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The cop continued: '…then our neighbor lady glanced over and saw the door open. The guy who lives here…' He checked his notebook. '…guy who lived there, Marvin Sandred, usually worked during the day. So, when the neighbor, woman named…' He checked his notebook again. '…Tammy Hinton, saw the door standing open, she went to check on the place. One gander at the body and she phoned us.'

Grissom asked, 'She said it was Sandred?'

'Yeah.'

'We should talk to her.'

'Yeah,' Damon said, as if reminding everyone, including himself, that he was in charge, 'we should talk to her right away.'

'I can cover that,' Logan said, but shook his head. 'I'm just not sure it'll do any good, right now. She was pretty shook up, which is why I sent her home. Anything else you need?'

'No, Henry,' Damon said. 'Thank you.'

Logan frowned at Grissom. 'All due respect, Dr. Grissom-I know who you are, everybody does-I don't appreciate you going all self-righteous on me.'

With no inflection, Grissom said, 'Then don't use terms like 'dead as shit' to describe a murder victim.'

Logan's indignation faded to embarrassment. 'Yeah, okay. Point taken. No harm, no foul?'

'Not yet,' Grissom said.

Logan headed to the neighbor's house, while Damon said, 'You ready to check this out?'

'Yes.'

Grissom started for the house, the CSIs and the North Las Vegas cops trailing in his wake. Over his shoulder, he said, 'Nick, you take the backyard-Warrick, the front.'

'You got it, Gris,' Nick said.

Warrick just nodded.

While the two CSIs peeled off, Grissom, Catherine, and Sara-trailed by Detective Damon-pressed on to the front door atop a two-step stoop. At the threshold, he stopped.

'Sara,' Grissom said, as he and the others snugged on their latex gloves, 'let's see if there are any prints on the doorbell.'

She nodded and stepped off to the side. Like the other CSIs, she had lugged along her tool-kit-style crime- scene case, which she set down on the concrete, and got to it.

Grissom led the way through the front door, Catherine right behind; Damon was lingering on the porch, watching Sara work, making conversation that she wasn't taking much part in.

The house was dark, curtains drawn, lights off. In the gloom, Grissom could nonetheless see that the living room was to the right, the kitchen through a doorway to the back and a hallway, at the rear of the living room, led to the bedrooms and bathroom.

Next to him, Catherine clicked on her mini-flash. There could be no turning on of lights until the switches and their plates had been dusted for prints. She used the beam to highlight doorways, then settled on the corpse, at right.

The living room stank of death in general; sweat, urine, and excrement, in particular. With its scant rent-to- own furnishings-a sofa, a coffee table, a TV at an angle in the far corner, and a couple of end tables-the room seemed as lonely inside as the house had from out. A lamp on one end table seemed to be the only potential light source, other than a picture window behind drawn curtains. Newspapers, some mail, a couple of carry-out containers cluttered the coffee table; otherwise, the room was clean-not counting the body sprawled in the middle of the floor.

The first detail Grissom picked up on was a pool of blood near one of the hands, where the index finger had been amputated. Grissom got his own mini-flash out and its beam looked around, but there was no sign of the digit. Perhaps the killer had taken a souvenir.

'I'll work the body,' Grissom said, 'while you do the rest of the house.'

Catherine glanced down at the victim. 'He's all yours…. Wasn't exactly in charge of his own destiny when he died, either.'

'Might have something significant here,' Grissom said, as he swept with the mini-flash around the body, not wanting to disturb any evidence when he drew nearer.

Catherine arched an eyebrow. 'You think?'

She turned toward the hallway as Detective Damon finally made his way inside the house. Pulling up short, he winced, nostrils flaring before he quickly covered them. 'Whoa-well, isn't that nasty?'

'Victim evacuated at death,' Grissom said matter-of-factly.

Between the man's spread legs, feces pooled in urine. Grissom was long since used to this, but what bothered him most was that these strong odors could blot out other, subtler, more important ones.

From the corridor, Catherine said, 'I'll start in the kitchen.' Her crime-scene case swinging at her side, Catherine disappeared through the doorway.

Color had drained from the detective's face; perhaps the word 'kitchen' had in this context given him a bad moment.

'You need me here?' he asked with an audible gulp.

'You'll just be in the way,' Grissom said.

'I mean, it is my crime scene….'

Grissom gave him a firm look. 'No it's not-it's mine. Let me process it, then we'll talk…outside.'

The detective desired to take the argument no further; he practically sprinted out the front door.

Returning his attention to the body on the floor, Grissom started by getting the big picture.

A Caucasian man between forty-five and fifty, he estimated; the victim was nude, prone, on his stomach, a rope around his neck. The index finger of his right hand had been severed and-so far, indications were-taken away. The man's head was to one side, giving Grissom a view of a telling touch by the murderer: the deceased's lips had been painted with a garish red lipstick.

A CSI always kept an eye out for modus operandi; but seldom was a signature so explicit. The normally detached Grissom felt a chill, but it had nothing to do with fear or even revulsion-he just knew he had to make a phone call on this one. A friend was affected by this.

But, his nature being his nature, he decided to work the scene first.

The vic had probably been asphyxiated, but Grissom knew better than to make that more than a working hypothesis, and would wait for the coroner, to make the final call on cause of death.

Grissom got his camera from his stainless steel crime-scene kit, and started taking pictures. First he did the room, then the body, then close-ups of the body. It took a while, but he had long ago learned patience, and even though thoughts flooded his mind, Grissom held himself to the standard of quick-but-not-hurried. He forced the impending phone call to the back of his mind and continued his work.

After a while, Sara came into the room. Unlike the detective, she reacted not at all to what a civilian would consider a stench, but which a professional crime scene analyst would consider par for the course. Nor did anything but the faintest trace of sadness-even pros were allowed compassion-cross her wide, pretty mouth.

Then she said, 'Got a partial off the bell, couple partials off the knob.'

'It's a start,' Grissom said.

'What's Catherine up to?'

Grissom glanced at her, a little mischief in his faint smile. 'Woman's place is in the kitchen.'

She grinned, grunted a laugh. 'You wish…. This one's…specific, isn't it?'

'It is that.'

'Doesn't ring any of my bells, though. How about yours, Grissom?'

'They toll for him,' he said, nodding toward the victim, but explained no further.

Sara didn't expect him to, and didn't press it, saying, 'Okay I head over next door, to join our detective and officer? They're interviewing the neighbor, and I'd like to print her, get her eliminated. Partial on the bell might be hers, y'know.'

'Might. You do that.'

'…There's never a good way, is there?'

'What?'

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