At dinner, the boys get in an argument, because Corin told on Aiden. When Deirdre asks him questions about the fight, he tells her the other boy slapped him, he didn’t throw the first punch. After they eat, the boys clean up, and she is able to relax a little.
Once they were done, they settled in the living room to watch some television show they were interested in. Their noise faded to a muffled rumble and Deirdre went back to her writing. It wasn’t going well and she couldn’t settle into it. Reading over what she’d already written, it didn’t seem too bad, but she knew she could do better. Unfortunately, she wasn’t sure how.
It was late when Fred got home. Deirdre was already in bed, but not sleeping.
“I’m sorry,” he said when he got into bed. “I shouldn’t have kept it from you.”
“No, you shouldn’t. Don’t ever do it again.”
“I won’t. I promise. Got a goodnight kiss for me?”
She rolled over. The kiss turned into more. Afterward, they cuddled up and fell asleep.
Fred had to catch a mid-morning flight, and was being picked up by a co-worker. Deirdre took the boys to school, in a dense fog. She needed gas in her Jeep, so she stopped at the corner store for a quick fill-up. The air felt thick, mucky and full of rain. The fog turned to a misty precipitation, one that she had no name for. As she pumped the gas, she saw something by the railroad track, on the opposite side of the street. Black wings flapped and she realized it was vultures. They had to have found something fairly large, there were a lot of them. Shuddering, she ignored them as best she could, and finished up.
“Mom, you see the vultures?” Corin asked, pointing.
“Yes.” She gagged a little.
“Can we go look?”
“Why do you want to look? That’s gross,” Aiden said.
“Because, I just do. What do they call a bunch of vultures?” he asked his mother.
“No idea. You have a phone, look it up.”
He did so. “A Kettle, Committee or Wake. It’s a Wake when they’re feeding. Can we please?”
Since it was the road she’d intended to take anyway, she decided to do so. As they got close to the birds, Corin yelled.
“Slow down! Mom! Stop, it’s a person!”
“What?” She slammed on the brakes.
“I swear. I saw a tennis shoe and something bright pink. Like running pants. Mom, it’s a person!”
“Oh, dear God. Do you suppose? They can’t be alive?” She gulped hard, pulling out her phone.
“They sometimes start to feed before something is dead,” Burl remarked in a dark tone.
“Hello, Police?” Deirdre said, averting her eyes. “I think there’s a dead body on the side of the railroad track. It’s the intersection of Thirtieth and Hibiscus. Yes. I can stay.”
Gagging again, she hung up and pulled onto the other side of the road to park. Her next call was to the school, excusing her boys for the day. She didn’t give any reason, merely said it was personal family business. Finally, she tried to call Fred, but he didn’t pick up. He probably wasn’t able to, given the fact he was at the airport by now, and probably just going through security.
Don’t they make you turn off phones these days?
A police car pulled up, cutting off the road behind her. Another cordoned off the crossroad a few blocks up. Deirdre was caught between. Had she been a criminal, this would have upset her. As it was, she had to wonder how she would get out when they let her go. That was a later worry. While she’d been distracted, she saw that her boys had gathered outside the Jeep, watching the police officers in action.
Two blond officers were stringing yellow crime tape. A dark haired woman crouched by the body. Deirdre could see that clearly now. The birds had been driven off, but they kept circling, ever hopeful. Corin snapped a few pictures until Aiden took his phone.
“This is personal,” he said softly. “You can’t share that girl’s pain.”
It was clearly a young woman. She wasn’t very tall, but was voluptuous of build, dressed in a skimpy pair of shorts and a cropped tank top, wearing running shoes. Her clothing was torn and bloody. Her long, blonde hair lay in tangles around her head. Fortunately, the vultures must just have found her, because she wasn’t too badly damaged by the carrion birds. It still turned Deirdre’s stomach and she was glad to be upwind.
A tall, dark haired woman got out of a plain, gray car. Carrying a pad and pen, she walked over to Deirdre’s car. Smiling, hand out, she introduced herself.
“I’m Detective Weinstein. You’re the lady who called this in?”
“Deirdre Partridge. My sons, Aiden, Burl and Corin. Corin spotted the girl’s clothing, so we stopped.”
Weinstein nodded, scribbling notes. “Do you know the woman?”
“I can’t really see her,” Deirdre said. “And unless you want your crime scene puked on, I’ll stay here. If you have a picture?”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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