Poetic Archaeology A.2

speak with detective

to consult about a find

did not expect this

No, Meghan Bode never thought anyone would ask her to help with a possible criminal investigation.

But Detective Tom Sandberg is seated at one of her lab tables, and he doesn’t look happy. He assumed the worst when she couldn’t tell him the human bone was a thousand years old.

“Don’t misunderstand me,” Meghan tells him. “I only meant I need more than one bone. I need to see where it was found, what else is there, what the soil conditions are like.”

Sandberg sits up straighter. “We’ve done a preliminary search. Nothing else showed up on the ground or where the dog was digging. Can you come out today? The sooner we know what we’re dealing with, the better.”

“My field equipment’s in my truck. I’ll follow you.”

They arrive at the park, and Sandberg leads Meghan to the possible crime scene. It’s marked off with yellow tape, and a uniformed officer stands guard.

Meghan ducks under the tape, feeling like she’s in a TV crime drama. Her family and friends won’t believe her when she tells them. But she focuses on her task.

There’s a light leaf litter, but she can see some of the ground surface. She moves away from the find spot and studies nearby areas.

“What are you looking for?” Sandberg asks.

“Differences in the surface soils. Are the ones where the bone was found the same as these? It looks like it. That may mean the bone was buried some years ago.”

“I hope so,” Sandberg mutters. “Like hundreds of them.”

Meghan grabs a small mason’s trowel and returns to the area where the dog dug up the bone, bending close to the hole. She doesn’t see additional bones and decides to scrape a small area at one end. If a skeleton was still articulated, she might come across the scapula (shoulder blade) or the lower arm bones. It doesn’t take long before she feels a change in texture—even before she hears the shifting tone in her trowel’s passes through the soil.

Carefully extending her exploration, she spies the proximal ends of two well-preserved bones, the radius and ulna that form the lower arm. Now she has a good idea how the skeleton is oriented—if it’s complete.

Sitting back, she takes in the surrounding landscape. The jogger’s path lies some 30 yards away, slightly downhill. But the shrubs that line the path are tall enough to obscure the skeleton’s location. And the surrounding trees uphill are fairly dense. It’s hard for Meghan to see much from this position.

Sandberg must have guessed what she was thinking. “We already checked. You can’t see this spot from the trail—or from any distance on any side. You found more bone, didn’t you.”

Meghan realizes it’s a statement, not a question. “I’ll leave them for your crime scene unit.”

She stares at Sandberg, wondering why he laughs.

“This isn’t a rich suburb, and we’re not on TV, Dr. Bode. Why do you think I called you? Congratulations. You’re our CSU. So what do we do now?”

I hope you’ll stayed tuned for Part 3 of Meghan’s adventure in forensic archaeology…. This is a stretch for me, trying to present some real information in a fictional format. Also, my novels aren’t written in the present tense. But somehow this experience of Meghan’s started writing itself that way. I’d love to know what you think about this exercise.