Officer Lawrence knelt on the wet sand and looked at the young girl’s corpse, wishing he could’ve stayed home for his family’s turkey dinner like the rest of the department. Surrounded by fog with an empty belly wasn’t his idea of an exhilarating day. There was nothing he could do so he snuggled deeper into his Harris Tweed coat. Turning to the man who found the body, he said “why were you here?”
The man wearing a wet suit with goggles wrapped around his neck said, “I was having my first scuba lesson when the train suddenly plunged off the trestle and fell into the bay. Scared my instructor so bad he ran home to take his heart medication. My phone was in my bag, so I called it in, then started walking the shoreline looking for survivors and stumbled onto her.”
“She the only one you found?”
“So far. I think most of the passengers are trapped under water. Coast Guard’s all over the scene. Why are you looking at me like I did something wrong?”
Officer Lawrence pointed to the woman’s hand and said, “looks like she had several rings on her fingers, and a bracelet on her wrist. The depth of those marks tell me they were on there for quite some time. Want to tell me why they’re missing?”
Realizing he was busted, the diver shrugged, then dug into his kit bag and held them out. “Figured she didn’t need them anymore. Gonna arrest me?”
“Just get out of my sight,” Lawrence said as he palmed them.
Inter-agency investigations were a nightmare. NTSB usually treated locals like they were dirt and since there was no evidence that the crash was anything more than an accident he could go home as soon as they arrived. No point taking on a petty crime that would involve a lot of paperwork.
While he waited, a small suitcase floated onto the rocks about fifty feet from where he stood. Walking over, he picked it up and shook water off of it before setting it on the sand and popping its latches. Examining its contents led to a big surprise. There was a passport with photo attached of the woman lying dead on the beach. The irony of her luggage following her didn’t escape him as he dug deeper. He discovered a train ticket, which was expected but soon realized it was for a different train than the one that crashed. The ticket was for the number 13 express, not the number 31 local that lie at the bottom of the bay. The only thing he could surmise was that she took the wrong train because she was dyslexic. Now the fact she was dead became a greater tragedy.
By the time the feds arrived he’d copied all her pertinent information into his notebook and put her jewelry in his car. He hoped to provide a small degree of comfort to her relatives by sending it along. When he got home dinner was cold and the football game was almost over. At least his in-laws were gone after scarfing everything they could and leaving his wife to do the dishes. He nuked a plate and started to eat but couldn’t get the dead girl’s face out of his mind. Appetite gone he went to his study to type up his report. As he worked, he thought about the effects of dyslexia. How many people suffered misfiled forms or turned the wrong way? How many of those situations led to tragedy? He understood that others died on the train and were where they were meant to be and when. Was the girl? Such questions could lead to drinking and sleepless nights.