It’s time for another quick short story. This week’s prompt was “plain.”
I hope you enjoy the story.
It happened in plain sight. Yet, no one witnessed it. No one called it in until much later. It wasn’t until a random passer-by felt as though something was wrong and felt the need to call the police. When the police arrived to the scene, they were baffled. A dead body of a man lay in the middle of the park. The park was a common place where people brought their children, couples took a stroll, people walked their dogs and let them roam unleashed. It was a laid-back place for all the citizens to come and enjoy themselves and each other’s company.
So, why was there a dead body in the middle of the grass without anyone to notice how he got there, when, and why?
Detective Wright was called to the scene the moment the police had realized what happened. When he arrived, he didn’t know what to expect. All he knew was there was a dead body in the middle of the park.
“Are there signs of struggle?”
“Can you tell what may have caused his death?”
“Were there any witnesses?”
“No one has come forward.”
“What about the person who called it in?”
“They threw a ball for their dog and when the dog didn’t come back, they went looking for it. They found their dog sniffing around the body.”
Detective Wright was beside himself. The police who initially arrived on the scene were unable to answer any of his questions. Not that the detective expected them to know the straight facts of the incident right away. However, this was such an odd case that he wasn’t entirely sure how to go about it.
“Did you ask any of the other people around the park? Where is the witness with the dog?” the detective asked.
The officer shook his head. “We haven’t asked anyone else yet. We immediately called you and then called for the coroner to come. The man with the dog is in the parking lot discussing the matter with another officer.”
Detective Wright nodded. “Alight, I want to talk to him right away. I want to be the first to know when the coroner arrives too.”
“Of course,” the officer nodded his head.
The detective left the scene and made his way to the parking lot. He saw a police officer standing by a squad car talking to a short man holding onto a lap dog in his arms. He made his way over and listened in to the last bit of conversation between the officer and the witness.
“So, to clarify, you played fetch with your dog,” the officer said, “and each time the dog brought the ball back. Until you threw it in another direction and your dog disappeared behind some bushes and didn’t come back? You went looked for it and that’s when you found it sniffing around the body.”
“Yes,” the man replied. “I immediately scooped up my dog in my arms, picked up the ball, and walked away. I called the police as soon as I was able to. I had left my cell phone in my car.”
“You didn’t check to see if the man was still alive at all?”
He shook his head. “He laid on his back with his eyes staring up at the sky unblinking. He wasn’t phased at all by my dog sniffing him. I assumed him to be dead or else I’m sure he would have reacted to my dog. Besides, I’ve seen those criminal shows. I know enough not to touch anything at a crime scene, especially a dead body.”
The officer nodded and wrote something down in his notepad.
Detective Wright stepped forward and reached out his hand to the witness. “Detective Ethan Wright. I take it you’re the man who discovered the body?”
The witness shook his hand in return with a nod. “James Hudson, yes. I found the body. Well, my dog did, I guess.”
“Please explain everything in detail to me. What time did you get here and around what time did you discover the body?”
“I arrived at the park with my pup around ten o’clock this morning. It was just about 10:20 or so when I threw the ball and my dog didn’t come back. It didn’t take me long to find him, of course. He didn’t go too far. So I guess I found the body around 10:20? It took me about five minutes or so to make it back to my car so I called the police around 10:25 or 10:30, I believe,” James explained.
“Did you happen to smell any odor?” Detective Wright asked.
“Like a dead body?”
James shook his head. “I mean, it’s springtime and there’s a light breeze in the air. I didn’t smell anything except freshly mowed grass.”
Detective Wright narrowed his eyes. James took a step back.
“I’m sorry, did I say something wrong?” the witness wondered aloud.
“No, not at all. In fact, you said something that may help this case,” Detective Wright turned to the officer. “Go check when the lawn care is for the park, please. I want to know when the last time it was taken care of. Surely, if someone mowed the lawn, they would have noticed a body lying in the middle of the grass. Depending on when the time of death occurred, of course.”
The officer nodded and turned away to carry out his orders.
Detective Wright turned back to his witness. “Did that officer take your name, address, and phone number?”
“Great. Don’t leave town,” Detective Wright turned away.
“Am I a suspect?” James asked.
“Not at the moment, no. However, we may need to get back in touch with you at some point to ask you any more questions. So, I would stay put if I were you,” The detective answered.
James nodded, looking nervous.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just standard procedure,” Detective Wright said. “I would suggest you go home now though. We’re going to have to close off the park. Also, please don’t tell anyone about this. I’m not sure if this is ready to go public yet or not.”
James nodded again. He turned away with his dog and headed toward his car. Detective Wright saw him get in the car and drive away. He took note of the car make, color, and the license plate. He wanted to be better safe than sorry just in case. The detective didn’t see any reason to suspect James, but one could never be too careful.
As the witness left the lot, the coroner van pulled up. Detective Wright hadn’t had a chance to look at the body just yet and figured he could tag along with the coroner to inspect the scene before taking the body away.
As the detective waited for the coroner to get out of the van and gather her things, he wondered just what this case was going to have in store for him. It didn’t seem as though it was going to be an easy case. Then again, they never were.