The explosion lit up the sky all the way across Miller harbor and it's boom was heard over the continuos traffic of Aparo highway.
The penthouse wasn't even on one of the highest buildings on Gotham's fashion district but the things that had made it prime property in life made it's fiery death all the more spectacular.
The pillar of flame and billowing statue of smoke reached up to heavens and all the way over Finger river, spewing ash down to Robinson park.
The blaze raged for hour and a half before fire department got it from contained to put out.
I was on my second cup of coffee that I had picked up on the way here from a deli.
Eliza had woken me up with her call about the fire and made me leave Trudy home sulking. There was no point explaining that Eliza's calls ment money.
Trudy is , no matter how nicely you put it, a jealous bitch.
Yet, she loves me.
Emotion not givenly shared by Gotham's finest.
”Sir, please step away. This is a fire scene and maybe a crime scene”
The uniform is almost a decade younger than me, wet behind the ears and quite clearly a newbie.
I start to make my snappy comeback when low voice behind him interrupts
” Deav´ let the man pass, just make sure he doesn't leave with the evidence”
I snapped plasticbags on my shoes while passing the uniform and nodded to Briers.
Back in the day Briers was a half-decent arson investigator, but years and divorces hadn't honed his skills to perfection.
Unlike fictional detectives who just are rough but loveable behind their ruggedly handsome features and have accustomed sagely knownledge from university of life Briers had just gotten more sagging and did nothing to hide his comtempt to all things alive and dead.
”Aye sir? Really?”
”Shut it Crowne, the kid hit academy right after the core. Remind you of any other numbskull?”
”Right” there was no point to make Briers snarl any more than necessary.
We treaded softly taking pictures of soot and water drenched walls of the hallway. It was merely smoke and heat damage so we followed the trail etched by fire, followed the trail of destruction pass molten wires and charred plaster.
It had been designer bi-level living space with a glorious view opening to riverfront and park across, but now it was ground zero filled with debris.
And an unmistakable corpse.
The frail figure layed slightly off-centre of the room. Blaze had scorched away clothes leaving merely blackened skeletal remains locked eternally to a familiar pose: legs and arms clenched against the body, like a puglist. The deceased really did look like a boxer. Exactly like any other featherweight boxer who had gone full fifteen rounds against Mike Tyson made out of napalm.
”Yeah tell me about it. No end to paperwork now”
Briers, the very picture of compassion.
I took photographs of the bodys position.
”You got ID yet?”
”Nah, havent reached either of the owners yet, typical rich” Briers coughed and continued ”one pager and four different mobiles and they are still unavailable”
”Could this be the husband?” I asked
Briers raised one side of his almost unibrow
”Could be.Or the wife. Or the maid or the pope. Can't really say from that coalstick over there”
”It's a man Briers, see?”
I pointed at the body, while it was burned quite horrendously I had seen enough dead bodies to regocnize difference between male and female hipstructure.
”If you say so, I 'll wait what the dental says once it's been taken down to Fields's place”
”Can you ask them to send me copy too?”
Briers grunted something inaudible. I hoped that for once it was a sign of agreement. Having to fight over coroner's statement and copies of forensic studies wasn't an icing I wanted on this flambed cake.
I kept taking pictures of the apartment, of destroyed paintings, a former high-end home entertainment system and burned-up library as I spotted it.
It was one of those things that just click.You know like when you get those eureka moments and all of the sudden instead of a tree you see the god-damned forest?
And then you wish you ever hadn't.
He ignored me.
”you see the teeth?”
He looked at me like one does at a seemingly crazy person.
”Listen, no actually, don't listen. Just follow where I point, ok?”
I pointed at the corpse and once I was sure I had his attention I let my finger span out at the burnt floor towards the broken out window-walls.
He still looked perplexed so I made him follow my hand as it did a semi-circle and came back and began another arc sweeping across the ceiling over to the other side.
He saw it too.
It wasn't natural. The accelarant had carved out a path, an inverted image into the room.
Someone had scupted an image of a skull out of fire.
A death's head if there ever was one.
”I think we need to call MCU”
I was certain that the barrage of four-letter words coming out of Briers was him agreeing with me.