“Later.”

Later did, in fact, turn out to be “later that day.” Yeah, I know, I’m severely delinquent in my reportage — I’ve had quite a bit to think about.

I’m going to preface this whole thing with a description of my boss, just to make sure that I’m fully articulating just how pear-shaped this whole situation feels right now.

Dr. Weller looks and sounds like what would have happened had Paula Deen elected to spend her life cutting people open in order to determine what killed them rather than doing the job herself with a log of butter: she’s got the same silver hair, the same bright blue eyes, the same wide-open face, almost the same accent, and exactly the same sweet, grandmotherly attitude that suggests fucking with her will be the last thing you will ever do, should you elect to be so abysmally foolish. She is, to my certain knowledge, both completely devoid of tolerance for bullshit and fear of calling others on their bullshit — and I’ve literally only been here ten weeks, in which time I have had the opportunity to watch her disassemble lawyers, reporters, and interns who think theirs doesn’t stink because they’re doing residency in ego-tripping and keep forgetting that NCIS isn’t how real forensic pathologists operate. The local, state, and Federal law enforcement sorts with whom we regularly interact regard her with a combination of visceral fear and bedrock trust — fear, because nobody wants to have her chewing on their face for any reason at all ever, and trust, because she’s good and her job and so is the team she’s assembled in this office, and her dedication to doing that job clean and right and helping them do theirs is beyond reproach.

In short: my boss is a terrifying badass, and watching her back down for anyone is an unnatural state of affairs to say the least, one which leaves the universe hanging slightly askew.

She caught me on the way out of the office that evening and asked me into her office. We chewed the fat about other work-related stuff for a few minutes — I’m doing some of the prep work for a case that’s going to court next month — until things came around to the events of the morning. She got up and closed the door, which is Emphatically Not A Good Sign. The upshot? Mr. Red Tie and his partner, whom I did not meet, are indeed agents of the Department of Homeland Security who, thanks to the special projects division they belong to and some Federal-level handwavery about border security and a rather expansive definition of “border,” they do have the authority to hijack an active crime scene and assert jurisdiction when certain conditions are met. She’d received an email, enumerating the required conditions, the scene was theirs, the investigation was theirs, and that was all there was to it. No, I was not allowed to see a copy of the email due to the security requirements she had to operate under with regard to the situation. No, I should not volunteer my expertise. Yes, I should stay away from the site. No, it didn’t happen often but when it did the matter was not subject to debate, discussion, or protest. Case closed, end of story.

I went home feeling, as you might imagine, less than totally satisfied.

There was nothing about it on the news that evening, or that night, or on the following day, or any day since.

Last night, the house itself burned to the ground.

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~ by Dr. Nate Harada on October 13, 2011.

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