie on your back -- your skin falls into place and you appear younger. Or so they say."
My words appeared to confuse Detective Dupuy, the young, stern, relentlessly humorless policewoman who, after awakening me at dawn, had dragged me into a swamp, forced me to identify my boss's body, and ignored all my attempts at female bonding.
I explained. "You know reclining on your back is like an instant facelift. Well, you wouldn't know. You' too young. Not too young to be a detective. Too young to need a facelift which technically I am too. But old DK here, he was getting to bet that age and all, so lying down he appears somewhat better. Than he did standing up. Which is how I would see him. Always." I puased only briefly. "Are you going to stop me or let me babble all morning."
Detective Dupuy's eyes accused me of being a dumb blonde. Strictly speaking, neither was true.
"For the record, Ms. Daniels. You are saying that thisis the body of Donald K. Bascombe."
I completed a leisurely review of the reclining figure. Even witht he traces of a frown on his face, Bascome appeared as pleasant as I had ever seen him. His graying hair was neatly combed and his hands were folded in a fig leaf position I'd seen him adopt at all official functions, as if anyone would want to steal a peek at his cown jewels. His clothes were familiar from casual Fridays: khaki pants, brown leather belt, pink shirt. For some reason that was not explained to me, his feet were covered by a black tarp.
"Ms. Daniels. Is this D.K. Bascombe?"
"He looks so natural."
"Ms. Daniels." If the cop had any patience, she wasn't wasting it on me.
"Yes. Yes. It's Bascombe."
"Tag him and bag him." Detective Dupuy turned to the police officers who surrounded her and snapped the words as if she gave similar orders every day. I had the feeling she'd been waiting to give the command for her entire, albeit short, career.