The first breath of sunlight shines over the water. Already I’m sweating like a gorilla in a polyester suit. The sand permeates my socks and shoes, makes a gritty paste between my toes. What a waste of time. This fucker drowned, I guarantee it, knew it before I saw the body. Those CSI-type shows make like it’s a big mystery, but when a body washes up on shore, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s drowning. People just don’t respect the ocean the way they should.
I stand with my back to the cadaver. Being downwind doesn’t help, but I’m used to this shit. Some rookie talking through a handkerchief tries to give me a report.
I can’t hear a goddamn thing this kid is saying. I’d ask him to lower the hankie but he’d probably puke.
I yawn; a mistake. My saliva tastes of fish guts and rotted flesh.
The rook is done talking, so I crouch to get a better look at the bloated carcass. Orange and blue Bermuda shorts cling to its legs like a bad joke. A ripple moves across the dead man’s gut, a pet for the medical examiner.
The corpse’s eyes snap open.
I’m losing it. I’ve been around death too long and I’m losing my fucking mind. This happens to other poor saps, but not to me, please God, not to me. I stare into that dead face as a raspy murmur escapes its lips. “Synbatec,” it says. “Tacise de mer wastopaneer.”
The rookie trips over himself in his hurry to back away. Thank God he heard it too.
“Wastopaneeeeer!” screams the corpse. The rook vomits into the water.
My gaze falls back on the dead man’s bloated abdomen and again I catch sight of that ripple. This is way above my pay grade.