by Jane Davitt

Throughout a case, the boards get covered with photos, reports, timelines and maps, pinned in place and studied until the horror of dead eyes, glazed with emptiness, broken bodies and bright, bright blood becomes a background noise, easy to ignore.

The boards help. Don doesn't need a scientific explanation from Charlie or Megan to know that brains like pictures. Ask any toddler with a board book. He sips warm, bitter coffee and stares at a crime described in pictures, dissected the way the coroner's examined the bodies, stripping them down, opening them up.

And it helps. He makes connections, feels his heart race when it all starts to make sense. When the case is stalled, in the long stretches of time between the leaps forward when they're all circling well-worn paths, stuck in a rut, the boards point the way.

When the case is over, it all comes down, like Christmas decorations, their moment of significance over for now, file cabinets waiting to receive the documents and data that will turn a key in a prison door.

And Don stares at blank surfaces, pocked with tiny holes, and thinks that maybe he should requisition new boards soon. These look…crowded.

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