It was the police. Apparently the thawing snow had uncovered a body on my front lawn.
Yeah, you try calling in to work with that as an excuse:
Hey, I'm gonna be late today, there's a body on my front lawn. No, I don't know whose body it is. No, I don't know how it got there. No, it's not one of mine. Look, I have to go, the police are here...
Yeah. I'm gonna have a lot of questions.
The cops sat me down in the living room and asked me a bunch of questions: did I know who it was, had I ever been convicted of a felony before, did I have a history of mental illness... and another cop poked his head in the front door.
"Hey Tango, there's another one."
(No, the cop's name wasn't really Tango. I don't remember what the hell it was, so I just called him Tango. It's not that important.)
They all jumped outside, and I followed along with them out onto the concrete slab that used to be my front porch and got a look: sure enough, there were two bodies. Small. Naked. Gray.
I must have made some sort of a sound, because Tango realized that I was out on the porch and ushered me back inside.
"What the fuck?" I asked. Tango looked grim.
"Just sit down."
"What the fuck are those things?"
"Sit down and shut the fuck up!"
I sat. I tried to get a look out the front window, but Tango stood in the way, deliberately blocking my view while he called someone on his cell phone. I got the real impression that the interview part of my day was over.
After that, I got shuffled around a bit. Tango pawned me off on another officer who handcuffed me and put me in the back of his car and hauled me off to jail. Bastard never once talked to me, never even looked me in the eyes.
They didn't put me in a cell when I got there, they stuck me in an interrogation room. Left me sit there, but at least officer bastard took the handcuffs off. I figured it was about an hour before some suit came in with his face in some file folder.
"Mister Marmot?" Yeah, not my real name. Bite me.
"You wanna tell me what's going on here? Why the hell am I being held"
"We just needed to clear a few things up. Finding bodies tends to make us a little nervous." He chuckled as he sat down. "It happens every year, you know. The snow starts to thaw, and the occasional unfortunate shows up. Went to sleep after a night of drinking, that kind of thing."
"They don't normally show up in my front yard."
"True, but in this case it makes sense. Apparently an elderly couple from the Walker Residence disappeared during the last snowstorm. Found their way into your yard, got covered over. Unfortunate, but there it is." He closed the file folder.
"Dude, that was not a couple of old people. They were way too small. And they were gray."
He looked at me, and stopped breathing for a second.
"Bodies shrink when they're left outside, Mister Marmot. And they turn gray." He moved closer. "And it would be good for you to remember that."
He got up and walked out without another word. I sat there for a few minutes, then got up and walked out the door. A woman in a khaki uniform buzzed me through a steel door and pointed me down a hallway and into the lobby. I walked outside and hailed a cab.
Got back to the house. All the evidence that anything had ever happened was gone, but for the footprints left all over the rapidly disappearing snow. I let Sadie out of the bedroom and into the backyard to pee; she sniffed around looking for bunnies.
Nothing would ever be the same again.