The body is what brings everything into sharp relief. It’s just any lot full of weeds and junk until you find her. Once you do, every blade of grass, every wadded up McDonald’s wrapper, every cigarette butt comes alive. When you look, they vibrate. They glow a little bit around the edges.
You look up at the sky and if it’s threatening you dare it to rain. You beg or you threaten.
I don’t know if everyone does, but I walk around her first. I stand over her a long while and don’t move or speak. I squat down and take it in from ground level. I close my eyes. I feel the wind on my cheek. I listen. To traffic sounds. To neighbors talking. Sometimes it matters, mostly it doesn’t. A thousand, thousand things you’ll do for the next seven or eight hours won’t be important at all, won’t ever see the light of day again.
Except that you have done them, and know it.
But maybe three or four things you got no idea are important will rise up a week or a day later and you will love them with a fierceness that can’t be known outside of the work. You guard them and you are tender and attentive and you think about them last thing at night before you sleep.
Slowly, the obvious things will come to you. She wasn’t killed here, or she was. The bindings were here, or he brought them with him. She never knew what hit her. She struggled.
Maybe it is like seeing the future is for fortune tellers. Not everything is clear, but there are moments of vividness, of hyper-clarity. Then there is some fog, some blurry hints, and then another clear moment. She put her hand against the door to keep him out. She left bloody marks all over her drawer. What was she going for there while he was slashing at her?
The words come slowly and they are spare if you are good. If the others are good they will put in a piece or two or turn around one you’ve put down wrong and then you’ll all just stand there and quietly someone will say a thing and then maybe one or two will nod and someone writes it down or someone says no and explains why.
If you are not concerned with getting it exactly then you’ll take off running at the first open door. You’ll be barking orders and you’ll be seemingly fast and efficient and in command. When one of those shows up I shut my mouth unless I can’t stand it and then pretty soon I’ll be doing a neighborhood canvas or checking with the weather station about the humidity last two weeks.
The ones I know are good are maybe confused a little bit longer. They wander down a path a few feet then stop and take its measure.
They go back a good ways.
They seem to start over.
Sometimes there are a handful of them at the same scene and then it is a thing of beauty. If the killer could watch them work he would feel the first taste of gas in the back of his throat before they even got all the way out of their cars. One thing a predator knows and that is the way another predator moves, and if he was to see the good ones work well he’d just about know it was all in.
You are slow because you can never get that moment back. You are all the time pulling back on the reins, imploring the horses to cease their mad galloping but what use is it? So you do what you can and you try not to make the big mistakes, only the small ones, the ones you can live with, and then in a small handful of hours its over and you won’t get another shot at it.
So you go slowly, slowly.