Underwear (II)

“Hey, you alright?” Kit asked.

Sam’s face was twisted and scrunched up as he contemplated the dead body they had found. “I have that same underwear,” he repeated.

Kit rolled her eyes. “And yesterday the chick in the stall next to me was wearing the same shoes I was. It’s not worth flipping out about.”

A corpse, body gone cold and white. The blood that had sprayed onto the wall and pooled beneath the body and congealed into the elastic waistband of those boxer-brief’s that matched the very same ones he felt gripping his hips. Shouldn’t that be significant somehow? “But—”

“Look,” she said with a bit more attitude, “where do you buy your underwear?”

“Uh, Wal-Mart.”

This time Kit grimaced. “First off,” she said, “I must reiterate that you can really do better when it comes to how you take care of your—”

“Kit…”

“And secondly, hasn’t it occurred to you that someone else might have picked up one of the millions of identical packs of underwear that Wal-Mart sells?”

Still flustered and uneasy, Sam finally looked away from the corpse and said, “A dead body is different than some random person in the next stall. He picked out that underwear and then he died in it. You never think about what your corpse is going to be wearing when you pick out your underwear. I mean, this could have been me. If I died in a pair of gray boxer-briefs, what would that say about me?” He knelt down to look into the face of the dead man. “This guy is—oh shit!” Sam had been so distracted by the underwear, that he had not yet taken a look at the victim’s face until that moment. “You know who this is, don’t you?” he asked.

Kit crossed the room to see the man’s face, studied it a moment, and shook her head. “Should I?”

Sam’s mouth was dry. “This is Rupert Polbrock,” he said, pronouncing the name with deliberate care as he felt old wounds threaten to tear themselves open. Kit still showed no sign of recognition. “He’s a . . . a real estate developer,” Sam continued. There were so many other words he could have thought to use, but like a good cop, he tried to stick to the facts.. “He buys out cheap properties and ‘renovates’ them. Gentrification, that sort of thing.”

“So our dead guy’s rich,” Kit said, though she still didn’t seem very impressed.

“And he’s wearing my underwear.”

Underwear (I)

Samuel Farnsworth’s hand was closed around grip of his gun and steady as steel. The door was ajar, but he rang the doorbell anyway. There was no answer. He beat on the doorframe three times with his fist. “Is anyone there?”

Silence.

His partner, Kit McKinney, spoke into their radio. “No answer at the front. What’s the perimeter look like?”

“Quiet,” Collins’s voice crackled in response. “No signs of movement inside or out.”

Sam knocked again. “This is the police,” he called out. “We’ve received reports of gunshots in the area. We want to make sure everyone is safe.” Still no answer. He made eye contact with Kit. She nodded. “We’re entering,” she announced over the radio.”

“Covering the rear.”

One heartbeat.

Two.

Three.

Moving in unison, Sam and Kit burst into the small, dingy house. A flurry of high strung procedure followed as the officers moved through each room, determined that the house was empty and danger past, and then returned to the blood-soaked body on the living room carpet. They checked vitals, but already knew it was going to be too late. Jones and Collins went to call it in and to establish a perimeter for the crime scene. Sam and Kit remained to assess the scene.

It wasn’t easy to relax in the same room as the dead man, especially because the flabby body sprawled on the floor was wearing nothing but grey underwear, bullet wounds to the chest clearly visible.

“What a way to go,” Kit said with a wry grin, trying to lighten the mood. “Though it’s still not as bad as that guy we found dead on the toilet. Remember that one? He had been there for a week.”

“Yeah I try to forget that one,” Sam answered. He still had a hand on his gun and a furrow in his brow. He enjoyed Kit’s banter, but his mood was perpetually pulled down by the weight of the badge on his chest. He knew he was making the sort of stern expression that Kit loved to tease him about, but he couldn’t help it. After surveying the room, he took a closer look at the body and then froze in place. “Oh my god,” he said, “I have this same underwear.”

“Really?” Kit said, taking a closer look at the blood-spattered gray boxer-briefs on the corpse. “Huh,” she said with a shrug. “I always thought of you as a briefs man.”

Sam grimaced. “Why would you—never mind. Yes, boxer-briefs. Same brand and everything. They come in a four pack – two gray, two black.”

“Yeah, I’m still going to picture you in tighty-whities,” Kit said chuckling.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” he said dryly.

Dread (part ii)

“Here they come.”

The plaza had been slowly filling for hours, but now a tidal wave of protesters poured in from main street. He reached under the visor of his riot helmet to wipe the sweat gathered on his forehead.

“Hold this line,” the captain behind him growled.  There were already reports in of property destruction from some of the fringes of the demonstration and the direct command was to put an end to the hostile presence as soon as possible.

So many faces.  So much anger.

Distant thunder.

“Disperse!”

Fingers on triggers. Clouds of gas billowed. People shrieked, ran, fell.

He never saw the brick coming.

His world spun. The surrounding noise rose and fell like crashing waves. Rough stone rushed toward him from above and he lifted his arms to defend himself, gradually realizing he’d fallen to the ground. He lifted his eyes toward heaven.  All was dark and blurry, but his vision was no longer swimming. Raindrops spattered the visor of his helmet.

A single thought: he wanted to feel the rain. His helmet fell to the ground and he looked up into a concerned face. The black man extended a hand, offering support. He took it.

andy-grizzell-zdbvMrmpqIw-unsplash-editPhoto by Andy Grizzell on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox
part i

part iii
part iv
part v
Hope: an Epilogue