In adulthood, I’ve opted to use my powers of the gruesome persuasion for good instead of evil; I studied forensics in college and am now a paramedic, as opposed to a serial killer. I think serial killing would be far too much manual labor, plus it would be impossible to have to keep it all a secret. I know from my studies and a brief obsession with forensic television shows and books that it is shockingly difficult to completely dispose of a body and forensic evidence, so I’d likely get caught, and you probably can’t check out gross stuff online with your mom when you’re on death row. Furthermore, I’d be pretty pissed off if I had a biohazard on my Chuck Taylors to deal with. Most importantly, while my mom and I may have bizarre interests in the obscene, neither one of us have the moral ambiguity to do horrible things.
A few years ago, the sudden and mysterious disappearance of a local young man named Kyle Fleischmann who appeared to have a bright future ahead of him made national headlines. It was a tragedy that has left many people with a plethora of unanswered questions and inspired a brief frenzy of public interest in local crime. Naturally, my mom was no exception.
About a year after Mr. Fleischmann vanished, I received a text message urging me to call my mom immediately. My mom answered my phone call with no salutation and a serious tone, “I FOUND KYLE.” First of all, I’d like to point out it’s a little jacked up that my mom calls him by his first name, as if they’re old buddies, when in fact, they’ve never met. Secondly, I’m no better; I knew exactly what she was talking about because Mr. Fleishmann’s disappearance had been the topic of several of our discussions throughout the year. Thirdly, what the crap? The probability various search parties have missed clues of his disappearance, and yet my mom has happened upon him seems incredibly low.
“I think I’m gonna need you to clarify that a bit, Mom.”
“Seriously, I found Kyle, and he’s not looking too good.” As a person with a confirmed overactive imagination, several scenarios ran through my mind:
Scenario one: My mom has lost her damn mind. She is hallucinating as a result of acute psychosis or psychotropic drugs, although she is well past her years of experimentation. This one ends with my mom locked in a mental institution, and it seems fairly unlikely.
Scenario two: My mom actually happened upon and identified Kyle Fleishmann, and he’s either dead, horribly drug addled, or an amnesiac, none of which would have prompted my mom to send me a text message prior to contacting emergency services. Unless she thinks texting me qualifies as contacting emergency services, and as a result she would possibly still qualify for a vacation in a state sponsored mental ward. This also seems unlikely.
Scenario three: My mom has found something gruesome and her own overactive imagination went into overdrive. This seems plausible, considering she almost shot me point-fucking-blank at 1 am once when I came home from college, thinking I was an intruder with a key despite the fact that I contend that I informed her of my plans in advance. To her credit, she was up all night watching scary movies with my younger cousins, but I still do not believe this is an excuse for almost murdering your only child.
“Can I get you to be a little more specific?”
“Well, I went to my boyfriend’s work off of the BFR, and you know what kind of stuff goes on around the BFR. He had told me there was a bag of something decomposing down the road, so I thought I would be a good citizen and go check it out. I looked in the bag and it stinks and has maggots and everything! Something is definitely dead, and I’m pretty sure it’s Kyle. Do you think I should call the police?”
This only takes me a second to mull over. An adult corpse wouldn’t fit into a standard garbage bag. A killer would have to be a complete moron to dispose of a body in this manner. Lots of people in that area walk around at all hours, so it likely would have been seen. I know for a fact people in the ghetto have a tendency to call 911 for the most mundane of reasons, so something in a state of advanced decay probably has already been dealt with by the authorities. Decay found in urban areas is typically animal remains. My mom has a rather intrepid imagination, and this is probably a whole bowl full of nothing blown out of proportion.
“If you think you should call the police, by all means, do so. I seriously doubt that is necessary, though. Do what you think is right.”
“But I FOUND KYLE.”
“Then call the police, but use the non emergency line.” Do normal people have these kinds of conversations with their parents? I wouldn’t know what it’s like to hail from normal people, so I can’t comment on how normal parental conversations traverse.
“I don’t want to be the crazy lady who calls the police over some crap.” Calling one’s daughter to report a possible murder is clearly a much saner alternative. “I don’t want to ignore a potential crime scene, either. Can’t you just drive the ambulance over and check it out?”
This actually seems pretty viable until I consider I haven’t managed to convince my partner that I’m not a total weirdo yet. I’m sure seeing me fascinated and hovering over a smelly pile of bones, goo, and maggots is totally going to make him trust me to have his back when we respond unarmed to a location where people routinely shoot each other. We don’t actually have any written rules prohibiting us from investigating dead things, but I’d only been there a year and I didn’t want to be the one responsible for the creation of such documentation. “It doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any more dead by tomorrow, so I’ll drive over on my day off to take a look.”
One look in the bag the next day reveals a set of hip bones far too small and quadrupedal to be human, showing signs of advanced arthritis, indicating old age. The level of decay and insect activity puts it at about 5-7 days post-mortem, without referencing my old textbooks. A quick peek further in the bag to the skull confirms we have a dead, rotting canine corpse with enough advanced age to have lost several teeth in life. While this is obviously not the best or most ethical way to dispose of the remains of a family pet, I’m confident no serious crime has been committed. I tried to let my mom down easy, “Mom, you found an old, dead dog.”
“Well, damn. I really thought it was Kyle.”
About a year and a half goes by without any public knowledge of headway being made in the case. I get another phone call from my mom, and she starts the conversation seriously: “I found Kyle again. For real this time.” She begins to tell me how she found several marijuana plants and some grisly remains in the woods near her work. As an office manager of a company that makes bathtubs, I’m not quite sure why she was perusing the woods around her office, but I let that one slide. She took a picture of the remains, part of a lumbar vertebral column and part of a pelvis, on her phone and sent it to me.
Photo courtesy of Mom.
I responded via text message: Momma, I think that’s a deer that’s been dead for quite a while.
She immediately calls me with an exasperated and incredulous tone, “But how do you know it’s a deer and not Kyle from a phone picture? There wasn’t even a head!”
“I studied bones in college. Surely you remember me leaving home after high school and winding up with a science degree. I don’t need high resolution when it’s that blatant. At the very least, it’s definitely not human.” I begin to tell her how the hip bones are completely inappropriate for a human, but she is no longer interested. I offer to come look at the remains, but she’s apathetic. She doesn’t even suggest I bring the ambulance with lights and sirens blaring to investigate.
“FINE! It wasn’t Kyle this time, but I’m gonna find that guy.” The police force and citizens can rest assured; my mom is on the case!