"Look what I found in the dumpster!"
Midnight. 20 degrees; -2 with the wind chill factor. It’s not just cold – it’s sell-your-soul-to-the-devil-for-some-heat cold. It is so cold there is an undeniable fear that inhaling will actually freeze the lungs from the inside out. Jack knew that was how he was going to die. It would not be from a shootout with a crazed criminal, crashing while chasing a perp in excess of 100 mph, or getting knifed arresting a gang-banger. No, the 15-year-veteran, Northern Michigan (damn near Canada) police detective was going to inhale too deeply one cold January night, and internally freeze to death.
He had begun a series of hand-rubbing, jumping in place, and swaying back and forth in an effort to generate a modicum of warmth. Waiting with his partner, Nick, as they watched the coroner wrap up the initial examination of the dead girl’s body, Jack wished they had swung through 7-11 to grab coffee. Why, oh why did people have to wait until the middle of the night, when the world is at its coldest, to play “Look what I found in the dumpster!”
But the call had come in to dispatch, and been ferreted out to Jack and Nick. Jack glanced at the body of the girl, lying naked on the frozen asphalt tundra. She looked to be no more than 18, but Jack figured she had more life experiences than most women he knew. The track marks road-mapping up her arm were a clear indication of where this girl had traveled in her young life. Now, he was going to have to figure out who she was, where she had run away from, and make a visit to her parents. Just once, Jack wanted to be able to start and end the conversation with, “We found your daughter.” Unfortunately, the tears of joy quickly turned to pain and grief with the simple conclusion, “We will need you to come down and identify the body.”