"Planes over the Hollywood".

Ekaterina Asmus. "Planes over the Hollywood"

Chapter 1. Kroll


      A lonely and restless body of a girl was lying at the side of an empty road. Her face couldn’t be seen, and a sheaf of a wheat-like hair was swept all around the pavement. Sheriff Kroll, trying to fight yawning, got out of his car and headed straight to the crime scene. The girl passed at the crossing of 8th Street and Sunset Boulevard, where highway rises from below the bridge – a nice place for suiciders. One can be beneath the wheels in an instant, or he could be dead while falling because of the fear of height, or even your head will crack before some driver runs you down. But at the time this early, the place looks deserted. Kroll looked up to observe the illuminated by pale and sorrowful predawn lights bridge railing. Those were high, hard to climb over. A plane in the sky blinked with its lights to greet another one and then disappeared in the clouds. Kroll turned to the sound of the tires. A police car elucidated him and nearly silent drove from below the bridge. Kroll stopped observing, thinking who it could be. A light-hearted couple leaving the car wasn’t in harmony with the gloomy morning and the new deceased. Commissioner Yong, a phlegmatic Asian, short, serious, not talkative and pretty hard-grained. His uniform is always freshly starched; the parting in his shining black hair is as straight as a thread. Once Kroll thought that during night Yong kept himself in a special package in order not to muss his dress, hair and skin. And a complete opposite of him – a lengthy Cuban, exotically named as Amauri. Emic in a simple language. A photographer, he looks like a pure Rastafarian and complete lazybones. But he is always ready to help, and one of the kindest men on Earth. However, when he appears near the body – tall, thin, round-backed, hidden under his wild dreads and headphone wires, dressed in a baggy-style pants, dancing to the beat of the music only he has ever heard (Emic probably wears his headphones even in a girls’ company, like a cowboy wears his hat or an old plantation owner – his pith helmet) – he starts taking photos so vigorously that some puritans begin changing countenance.

    Yong, as always, greeted Kroll coldly. Emic, however, smiling with all his teeth, happily danced a jig right after the meeting with sheriff. As if he’s always a little high, once again thought Kroll shaking their hands. Well, it’s a Rasta religious thing, just like Catholics must read the Bible in the morning, before dinner, before sleep and, practically, in any other cases. In the meantime, the couple started doing their work, and Kroll rose his head again observing the bridge. The body of a girl was found at the roadside. The bridge railing is high. It bumps into the edge of a fill, and is tightly adjoined with it. It’s quite hard to climb over. Maybe somebody threw her down? Very unlikely. One must lift the person to do so. Let’s assume that our skinny does not weigh much, but… It’s foolish to throw a person at the roadside when there’s an opportunity to throw him in the middle of the road. The suicide version leads to the same result. Illogical. Why not in the middle of the bridge for a “better” result, huh?

      Kroll’s thoughts were interrupted by a furious siren of a firefighter’s truck. Right behind it drove an ambulance. Kroll wrinkled – it’s good for the living people when all the rescue services drive to the spot of the alarm signal, but they are of no help but fuss to the dead ones. Rescuers popped out of the cars just like peas out of the peapod, but, one after another, started to lose interest to the case after seeing the body. Sure thing they cannot help the deceased. However, all of them are obliged to investigate the crime scene. Kroll took a breath and moved closer to people standing around the body.

    ­− How long have you been here, sheriff? – asked suspiciously some firefighter’s husky. They have come across each other several time at the other crime scenes, and, due to an unknown reason, happened to acquire a distaste of each other.  

    − I've just arrived, – said Kroll, – so, what do you think, inspector?


     Methodical Yong wasn’t answering. He was accurately examining a section of faded grass around the body. He collected some shattered glass with his pincers and put them in a special plastic bag, he used another one for a detached half of a wine bottleneck. Precise and imperturbable, like some kind of a machine. He won’t miss a thing.

      Kroll was disrupted from watching Yong’s work by the very same firefighter’s husky. Sam, remembered Kroll, for sure, he’s Sam. Pals laughed at him: “I’m Sam, I’m Sam, I love eating jam!” Kroll also laughed with them some other time. Sam hates him since then. Although Sam does eat a lot. Yet here he is, standing at a crime scene, holding a burger in his large hand, without even noticing the body!

      − Hey, sheriff! Can we leave already? I don’t think that firehose can help this young lady. And it’s high time we had a breakfast!

       ­− Go! – waived Kroll.

    At last, Yong concluded that he has already found everything he could and allowed a lovely medical student named Ellie to the body. Kroll and Ellie have also met before several times, and he secretly felt a sympathy for her. He always wondered how could such a young and cute girl, who’d better went dancing than investigating corpses, always arrived with the Ambulance Unit. She’s not afraid of blood and injuries. Some people say they get really hard time at university. They must have seen such terrible things throughout their academic years that later they simply cannot be surprised or terrified. This time Ellie also, without a doubt, bravely turned the body over. Oddly enough, the face of the deceased was almost unharmed: pale, almost blue, as if made of wax. Yellowish hair all covered in blood. Now Kroll could see that she’s not as young as he thought, she was very slim, little, like a young girl. This was another one of those times when Kroll thought how colored men were attracted to white women. Nonsense! What do they find in them? Barely any flesh, blue skin, just like a chicken’s part in a cheap butcher’s shop. Kroll looked asquint at Ellie’s figure. As if her body was carved in stone and cunningly covered with glossy dark chocolate skin. Who needs those underweight Norwegian girls? – he shook his shoulders.

       ­− Sheriff!

    Kroll turned.

       ­− Look! – Ellie relinquished woman’s hold and showed him another half of a bottleneck, all covered in blood. – She was holding it!

       I see. She was a boozer! Drinking on the bridge even though it’s strictly forbidden to drink outside, but can you even stop these ill people? That’s the case – drunk woman fell off the bridge. As clear as day. But why...

       ­− Hey, sheriff! Are you still sleeping? – Ellie was standing next to him. Kroll looked at the watch. Well, it IS pretty early. Only 6.30 AM. Although you can already hear the engines and feel the spicy tropical smell. This spring turned out to be quite hot.

       ­−Thanks, Ellie. You can leave, Sure thing she doesn’t need a doctor. We’ll wait for a coroner. Yong, found anything?

       ­− Not much. The pockets are empty. No documents, no money, nothing.

       Kroll nodded fatefully. Who is she? Where from? The case will be stuck… Oh, man! He was smoking while rescuers’ cars were leaving and while the coroners left to the morgue with the body packed in black plastic. Then, after telling good-bye to Yong and Emic, after following their car with his eyes, he headed to his own. Suddenly, he stopped and walked back in a hurry to the place where a woman’s body was lying a while ago, now there was only a white charcoal silhouette. A yellow-pink sun was merely shining in the sky, waking up all the mice and men. A flock of full fed eagles was circling nearby searching for breakfast. It’s too late for you now! Kroll leaned to the stamped grass right in front of the bridge footing, and found a little, soiled, folded tear-sheet from the notebook lying among small pale-violet flowers.  Having hardly unfolded the tearing piece of paper, Kroll saw raggedly written letters and numbers. He could understand the numbers. According to their position on the paper, they were a part of an address: a postal code and a house number. He could not read the letters. Completely unintelligible language, nothing similar to English.

        − I hope our criminalists know Norwegian… - babbled Kroll, sat in the car and left the crime scene.