Everything had its place, still – in fact, in some ways, the young man who’d stepped into Josie’s tennis shoes was neater when it came to his paperwork, even though it was piled high on his desk. The difference was in the details: the ice in the channels along the examination tables couched cans of soda, one rolling equipment table held a bowl made of a human skull, lacquered and filled with fun-sized candy bars, and of course, there was the matter of the music. One thing Dr. Jonathan Knight had made very clear from the day Sam had met him was that he liked his music the way he liked his women: loud and fast. On this particular afternoon, the mortician was leaning back in his chair, clipboard in hand, working away on a form and scatting along to the jazz oozing from the stereo, ticking off boxes on the paper in time with the music. He bobbed his head back and forth, vibrant waves of ginger hair bouncing, and paused for a moment to conduct the horn section.
“JON,” Louis hollered over the din.
Dr. Knight spun around in his chair and launched himself onto his feet, grinning. “Whoa, hey! Sluggo and Blankman! … And guests.” He snatched up the stereo’s remote off his desk and turning the music down to a more civilized level. “Sorry, I was getting my paperwork groove going. Breaks up the monotony, you know? But this works, too. What the hell happened?”
“We got an anonymous call,” Sam repeated, as Steve handed Jon the paperwork from the ambulance. “They found the body buried in leaves in the culvert behind the Starlite alley.”
“I knew I couldn’t trust their nachos.” Dr. Knight lifted up the sheet to take a look at the body. “No confirmed ID?”
“Not yet. We’re waiting on the person who reported him missing to come and give us a positive. Only got the call yesterday. But I figure you might be able to at least have a look and give us a cause of death.” Sam sighed out the last word, his posture sagging. “You’re a nice guy, Dr. Knight, but I sure do hate bringing you business.”
“It’s okay. He’ll keep me company while April’s elbow deep in lab sludge across the hall,” Jon shrugged, his oversized white blazer bunching at his shoulders. “We’ll have a regular dead man’s party in here, get to know each other. And I’ll call you once he tells me what happened to him. I should have something for you by tomorrow morning.”
"Thank you, Doctor.”
“Doctor. Psssht! Seriously, when the fuck are you gonna just drop it and call me Jon, like everybody else?”
“When are you gonna watch your mouth?”
“Well, let’s see now. Uhhh … Proooobably never.” Unbowed, he shot Sam a cheeky smirk.
“There you go, then, Dr. Knight. Steve, Louis? Thank you, gentlemen. The three of you have a good evening. I gotta get going and fill Troy in on all of this. He’s already flipped his lid on me once today for spending the day going after leads on someone who’s just turned up dead. Least I owe him is the story he’s been diggin’ for. Pun unintended."
As the EMTs and mortician waved their goodbyes, Sam turned on his heel and headed back out of the morgue. He wasn’t even halfway back to the elevator before he heard the music being turned up again, and shook his head. “I know you wouldn’a picked him if he weren’t any good, Josie,” he muttered under his breath, “but I gotta tell you something: that boy is just plain weird.”