Investigating a Suicide. Me?

Art by Tim Menees Investigating a Suicide. Me?
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As the sergeant drank cheap whiskey one night at the NCO Club on Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, his wife overdosed on pills. Because suicide is a homicide, the Office of Special Investigations on base, meaning my two colleagues and me, got the case.

The base security police had roped off their trailer, and her husband had identified the body. Our turn.

This was my second day running the OSI detachment and I was supposed to know what I was doing. We checked the regs. Everything in the military is done by the book. Ask a question and you get, “RTFM” — Read the F****** Manual.

The manual said we had to get fingerprints.

She was lying in the small six-​drawer morgue. We found her on the fourth try and pulled her out on a long metal tray. Her eyes were half-​closed and dulled by death, her hands folded across her chest, fingers closed tight, and stiff with rigor mortis.

Well, shit.

I called HQ in Ankara and HQ said, “RTFM.” I said we’d have to pry her fingers open. HQ said, “Anything else?”

We pried her fingers open.

As two Air Force doctors barely out of med school scrambled through their books to figure out time of death we searched the couple’s trailer. I felt like a voyeur.

We talked to the distraught sergeant, followed the book and finally closed the case.

Listening to the account of Robin Williams, a man who had money and fame and yes, addiction and depression, I thought of this women who could have lived down the street from any of us.

Hollywood gets it wrong: Movie corpses always have bright, shiny eyes.


Tim Menees

Tim drew political cartoons for the Pittsburgh Post-​Gazette for nearly 30 years. His work appeared in national newspapers, newsmagazines and on network television. He also paints and has drawn comic strips, written and illustrated a column and feature stories, and written one-​act plays. And, he plays in a blues-​zydeco band: piano and, uh… accordion.

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