Is it hot where you are? It’s hot here, but then it’s summer in Florida. We expect that sort of thing. If you’re hot where it’s not supposed to be hot, you have my full sympathy.
So… let’s take a trip to the desert! It’s a dry heat, don’tcha know. 😀 This is a piece from Deserted to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #19, which takes place right about now in New Mexico, but won’t be published until October. Enjoy!
When I woke up at 6:22, Pete was still asleep, face down, his right arm slung over me. I eased out from under it; he didn’t move. Ammo was dreaming, his nose and paws twitching. I quietly pulled on shorts and a t-shirt, slid my feet into sneakers, and tiptoed to the kitchen. The coffee maker was on, but there was no sign of Meredith. She was probably getting dressed.
I went through the laundry room into the garage, intending to retrieve the newspaper. I hit the button to raise the closest garage bay door and walked onto the driveway.
There was something lying in the street, against the curb across from the house.
There was someone lying in the street.
I ran to the person – a young man. Maybe a teenager. He was lying on his left side, his left arm stretched out underneath him as if he’d been reaching for something. He was terribly thin. Barefoot, wearing only a t-shirt and jeans. The soles of his feet were crusted with dried blood.
His eyes were half-open, clouded, unseeing. His lips were parted slightly. His hair was dark, cropped close to his head, and there was stubble on his chin and cheeks.
I bent down to feel for a pulse in his outstretched wrist, already sure of what I’d find.
He was cool.
He was dead.
I ran back to the house and into the bedroom for my phone, unintentionally rousing both Pete and Ammo, and called 911. Ammo scrambled to his feet and Pete sat up as the dispatcher answered.
“Otero County 911, where are you calling from?”
“Las Lomas Court. There’s a dead body in my street.” I left the bedroom, headed outside. “Ammo, stay.”
He stayed. Pete followed me into the garage. “What?”
The dispatcher, a woman, sounded equally skeptical. “There’s a dead body in the street?”
“Yes, ma’am. A young adult male.”
“Does he have a pulse?”
“No pulse. He’s cool to the touch.”
“Do you know who it is?”
“When were you last in the street?”
“Um…about 9:30 last night.” We’d watched the sunset from the front porch.
I heard the first sirens approach. As the ambulance turned onto our street, Pete stopped beside me, staring at the corpse. He breathed, “Oh, my God.”
The dispatcher signed off. The EMTs scrambled from their truck with equipment, and we backed up into our driveway. One of them started to roll the kid over – and stopped. “He’s in partial rigor.”
Two police cruisers parked, and an Alamogordo PD patrol officer emerged from each. They conferred with the EMTs briefly. One cop went to the body, and one approached us, a burly guy with a blond brush cut. “Morning.”
Pete said, “Morning.”
“Officer Smallwood. What happened here?”
I told him. As he was taking notes, the other uniformed officer joined us, nodding hello. “I called the chief.”
“Okay.” Smallwood tipped his head toward our front porch. “You all hang out here for a while.”
I said, “Yes, sir.”