Maggie danced around the body that lay face down in the muddy water remaining in the ditch after the afternoon rain. Anne grabbed the dog's collar and dragged her away from her find. She smelled it all the way from the house, she thought. That's why she was so frantic to get out here.
She squatted by the head. A precise hole, visible in the tangled mass of blood and hair, marked an entry point above the right ear. No point in touching him, she thought. No point but someone would ask if she made sure he was dead. Her fingers felt through the water for his carotid pulse. Nothing. Nothing except that smell. Fighting the waves of nausea that threatened to overwhelm her, she wiped her fingers on the grassy bank and stood up.
She hauled Maggie through the gate onto the path. The protesting dog tugged the length of the garden and up to the kitchen door.
Catherine swung around from the stove when the screen door slammed behind Anne.
"There's a body in the ditch."
Anne collapsed into a kitchen chair, out of breath from her tug-of-war with the dog.
"I don't know. How could I? I just got here; remember? Eighteen months since I was here last, and in all that time, did I find a body at home? No. Cross the border and here's another one, waiting for me in your back garden."
The ghost of a smile at the lame joke crossed Catherine's pale face.
"I'll call 911. No ambulance?"
"Yes, he's gone. As are all his clothes. Whoever left him there took all his clothes away."
"Absolutely. I should go back. You're supposed to stay with a body."
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