The Grizzly Facts of a Nightmarish Crime
by Josh Melrod
We searched the entire campground for Dexter. Aside from his flugelhorn - which was clogged with and oozing some kind of foul smelling, lime green, gelatinous muck - we found nothing; not even a foot print. Tzeporah thought it was a bear. "Swallowed Dexter whole and barfed up his flugelhorn," she said, dusting off her hands as if to say "case closed." I didn't buy it though. Why would a bear barf up the flugelhorn but not the flugelhorn case? And besides, not even the putrid bile and gastric fluids of the most overweight, diseased bear could properly account for the - almost phosphorescent - green muck and its thick, tacky consistency. It was as though Dexter's flugelhorn had been fully engorged by the slime, the smell of boiling garbage clung to it like a thriving virus. I sensed something much more sinister than a simple bear mauling was afoot.
Flashlights in hand, Tzeporah and I retreated to the safety of our tent to recount what we knew. She made some ramen noodles on the hotplate while I jotted down the facts on a notepad.
1) Dexter is a nine-year-old flugelhorn prodigy.
2) He is easily recognizable as he is an albino and wears the same black shorts, white short-sleeved button-down shirt, and red bowtie everyday.
3) His mother asked us to take him camping.
4) She told us not to let him get too much sun, so we have been sleeping in the tent during the day and doing our hiking and bird-watching at night.
5) We've been at the lake for approximately 72 hours.
6) When we woke up at dusk Dexter was missing.
7) His red bowtie, flugelhorn, and flugelhorn case were missing as well.
8) During our search we found his flugelhorn in the rushes by the lake, fifty feet from the tent.
9) The horn was oozing a malodorous lime-green muck of unknown origin.
Now that the facts were in order, I decided it was time to alert the authorities. I told Tzeporah to wait in the tent while I hiked back up to the Ranger's station. She seemed uneasy. She said, "Why can't I come with you?"
"One of us has to be here in case Dexter comes back."
She had been chewing her fingernails, but stopped. "He's already dead," she screamed, "we both know he's already dead!"
What an odd conclusion to draw, I told her, considering our list of facts. She pouted and zipped the sleeping bag over her head. Outside the tent I made another note.
10) Tzeporah is behaving strangely.
Because at that point both of us were suspects.
About the author:
Josh Melrod recently dropped out of a very respectable MFA writing program. He now lives in New York City where he edits the Land-Grant College Review.