Dallas pushed himself to his feet, hooking his thumbs through his belt loops. “Where do we go from here?”
“Well, I’ll continue to take pictures, search for evidence, take more pictures, bag anything I can find… That’s my piece in all this.” Bo glanced up at him. “Since you’ll be playing detective whenever Burke gets assigned a case, you’ll have to really play that part.”
Dallas nodded. “You worked with the last officer she did this to, yeah?”
“What would his first step have been?”
“Questioning the person who called in the body.” Bo pointed over to one of the barricades. “It appears she’s seated over there by the other officers. That’s usually where he would have begun.”
Bo nodded rather than offering any sort of verbal response. That didn’t surprise Dallas in the least. Though he didn’t know anything about Bo’s schooling, it was more than obvious that the station and the people within it had beaten him down more than once. The more often he responded with actual words, the greater chances Dallas had to tell him he had said something wrong.
He’ll never do anything wrong ever again if we kill him.
Dallas rolled his eyes as he walked back toward the yellow tape. Back in the day, he and Ed had made a compromise of sorts. Every now and then, he’d let Ed take control of his killer drive and take a life, but it had to be that of a criminal. Ed had agreed, but it hadn’t stopped him from pleading his case for the taking of any life around him.
Somehow, Dallas still had his fingers crossed that the bastard would eventually get the message. As it stood, ‘eventually’ was nowhere in sight.
He ducked under the crime scene tape and stopped at the barricade closest to the scene. “Hello, ma’am. I’m Officer Silver. You mind answering a few questions about how you stumbled upon this?”
Arms wrapped around herself, she shook her head. “No, ask whatever you have to.”
“Thank you.” It struck Dallas in that moment that Narcotics was not at all like Homicide, and he had no idea how the hell to question this woman.
“What were you doing out on the beach this early in the morning?” Bo asked from behind Dallas.
“I come out here and pick up trash in the mornings before work. It doesn’t help a ton, but it helps keep the beach a little cleaner,” she said.
Bo nodded. “Of course. We appreciate your hard work in helping to keep our city clean. How long were you out here before you spotted him?”
“Not long. Maybe twenty minutes?”
“What’d you do when you first spotted him?”
“I called out to him a couple times, asked if he was okay, if he needed help. I figured he might’ve been asleep when he didn’t respond, so I did my best to stay quiet and went back to picking up trash. But when I walked by him, I noticed he was on his stomach, and then I noticed his back.”
“Did you touch the body?”
“Do you have the container you were using to store the trash you collected?” Bo asked.
“Not with me. It’s the trash bag a couple feet away from his… body,” she said quietly.
“I’ll ask you to go to the station with one of our officers here so you can be fingerprinted. It will allow us to eliminate your prints from the bag and the trash inside when we’re looking for potential evidence.”
She nodded. “Okay. I-I can do that.”
“Thank you. Your cooperation is appreciated. Did you happen to see anyone else this morning? Walking away from the beach when you arrived? Anything like that?”
“No, I’m sorry. It was empty when I got here. I mean… aside from him, but if there was someone else up and about, I would’ve noticed them. I’m sure of that.”
Bo nodded. “All right, thank you.” He pointed to one of the uniformed officers by the yellow tape. “This is Officer Montgomery. He will take you to the station to be fingerprinted, or you may follow him in your own vehicle.”
“I’ll follow him.”
“All right. I’ll ask that you leave your name and phone number with Officer Silver here, but otherwise, thank you, and you’re free to leave with Officer Montgomery whenever you’re ready,” Bo said. “Without any further goodbyes, he ducked under the tape and made his way back to the body.
Dallas offered a smile, pulling his notepad from his pocket. “Your name and a number we can reach you at, ma’am?”
Once Dallas had her information written down, he tucked his notepad away and walked back to Bo. “Thanks for jumping in there, Austen. Had no damn idea what to say.”
“Appreciate you not letting me suffer in this station the same way others have done to you.”
Bo remained silent, not that Dallas was surprised. He snapped another picture and rose to his feet. “Will you help me move him to his back once I lay down a tarp to protect any evidence on his back?”
“Thank you. I’ll have a pair of gloves for you in a moment.”
“All right, man. I’ll be here.”
Bo walked back to the car, returning with a tarp and a pair of gloves. He handed the gloves to Dallas, unfolding the tarp while the officer pulled the gloves on. “I need you to help move his legs over. I’ll handle his shoulders and head.”
As they turned him over, Bo cleared his throat. “I’ve been treated like some sort of cancerous, contagious abnormality most of my life. I would never set my goal as making someone else feel the same.”
“Ending the cycle of abuse is far from a bad thing.”
“Yes.” Bo squatted down beside the body, his expression neutral despite the autopsy-like suture job on the corpse’s torso. “This is the Y-shaped cut usually used in an autopsy, though not as long toward the shoulders or pubic bone. He was alive when this cut was made, based on the bruising, but it’s doubtful he was awake. The cuts are clean, and even restraints would’ve allowed for some movement, not to mention bruises or cuts. He could’ve been under some type of anesthetic.”
“So… why stitch him back up afterward?” Dallas asked.
Bo circled a hand above the body. “These symbols have been cut into his skin in a circular fashion. The small dashes along the outside circumference of them, as well as the dashes along the inside circumference, give the impression of two closed circles, both of which are used to help the symbols act as a frame.”
“Like a seal.”
Bo met his gaze for a few seconds before dropping his eyes to the body again. “Yes, like a seal.” He traced a hand through the air a few inches above the stitched up Y on the body’s front. “The seal was broken, and after they were done breaking it, they stitched it back up. Whether that was to ‘repair’ the seal or for something else entirely, we can’t know for sure.”
Dallas let out a breath, clasping his hands between his knees. “So what’s our next step? I mean, after you finish taking pictures and collecting evidence?”
“Our next steps will differ. I have a body to re-cut open and see what they did to his insides when they broke the seal. Your next step, however, could go any number of ways.”
“What would your favorite officer have done next?” Dallas asked.
Bo nodded toward the other side of the beach. “The parking lot has security cameras. The owner of that lot doesn’t enjoy helping the cops, so you’ll need a warrant to view the footage. The officer in question would’ve gone about getting a warrant.”
“Now, that, I know how to do.”
A small smile crossed Bo’s face. “I’ll be a bit more than a few hours. You can head into the station and get started on the affidavit for the warrant. Burke or her partner will have to sign it and claim they wrote it, but we won’t get the warrant if you request one of them to actually… do something.”
“Okay. You wanna call me when you need a ride?”
“I’ll catch a ride back to the station when the body’s transported there. People who work with corpses tend to be much more… tolerant of me.” Bo offered a smile. “I’ll be all right, but I’ll call your desk phone if my plans fall through.”
“All right, man.” Dallas pushed himself to his feet. “Good luck, Austen.”
“To you as well, Silver.”
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