willie was surprised when only a couple of emergency technicians in an ambulance showed up.
he had been expecting police, but when he thought about it he realized there was no reason for the police to show up right away. all he said when he called up was that he saw a body. he didn’t say the body was dead - but if was not dead would it be a body? - and he had not said that somebody had killed it. because how would he know?
the two technicians were a short stubby blonde woman, who had driven the ambulance, and a big hulking gray-faced man who looked to willie like a monster in an old movie.
they both wore crisply ironed white jackets with i d badges clipped to the breast pockets. shiny gold name tags above the badges identified the woman as “suzi” snd the monster guy as “robbie”.
willie did not think “robbie” was a right sounding name for a monster.
suzi had a little flashlight in her hand and she waved it around the alley, and behind her on the street. the swirling snow fell through the bright beam.
“so where’s the body?” suzi finally asked willie. with an emphasis on “body”. it was the first time either of them had spoken to willie.
“it’s not here,” said willie. “it was here before.”
“where was it before?”
“um - right about there. where you’re standing.”
suzi nodded. she handed the flashlight to robbie and squatted down close to the ground. she took what looked like another small flashlight and held it close to the ground. it was not a flashlight - it did not shoot out light - but its tip started glowing orange.
“there was something here,” she told robbie.
“that probably got up and walked away,” said robbie. he had a normal human voice, not like a monster at all.
“right.” suzi stood back up and looked at willie. “your name is willie, right?”
“yeah. willie wilson.”
“are all willies named wilson?’ suzi asked willie.
“when they are not named williams,” willie answered.
“or smith or jones or crawford,” added robbie.
“so. willie,” suzi continued, “when you saw the body from your window - where is your window, by the way?”
willie pointed up at his window on the fourth floor. it was the only window lit up.
“when you saw something lying on the ground did you go down and take a look at it?”
willie realized now how dumb it had been to say he saw a body - instead of just a person. but joe had called it a body and told him to say it was a body, so it was joe’s fault and if joe wanted to give him grief, too bad.
“no, i didn’t,” he told suzi. keep it simple, he told himself. stick to what joe told me to say.
“any reason why not?”
“i don’t know, i just didn’t. i thought - i thought i should i should call right away. and it was snowing. and cold.”
“right.” suzi laughed. “and tell me, why exactly did you assume it was a body? like it was dead? could you tell that from your window? why not just somebody who was passed out or drunk?”
“well, i didn’t say it was a dead body,” willie answered. “i just - it was the word that popped into my head.” when suzi just stared at him, he went on. “i guess i did kind of think it was dead. it just sort of looked dead, i guess.”
“from that high up?”
“i don’t know. maybe i watch too much television.”
“yeah, maybe. well, we will be on our way. we thank you for reporting what you thought you saw. that is a good thing in a citizen, we would not want you to think we were discouraging you in any way."
suzi and robbie turned back toward the ambulance.
“will anybody else be asking me anything?” willie asked them.
“that is not for us to say,” said suzi. “we are just e t’s.”
“right,” willie agreed.
suzi started to get back into the ambulance. “you take care of yourself now, old bean. go back inside and get warm. and get a good night’s sleep.”
willie watched them drive away. i didn’t handle that too bad, he thought. except for the stuff about the body and that was joe’s fault, not mine.