Flash: Gas Station Killer 2 – Station Attendant

Photo by Jean-Christophe Gougeon on Unsplash

The shadows were all skewed for a good look-see, but the body was clearly posed. Brooke pushed the body, a bit of give, but not much. Rigor mortis makes the body hard to pose after a time. The body seemed to be working toward the full rigor, not away. Stiff fingers, with the lividity at the tips and on her calves and thighs indicated somewhere in the seven-to-nine-hour range in the July heat, at her best experienced guess.

“Have you called the cops yet?” Brooke’s boss asked over the phone.

“Not yet,” she responded. “After the last robbery, you said always call you first, then nine one one, if I wanted to keep my job.” Not that she would obey that directive in an actual emergency, but whoever this woman was, an extra hour wouldn’t make a difference now.

“Don’t be a fucking idiot. Call the cops.” He yelled.

“Well, consider yourself called,” Brooke said, pulling the phone away from her ear and hitting the red button, then dialing 911. After an operator answered, she said, “Yes, I would like to report a dead body. No need to send an ambulance or fire truck. Just the police. The body is cold.” She figured they still might send all the emergency services but may as well try to save the tax payers some money. After giving them the address of the gas station, she moved away from the body, closing the door. The operator assured her police would be arriving shortly. “Of course.” Brooke hung up after assuring the person she was in a safe place.

The cops took nearly two hours to get here after the armed robbery on New Years. Before that, ejecting some druggies from the store was closer to four and only happened because the boss showed up for his shift on Monday and pulled a full Indian man fit, screaming about “My taxpayer dollars this” and “My business impact that.”

Once they got here, the police would be forever with a body.

Setting aside the cleaning equipment, Brooke got into her sedan and moved it to the shopping center next door to get it out of the crime scene range. She wanted to be able to leave work when her shift ended and hoped she moved the car far enough. Hopping the three steps of the concrete and soil between the two paved areas, Brook returned to the bathroom side of the building.

No cops yet.

She moved two piles of empty plastic boxes to the area between the men and women bathrooms, then reopened the men’s bath. Nothing could be done for the women’s side, but morning shift would need at least one working bathroom.

She was rising off her long gloves in the sink after spending time up to her elbows in the toilet unplugging the blockage caused by the vomit when flashing red and blue lights finally arrived.

Stepping outside the mostly cleaned bathroom, she peeled off her gloves, pushed her dark hair back where it had escaped her braid, and pulled out her phone. Just under forty-five minutes. Not bad for this end of town. She nodded to the uniform as he came over.

“Did you call 911?”

“Yes, the body is over here.” She stepped around the plastic barrier which had kept most of the hose water on the right side.

“Don’t touch anything.”

Brooke rolled her eyes. “Look, I opened the door to find the body. I touched her for the no pulse, no breathing check. If you want, you can take my fingerprints, Lord knows half the world has them already.” She opened the woman’s bathroom door to show the body inside.

The officer quickly looked away. The woman had been posed taking a shit. Her pants and underwear hung around her ankles. She had been leaned back against the tank, with her hands resting against her legs, but angled so the cuts across the wrists and the two vertical hacks along the arms aimed all escaping blood into the toilet. Something Brooke appreciated from whomever the killer was.

She didn’t appreciate the body dump, but at least they didn’t leave a mess.

“You okay?” Brooke asked, as the man swallowed. “Please don’t throw up, I just finished cleaning the bathroom.” She touched his arm. “It’s your first time, isn’t it?”

The officer turned his back and walked a couple steps toward his unit, coughing, staring up into the lights, and Brooke followed.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, yes.” The man shook his head. “How can you be so calm about this?”

“I work hospice for my second job,” Brooke shrugged, “I see a lot of dead bodies.”

“Must be nice,” he stuttered when he realized his words. “I mean, not nice, but the…” He ran out of words.

“Got you. It’s okay.” She patted his arm. “It’s never easy, even when it is expected.” How many times had she had to say those words? “Do you need to report this?” Already after three thirty, if she was going to escape at five, things needed to get moving.

“Yeah, yeah.” He blinked. “Um, yeah.” He opened the door to his car and climbed in for the radio.

“If it is not too much trouble, could you turn off the lights?” Brooke raised an arm to shield her eyes while he pulled the mic to his mouth. She really didn’t care one way or the other, but the boss would appreciate them off since they tended to chase off business, which should begin picking up soon for the people who made the donuts and all the early morning fast food up and down restaurant row made their way to work.

He nodded. “Sure.” And leaned forward to click something on his dash.

With the lights off, she returned to the men’s bathroom and pulled on the smaller gloves for the final scrub down.

“I hope you didn’t destroy any evidence.” A deeper, more confident voice spoke behind her while she wound the hose up. A second set of lights had arrived a few seconds ago, but they had been placed on the dash of a compact, instead of mounted on a government vehicle, so the new person likely came from homicide. Probably just tumbled out of bed, but he was here.

At last, things were moving. Brooke turned around and looked up, drawing a sharp breath. Damn, this one was pretty, especially in the rumpled, I didn’t get enough sleep after a Friday Night and the sun isn’t up yet on Saturday kind-of way.

(words 1,093; first published 11/13/2023)

Gas Station Killer Series

  1. Bathroom Break (appears in blog at 2/7/2021)
  2. Station Attendant (appear in blog at 2/14/2021)
  3. It’s a Gas (appear in blog 4/11/2021)