Routine


They found Everett McKinley’s body on Tuesday, the first day of the midnight sun. It was in the freezer, which, for those who knew and hated him, was deliciously ironic. For the one person that loved him, the fact that McKinley had chosen to intentionally freeze to death in his own restaurant’s walk-in freezer was almost too much.


“There’s no doubt here, right?” Deputy Orton asked. Sheriff Louden shook his head as he fumbled with the padlock McKinley had installed on the inside door of his freezer.


“Swallowed it, didn’t he? I mean, here it is, right from his stomach.” The Sheriff pushed a tiny silver key into the padlock and twisted it open. He shrugged. “Open and shut.”


Deputy Orton smiled at the unintended joke. “Really boss? ‘Open and shut’?” He laughed. “That’s awful,” he said.


Sheriff Louden clenched a smile into a weird grimace and, ignoring his own impulse to laugh, slipped quietly into his cluttered office. Time to finish the Incident Report.


The form sat waiting for him in the typewriter where he’d left it. This was the part of the job he hated the most. He felt like his writing had to be perfect. In many cases, his report to the state was the first, last, and only record of a person’s existence.


With a heavy sigh he seated himself in front of the typewriter, adjusted his glasses, and reached for his ragged dictionary. He flipped to the Ds, muttering for the umpteenth time, “decedent, decedent…”