'The guys working on the new fence just found a body.' Home improvement just took an unexpected twist for Kate Harrison and her family. Nothing in her experience as a private investigator prepared her for the journey that she was about to take. She needed her home back. She needed her life back. But when the truth is discovered, will it forever taint her home and her life? What demons are released when memories unfold? Thus begins the first in the Kate Harrison detective series.
"Detective Harrison, how can I help you?" Paul Harrison asked irritably, annoyed by the interruption of the phone call.
"I need a homicide detective."
He smiled when he recognized his wife's voice.
"Why, Kate, you insatiable slut. Wasn't last night enough? I can only do so much," he said slowly.
"No, really, Paul. I need a homicide detective," she replied.
He heard the serious tone in her voice and sat up a little straighter. "What's going on?"
"The guys working on the new fence just found a body."
He was silent for a moment. Then, "Be there in ten."
"Okay everyone, listen up. You're all invited to my house," he said to the other detectives in the room. "Turns out I have a body in my backyard."
The other detectives all looked up at the same time, including his Captain, Ed Silverman.
"I wouldn't miss this for nothing." Ed grabbed his jacket and followed Harrison out of the station. He was joined by Roger and Kelly, the two other detectives in the office.
"We're right behind you, Captain," Roger said.
When the four of them converged on the Harrison's backyard, they found Kate at the rear of the property, wrapping crepe paper streamers around branches stuck in the dirt.
"Kate, what are you doing?" her husband asked, looking at her handiwork.
"Securing the crime scene."
"It looks like we're having a party."
"I don't have any crime scene tape. This was the best I could come up with."
All four detectives looked down at the remains in the earthen space. Most of the body was still covered in dirt, the remnants of a blue blanket that was used to cover him could be seen. The skull and most of the upper torso were exposed. The body lay facing up.
"How do you know it's a crime scene?" Roger asked. "Sometimes people just do weird things with dead relatives."
"The bullet hole in the skull was a hint," Kate stared down at what remained of the body. "Come see."
Roger knelt down to take a closer look. "Yeah, that looks like a bullet hole, all right."
Kate had been a cop for thirteen years prior to her marriage to Paul. There wasn't much that she hadn't seen. A bullet hole in a skull of an old corpse didn't unnerve her.
Paul looked around his backyard. The three Hispanic workers who had found the body were still there, standing at the opposite corner of the property.
"Someone tell them that they can leave," Paul said when he saw them.
Ed and Kelly walked over to them.
"You guys can go. Nothing else to see here."
He got blank stares.
"Understand. Vamanos, scram, agua caliente."
The workers looked at each other with confusion in their eyes. They gathered up their tools, and then headed towards the gate leading out to the front yard.
"Captain, do you know what you just said to them?" Kelly asked.
"Yeah, I told them to leave."
"Where did you learn your Spanish from?"
"A little something I picked up in my travels."
"Uh, you just told them 'hot water'."
"It worked. They left, didn't they?"
They walked back over to the grave.
"So, what do we have here?" Ed asked.
Kate was the first to speak.
"Middle-aged man, very popular in the community, very outgoing. Sold cars for a living and was very good at it. A bit on the heavy side, but took his wardrobe very seriously."
"Alright, enough Sherlock," Ed interrupted "Where did you get all that from?"
"He has a '1959 Salesman of the Year' tie clip on what remains of a nice looking tie. So he had to be loud and outgoing to sell cars and he must have made some great deals to be the salesman of the year in 1959."
"Showoff," Paul said with a grin.
"And he worked for Sullivan Ford, which is still in business."
Paul smiled and shook his head. His wife never failed to amuse and amaze him.
"What else did you come up with?" he asked her.
"His name is George Schumacher."
"And you know this how?" It was Kelly's turn to ask.
"Before we bought the house I researched the previous owners. The Schumachers lived here from 1947 to 1980. At least the wife and daughter did."
"They had a daughter?"
"Yeah, I also looked up census records."
