Murder in Home Depot

Ruth Ronnau 

“Uh, miss? There’s a smell coming from the kitchen department. I just thought you might want to take a look.”
“Thanks for telling me. If there’s anything else I can do for you, don’t hesitate to let me know!”
Jane smiled. Working at Home Depot wasn’t the best job that she’d ever had--but it wasn’t the worst. Most of the customers were polite enough, even if they thought that Jane was fifteen and not a legal adult.
As she walked over to the kitchen appliances section, Jane let out a groan. The smell was unbearable, and she had a good idea of what it was and where it was coming from.
This wasn’t the first time that Jane had smelled a corpse decomposing. In fact, when your best friend is a coroner, you get to know the smell of death pretty quickly.
Although she knew she probably shouldn’t, Jane opened the offending fridge. And there it was. The dead body of Brian Somerson. Jane’s high school boyfriend.
After calling the police and giving her statement (leaving out the small detail that Jane intimately knew the deceased), Jane tried to return to work, thinking that being productive would keep her mind from focusing on Brian’s decomposing face, and how a large part of his skull seemed to be missing. But her boss was having none of it.
“Go home. Right now,” said Jacob Jacobson. “You just found a dead body--you’ve more than earned the right to leave early. I’ll call in one of the kids and they can come in after they’re done with school.”
Reluctantly, Jane left. She knew what she had to do, but she wasn’t excited about it. And she should probably tell him before he saw the body in the morgue, or heard about it from one of his friends. Jane dialed and put her phone up to her ear, leaning on the driver’s side door of her car.
“You’ll never guess who I saw today.”
“Who?” said Will Stevenson. Normally Will didn’t answer his phone while he was at work, but the fact that Jane was calling him indicated some sort of emergency--and knowing his friend, it would probably involve a dead body.
“Brian Somerson.”
“Shit. Where’d you see him?”
Walking away from the body of Jessica Rogers, her chest cavity open, Will sat at his desk. Although Will hadn’t gone to high school with Jane and Brian, he knew that there had been a Jane and Brian, and their subsequent break-up in college. Their break-up, unlike their relationship, had been distasteful -- to say the least. The end to Brian and Jane culminated in a screaming match in the school parking lot, with Jane figuring out that Brian had also been the less beautiful half of Brian and Sarah, in almost every available room in the school.
“The inside of a refrigerator at Home Depot.”
“Shit. Why the fuck do you keep finding these fucking dead bodies?” Will asked.
Brian’s body was the sixth. Jane had found three previous bodies while working at Lowe’s, Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond. The other two--well, she didn’t like to think about them. She could never look at donuts the same way again. Luckily for Jane--and her loved ones-- Jane hadn’t known the people before they had wound up dead.
This was the first one of the dead people that she knew, and while finding dead people had become a normal part of her life (as normal as finding dead people where you work is), she was quite put off that Brian was dead. Not because she had ever imagined getting back together with him, but because how Brian died rang eerily similar to how she’d planned on doing it in her mind just after their break up.
“I have no idea,” said Jane. “I gotta go. I call you later. Stop by after work--I’m planning on eating my weight in pizza.”
Hanging up, Jane eyed the phone. She thought about telling the cops everything. Her mother and father would both want her to. They’d both had their own dealings with the police, as lawyers, and felt that working with them was better than against them. But after the second time she had found the body, Jane had started to look like a suspect to the police. That was why after finding a dead body, she usually quit her job and found another one a few towns over. Never far enough that she had to move apartments, but far enough that there were new police coming to inspect the crime scene when she found the next one.
Jane was never a suspect for very long--she always had an alibi for the time when the person was murdered, and it was quickly realized that Jane was, to put it frankly, not a serial killer.
But this time, Jane feared that it might not be as easy to prove that she didn’t kill Brian--at least, if the police did their jobs and find out how much she had hated him. And the police usually do their jobs.
<i>Fucking hell</i>, Jane thought. Driving home, Jane noticed something. There was a car following her home. It didn’t look like a police cruiser, but you can never tell these days.
Pulling into her apartment’s parking lot, Jane got her phone out again. She walked casually up the three flights of stairs to her building, taking her keys out of her purse and opening the door.
Slamming it shut behind her, Jane dialed. “Will?”
“Yeah? What’s up? I thought you were going to get pizza and hang out til I got there?”
“I think I’m going to be a suspect in Brian’s murder.”
“Fuck. What do you wanna do?”
“I don’t know. I might go digging around a little, see what’s up with John.”
“Want me to come with you?”
“If I decide to go--yes.”
Jane goes to her computer, and tries to find John Hunter.
Jane sinks into her aging, blue sofa, and thinks better of it. The police know how to do their jobs. She won't be a suspect for long.