It was a long night in the city, with Detective Doc Patterson’s presence suggesting that it would be even longer.
Doc was the second cop on the scene, right after the beat cop who’d called in the event.
The neighbors complained of a rank smell to the patrol officer as he had happened past.
He peeked through the windows and found the woman there, dead for days in all likelihood.
There were huge hives around her mouth and over her hands, but no signs of violence.
Doc was assigned to the tough cases, to homicides that no one else wanted to touch.
Recently, they’d come across a rash of confusing murders from some funny boy, a guy with a flair for the absurd.
In general, Doc didn’t have a problem with the absurd, except when it culminated with murder.
It took three different cases before Doc himself had figured out what was going on.
In the first one, a teenaged girl had been gutted, her actual heart pinned to her sleeve with a wooden stake.
Thing was, the stake didn’t come from the property. It was a pale wood, and her father only used red cedar in the yard.
Yeah… the killer actually set it up for her to PINE away for her ex-boyfriend.
And then there was the guy that was reported missing, had been gone for a couple of weeks.
His friends said that he’d been talking about taking off and getting some quiet time to write a book.
That’s why they didn’t think anything of his absence, at first.
As the days passed and he didn’t show up at work, they got concerned, called the police.
Doc and his crew finally found the guy trapped in a cage made from what looked at first like redwood.
He’d died of dehydration, stuck in the cage with his typewriter and stacks of blank pages.
That’s right, he’d been SEQUOIAstered away from his community, permanently.
The one that finally keyed Doc into the killer’s M.O. was the weird old hermit case.
At first, it seemed like a pretty basic breaking-and-entering by the cops on scene.
The hermit’s house was stacked to the ceiling with conspiracy theory books and newspapers.
He was pinned to the wall, crucifixion style, which seemed unrelated until Doc realized that they were wooden stakes.
It was a much harder wood than had been used on the teen. The killer had delivered them a WALNUT.
After that, the Lumberyard Killer was all over the headlines, but Doc and his team seemed always twelve steps behind.
He’d murdered an aging frumpy housewife in the suburbs by nailing a wooden dress to her body.
Clearly, he was trying to help her SPRUCE up for her husband
There was another older woman, a lady with a late wealthy husband, strangled with ropes made of strips of bark.
That one had to be taken all the way to the botanist to realize that the rope was from a BLACK WILLOW.
There were no commonalities between the victims, just those insane tree jokes.
So, whenever a death seemed a little weird, they called Detective Patterson.
The first sweep showed no signs of forced entry, violence, or robbery, just a dead woman with hives.
The initial assessment by the medical examiner said that she died of anaphylactic shock.
The detective looked around the apartment, tracing the woman’s last steps.
She’d just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a snack – there was a plate in the sink.
Peanut allergy? No, someone with a peanut allergy wouldn’t have three more jars in the pantry.
A quick check of the medicine cabinet revealed allergy medication, but only the kind for seasonal problems.
She’d also had a drink, maybe a soda pop, and the cloudy reddish pink liquid still sat in its glass with a straw.
There was more of the same liquid in the blender, too… a frozen drink that night?
There seemed to be some kind of brownish flecks floating it in. What kind of wood might that be?
The pieces came together for the detective at the exact moment they came together for the medical examiner.
The younger man looked up at the detective and said, “I’ll be damned, but that’s a HICKORY daquiri, Doc!”
If you like this, you’re going to love the rest of my Patreon stories. They’re not always this funny, but they’re definitely entertaining.