Reflections

By the time he got to Laurie Campground, a backhoe had cleared snow from the twelve by fourteen foot campsite and scraped out a two-foot deep hole. Shovels dug the rest.

The forensics team had erected a white, four-walled tent over the dig. Police tape was wrapped around surrounding birch and maple, and defined a perimeter that was fifty feet from the campsite.

Lewis, a drug squad cop, stood outside the tent, smoking. He saw Peterson, a cop has been, now gone private, climb from the Cherokee. He walked to the police tape to meet him. Lewis had the long face of a teen after a disappointing date. He grunted something by way of greeting, and Peterson grunted back. No love lost between them.

“A warrant to excavate didn’t take long,” Peterson said, his voice like he carried his balls in a barrel.

“Knowing where to dig helped,” Lewis said. He tried for a smile but it wasn’t the smug one Peterson had expected. “The Chief always wondered what happened to Carlisle Martin. I mean not even a drug dealer takes a thirty year vacation.”

“Any closer to knowing?” Peterson asked.

“A body, or what’s left of it. Male, mid-thirties. We’ll know for sure after the white coats fuck with the bones. The front of the skull’s blown away, if that tells you anything. Two bullet holes in back.”

“A pro hit,” Peterson said.

“Or an undercover cop who knew how to get it done. I know you talked to Jimmy Stiles. I figure he told you more about what happened here thirty years ago than he told me.”

“He’s a drunk speaking in tongues,” Peterson said. “He could fill a shrink’s notebook. Jimmy’s chasing ghosts in a jug of Listerine.”

“Coming from you he must be a poster boy for AA,” Lewis said.

Peterson let it go. He looked at Lewis. “I take it you didn’t find the hollow tips you were looking for.”

Lewis shook his head. “We have his gun, a fucking museum piece.”

“But no bullets,” Peterson said. “You dug a skull like the one on your shoulders - empty.”

““You should do stand up.”

Peterson started to walk away.

“Your friend got lucky, Peterson.”

Peterson turned, offered a blank smile. “How lucky is it to go thirty years with your head in a bottle?”

“He’s the one who put it there.”

“Stiles was a good cop,” Peterson said. “Hero citation, and now he’s drinking away what happened undercover.”

“We both know what he did here,” Lewis urged.

“No bullets, no ballistics,” Peterson said. “You got a thirty year old body and a hole in the ground.” He again turned to go.

“No halo,” Lewis said. “Jimmy Stiles never wore no halo.”

Peterson turned back and looked at him. “When you’re done with the hole, fill it in.”