Saturday, January 9, 2010
Peaks County, Colorado
The body of Tom Short was found by a group of children just off of Main Street in Juniper Grove, shortly after 10:00am. He was face down in the narrow alley between Carla's Cafe and the Rutledge Family Bakery; covered in snow, his boots were the only visible clue to his presence. Due to the storm, it took Sheriff Maxwell longer than the usual twenty minutes to drive up from Rockpoint and secure the scene, allowing ample time for the rumors to begin to swirl. Meanwhile, the children that had originally discovered a dead Tom Short, had walked all around the body, destroying evidence--as he was the only mysterious death in town for at least ten years. The small gathering of the breakfast crowd from the cafe and bakery didn't help the situation, either. Coffee and baked goods in hand, the crowd started to spread conspiracy rumors, and even speculation about a killer at large. No one was certain as to how long Tom had been dead, or by what means, but according to one of the kids he was like a block of ice.
"I bet he owed money to some of the Natives from the casino," said an old lady while stuffing her face with a donut.
"Yeah, I heard he was in debt. I reckon he borrowed too much and they came a callin' for a payment," agreed another.
"Always was asking for spare cash whenever I saw him." Said an older gentleman.
"Oh hush!" Shouted Mrs. Thacker, the retired librarian. "Everyone knows he used to have a drug problem. I bet he got caught up in it again and just took too much."
"Well that doesn't explain the blood, Mrs. Thacker," said a small voice from behind the crowd. Twelve year old Johnny Davis had never been known to be shy about his opinions.
"What blood?" Asked Mrs. Thacker. "Johnny Davis, don't you be telling lies. No one has said anything about blood on poor ol' Tom here."
"But Mrs. Thacker, when I wiped the snow off the top of his head it was colored with blood. The back of his head had a lot of blood and stuff on it too."
With that, the crowd of gawkers moved in closer for a better look at the frozen body of the apparent debt ridden, drug taking, town mooching, dead, Tom Short.
"Now everyone just take a step back! If anyone else tramples on my scene I'm going to have a full jail tonight," shouted Sheriff Maxwell as he shut the door to his Tahoe and started walking from the street. The county medical examiner, Buford Riley, followed in step.
"Sheriff, Johnny Davis said he saw blood all over Tom. Said it was all over his head and in the snow." Said a worrisome mother as she clutched her newborn slung across her shoulder.
"It's true Sheriff, there was a lot of blood, but only around his head. I think he must of hit it, or something." Chimed Johnny with an air of importance.
As Sheriff Maxwell and Buford Riley leaned over the body and turned an ice cold Tom Short over on his back, it was very evident what the cause of death had been, and the two men knew then that they couldn't share the harsh truth with the crowd of onlookers.
"Well, listen up everyone," began Buford. "We'll know more once we get the body in out of this weather, but it looks like Tom took a slip on the pavement and cracked his head open. The Sheriff and myself will let the paper know what the cause of death was, but please no one here call Tom's mother. That's my job." Buford knew he was lying, but also knew there were more questions that needed to be answered before the public could know the truth.
"Sheriff," said Mark Rutledge, the 58 year old owner of the Rutledge Family Bakery, as he walked over to the Sheriff and Medical Examiner. The rest of the onlookers moved on with their morning.
"I think I've got something that you need to take a look at."
"What is it?" asked Sheriff Maxwell.
"It's a video."
"Inside or outside?" The sheriff grew more interested.
"It's our security footage from our side door," said Mark. "Our side door in the alley."
Sheriff Maxwell's interest was peaked by this new evidence. Granted, it was quite clear from looking at the hole in the forehead of Tom Short that a slip on the ice had not claimed his life. The real question was who pulled the trigger, and why?