(When a little girl finds a severed finger on the road, the finger evokes different responses in each person it passes to. If you're just joining us, go back to Part 1)
Sam collected the vials for the lab. Some bloody fluid. Tissue for DNA analysis.
He slipped the fingerprint sheets into an envelope to send to the FBI database. Maybe Jane Doe index finger had a criminal record. Or maybe she got into the system some other way. Lawyers get fingerprinted to join the bar in New Jersey. That's how they snagged that guy who broke into his ex-girlfriend's house to steal her underwear. An estates lawyer. People who make their living from the dead are all more than a little weird.
Sam yawned and picked up the phone. It was after midnight and sliding towards one.
And rang and rang.
Sam kept on. He knew somebody was there.
At last, a groggy voice came on. "Morgue."
"Detective Slattery here."
"Right," the guy said slowly. "Um, who?"
"Didn't mean to wake you up," Sam said.
"Late night last night."
"I need you to check something."
"But it's like...and everyone's...."
"I'm trying to wrap up some work," Sam said. "I need to know if you have any bodies missing a finger."
"Yeah. An index finger."
"You're kidding, right?" the guy said.
"Actually, no, I'm not kidding. Go watch Love Boat and fall asleep later."
"Star Trek," the guy said. "But I've seen this one a million times."
"Okay. Good. Now back to the--"
"Man, you're calling me about a finger? You know what kind of company I keep down here? We have bodies in every possible condition. We have fresh ones, cured ones, and ones so rotten they resemble a bag of soup. We have new arrivals, and old friends who have be in the fridge for years. We have heads with no bodies and bodies with no heads. Fingers on, fingers off. Rats like fingers, did you know that? Homeless people die in hidden, tucked away places. When someone finally shovels them out, rats have run away with all sorts of bits and pieces."
"This one is fresh. And cleanly cut," Sam said.
"Good for you."
"Someone intentionally did it. With a knife or cleaver. Or maybe it was piece of machinery."
"You mean, like an accident?" the guy said.
"I guess that's possible."
"Did you check the police reports? The hospitals? A little oops, and chop-o-matic goes the finger. People might have been looking all around for that thing. They can sew those things on really good now. Like it never happened."
"I checked the police reports."
"That would suck to have your finger ripped off, then miss out on the consolation prize of having it sewn back on."
"I can check the hospital reports."
"Did you ever see Saving Private Ryan? You know in the beginning, during the beach landing, when that mortar shell hits, and that dazed guy is looking around for his arm? He bends down, picks it up and carries it off with him?"
"You just made me think of that."
"I'll be over in half an hour," Sam said.
"To drop off the finger," Sam said, annoyed.
"Right. Great. A ton of paperwork for a measly finger."
"I'll bring you a can of Red Bull," Sam said.
"I hate Red Bull."
Back to Part 4.