I knew Doc Brewster had said to check in with him at noon, but I had no place to go without first seeing him.
Maybe twenty blocks, twenty-five is probably more likely, that is the drive from Keller and Brown to the city morgue. It was located in the basement of the old Saint Elizabeth's Hospital. Every body in town knew this Victorian-era landmark. She was a five story brick old lady with round turrets at each corner, topped with silver onion-domed roofs. She covered a whole city block, a maze of interlocking buildings, courtyards, underground passages, and miles of grey tile hallways. She had the look of a breeding of a penitentiary and a Russian Orthodox Church. In the day, Saint Elizabeth's looked tired and out-of-date; at night, she looked like a place where horror once took place and just might take place again. And of all that about Saint Elizabeth's, the morgue was the culmination of it all.
I pulled into the parking place beside the Coroner's reserved spot. Headed to the rear entrance door where after flashing my badge in front of the peep hole, the elderly security unlatched the blackish green door. Ben was his name, the security guard that is, not the door.
"How ya doing, Ben?"
"Can't complain, Lieutenant, sciatic is acting up but it's getting better. Doc's been hear since early this morning. He told me to look for you. Lord, three stiffs in one night! What's the world coming to?"
"Ben, to hell in a hand basket, I suppose."
"Yep, it's all going to hell," Ben muttered as he closed the door behind me.
The morgue was so deep in this hospital that you took the elevator down to get to it, not to the basement, but some denizen realm referred to as the sub-basement. The elevator down was more or less a service elevator, no effort to pretty it up had ever been made - a classic example of bare-bones practicality at work. The button or the Morgue was luminous red capital letter M. I thought it always a bit on the creepy side, but then again, how could morgues not be that way.
The jolt at the stop of that ride down made sure you realized that there was no more down after this stop. The doors separated slowly. The Morgue was always somewhat of a surprise to first-timers, it was all reasonably modern when set in contrast to the outside of Saint Elizabeth's. Doc's inner sanctum was a mausoleum made of chrome, stainless steel, and porcelain, all held together with the near frost of refrigerated air.
There stood Doc weighing something in the hanging scale. I really did not to want to know what. On the stainless steel table lay Miss Yellow Roses, looking far more dead now that she did last night.
My echoing footsteps on the tile floor announced my arrival. "Lieutenant. I see you made it."
'Morning, Doc, you ready for me."
"I'm always ready for you, Ian. "
"Well, what do you have?"
"Sorry to say, not too much, just a few traces of last night left behind."
By now Doc Brewster was cleaning off the blood from his hands with one of the white towels he always kept stacked on a gurney nearby. He picked up his glass clipboard and started to read.
"Well, Ian, she was strangled with a cord, but she wasn't beaten. She had eaten dinner, some pasta dish with salad. And she was drunk. She had to have consumed two whole bottles of chianti. And she had taken some pills."
"Okay, Doc, what kind of pills?"
'Well, Ian, that's what is somewhat strange. She had taken sleeping pills."
"You saying she was trying to kill herself."
"No. She didn't take enough for that. And what's even more puzzling was that she was carrying the prescription bottle in her purse. Seems a bit odd, don't you think."
"Yep. Anything else."
"Sad to say, but yes. She was going to have a baby. She was about two and a half months pregnant. We're doing the blood test now."