we have an elderly female vic, ID unknown for the moment, with severe
blunt trauma out here approximately fifteen feet from the center of
town. Eyewitnesses say she was unable to move out of the way in time
and was subsequently crushed by the structure, which arrived out of
quote, nowhere, unquote,” Brass read from his notes.
Sara knelt and looked at the legs, which were all that were visible of
the woman. She winced at the striped stockings. “Has David
“He’s delayed with a hearing, so he’s
passed jurisdiction to the local coroner,” Brass replied,
waving to the short man next to him. Moving at a stately pace, the
minute coroner bent and looked over Sara’s shoulder. He spoke
in a low drone.
“As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her. And she's
not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead.”
“That’s good . . . “ Brass murmured.
“Since she’s got a farmhouse sitting on her
The coroner nodded. Sara pulled on some latex gloves and carefully
moved one foot, the sparkly shoe on it glittering in the light.
“Do be careful!” came a sweet, twittery voice. Both
Brass and Sara looked over at the woman in the sugary pink dress and
glittery crown, who was smiling serenely at them.
Brass gave her a thumbs up and turned back to Sara, his voice
low. “Local bigwig . . . itinerant, but knows all the right
“G.T. Good, yeah. Saw her on the cover of Bubble Up magazine
. . .” Sara murmured, “Was she a
“Nah, she drifted in afterwards. Listen, I’m going
to go talk to the out of town tourist—“
The next time Sara looked up, Grissom was there, turning his gaze from
the scene, his smile bemused. “I’ve heard of
bringing down the house—“
“—Or dropping in,” she countered gently,
a quirk to the corner of her mouth. “Check out the Mary Quant
Grissom crouched down and stared. “I don’t
recognize the shoes.”
“They’re not Astrabellas,” Sara
commented, “Probably some returnable brand.”
They processed quietly, moving around the fractured wood, ignoring the
brightly colored flowers and singing townsfolk, concentrating on the
evidence. When Sara stepped inside the structure, she blinked a little,
disoriented. Grissom looked up at her, his expression amused.
“Monochromatic—this style went out in
“Oh wow . . . kinda . . . stark,” Sara observed,
looking at the scattered goods and broken glass littering the floor.
Grissom nodded. “The chiaroscuro effect. Looks like our
drop-in tourist came a long way.”
Sara picked up a chicken feather and studied it.
Grissom arched an eyebrow at the pun, but the corner of his mouth
quirked up as well.
Brass returned a while later, looking slightly perturbed. He shook his
head, turned away from the impromptu send-off for the girl in gingham,
and cleared his throat. “Well, we had nothing to hold her on,
and apparently she’s anxious to get back to her
“Name?” Grissom asked, watching everyone around him
wave madly to the departing girl.
“Dorothy Gale—she declined to give her age, from
Kansas . . . sounds phony to me,” Brass shrugged.
“But unless you guys can show me some motive for the
“How about the sister?” Grissom asked, stuffing his
hands in his pockets. Brass nodded slightly.
“Mrs. W.W. West, yeah, she’s a piece of work. I
didn’t want to release the shoes until we had some proof she
was the next of kin, but between trying to get approval from the mayor
and then that little run-in with the boys from the Lollipop
Guild—I’m telling you, Randy Newman had it
“Um, guys--the body’s gone—“
Sara announced in frustration. All three of them turned to look back
where the legs had been protruding under the wooden siding. Grissom
moved to examine the spot once more.
“The house hasn’t been moved—someone slid
the body out from under it,” Grissom muttered. Brass sighed.
“The day’s just getting better and better. Time to
round up a few short-sighted folks and see if we can figure out
what’s going on.”
“Did we at least get an ID on her?” Sara asked
softly, peeling off her latex gloves.
Grissom frowned. “What did the sister say?”
Brass’s frown deepened. “She tentatively
ID’ed the body via the shoes. Said her sister was Ms. W.W.
East, local to these parts, and for the record, the woman was seriously
worked up about those sparkly babies. If they’re gone too,
we’re going to hear about it.”
“So now it’s personal,” Sara replied
Brass gave another shrug, tucking his notebook back into his breast
pocket. “In this town, isn’t it always?”