"No wonder you're a PI. You're just plain nosey. And you don't know for a fact that this is George," Ed interjected. "By the way, did anyone call Forensics?"
"I did, Captain," Kelly replied.
"Anyone besides Kate got something to say?"
This time it was Paul who spoke up, as he knelt next to the grave.
"Mind you, this is just my observation, based on my many years of experience in crime detection," he said.
"Another comedian I don't need," Ed replied flatly.
"It was a woman who did it. Possibly a frail man, but I'm leaning toward a woman. The grave is shallow. The bullet hole looks like an exit wound, so he was shot in the back of the head. She dug a shallow grave, because either, physically, she wasn't able to dig very deep or because it was late in the season and the ground was starting to freeze. She did what she could then flipped him over and covered him up."
"I concur," Kate said.
"Why, thank you, Mrs. Harrison. Coming from an experienced PI such as yourself, that means a lot," he said.
He stood up and wiped the dirt off of his pants. "But let's see what Forensics comes up with."
"By the way, where's Nathan?" he asked Kate, referring to their recently adopted teenage son.
"At school, then going straight to work at the restaurant. He'll be home late."
"Good, I don't want him seeing this. It could end up all over the Internet."
"Paul, he wouldn't do that. He's got better sense."
"Yeah, I guess so. I hope so."
"How come nobody found this sooner?" Ed asked the group. "Hell, if this has been here since, what 1959 or 1960, you'd think someone else would have found him by now."
"It's near the corner, and part of him was covered by a bush, a lilac bush or something. We've been digging it all up to put in the new fencing," Paul responded. "Hell, I think this is the first time I've even been in this part of the yard for any length of time. It's a big lot."
"Anything else from the peanut gallery?" Ed asked the other two detectives.
"Gosh, there are roots coming out of his eye sockets," commented Kelly.
"Yes, well, how about something not so obvious and more constructive."
"How do you know he was overweight?" Roger asked Kate.
"His belt is still somewhat intact, and it looks like a good size one."
"Okay, I see that now."
"By the way," Kate said to Roger, wiping her hands on her jeans and reaching out to shake his hand. "I don't think we've met. You're the new guy on the team."
"He's our rookie," Ed interjected. "Roger Miller, King of the Road."
"Actually, Mrs. Harrison, its Mueller. Captain keeps calling me Roger Miller and referencing some song I had to look up by some old singer from ages ago."
"Hey, you should be flattered. Great song," Ed said, walking away singing the tune.
Kate looked over at her husband, who was definitely in his detective mode: hands on his hips, his eyes darting all over the scene and their backyard.
Paul had a reputation as one of the best detectives in the county. He was tough when he had to be and compassionate when he had to be. And doggedly determined, on whatever case he was working on, to get the job done. Her feelings of pride, as well as the incredible love she had for him, never diminished.
"You guys hungry?" she asked all of them. "I've got ham and cheese and rye bread. I can make up some sandwiches while you wait for Forensics."
"That sounds great. I'll have one," Ed was the first to respond, followed by Kelly.
"Count me out," said Roger. "I still haven't got to the point where I can eat at a scene."
"Well, you better get used to it, Rook," said Ed. "Otherwise you're going to go hungry a lot of the time."
"What about you, Hon?" she asked her husband.
"Ah, yeah, okay," he said, snapping out of it momentarily. "Hope they get here soon. I really don't want this guy here longer than necessary."
Kate went in to make the sandwiches while the others meandered around the area surrounding the gravesite.
Roger followed her into the house.
"Anything I can do to help?" he asked.
"Yeah, there is some iced tea and soda in the fridge. Would you find out what they want to drink?"
He came back shortly and started filling glasses.
"So, how long have you lived here?" he asked.
"A little over four months. My dream house always was a two-story colonial and I got my wish with this house. It was built in 1940. It even came with a little library that doubles as my office. We moved in this past March, did a lot of remodeling, so it's just the last couple of weeks that we don't live in a construction zone. We're moving on to what we need to do outside and now this."