Acronym is a Tattooed Corpse Story. The Tattooed Corpse Stories are a series of short stories that have nothing in common except for one thing – at some point in the story there will be a body and that body will have a snake tattoo.
Detective Lars Horn is called down to the morgue when a body he retrieved from a crime scene a couple of weeks ago is brought in again. No one had noticed it had gone missing, and it looks just as fresh as it did the first time Horn saw it.
Disappearing bodies is not his responsibility, but when it goes missing a second time, he can’t help but get involved. And to make matters worse, he glimpses a guy at the local pub who looks just like the lost body. Maybe he’s overworked and maybe he had a little too much to drink, but he can’t let it go until he finds the man from the pub and makes sure he isn’t seeing dead people.
Horn nodded as Parker talked, but he wasn’t listening. How Parker had made detective was a mystery. The guy believed being a cop was like in the movies, always pulling macho shit when they were out, jeopardizing entire investigations.
“Are you listening, man?”
Horn gave himself a mental shake. “Sorry, what?”
“What I came to tell you was that the hottie in the mortuary called you, said it was urgent. Are you tapping that?” He wiggled his eyebrows.
Horn groaned. “I’m gay, remember?”
Parker pulled a face. “Really? I thought they were joking around.”
“Nope, I suck cock on the job every day, twice if the opportunity arises.”
Parker scowled. “No need to be a dick about it.”
“No? Did Sam say what it was about?” It had to be about the body. Something close to excitement spread in his mind.
“Nope, only that you should call her ASAP.”
Horn nodded but didn’t reach for the phone. Instead, he stood and grabbed his jacket. “You can reach me on my cell should you need me.”
Curiosity painted Parker’s face. “What are you up to?”
“Seeing Sam. I’ll be back later.”
The hospital corridors were as cold as before, the walls just as white, but the usual chill didn’t curl around Horn’s spine when he headed in Sam’s direction. He’d brought coffee and doughnuts. He never bought doughnuts, but when he’d seen the pink ones with sprinkles, he figured Sam needed some color in her life.
“I was waiting for you to call me.”
Horn startled as Sam stepped out of a door to his right. “Damn, woman, you need to stop that.”
She grinned. “Jumpy when in the basement, are we?”
“No.” He pushed the bag toward her. “I brought a snack.”
“You’re a good man.” She grabbed the bag and gestured for him to follow her into the cramped office. “He’s here.” She took a big bite of the pink doughnut and moaned.
“You found him?” It wasn’t disappointment swirling in his mind, it was just… a more boring outcome than he’d painted. If the body was here, the man from the Dire Magpie had nothing to do with it.
“Nah, it wasn’t me who found him. He came in this morning. A cleaner found him outside the back door of that British pub downtown.”
“The Dire Magpie?” His pulse sped up.
“Yeah, that’s the one.” She took another bite and reached for the coffee. “Same as last time, no visible cause of death.”
What if it was the man? It couldn’t be. “I… eh… I was there last night. A man who looked like the body was there too, but he disappeared before I could talk to him.”
He rolled his eyes. “No, I see dead people.”
“Me too, every day.” She sighed dramatically and Horn flipped a pen at her which she dodged. She shoved the last bit of the doughnut into her mouth and spoke while chewing. “You want to see him?” Sam headed for the door.
Did he? “Yeah.” With dread curling in his gut, he entered the examination room.
It was the man, but it couldn’t be the man. “You’re not gonna peek inside?”
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