It is in a lonely corner of the park. Nothing makes it significant or worrisome. It’s just a plain wood bench with a metal base.
I am the nearest detective on shift when the call comes in, so I reach the crime scene first. It’s I who wrap the yellow tape in a ten-foot perimeter around the bench and dead body partially hidden in the bushes.
I debrief the jogger who found it, writing down her contact information and then walk the area to sweep for any clues. There is nothing. No sign of struggle, no loose items, just a body tossed haphazardly under the leaves, the face hidden in the shadows.
I wait patiently for my partner to join me, as he picks up our lunch from Wimpy’s, on Madison. I pace the sidewalk, checking my Facebook and Twitter. Nothing new. No new messages either. I shove my phone back into the pocket of my black uniform pants and tap my boot, glancing down the grassy hill.
When my radio sputters to life, I answer the captain and tell him the scene is secure. I avoid mentioning I am alone. After all, I am still a rookie. Even though it’s been ten years since I first made my goal to become a detective, I’ve just received this position.
I slump on the bench and wonder what happened to bring the victim here. The business suit and shined black boots are all I could see.
I breathe in deeply. Perhaps this is a test meant for the new detective. Maybe my partner is purposefully waiting to see what I do. Maybe I can solve this crime before he joins me with our lunch. We can sit on this bench and plan our next course of action, which friends and relatives to question, make a suspect list, and file the appropriate warrants.
I stand up and near the body. My steps are hesitant as I block out the imagined stories of the victim. Maybe he has a family; maybe she is—no—was a successful business CEO. I shake my head, moving to the other side of the bush. I gasp, almost gagging, and step back.
I found my partner.