Drawing blood

Previously: Paisley, rosemary, and time

A half-eaten deli sub, still partially wrapped in its butcher paper sleeve, lay bleeding olive oil on Det. Sean Webster’s desk. His rumpled shirt and tie were splattered with the greasy effluence and tiny orts of focaccia dotted the thighs of his dark, too-tight pants.

June Chapel sat across from the detective, her DCF report on Paisley Fleming, a girl believed to be the only witness in her parents’ double murder, gripped tightly in her hands. Her distaste for both the detective and his eating habits was as palpable as the pungent aroma of mortadella and piquillo peppers in his sandwich.

“What did you find out?” Webster wiped his hand on his pants, then reached for the file folder. “Did she really know anything?”

Reluctant to turn over the pristine papers to Webster, June held onto the folder a little too tightly and he had to pull it out of her hand. Opening the file, he began leafing through the report with one hand as he reached for the remainder of his lunch with his other.

“Want some?” Webster held out the sandwich, mistaking June’s expression as hunger, then shrugged as she waved off his offer.

“I’m making progress,” June said, resisting the urge to use the hand sanitizer in her purse. “I’m building trust with Paisley and she is sharing about what she and her parents had been doing while here in St. Carabelle.”

“Maybe I can help crack that nut,” Webster said around a mouthful of sandwich. “I got the medical examiner’s report.”

Webster put his sandwich down to search for another folder in the middle of a pile of files on the corner of his desk.

June looked over the report, careful not to get sandwich condiments on her hands.

“He found cause of death,” Webster picked bits of lettuce out of his front teeth.

“Rat poison?” June said, looking up from the report.

“That’s what I though at first,” Webster said, leaning on his desk. “It was warfarin sodium, a pharmaceutical anticoagulant, like Coumadin. Doc is working to identify the exact formulation.”

“They bled to death internally,” June’s voice was barely a whisper.

‘Yeah,” Webster said sliding back in his chair. “It was pretty savage too.”

“Was it injected, did they ingest it?” June closed the M.E.’s report and pushed it back across Webster’s desk.

“No,” Webster threw away the rest of his sandwich, his appetite gone. “They absorbed it through their skin. Doc said it took several hours for the lethal dosage to take effect. It was a slow and painful death.”

“Who would do something like this?” June slumped in her chair, forgetting to maintain her professional demeanor. “Is there any way to determine when or how they came into contact with it?”

“Doc said their clothes were soaked in it,” Webster said. “He said that’s the only way it could be so totally absorbed into their bodies.”

“Do we need to have Paisley checked out by a doctor?” June sat up again, slipping back into her social worker persona.

“No, if her clothes were contaminated, she would have shown symptoms by now,” Webster said.

“She’s asking questions,” June said. “I told her, her parents were dead. How do I tell her all of this?”

“You don’t have to tell her anything else right now,” Webster said stacking the ME file and June’s report. together. “She already knows what she needs to know. She doesn’t need to be told there really is a bogey man.”

Inspiration: Laced poison

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