If you haven’t read the rest of the free chapters of MKPI Odd Case Files: The Cow & The Coven, you can find them here:
“Billy Bob & The Boss”
I took the scenic route to the lab to clear my head and think about the meeting with Dr. Graham. What sort of questions should I ask him? How accurate is animal necropsy? How is it used to solve cases or does it? Animal necropsy isn’t something I’m familiar with and the unknown is always fascinating to me. I hoped Dr. Graham was going to be gracious and accommodating to my desire to understand the whole process.
The North Central Texas Animal Sciences Lab was a brown building with reddish undertones. The walls reminded me of the desert in Arizona and I made a mental note to go back to the desert when this case was solved. I needed some time to work some things out…get back to basics. I pulled into the visitor parking and noticed Zeph’s car was already there. Thanks to getting stuck in the pasture earlier, his car fit in nicely with all the muddy trucks in the parking lot.
I locked up the truck and walked up the steps to the entrance of the lab. The glass doors whisked open with a “swoosh” and I was engulfed with cold air and Native American Flute Music. The floor was done in stone tiles in colors from grays, browns, reds and a twinge of sky blue. There were even potted cacti strategically placed throughout the lobby that added a truly outdoor feel to the entire place. I thought I could smell desert sage and red dirt. Strange I know, but maybe it was because the décor was reminiscent of what you might find in the desert.
I found the office directory boards posted on the wall by the bank of elevators and found that Dr. Graham’s office was on the fifth floor. I pushed the button for the elevator and took advantage of the wait to enjoy my surroundings and sounds. Yup, definitely needed to go back to the desert—and soon.
The doors dinged open and I stepped into a modest but clean elevator. The elevator was quick and as the doors opened on the fifth floor, I saw Zeph standing by the bank of windows, talking on this cell phone. As I was walking over, he ended the call and gave me a look.
“You are a hot damn mess. Am I going to have to kill you?”
I looked back at him feigning innocence and said, “What?”
“I just got off the phone with the mayor.” He gave me a dead stare.
“He’s an asshole.” I shrugged with an impish grin. “Don’t blame me. Whatever he told you is obviously a lie.”
Zeph pointed his finger at me.
“Look, I don’t like the brain-dead masses any more than you do, but we still have to pay the bills, eat and such.” He sighed. “Just try to be more political when you speak with the asshole.”
I rolled my eyes and turned to walk off, muttering to myself.
“What???” Zeph snapped.
“I will fucking try harder to please the fucktards!” I growled.
Zeph, in spite of himself, grinned.
“Good. Now let’s bury this cow shit and go home.” He replied.
“Gladly.” I quipped and began walking down the hall looking for Dr. Graham’s office.
We did not have to look long because as we rounded a corner, a tall man wearing a lab coat over a dark green brush popper western shirt, black jeans and cowboy boots nearly ran into me. I knew instantly we were meeting Dr. Graham for the first time and I was a little taken back. I was expecting a nerdy, bookish looking man, not the Marlboro man.
“Excuse me, darlin’.” He smiled widely at me.
That’s all it took and my feathers were ruffled.
“I ain’t your darlin’, Billy Bob. And you would be wise not to refer to me with any pet names such as honey, baby, sweet cheeks and most especially not darlin’. Now Boss, Boss is good for me.” I replied before my brain caught up to my mouth.
Dr. Graham tilted his head back and laughed a full, throaty laugh, his bright white teeth contrasting against his tanned face. I felt my face cloud over as a frown set on my face and my eyes turned to stone.
“Please tell me you are not Dr. Rusty Graham.” I glared at him as I spoke.
And with a twinkle in his eye, he winked—winked—at me.
“Why, yes, I am, Boss. And you are Dayl Mayeaux and Zephyr Klynick—owners and investigators at Mayeaux Klynick Private Investigations.”
I narrowed by eyes at him and replied, “How did you know that?”
“Same as you knew I was Dr. Graham, I suppose. But you, Boss, can call me Doc.” He winked again.
Zeph was snickering behind me and I swiftly elbowed him in the ribs. Sighing, I stuck my hand out to Dr. Graham and he took mine as we locked eyes for a moment.
“Nice to meet you.” I sighed, swallowing my pride.
Zeph and “Doc” shook hands. After all the boring formalities and smoothing over of my blunder, Dr. Graham suggested we go to the conference room.
“This might be a bigger case than I can handle.” He spoke lowly, but still with a throaty tone as we walked.
I stopped midstride, once again startled, and said, “What do you mean?”
“Please…let’s get to the conference room first and discuss this in a more private setting.”
I looked at Zeph with an ‘I told you so’ look and felt the dread settle in my stomach like a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s. It was looking like my gut had not been lying to me. Dr. Graham lead us into a medium sized room with a round table and overstuffed leather chairs with flute music still playing, which was now accompanied by thunder and rain sounds.
