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Dead Man to Starboard by J.E. Rohrer

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Dead Man to Starboard by J.E. Rohrer

Ed is trying to make a new life for himself and his wife Betty in bucolic Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, one of the members of the Downsized Boomers Support Group dies under mysterious circumstances. Ed conducts his own investigation only to learn that darkness lurks under the idyllic surface of the village.


The wet road cast off reflections from the street lights, but there  was  enough  light  to see the man in the street in front of me. Being observant was not my strong suit, but even  I could not miss  seeing the guy.

At first, he looked like a crumpled heap of  old clothes tossed into the middle  of  Main Street. He was about a block from the signal at the corner by the Sentry grocery store. You know the one I mean: if  you  turned  one  way you headed toward the  hospital,  if  you  turned the other way you  headed  toward  the  Holiday Inn Express.

The body was wet, of course, because everything was wet. The poor guy’s wet clothes glistened in my headlights as I slowed my Ford Focus. For a minute or so, I just sat there, the car idling. After all, this was not something you saw  every  day  and  I  was  having  trouble  taking it in.  Was  that  what  it appeared  to be,  a  body in the middle of the 

He clearly had been a business type. He was wearing a blazer, white shirt, tie, dress slacks, and wingtips. He was face down and his head was turned at an angle. A puddle of what had to be blood surrounded him.

The sound of another car stopping gradually registered. A car door  opened  and the sound of footsteps approaching caused me to turn and look. An elderly man stood there. He wore a stunned look on his face, one that probably mirrored mine. The driver’s side door of his pickup stood open and the overhead light illuminated an elderly woman who was  busy talking into a cell phone.

I started to call 911 then realized the woman in the other car was already talking to them. I was in shock and everything seemed to be in slow motion, especially my rational thought processes. Perhaps I should have checked the body for a pulse, attempted first aid, or thought of some useful action to take instead of just standing there. But all I seemed to be able to do was stare blankly at the body.

“Well, this is a mess,” I said.

The man next to me hesitated, then replied laconically: “Yup.” He looked me over with a frown,  then  said again,  “Yup.  Sure  is.” He

looked like a farmer with his overalls and seed hat.

We stood there saying nothing more while we waited for the police to arrive. The woman got out of the car and came over, standing on the other side of the man and peering around him to direct a frown at me.

Why was she frowning at me? I could be a little slow on the uptake sometimes. Then it dawned on me. She thought I had hit the guy with my car. Just because my  car  was  there first and I was standing by the body, she assumed I was the guilty party. Pretty darn unjust, don’t you think? Some people were just plain judgmental, always ready to believe the worst of their fellowman.

A siren could be heard approaching quickly. Then another. The city police car pulled up and we could see an ambulance coming. It was starting to look like I would not make it