Rating: This story is too short for a rating! Give it a PG because of one cuss word.
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Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with CSI, probably much to their relief.
Author's Note: Part of the weekly Unbound Improv Challenge. The opening and closing lines of the fic are supplied. It's up to the writer to weave a story around them in 1,000 words or less.
Summary: A dead body is found in the middle of some questionable art.
"That's an orangutan," Grissom stated.
He tilted his head to stare inquisitively at Sara as she moved up beside him. "I thought you liked animals."
"I do. That's not an animal. It's a monstrosity."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"I would," she stated emphatically. "How can you even tell it's an orangutan?"
"Well, the arms are longer than normal for a primate. And the orange fur covering the body should have been a dead giveaway."
"Smart ass," she muttered, crossing her arms defiantly. After a moment she let out a defeated sigh. "Where's the body?"
"Here," he replied with a grin, running a gloved finger above the canvas, tracing around the outline of the animal.
They were at the Southern Nevada Arts Society's annual competition. Before them was what Grissom considered to be a fair example of a post-modern rendition of an orangutan in the jungle canopy. Sara considered it a good example of the aftermath of an explosion at a paint factory.
"Is that blood?" she asked, leaning in closer to examine some red flecks dotting the canvas.
"I don't think so. Swab it before we leave, though."
Behind them was a collection of headless mannequins, posed in various activities. Grissom thought it was an over-the-top expression of the mindless routines of daily life. Sara thought it was a clever place to dump a body.
No one had noticed that the 'mannequin' leaning into the toilet bowl was actually a real body until it started to get ripe, and the flies began swarming. They now had a crime scene that had been visited by hundreds of people, seriously comprising their case.
"He still has his head," David said, peering into the toilet as he jotted down notes.
"Any ID?" Sara asked, frowning when the coroner's assistant shook his head. "The exhibit opened two days ago. The displays were set up the day before that. The body couldn't have gone unnoticed that long, could it?"
"Earlier this year, an elderly man died in Osaka, Japan," Grissom said, scratching his beard as he looked at another painting. "He sat in front of a department store on one of the city's busiest intersections for two months before anyone noticed."
"That's outside. In winter," Sara replied. "The A/C in here is cranked a little high, but not enough to stop the decomposition. But it doesn't really stink."
"The body is awfully cold," David noted.
"Frozen?" Grissom asked, turning from his examination of the artwork.
"Maybe. Definitely chilled. We'll know more once we check the tissue in the lab."
"This sucks. If the body's been refrigerated, there's probably no way to tell the time of death. This room was packed with people. There's going to be tons of trace lying around. Hell, someone's bound to have sneezed on the guy, so we'll have DNA contamination."
"I thought you liked challenges," Grissom said, winking as he started to collect flies and maggots from the body.
"Sometimes I wonder why I bother."
Grissom paused in his collection, looking at Sara in confusion. That had sounded almost personal. She ignored him as she collected scores of assorted hairs, fibers and shards from the carpeting around the mannequin exhibit. With a shrug, he went back to work so David could take the body back to the morgue.
After packing his bugs away, Grissom grabbed a sheet of paper and moved back to the orangutan painting. Consulting the show directory, he jotted down information about the painter.
"You think the artist's involved?"
"No," he said, giving Sara a puzzled look over his shoulder. "Why do you ask?"
"Anyone who could butcher a canvas like that could kill a person."
"I like it."
"Yeah," she snorted, moving forward with a swab.
"I do. It's very original. The use of color is bold without being overbearing."
"You are serious," she said in surprise. "It's ugly."
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
"I'm beholding it, and it's ugly. Are the eyes supposed to be in the back of the neck? Do orangutans even have a noticeable neck?"
"It's an interpretation," Grissom said patiently.
"Of what? Orangutan road kill?"
"Don't you like art?"
"Art is in the eye of the beholder," Sara replied sarcastically as she looked around the room. "This isn't art."
"Well, one person's orangutan road kill is another person's idea of an interesting painting."
"Interesting I'll give you. How someone got this body into this exhibit is also interesting. Doesn't mean I want in my bedroom."
"I wouldn't either. I think I'll put it in my office."
"You can go visit it in the vault. That is blood."
"Did it come from our corpse-cicle? Did the killer cut himself when he dumped the body?"
"Did that painting inspire the artist to slit his wrists?"
"It's not that bad!" Grissom exhaled.
"Yeah, it is. Is that a spaceship?"
"I think so."
"Why is there a spaceship in that bird's nest?"
"It could have several meanings."
"Or it could mean nothing. The artist knows that people will find symbolism no matter what he puts in there."
"Art is subjective."
"Of course it is," she said with an eye roll. "But is it art without talent? Anyone could fling paint on a screen. You could have a real orangutan do that."
"It's probably been done."
"And someone with more money than sense probably bought it for a fortune."
"Probably," he admitted. "But I doubt this is worth a fortune."
"I doubt it's worth the cost of the canvas and paint."
Grissom chuckled as he folded the paper up. Grabbing an ALS, he began examining the mannequins as Sara started lifting fingerprints.
"I guess I know what not to buy you for Christmas this year," he said lightly.
Sara shook her head as she dusted the toilet seat.
- The End -