Hank Kirton

Pictures of Lela

They finally found Lela at the cemetery. Her body at least. They’d been searching for her ever since she disappeared three days before. It took the police three whole days to find her and they didn’t even find her. A couple of doom-laden teenage girls discovered her. They were hanging around the graveyard taking pictures of antique tombstones, dressed in black, smoking thin cigarettes and they came upon Lela. They weren’t expecting to find dead people on top of the ground.

They looked at the body for several stunned, silent minutes and then began to greedily take pictures. They both posed with the corpse.

“Okay, look up at me. Big smile.”

“She’s starting to smell.”

“Hey, if she’s gone all rigor mortis maybe we can pose her. Like a Barbie.”

“I don’t really want to touch her.”

“Yeah, me either.”

And then they came to their senses and called the cops. They had seen stories on the news about Lela, the latest missing blond chick, and figured they’d gain local fame for finding her.

Poor Lela had a clear plastic bag over her head but when they completed the autopsy they learned that she’d died as a result of too much fentanyl. The plastic bag suggested foul play but wasn’t the cause of death. A precaution maybe? Overkill? They also found traces of semen in her deceased vagina.

The two teens, Cassie and Maggie, were questioned but they had airtight alibis. They were both working at Max’s Candle Stand when Lela met her fate and had the timecards to prove it. Besides, they couldn’t have been responsible because semen. They were dismissed as suspects. Cassie and Maggie were relieved of course, but thrilled to have been briefly suspected of murder. They both felt the experience gave them some kind of morbid credibility. Of course they were pissed that the cops had confiscated their beautiful pictures of Lela. They got a stern lecture and were told they were lucky that the police decided not to charge them with tampering with evidence.

“Homicide is not a laughing matter,” they were told.

They both had to restrain themselves from rolling their eyes.

Lela had died at the tender age of twenty-four. She had lived with her grandparents and worked as a physical therapist. Her grandfather, Roscoe (62) was also questioned as a person of interest because he had a history of violence and access to fentanyl (he had cancer in his knees and used fentanyl patches for pain) but since he was bound to a wheelchair, he was quickly omitted as a suspect.

“You got me all wrong, fellas, I ain’t violent. I just used to get drunk and beat my wife. Because of my bad legs I can’t even do that no more.”

“Domestic abuse is not a laughing matter,” he was told.

Eventually, they determined that Lela had committed suicide, choosing the cemetery as some kind of black ironic statement. Those who knew Lela were shocked and puzzled:

“She was an upbeat, people-person.”

“She was so cheerful and could light up a room. A real people-person.”

“She was a people-person. Nobody ever saw an anguished side of her.”

“It’s tragic whenever you lose a people-person.”

There was a tiny local radio station (WZIP) in town and the morning DJ, who went by the moniker of Lizard P. (nee William Zecker) was notorious around town as a womanizer and heavy drug user. He bragged about his sordid exploits on the air. He was the little town’s own shock-jock/morning-zoo type celebrity. He was fifty-two years old and wore a brown, curly wig and gold medallions.

Acting on a hunch, police sampled his DNA. When the results returned from the lab, they found it matched the semen from the crime scene. They brought him in for questioning:

“Yeah, we had sex together. But it was totally sensual.”

“I’ve never even seen fentanyl let alone kill somebody with it.”

“You guys want me to confess to something I didn’t even do! At least accuse me of something I did do! That I could understand!”

Eventually they had to release him due to lack of evidence. He went on the air, called the cops “pigs” and threatened a lawsuit. Most of the folks who listened to his show thought he was guilty and his ratings plummeted.

Eventually, Lela’s death was officially ruled a suicide and the case was closed.

Zeke Vorte (38) lived one town over, in Headly. He lived alone, enjoyed sports and opioids, and got away with murder. Again.

***

From Everything Dissolves

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