Excerpt from Hearse of a Different Color by Tim Cockey, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Hearse of a Different Color

A Novel

by Tim Cockey

Hearse of a Different Color by Tim Cockey X
Hearse of a Different Color by Tim Cockey
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2001, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2002, 416 pages

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"Thank you for all you've done, Mr. Sewell," she said in a voice just barely above a whisper. She withdrew her fingers and joined the others in the parlor.A short, stocky man with yellow hair and the demeanor of a congenial bulldog was coming through the front door. He was wearing a Humphrey Bogart trench coat and a Humphrey Bogart sneer. He stepped directly over to the body. I met him there.

"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

Detective John Kruk let out a soft grunt, from which I was able to extract the words, "You again." He was looking down at the woman on the couch.

"Did you know her?"

"I've never seen her before in my life."

"Any idea why she was left here?"

"Well, we're a funeral home. She's dead. Maybe someone was tossing us a bone?"

Detective Kruk looked up at me. "You still a smart aleck, Mr. Sewell?"

"One can never really climb all the way out of the gene pool, Detective."

He grunted again and returned his gaze to the dead waitress. He got down on one knee - a short trip - and pulled the blanket back further, down to the woman's waist. Without taking his eyes off her, he asked me a series of questions.

"Was she on her front or her back when you found her?"

"Her side, actually."

"Left? Right?"

"Right."

"Which way was she facing?"

"Sideways, I guess. Is that what you mean?"

"When you opened the door. Head to the left? The right? Facing the door? What?"

"I see. Um . . . her head was to my left. Her right. That would be, facing south."

"Feet?"

"Excuse me?"

"Her feet. Her legs. Was she in a fetal position or was she stretched out?"

"Like did someone dump her off or lay her down gently?"

"You can't know that. You weren't present. I'm asking what you observed."

Kruk's warm and fuzzy style was all coming back to me now. He had moved the blanket all the way down to her feet and was looking closely at her legs. The cad.

"I'd say somewhere in between fetal and laid out," I said.

Kruk got back to his feet. Aunt Billie had just come into the hallway. A smile blossomed on her face as she came forward.

"It's Sergeant Kruk, isn't it? Why hello."

"Lieutenant. Hello, Mrs. Sewell."

"We meet again. Isn't it terrible? The poor girl. Can I offer you anything to drink, Detective?"

"No. Thank you." Kruk told us that he and his gang would be there another hour or so. "You might as well go on about your business," he said.

I stepped over to say my good-byes to the dead doctor's family, who were finally leaving. They all looked terrible. The widow summed it up.

"It's a rotten night all around."

The dead doctor's brother gave me a lousy handshake as they were leaving. He took one final glance back toward the coffin, then joined his family at the door. They left, huddled together like a family of turtles. I watched them disappear into the snow. Forty minutes later the dead waitress was hoisted onto a gurney and taken away. She was being referred to now as "Jane Doe," though it seemed to me that "Helen Doe" would have been - technically - closer to the truth. Kruk's minions began drifting away. I went into the parlor and battened down the hatches on the doctor's coffin. That's when I discovered what the son had been doing when he had reached into the coffin. There on the dead man's chest was a silver dollar. One of the old ones. This one was dated 1902. I had no idea of the significance, but I'm accustomed to people dumping various memorabilia into their loved one's coffins at the last minute. My favorite was a small alarm clock, set to go off every day at four in the morning. Billie and I debated all through breakfast the morning of the funeral whether or not to turn off the alarm. In the end, we left it.

Reprinted from Hearse of A Different Color by Tim Cockey by permission of Hyperion Books. Copyright © 2001 by Tim Cockey. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.

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