The crisp professionality of Reed’s handshake briefly left
Scott questioning his own memory. Did the good officer not remember who Scott
was? Could life really be that good?
Here was Reed Han, making quips and running an appraising eye over things, getting
an appreciative smile from Rosie May and a comradely man-in-uniform nod from
one of the guards.
Conspicuously missing from this scene: Reed narrowing his
eyes in a baleful glare at Scott, rumbling, didn’t
you try to hit-and-run me that one time?
Far be it from Scott to complain, of course. He laughed
off Reed’s joke about being dispatched from the hospital, mind whirring about
just how he’d explain away his
presence. It was only a matter of time before Rosie May really thought about the position she’d discovered him in. When
Reed wasn’t followed into the natatorium by a barrelful of uniforms, a strange
and wonderful suspicion began to tingle at the nape of Scott’s neck.
Could it be… that Reed had come alone? Was he performing
some kind of first responder function, and the actual crime scene technicians
were miles behind? Did Scott have a few priceless more minutes as skin flaked
off the gradually distending corpse and water damage took its toll? Whatever grubby
evidence was on that hospital gown was rapidly deteriorating. And the less there was to link back to Ashkent
Creek General, the more Scott liked it.
“I couldn’t tell you a thing about our pal there, Officer,” he said
as apologetically as he could. Flashing Reed a pained grimace, he averted his
gaze from the supposedly horrifying sight of the floater. “I just swim in this
place. This morning, I walk in, and bam—proof
that they don’t clean the pool as well as they claim to.”
And then, figuring it would made him look odd, or cerebrally
challenged, if Scott didn’t comment on the fact that the dead man was dressed like
a current patient of the hospital, he added: “That, uh, wristband the guy’s
wearing. Patient Safety One-Oh-One: tag ‘em so we know what’s wrong with ‘em.
Sorry,” he said, infusing some nervousness into his cavalierness. “Low-grade
gallows humour. You might not know this, but dead bodies are to doctors what
garlic is to vampires.”
This would be fun, Reed thought dryly. Why would a patient be so far away from the hospital? He really was starting to consider the possibility that they had escaped or been transported and dumped for whatever reason. He was aware of Scott’s almost penetrating gaze and he was reminded, again, of their first meeting. Far from ideal but it was just a bad night for the both of them and he was more than inclined to give Doctor Nolan here the benefit of doubt.
Given what was said, there was a small window of time for the patient to have disappeared. “Were there any notices from the hospital about a missing patient?” Reed asked Scott and turned his head to look over at the woman, peering almost, wondering if she knew more than Scott or about the same before looking away again. “Would any of it be sent to your phone?”
What he really wanted to do was remove the body from the water and turn them over to look at their frontside. He, however, wasn’t in his rights to do that — his expertise in forensics was limited to one specific department. It was lack of patience really that seemed to nip at him while he stood with Scott by the edge, staring fruitlessly at the body. But they would all have to wait, even Rosie May.
The least he could for now was continue with the questions and get as much information as possible. He smiled at Doctor Nolan’s quip at the end, even nodding humourously. “Lawsuits?” Reed assumed, smiling still before letting his lips fall back to their natural resting position. Was that what Doctor Nolan was worried about right now? It was a fair concern. He did say he knew nothing about the patient that was floating but, “Are you worried that once you see their face, you might recognize them as one of your patients?” It was a bit more forward question with prodding intent but Scott’s light jest had made Reed curious.
Then, the colour around the patient’s wrist stuck out to him. “Is there anything you can tell me about their wristband from this distance?”