Having the house moved back to the lab took the better part of a day;
there were the usual paperwork hassles about crossing jurisdictions,
and securing the chain of evidence. In the end though, it arrived at
the City Lab just as the call came in for a burglary at the cornfield
out along Yellow 101.
Grissom and Sara took it, arriving at the intersection and meeting up
with Brass once more. He looked preoccupied, and waved at the section
of broken-down fence behind him.
“We’re missing a scarecrow. Not normally a big
deal, but I thought you might want to see
this—“ He motioned to a section of the
brick road in front of the cornfield. Grissom crouched down and pulled
out a flashlight; in the strong beam, bits of red glitter sparkled,
flakes of it scattered over a wide area, along with bits of straw.
And slightly muddy paw prints.
“Red glitter . . . but over a limited area,”
Grissom mused. “She had to have been--“
“—Dancing,” Sara filled in confidently.
“It’s the only way the glitter would end up in a
pattern like this.” She looked across the brick road and
stood up, carefully doing a quick daisy chain and soft shoe shuffle
across the area, then gave a kick.
Grissom and Brass watched her for a long moment; self-consciously Sara
stopped and turned, giving a half-shrug.
Brass managed a small smile. “Dancing.”
“Stranger things have happened,” Grissom mildly
pointed out. “We’re still getting unconfirmed
reports on flying monkeys.”
“I hate those things,” Sara murmured, using
tweezers to pick up some of the straw.
Brass nodded. “Nobody’s windshield is
safe anymore. So—Miss Gale had a dog with her when she left
town, and we know she came along this way since it’s a direct
route from where the house crashed.”
“And the glitter is a possible match for the shoes . .
.” Grissom agreed, carefully tweezing up flakes and tucking
them into bindles.
Sara looked over at the cornfield and frowned. “But why take
a scarecrow? Why dance with one?” she asked softly, staring
out at the brick road, as if it held the answer to her question.
“Sounds like she hit the poppy field early to me,”
Brass muttered, looking at the dog tracks.
“We’ll run the straw samples through
DNA,” came Grissom’s voice, “See if
it’s in CANON or not and take it from there. Did you get a
breed on the dog?”
“Something small and hairy—looked like a toupee
with legs,” Brass replied with a grunt. Sara flashed him a
“I thought you liked dogs?”
“Dogs are . . . .” Brass gestured, spreading his
hands wide and high. “. . . Supposed to be bigger than a
shoebox, you know? Give me a pet with substance every time.”
Grissom looked as if he wanted to say something, but his beeper went
off and he unclipped it, looking down at the text. He sighed.
“Nick says the house is clean—no trace of the body
OR the shoes, and the sister has announced she’s taking
matters into her own hands.”
“Oh that will help, sure,” Brass sighed.
“Nothing like having a witch mad at you to improve things.
I’ll see if we can’t pick Miss Gale up for a little
questioning downtown and get some answers.”
“Good idea. We can check her shoes then,” Grissom
agreed. Sara packed up the evidence and looked over as Brass left.
She smiled. “So, after we drop this off—Want to
grab some lunch over at the Orchard?”
Grissom flashed her a sharp look, which softened when he nodded.
By the time they arrived though, part of the place was cordoned off,
and Brass was already there, looking unhappy. Sara pulled off her
sunglasses and parked them on the top of her head as he walked over,
apple in hand.
“Agricultural assault, and I bet you’ll never guess
who was involved?”
Grissom was already looking at the yellow brick, his mouth pursed up.
“More red glitter and straw: Miss Gale and
Brass handed him the apple with a dry look. “Apparently the
scarecrow has quite a mouth on him, at least according to the local
trees. They’ve lost half a bushel in a heated
“Over what?’ Grissom asked curiously. Sara was
already looking at the grassy knoll, and he was trying not to look at
her when she bent over.
“Quality control issues. Apparently the two of them first
attempted to nab a free sample or two, and then things got heated when
our straw man made some unsavory implications about attributes of the
fruit in question.”
Grissom shrugged. “They’re Macs—everyone
knows they’re smaller and more expensive.”
