It was around seven-thirty by the time Sebastian pulled his Beamer up to our childhood home. I hadn’t been home since October. It was too soon. But, this wasn’t a friendly, or familial, housecall. This was business.
I was already striding up the sidewalk to the house, bone in hand. “Where? Show me.”
Sebastian sensed my urgency and raced around the house to the backyard. We tripped the motion-sensing light. The backyard blossomed into the chaos of a construction yard. The two-door garage had been stripped of its roof and plywood and garbage littered the area. Next to the garage was a big garbage bin and, beside that, was a back dirt pile. Sebastian stopped beside the backdirt pile. “Here,” he pointed.
“Find me a flashlight. More is better.” I placed the bagged bone on the stack of plywood and proceeded to the dirt pile. Sebastian took off into the house. I began to paw around in the dirt. Before he got to the back door, the kitchen light came on. I heard voices as soon as he got inside. “Elise? Elise is here?”
“Elise, what are you doing out there?” My mother’s voice was shrill in the winter darkness.
“I came to look at Sebbie’s dirt.” It was a good thirty paces to the house. Even so, I could hear my mother tisk. My gloves were no use. It was too cold to be digging around in dirt with my hands. I dug and kicked with my boots while scanning around for a digging stick or shovel. I spied a broken length of lumber. Perfect. I plucked it out of the debris pile in the garbage bin then set to work excavating the back dirt pile. Yup, this set of clothing was definitely going straight into the laundry bin. Maybe even the garbage bin.
This is when Sebastian showed up with a flashlight. And mother. “You’re going to get cold sitting there, Elise? What are you doing?”
“Sebbie found a bone, mother. A human bone.” I motioned to him to hold the light over my shoulder as I worked.
“What, really? Where?” My mother wasn’t stupid, she just chose to ask stupid questions because she knew it irritated me.
I swear I could hear Sebastian roll his eyes, “Here, mom.”
“What, in the dirt from the garage? Not possible. Are you sure a dog didn’t bring it in?”
“If it’s human, mother, it doesn’t matter that a dog brought it in.”
I had scrapped off the top quarter of the backdirt pile and was continuing to sift through when my stick hit on something. I dug around with my gloved fingers and pulled out the match to the half a humerus in the baggie. I pulled off my gloves and snatched the flashlight from Sebastian’s hand. There were no toothmarks on this half of the bone. I got up and plucked the bone from the baggie. The fracture, post-mortem, matched up perfectly. What I had in my hands was a complete humerus from an adult human, probably male from the look of the muscle attachments. It had been in the dirt for some time — discoloured and pliable. I put both pieces in the baggie and headed around the front of the garage.
The garage walls were still standing and intact. The roof was now the beginnings of a second floor. The garage concrete floor had been torn up and the darkness of a shallow dirt pit ate up the light from the flashlight. “Why were they digging up the garage floor?” I asked as I hopped down into the pit.
“Elise, what are you doing? You’ll get dirty. Why don’t you come inside?” My mother’s voice, however, was over-run by Sebastian’s, “Mom wants a heated garage. We’re going to do a water-heated system with pipes in the floor. We had to dig up the floor to install the pipes.”
I scanned the walls of the dirt pit. “You know that a heated garage promotes condensation in your car’s gas lines? If you park outside during the day, mother, your gas lines will freeze.” Again, my mother tisked.
I was half way around the pit when I spotted it. A speck of off-white. Every so often I’m hit with the realization that what I see isn’t what everyone else sees. It looked at the speck again. While I knew in my gut that this is where the remains had originated, I had to brush a little bit with my finger to make absolutely sure. The porous grain of bone sprang up under the glaring light. Another long bone maybe, or a rib.
“Sebbie, go get the phone.”
“Why?” Petulance was my mother’s new fashion. Manipulative Dictator was apparently out of date.
For the first time that night, I looked my mother full in the face. She was starting to show her sixty-six years. Botox only goes so far. I got my red-hair from my father, Sebbie got his chestnut from mother. I think this was the underlying reason my mother hated me. “Because you’ve got a dead guy buried a foot under your garage and the cops need to be called. Now.”