|Illustration by Mark Satchwill|
There was a knot of people gathered on the street running parallel to the freeway, just north of Moorpark. Everyone was looking at a blanketed lump at the foot of a chain-link fence, avidly staring over the flimsy barrier of yellow crime-scene tape with curiosity but little concern.
A few of the onlookers were taking pictures with their phones.
Lot of men around for this time of day, Esme noted as she pulled up next to a black and white and flashed her credentials at the young cop directing traffic.
Lot of men who are out of work in the neighborhood.
“Isn’t this where they found that guy barbecued in the trunk of his car last year?” Edgar asked, interrupting her train of thought.
“Yeah,” Esme said distractedly as she parked behind a beat-to-shit Mazda. She’d noticed a tall black man standing apart from the lookie-loos.
“Isn’t that Gene Burkhart?” Edgar asked.
“Yeah, it is,” she said, not at all pleased to see him. Ever since the first North Hollywood victim had been found in the fall, he’d been dogging their steps and making noise about their lack of interest in catching a killer who was only preying on the homeless.
“Well now it’s a party,” Edgar said, ducking under the crime scene tape.
Ignoring Gene, Esme followed her partner over to the fence where an earnest young uniform was talking to a little old lady in a flowered cardigan. A sweet-faced long-haired dachshund sat quietly at her feet.
“Serafina and I were on our morning walk,” the old lady said.
“Serafina’s the dog,” the uni said, interrupting the old lady, who glared at him.
God bless dog walkers, Esme thought.
“And then Serafina told me she saw something by the fence.”