"Erika." She said it out loud. Could that be the name of her daughter or of a lover maybe?
The blue-ish green tattoo looked like the work of an amateur. As if it were carved into the flesh width fuzzy blurry letters where the ink had found its way under the skin.
"Could be a jail souvenir," she thought. The scar on her belly looked bad as well. It wasn’t surgical, the report said. All organs intact. It must have been from an injury.
"Well, Sarah..." a friendly voice said behind her back."That’s some case we’ve got on our hands here." Claire, the pathologist had re-entered the room.
"I can’t read a lot out of that poor ladies’ body. Seems like a bad luck girl to me."
"A bad luck girl?” Sarah asked.
"Well yes, she was killed because she was at the wrong place, wrong time. Accidental victim. It looks like whoever killed her was after her wallet."
"And so they left the pearl?" robbery with murder was a possibility Sarah didn’t even want to consider, because a motive like that wouldn’t leave any chance of finding the killer. There had to be something more.
"Well, even if they thought it was genuine, Sarah, it’s too risky to sell. It’s too recognisable in the neighbourhood. And you wouldn’t just kill someone this way unless you absolutely needed money: quick and fast. I think it’s a crazed junk’s doing."
"The papers are talking about a possible serial killer," Sarah started.
"Yes, I know," Claire said quickly,"but absolutely not likely. No sexual assault, no obvious traces left, no trademark. This is definitely not the killing style of a serial killer."
"What about the scar and the tattoo?"
"Well, yes, that’s something else." Claire was speaking slowly, while looking at the corpse again. And sarah knew she was imagining every possibility, every surgical intervention and every possible injury that could have caused the scar with scientific precision.
"The scar was most likely caused by an injury, unless they cut her open somewhere in a field hospital in a third world country or something. But nothing points to that. The slash on her belly nearly spliced her guts. It’s an old wound, dating from years back."
"Here," Claire switched on a extra light and focuses it on the body of the dead woman.
"You can see," she pointed to a spot on the belly, "that the scar has been stretched, probably when she put on weight." Sarah watched Claire’s long elegant fingers move, stretching the latex gloves and touching the dead girl’s stomach gently. She noticed Claire was wearing nail polish. Dark red. "That means she’s not seeing someone," Sarah pondered. "At least not on a regular basis."
"What would cause a wound like that?" Claire was thinking out loud. "Not a knife. The edges of the gap were ragged, that’s why it left such an ugly scar. Look at that." Claire pointed to the small suture points along the scar. "Whoever did this did a really bad job. You don’t stitch up a big gaping wound like this with 15 stitches. No wonder it made such a messy scar."
"And the tattoo?" Sarah asked. "Was it done before or after the injury?"
"There’s no way of finding that out, but I would say before. It’s so close to the scar, in such an odd place..."
Sarah’s cell phone went of. A private number. "Hi, Sarah, this is Marie-Rose. You haven’t forgotten our appointment, have you? I expected you at 10:30."
"Oh, god, I’m sorry, Rose." Sarah started. Dr. Marie-Rose Solal was her shrink. Tuesday. She was supposed to be at her weekly session of soul searching, conscience digging whining. She hated it, but it had been Claire’s idea and she couldn’t refuse to try at least for a few months. "Don’t worry. Come over now and we’ll start. I don’t have anything booked until this afternoon," Rose said.
Sarah was disinfecting her hands and almost ready to go when Claire asked. "And what about you? How are you doing, Sarah? Are you still seeing that girl?"
She was referring to the bitch.
"No," Sarah said, "that’s finished."
"Oh, good," Claire looked worried. She was leaning against a cabinet cleaning her glasses. She looked soft and lovely, thick brown curls bouncing around her face and shoulders as if her body supplied them with a constant electrical current.
"How could I ever have let her go." Sarah thought.