Part 35: Killed on the Fourth of July

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I rarely went into my "big" office. 

It was the sort of place that career politicians, like my predecessor, loved. Spacious and designed to impress, dark, hardwood bookshelves lined the walls.  My sneakers scuffed the matching, highly polished floor.  An oak desk dominated the space, so heavy and impressive that I felt like an interloper in my own office, like, maybe I wasn't good enough to sit behind something so powerful.

The office smelled of a combination of fresh paint and red rot, the smell of old books.  I liked the books.  They were a collection of medical books, most of them outdated, but deeply fascinating—the kind that had the thin oil paper over illustrations of blood vessels and organs.  It surprised me that my predecessor had left them behind, but then I remembered he was even less qualified for the job than I had been.  I'd at least started medical school, even if I never finished.

I snuck behind the desk and settled into the creaky swivel chair that had probably been rolled in some time during the 1940s and never replaced.  At least the computer was new.  I fired it up.

Geinieve would have to help me figure out how to search through county files, but I could at least do some basic research before she returned with my coffee.

I didn't actually expect Google to help me, but I started there, anyway.

I tried search terms like "Hate Crimes Pierre South Dakota" and "Homeless Death."  I got a few hits, but nothing that pointed to any kind of trend.  Most of them were clearly mundane, no magic involved in any obvious way.  That prompted me to try, "Unexplained Deaths, Pierre."

To my shock, that worked. 

One of the reasons I'd chosen to live in Pierre was because their murder rate was in the negative numbers.  People died here, of course, but they didn't kill each other on anything that could be called a regular basis.  Ideal conditions for a noob coroner like myself. 

Of course, no one warned me that Pierre was a kind of vortex for the supernatural.

And, at least according to Google, it always had been.  I waded through several articles from recent years about isolated incidents of "wolf attacks" right around the time Mac's gang was probably riding through on their way to Sturgis; I bookmarked those.  Apparently in the 1980s there was a spate of 'alien abductions' that I thought were more likely 'fairy abductions' since they seemed to occur near the neighborhood of Spenser's mom's house.  She apparently had a fondness for junior Girl Scouts, which made me laugh at the irony of fairy folk stealing 'Brownies.' 

Geinieve knocked on the door briefly before letting herself in.  She had two large to-go cups of coffee.  The smell gave me a bit of a caffeine rush as she set one beside me. She'd had her laptop tucked under one arm, and she pulled up one of the cushioned visitor chairs and opened it up opposite me.  "So," she asked, "What are we after, Chief?"

I was pretty sure she was being a bit snotty with the 'chief' thing, but she seemed enthusiastic enough about the research.  "I'm looking for...."  I stopped.  I wasn't exactly sure how to describe this, but I settled on, "...a pattern, I guess?  Ideally, I'd love to find a trail of homeless deaths, from... er, dropping."

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