Monday, November 20, 2006

New Beginning 160


"What a mess."

Shaking his head, Detective Munson squatted next to the remains and held his breath. Spilled blood didn't smell so bad, but exploded entrails and rotting meat combined to put up a stench worse than the time his deep freezer shorted out while he was on vacation.

"You sure this is just one victim? Seems like too many pieces for a single body."

The beat cop, pale and just shaky enough to camouflage the hint of Boston in his speech, nodded once. "There are plenty of . . . pieces, yeah, but there's only two hands and two feet in there. I . . . counted, just to be sure." He swallowed hard. "Sir, this looks an awful lot like that one in--"

"Keep that thought to yourself, kid." He didn't make a habit of interrupting other cops, but with press milling all around the perimeter and dozens of personnel running here and there, he didn't dare take a chance.

Munson paced around the room, thinking; searching for inspiration. There had to be something he could use. He turned again to the beat cop. “His wife was first on the scene, right? What did the guy's wife say when she found him?”

The cop leafed through his notebook. “Sorry, Sir. I don’t know.”

She said, “Dammit Larry, pull yourself together.”

The young officer looked at him, a puzzled expression on his face. Munson paced around the room again, looking at the remains. “OK,” he said thoughtfully. “How about this one . . . How do we know that the victim had a scalp problem?”

“Sir?”

“Because we found his Head and Shoulders in the bathroom! Rat-a-tat!”

The beat cop just stood with his mouth hanging open, but a ripple of applause sounded from outside the perimeter. Yes, Munson thought. They don’t call me the Stand-Up Detective for nothing.


Opening: Gutterball....Continuation: ril

20 comments:

Dave said...

Apparently you've never been to a death scene. All violent death causes the body to lose control and orifices to open wide. And by the way, there are certain accidents I pray you or I never see. I only heard about them peripherally and that was sufficient. One involved fire the other involved an airplane crash.

Beat cops will be doing crowd control, not counting body parts. That's the coroner's job. Coroner's or Medical Examiners will never make light of a corpse. They treat all the dead with respect and the demand that respect from everyone around them.

In the first paragraph, it feesl too lightweight. Blood has a particular smell. It's not as offensive to the nose as entrails and rotting flesh. However, I think when you start to compare the offensivness of smells, you are making light of the scene. I don't know if you want to do that.
This is like the jokes at alternate fuels and bio-fuels conventions where you joke about which dung smells worse: equine, bovine or porcine. In this case, we're talking about human bodies and that paragraph reads a little too happy. All involved would be more serious.

I think that you are trying too hard to express the beat cop's illease at the scene. You need him to hint at the serial aspect of the murder. That's more important than his Boston accent. Since you didn't give him a name, I assume he's a very minor character.

"Keep that to yourself" implies everything you say after it. If the detective says: "Keep that to yourself, note it in your report," or "We'll talk of it in private" gives you a chance to back away and describe the chaos of the scene in a different way. The burden doesn't have to be on Detective Munson while he squatting over body parts.

Too many people (firemen, policemen, detectives, coroners, etc...) running around the scene is bad police work. It destroys evidence.

judy said...

Ril: Great ending.

Nut said...

author: your humour breaks out, and takes over, you do know that, right? I mean, here I am, an average (okay, insane) reader. The first paragraph sets me up for something horrible. Then, out of nowhere...

Boom! The rookie counts two hands, two feet. So, I pull a eunuch, and wet my pants. Dang! You just got to stop being so funny. I mean, there's a puzzle of human parts here, I should be horrified, yet I'm cracking up. So, maybe the rookie shouldn't announce that he counted to four. Not yet, anyway. First, cluster the creepy stuff, then crack me up with the mathmaticly challenged cop. Funny and scary does work.

And maybe, just maybe there's a missing ear floating in a nearby lake. No? Fine.

Now, go on, scare the crap out of me. You know you got it in you.

McKoala said...

The shorted out freezer suddenly made me feel like I was reading comedy; but all the gore said no. Other than that it was OK by me, but Dave's advice sound solid.

Ril: funny, funny!

GutterBall said...

Is it a sad commentary on my psyche that I wasn't trying to be that funny? I was going for hard-boiled, not "Tyson bites Holyfield's ear" macabre. Oops!

Dave, I hate to say that, while I haven't been at a death scene, I have been at an autopsy where the medical examiner described (in great detail and with every evidence of my sense of humor) exactly what happens during a violent death. Never forgot it. I hoped that the exploded guts part would get the stench across, but maybe I need to expound on the gore and tone down the humor.