“How do you take your coffee?” Dr. Graham asked.
“Strong and black—like my boots.” I replied with a smirk.
Zeph rolled his eyes and replied, “I take mine white, with lots of sugar.”
Dr. Graham handed us our cups and said to Zeph, “I will let you add your own fixin’s.”
We settled into the chairs and Dr. Graham began.
“I will get right to the point. This was not text book cow mutilation—if there is such a thing. I found some rather obvious human tissue along with what was left of the inside of the cow. ” Dr. Graham stated, looking directly at me like he was trying to gauge my reaction.
Zeph, bless his heart, pulled Dr. Graham’s attention away from me with two words. “No Martians?”
I thought Dr. Graham was going to lose his good ole cowboy façade with that retort. I made a mental note to thank Zeph later.
I turned my head to look at Zeph and said, “Told ya’ it wasn’t aliens. It never is anymore; they stopped doing that in the seventies after the Manson Massacres made bigger and scarier headlines.”
I make crude, hateful jokes when deflecting people from my true emotions. I looked straight at Dr. Graham and asked what more he could tell us.
“Well, I called you first to let you know that I have to turn this over to the County Coroner. And of course, the police. But I wanted to give you an unofficial briefing on my findings and a copy of my report—before I am told to not discuss this with anyone. This way I am technically not breaking any laws or ethics.”
Immediately, my defense shields went up and I became suspicious.
I peered at Doc and asked, “Why? What do you expect to gain from being so gracious to us? I don’t do favors and I don’t play politics, so if this is some plot to gain my favor you are sadly mistaken.”
Dr. Graham calmly stated, “I simply respect your work and have an appreciation for the integrity you bring to the paranormal community. And I wanted to extend my services and knowledge to your investigation.”
This caught me off guard, and I eyed him carefully, trying to read him. Once I got past the macho energy exuding from him, I felt a very down to earth and honest essence about him. However, I still felt something was being held back and it made me curious about him. I became less suspicious, but still cautious.
Dr. Graham was extracting a manila file from the bench table along the back wall when I came back to reality. He handed it to me, and I opened it. Gross. More pictures of the mutilated cow and now the extracted pieces of human flesh. I passed the pictures to Zeph. I began glancing over the hand typed notes provided by Doc and passed those to Zeph as I finished. Once I finished the notes, I began making notes of my own and began studying the photos further.
The room was silent as Dr. Graham sipped his coffee, patiently giving us time to read and gather our thoughts. When Zeph finished with a colorful expletive about ‘fucking hateful sick bastards’, I asked Dr. Graham what else he could tell us. Dr. Graham explained it was only one cow mutilated but he didn’t know if just one person’s tissue was involved. DNA would have to be processed to determine if more than one person’s remains were there.
He continued on that the cow was mostly drained of its own blood and all that was left was a pile of broken bones, muscle tissue, organs, and hide. The horns and testicles were missing. Whatever killed this cow was pure evil and not like anything human or animal that he knew of that could have done this extent of carnage. He theorized that we were dealing with something powerful and not of this world and that is why he had called us first. Dr. Graham wasn’t sure this was something that the cops could handle—at least not without some serious back-up from some folks that knew their paranormal stuff. He relented that he couldn’t be one-hundred-percent sure that someone with certain tools couldn’t have done the mutilation. But something about his preliminary inspection of the cow corpse and human tissue told him something was not normal.
As Dr. Graham was speaking, I was looking at the photos and began to feel my vision cloud over. I heard every word he was saying, but I was in a different realm, seeing the field where the cow was found. I was above it looking down and could make out a glen of trees with a small clearing in the middle. I knew I had to go back to the scene and look for more clues before the cops got there and unknowingly destroyed important paranormal evidence.
When I came back to reality, Dr. Graham was looking at me oddly and asking Zeph “Is she okay?”
“Dayl?” Zeph asked gently. “Are you okay? Can I get you something?”
I snapped out of my vision, rubbed my face, and pushed my hat back and forth on my head.
“Ummm, yeah I’m okay.” I looked at Zeph, sending him a look that we needed to leave—and soon.
Looking at Dr. Graham, I asked, “Is there anything else you can tell us that you think is important?”
Dr. Graham responded that there was nothing else he could really tell us until the labs came back and the coroner had done their part. I thanked him for his help and gave him Zeph’s business card and my business card with our private numbers on them. I told him to call if anything came up and explained we needed to study his notes and do some research in our office library. We had to see if we could come up with a creature that could do this type of damage to a cow.
By the time I could get out of that room, down the hall, and on the elevator, I was shaking from the stress of the vision and the dread that had overcome me. I immediately sank to the floor of the elevator to gather myself. Zeph, being the good friend and partner he had been for many years, knew that my stress level was through the roof. He also knew I was on to something.
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Until next time…