She dropped the children off at daycare, picked up a cappuccino at the coffee shop and headed for the morgue.
Another day, another dead body.
If Callie’s phone rings at 4:37 a.m., she’s pretty sure it’s not going to be Ed McMahon trying to give her a cool million. Nope, 99.7% of the time, it’s Alfie Lundquist. Oh, sorry, that’s Officer Alfred Lundquist now, if you please. And when the town cop calls the county coroner at 4:37 am, there had better be only one reason.
Another dead body.
Callie’s childhood sweetheart was loyal about keeping her in the loop, dead-body-wise and other-wise. And she appreciated that, really. But Alfie kept forgetting that, even though she was the county coroner, she also was a frenzied single mom juggling the candle at both ends.
Ever since Chuck’s murder, Alfie had been very attentive to her and the kids. Sometimes too attentive. Times like two hours before the alarm goes off on Monday morning in a nonemergency situation.
4:37 am isn’t the most convenient time to loop her in.
Callie had to keep reminding herself that Alfie had lost a best friend, too. The same best friend.
Seems they were both guilty of forgetting things.
“Hey, Doc. I’m diggin’ that mocha cappuccino foam moustache today. One of your best.” Kevin grinned as he pointed at her and used his thumb to cock an imaginary pistol.
Callie savored her once weekly extravagance--cash, calorie, and caffeine wise--a triple-shot venti mocha-caramel cappuccino. Her inability to savor and navigate without growing a thick, sticky moustache was legendary at the morgue.
“So’s the cappuccino, Kev. Ah, heaven in a Styrofoam to-go cup.” Callie slurped the last syrupy dregs of delight through the sippy-lid and tossed the cup in the recycle tub.
“Ready?” Callie looke at Kevin across the corpse.
She picked up the edge of its cotton shroud. “Okay, let’s have a look you, shall we?” Her greeting to the body died in her throat when she saw his face. Sweat beads tickled her forehead, and she rubbed them with the back of her gloved hand.
Closing her eyes only burned the image into her mind’s eye. She snapped the open again.
No. It’s not him. This guy’s nose is longer, and look at how his ears stick out. How could you mistake him for Chuck?
“Doc? You okay?”
“Yeah. Fine. Just a momentary caffeine-sugar rush. You ready?”
“Yep.” He squinted at her before looking down. “Dead male, 34 years of age,” Kevin read from the file. “ID says Tobias Matthison, Lincoln, Nebraska.”
Tobias Matthison. Matthison like Chuck’s Nana Em.
“Oh, Tobias, what are you doing so far from home.” Callie peeled the sheet further down to uncover the scarred, muscular chest. An apple-shaped birthmark rode his ribcage just under his left arm.
Tobias…. Toby? No, it can’t be. Can it? ‘Matching birthmarks, the apples of their mama’s eye, Toby and Chuck.’
Callie stepped back from the table and peeled off her rubber gloves. Chuck had only talked to her about his twin once, but Callie remembered every word.
But Toby was…
Callie grabbed a tissue. “Yeah. Kevin, I need to make a phone call. I think I know who this is.”