“Hey, Lady! Lady!”
My cheeks puckered and my eyes narrowed. I turned to face the man who was coming towards me, calling me Lady, which was only slightly better than calling me Tramp.
The man’s features were washed out and obscured by the bright lights of the crime scene. We were on the civilian side of the tape. I was there to direct my team of forensic anthropology recovery technicians and to ferry supplies for them as needed. I wasn’t sure what this gentleman was there for. He was in his fifties, I guessed, carrying a little more weight and a little less hair than he had when he was younger.
“Lady, I need to talk to you.”
My arms clung closely to my side. The fingers of my right hand tapped on my thigh. I needed to recast the tone of this encounter. “Hello, I’m Dr. Jenkins,” I introduced myself. “May I help you?”
The man took a moment to resettle himself. “Okay, yeah, um, look, you’re in charge of those people, right?”
He was pointing toward my team, so I nodded. “I’m in charge.”
“You need to get them under control,” he snapped. His broke halfway through his sentence. His face, though difficult to see in detail, was clearly stretched and distorted.
“What do you mean?”
“They’re out of control.”
I looked at my team. Glenn, Abby, Rick, Patrick, Janice. Everything seemed normal. They were doing good work from what I could see. I frowned. “What do you mean?”
“They’re laughing, and telling jokes, and two of them were flirting.”
I still didn’t quite understand. My team was acting normally. They were working hard on the case. They weren’t doing anything dangerous. They were just acting like co-workers. Laughing, telling jokes, flirting — there was nothing in that behavior that suggested they were out of control.
Still, the butterflies in my stomach portended something bad. I said nothing. I looked at the ground.
“That’s my boy in there,” he explained, his voice breaking again. “That’s my boy’s bones and flesh. My boy. He died and rotted in these woods and no one knew it. My boy. He’s not missing. He’s dead. Dead and forgotten. Left to rot just like a fallen tree or a sick animal. And they’re laughing. They’re joking. They’re flirting. While they pick up pieces of my boy and put him in paper bags.”
My posture slumped and I reached out to touch the man’s shoulder. It took me a minute, but I said, “I’ll see what I can do.”
“My boy,” he repeated.
“My Boy,” written by C. N. Nevets; originally posted on 15 August 2015; revised and re-posted on 5 May 2019.
One Comment Add yours
A haunting lesson in empathy with great scenic detail. Well done.