Judging from the maggots crawling in his mouth, he’s been dead for a while.
“Bring ‘im in!”
“Whoa, Jakey. No one’s bringin’ that piece of worm-ridden filth into my laboratory.”
“I’m sorry, Deputy Sheriff.” I place some dripping sarcasm onto those words. They have the desired effect. His bloated face turns even redder than before, and he throws his cigar on the dusty ground before crushing it with his boots.
Apparently it’s supposed to be scare people. I don’t buy it.
“Now, look here, Detective Flass – ” The sheriff, in his frustration, belts out some incoherent words. Little droplets of spittle fly out of his mouth and land on Mr. Maggot. I frown; saliva could screw up the autopsy results.
“Sorry, Sheriff.” I open my pack of Camels and withdraw a cigarette. “This here’s my investigation, and I say he’s going to be ripped open from the inside. Now, if you rather have me do that out here – ” I gesture around me with a wide sweep of my free arm. “ – in the middle of the prairie, I will. But I’d rather do it inside.” I stick the Camel in my mouth and my hands in my pockets. “Got a light?”
He generously lights it for me. I puff away for a few seconds. The sheriff is pretty malleable when it comes to these matters.
In his curiosity, the sheriff bends down across Mr. Maggot. His shirt stretches across his sweat-covered back; I watch as the little blobs of wetness slowly spread across the small of his back like a Rorschach pattern.
“How did he die?” The sheriff stands up with a grunt, holding his nose. The maggots must’ve gotten to him, for he starts to turn yellow. Next thing you know, he’ll be turning cyan. And then all the colors of the rainbow.
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out.” I say evenly. “And I can’t do that unless I do an autopsy.”
“I toldjer. You ain’t rippin’ this guy open in my laboratory. Take ‘im to Omaha. It’s a half-day ride.”
“By the time he gets to Omaha, this poor fellow will be little more than a puddle of intestines and bones.”
He does start to turn cyan.
“Well.” He splutters. He starts to twirl his handlebar mustache around his pinkie finger. Twirling and untwirling.
I wait patiently for him to finish whatever lethargic thought processes his brain is capable of handling. I’m starting on my fourth cigarette – lungs be damned – when the sheriff appears to finally come to a decision.
“There’s a tree over there. Shade. Eh?”
Good god. This is even worse than I thought it would be.
“Trees have leaves. Dirt.” I explain to the sheriff who still doesn’t get it. “An autopsy needs to be in a clean place. I thought I told you that, Deputy Sheriff.”
“You still ain’t doin’ it in my laboratory! That’s where I keep my pet dog! He ain’t not gonna like some guy sawing through his – ”
I take out my pistol and point it at his face.
He stumbles backwards and falls over Mr. Maggot with a surprisingly pleasant squelching sound.
“Oop. There goes his large intestines.” I say cheerfully, keeping my Luger aimed at his nose.
The sheriff holds up a hand. “Now, look here, Flass, I’m sure we can be reasonable – ”
“I’ve tried to be reasonable. Goodbye, Deputy Sheriff.”
I fire. One shot. His death rattle is whisked away by the prairie breeze.
I suppose I’ll wait a few days for the maggots to start climbing into his mouth.