The envelope was postmarked for the middle of nowhere Wyoming, which was a helluva long way from the hotel room in the middle of nowhere Florida. There was just enough handwriting on the delivery address to know it was written by a kid. It might have been an adult, but most adults didn’t have the variation in size of letters and numbers the way kids did, even if an adult’s handwriting was atrocious. I turned it over, and the guess about the kid was confirmed by the cartoonish stickers littering the back of the envelope. Some of them were ripped in half where the envelope had received similar treatment.
The CSU had bagged a half empty water bottle. It was a store brand from a mega chain, and we only had one of those around here, which was both good and bad. Good, because it narrowed our search. Bad, because it was like asking for information about a building that was the equivalent of a highway: lots of traffic, little recall.
“What the hell is this, the ’90s?” my partner, Drummond, asked, and waved a pudgy, latex gloved hand toward the blood-stained, midnight blue, velvet coat. It was thrown on the white, laminate tabletop. The blood from the coat smeared over the table, already dry and getting dark.
In spite of the scene, I chuckled. “They need to leave velvet there, along with the teased hair in the 80s, and hippies in the 70s.”
“No kidding. I mean, who wears this anymore?”
“Maybe no one still alive, if this is all from one person.”
The room was covered in blood, with shoe prints that had skidded through it, and handprints from where someone caught themselves after falling. The cheap floral and green bedspread lent a musty scent to the room, and I wasn’t looking forward to what processing would reveal with this nightmare. Hotel rooms were the worst.
“You think Velvet Man is the vic, or the doer?”
“Who knows? Maybe it’s mutual, and they beat the crap out of each other.”
I signaled to one of the responding uniforms to come over. “Anyone hear anything?”
“Not according to them. Everyone went deaf, dumb, and blind around 2:30 this morning,” he said, not even needing to reference his notebook.
“Normal for this part of town,” Drummond grunted, and shifted his considerable weight from one black, wing tipped clad foot to the other. He wasn’t big enough to catch crap from brass, but lets just say I’d be the one chasing down any perps if it came down to it.
“What about who the room belongs to?” I asked the uniform, Holt.
Holt shook his head, while sweat from the humidity shone on his tan scalp through his short, black hair. “Clerk didn’t get ID, even though the guy paid in cash. Said their scanner/copier was broken.”
“Why am I not surprised?” I muttered.
I took in the room, with the gaudy orange curtains, the muddy brown carpet stained by more than just the blood, the cheap, pressed wood furniture, and the television set that was probably broken in the struggle.
All we had was a load of blood, the jacket, the water bottle, and a torn envelope from a kid somewhere in Wyoming. Where was this guy, was he dead, and who was he?