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The two detectives walked slowly down the path of a blooming field. It was 8:40 am on a sunny Sunday morning when they were called to the suburb of Mapleridge. All they were told was to investigate a situation whereby a body had been found in a park behind a housing development.

Carole Weedgar, the senior detective, led her partner, Rod Golden, to the scene of the discovery. They immediately noticed the white powder sprinkled in the shape of a body, but with no head. The grass surrounding the markings was speckled with brown droplets. 

A few meters away, a riding lawn mower was parked with a black body bag resting on a stretcher at the front. As the two detectives approached the green vehicle, Rod sneezed a couple of times. He looked back at his partner and said in a stuffed voice, “Allergies'', and smiled sheepishly.

Carole pointed to the bag and asked the driver, “What`s up with the lawnmower?”

“That's all we had available,” the man replied. “The field is too rough for an ambulance and our ATV has blown a gasket.”

“Can we see the body?” asked Rod.

“Sure, but watch your breakfast; it’s messy in there.” He unzipped the bag to reveal a slim body dressed in a brown sweater but with nothing above the neck. “They found him face down in the field; I mean if he had a face. We looked around, but we found no trace of the head. Lots of sprinkled organic material on the grass and flowers. The lady over there found the body.” He pointed to a plump lady in her forties with a mid-sized grey and white short-haired dog beside her. The snout and whiskers were all red.

“Good day, mam,” said Carole. “Can you tell us what you saw?”

“Well, I am so distraught. I was just taking my morning walk with Rhina, here, my lovely Schnauzer. I had left her off the leash so she could run around. She immediately made a beeline there.” With a bitter look on her face, she pointed to the area with the powder marking the scene.

“When I reached her,” she paused, “I am sorry, but she had enjoyed a small meal. That’s when I realized what I saw. I called 911 immediately.”

“Did you see anything suspicious before your walk?” inquired Rod.

“No, nothing really. There was a plastic bag with some boxes of tissues in it, but nothing else.” 

“Thank you for your cooperation,” replied Carole.

They returned to the body and asked the driver if they had found any wallet. The body had not been searched yet, so Carole unzipped the bag further and reached down to the pants pockets to pull out a wallet. She opened it and found $80, some credit cards, a Vermont driver’s license with the picture of a man in his 50s with receding dark hair and a bulbous nose. The name on the license was Peter Buckley. The address was 124 Garden Road.

“Hey, that’s the next street over,” exclaimed Rod to his partner. “Maybe we can find some keys in his pocket.” Carole rummaged some more and as she pulled her hands out, a giggling set of keys on a chain appeared.

They walked across the field to reach a house kitty-corner to where they were. As they reached the blue bungalow, Rod sneezed again. “Gesundheit,” said Carole. They rounded the house to reach the front door. After ringing the bell three times, they tried the keys. On their second key, the door unlocked, and they entered. 

The living room was full of unpacked brown boxes. It was not decorated except for a few paintings of flowers. A picture of a couple rested on the mantle. The male in the photo matched the one on the driver’s license. 

“I guessed that was him,” mentioned Rod. “The person must have just moved in recently by the looks of it.”

The two detectives started knocking on the next neighbor’s door. They found out that the deceased had moved there three weeks before and seemed to be living by himself. They continued to visit all the houses around the park. At the house closest to where the body was found, they obtained some interesting details but had no idea how it related to the case.

The family was watching The Name of the Rose on Netflix while the youngest son was playing Plants vs. Zombies. At around 9:15 pm, they heard a few “Choo Choo”, followed by a pop. The father looked out the window facing the park at the back, but the darkness was too profound to see anything. 

The perplexed officers returned to the site of the discovery and looked at the plastic bag found beside the body. It contained two boxes of Kleenex tissues. They were bought at the convenience store down the street called Herbs. They decided to pay a visit to the old-style corner store where you could find anything from Tampons to shaving cream. They entered and approached the counter where a man in his 60s sat on a stool.

“Are you the owner of this store?” asked Rod.

“Yes, I am. What can I do for you?”

“Who was working last night between 9 and 9:30 pm?”

“I was. I work 14-hour days, from 8 am to 10 pm,” answered the proud owner.

“Do you recognize this man?” Carole showed the driver’s license.

“Looks familiar. Why?”

“This person bought some tissues here last night.” She showed him the receipt.

“Oh yeah. I remember now. The man had a stuffed-up nose and red eyes. It seemed like he was crying. I asked him if he was alright, and he said he was looking for allergy medication. Unfortunately, I am all sold out. There has been a run on allergy meds this month. Pollen count must be through the roof. He bought two boxes of Kleenex and left.”

“Thank you for your cooperation,” said Carole as the officers left.

When they returned to the scene of the incident, Carole asked, “What could have happened here?”

“I normally have a nose for this kind of thing, but this time, I have no clue,” replied Rod. “No witness. No weapons. No motive. No reasons. Beats the hell out of me. No use beating our heads against the wall, though. Maybe the coroner will find something.”

They thanked the driver of the lawnmower who was waiting for the coroner and headed back to their vehicle. As their feet kicked up yellow pollen in the air, Rob’s nose started twitching. He stopped, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and started sneezing uncontrollably. 

After the bout ended, Carole turned around and said, “you better find some medication there, bud, or else you’re going to sneeze your head off.”

Bio: Norman Marcotte is a public servant who has an engineering degree and loves to run. He has been writing since high school and he dabbles is various genres from horror to speculative fiction to children's stories to non-fiction. He has self-published a memoir on his running experience, Take 10 and Reach the Boston Marathon, and a children's book, Frankenstein's Science Project.


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