“Grissom?“ Sara called out. The two men crossed the
road and went up the grassy hill towards a flatter space. Sara pointed
out a few dark blotches on the ground, and indicated a pair of long,
oval shaped indentations with overgrown grass edges. “It
looks like something was moved from this spot. The spills are oil, I
“Lemme ask one of the trees if there was anything of value
over this way—“ Brass muttered. Grissom nodded and
got down on his hands and knees to look at the ovals, talking softly.
“We’ve got earthworm cast along bare
soil—whatever was standing here had to have been in place for
at least six months. Two ovals side by side—what does that
suggest to you, Sara?”
“Feet,” she responded promptly. “There
are lighter tracks leading away along the grass and back down to the
Grissom stared off towards the long and winding road, his gaze sweeping
across the trees and fencing. “So why would a person be
standing here for at least half a year suddenly begin moving only after
Miss Gale and her scarecrow companion show up?”
“Why would he need oil?” came Sara’s
counter query. “Unless he’s related to the Tik Toks
“Hold the phone, looks like we’ve got some new
information,” Brass grumbled, heading their way, looking
distinctly annoyed. “You remember that Missing Persons case
from about a year ago? Nick Chopper?”
“The accident-prone young man with the broken
heart,” Grissom nodded. Brass let out a noisy sigh.
“Yeah well then you remember he had several prosthetic
operations and most of them were low budget affairs, in tin.”
“Tin?” Grissom echoed uncertainly.
“Tin—don’t ask. According to the grove
guy, Tin Man’s been rusting over here for a while. Then about
three hours ago they get into it with Miss Gale and her hayseed
sidekick. The two of them find Nick and oil him up enough to get
clanking. I’m telling you, Gale must be some sort of
ex-hoofer by the amount of dancing she does.”
Grissom looked doubtful, but Sara cast a gaze along the brick road,
thinking hard. “Maybe it’s the straw man.”
“You think it’s the scarecrow who’s the
gypsy?” Brass asked, incredulously.
Sara grinned and nodded. “Sure—he’d be
loose enough, in a mattressy sort of way.”
“Yeah, well if he managed to pick a fight with an orchard,
then straw boy’s not exactly the brains of the
operation,” Brass replied firmly.
Grissom had wandered across the road and was looking thoughtfully at a
deserted cottage there, his gaze up on the chimney. The other two came
over, waiting for him to speak. “Do either of you smell . . .
Brass shook his head, but Sara nodded, sniffing. “Something
smoky. Is it coming from the chimney?”
“Not likely—this place hasn’t been
inhabited in a while. It’s odd
though—you’d think the last thing a scarecrow would
want around him is fire—“ Grissom replied.
“Which could mean that someone might be following
“They could have been roasting the apples,” Sara
pointed out, but Grissom shook his head.
“Then we’d definitely smell
those—roasting apples are pretty notable. This scent is just
. . . smoke.”
“Well the only one with any reason to be after these guys is
the sister,” Brass pointed out, staring up at the roof.
“And from up there, she’d have a pretty good shot
at anyone coming down the road.”
“Then I guess we’ll need a ladder . . . “
Sara sighed, trying to ignore her growling stomach.
A few minutes later, Sara was on her way up, her pert buttocks shifting
with every rung. Grissom kept a surreptitious eye on her, then shot
Brass an annoyed glance when he realized the other man was openly
enjoying the sight. Insouciantly, Brass shrugged, his mild grin
not made of tin—“ he murmured in an undertone to
Grissom, who wasn’t quite sure how to take the remark. Above
them on the roof of the abandoned cottage, Sara called down.
“I’ve got some scorch marks up here and the streaks
are pointing towards . . . THAT direction, “ she gestured.
Grissom followed her indication and squinted. Brass looked slightly
“Into the forest, and I don’t mean in the Sondheim
way either. Well, we’ll see if anyone else has picked up Miss
Brass left, and Sara braced her feet on the outsides of the ladder,
sliding down gracefully. Grissom watched her, amused and intrigued.
“We still need lunch,” he reminded her.
“We could grab something from McMunchkins.”
“They’re off my list—too much
salt,” came her reply. “But I could go for a poppy
seed salad from Emerald’s.”