I can do that. Gore is our friend.

The beat cop is actually a major player, but Munson doesn't bother learning his name until later. For about half the book, Boston Boy is recognized by his accent. It's a Munson thing, and definitely something I've waffled back and forth on. Is it really important enough to put in the first buck-fiddy, or could it wait until afterward?

Luckily, the rest of the scene is more gore and less amusement (God, I hope my sense of humor hasn't slipped that far!), and the coroner and crime scene investigation unit are otherwise occupied on the other scene. You know, the one where the head landed.

Yup. Definitely gonna have to tone down the humor. Excellent advice, as always, Dave, and thank you for offering it.

Thanks to all of you guys! I never know how something's gonna read until someone, ya know, reads it.

Anonymous said...

I like the style. It's funny, but it's not. Very difficult to pull off, I think.

If I analyzed every book I read and said to myself, "Hey, that's not how it's really done." I would never get any enjoyment out of reading.

Keep it up. -JTC

Cathy Writes Romance said...

The dry humor in this piece is what would keep me reading.

Kate Thornton said...

Dry humor at a wet scene - ghastly and funny - it's a hard trick to pull off.

Dave's right about so much - the smell of blood - when I entered a particularly awful crime scene in 1983 - was cloying to me, sweetish to an unpleasant point.

He's also right about respect at the crime scene, at least from the paramedics, Coroner and senior police officers.

This drew me in and I would read on as I read a lot of crime & mystery. But like many fans of the genre, I am also a stickler for details.

ril - excellent continuation!

Nut said...

Ha! Gutterball, you know what? Just for that, I'll read ANYTHING you write... Even (oh horror) romance!

eunuch, still looking 4 fiber said...

So. The evil gutterball got dave and nut. Oh, well, at least I'm not the only dense one in the group, huh guys?

By the way, did the beat cop have a sister?

illiterate said...

gutterball, you're so funny, that its scary.

eunuch said...

illiterate: you mean, you could actually read all that?

writtenwyrdd said...

Speaking from personal work experience, all macabre or disrespectful comments and/or humor are kept out of the public eyes and ears. It does happen, though. Cop humor makes light of the horriffic so you can bear the pressure.

kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

I really liked this, macabre humor or no. In fact, I think the humor is what I liked so much about it. Just my one cent. (It's not worth two).

GutterBall said...

Why is it that, everywhere I go, I'm almost instantly labeled "Evil GutterBall"? I'm so innocent in real life! Really!

Thanks so much for the commentary, guys. It's excellent food for thought. I'll have to compare what comes later to your comments to see if I've gone over the top or just right to the edge. The edge is groovy. The other side of the mountain? Maybe not so much.

And I very much appreciate the help on details. Dark sarcasm only works if it's spot-on, so I need all the help I can get to get it right. Thank you all!

Oh, and Nut? I would NEVER do that to you!

*shifty eyes* I wonder if I could pull off a zombie-psycho romance. The sex scene could involve such descriptions as "a disturbing squidging sound" and "thick as a jelly-soaked sponge".

Nut said...

Just let me know when the Zombie-psycho romanceit comes out, and I'll hang out some promotional banners. With sound effects.

writtenwyrdd said...

"I wonder if I could pull off a zombie-psycho romance. The sex scene could involve such descriptions as "a disturbing squidging sound" and "thick as a jelly-soaked sponge"."

Gutterball, Ew! That's just nasty. And I doubt there's much of a target audience, so it wouldn't be publishable. Probably an e-zine out there I've never heard of, however... But, Ew!

Dave said...

Remember, true evil should be portrayed as banality. The more banal, the better.

I'm reminded of a scene in Sophie's Choice by Styron where Sophie describes working as a stenographer in the home of the concentration camp Commandant. The Commandant's pre-tean daughter says she doesn't like the camp (Auschwitz) because it doesn't have a heated pool like the Dachau camp did.

The sheer and utter horror of that statement is in its banality. It's not Freddy Kruger or Pinhead, it's the little girl next door, acting very much like the little girl next door.

But then, Pinhead gets marraige proposals and the first two movies of that series are the most profoundly disturbing portraits of evil ever created. Pnhead never laughs or smirks at his inadverdent comedy. Neither do his victims.

Anonymous said...

I liked the humor. I think an innocent, new cop would count the feet and hands in an effort to be helpful.

Humor works.

barbara said...

This should be the continuation to New Beginning 157.