From SPORE. Early draft, changes certain.
Blood from her mashed head had spattered nearby dumpsters and walls. Other than massive cranial trauma, she appeared uninjured, but until the Division of Criminal Investigation finished their job, there was no telling what she'd endured. The flattened mass of her skull beside the otherwise normal-looking body reminded Todd of roadkill on the highway, and her teeth had scattered across the alley like dice tossed in a crooked game of craps.
Gawkers peered down from windows and a young black woman lurked near a stairway leading to apartments above a real estate office. She smoked a cigarette and eyed all three cops warily.
"That the witness?" Todd asked the men documenting the body.
"Yep," the nearer officer said without looking up. He bent and photographed a bloody cast-iron skillet. "She's all yours."
Skillet. That's different. Lover's quarrel, maybe? Todd thought, trying to not remember the mess of his own marriage as he took a wide path around the deceased. He introduced himself to the witness and took her information. "What'd you see?"
The woman took a drag on her cigarette. "Not a goddamn thing," she said, not meeting his gaze. "Heard screams, heard a fight, saw her lying there, and called you assholes."
"So you didn't see who flattened her head with that frying pan?"
She blew out the smoke. "Nope."
"What did you see, LaTonya? You wouldn't be standing here if you didn't have something to tell us."
She glanced at the other officers. "It's bullshit, man," she said, dropping the cigarette and crushing it under her sandals. "Makes no fucking sense."
Todd offered her a patient smile. "Try me."
"I didn't see anyone, okay? I didn't. But I heard them. Kept crying, bawling like a baby, with 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I don't have a choice,' every time they fucking hit her. Even after she'd finally died."
LaTonya hacked up a wad of phlegm and spat beside the stairs. "She ain't got a head anymore for God's sake. That takes some work, some effort, ya know? To really pound someone flat like that." She fished another cigarette out of her pocket and lit it. "What kind of asshole goes to that much trouble and apologizes while doing it? It's just fucked up."