Last week I was privileged to attend a 40-hour Homicide Investigation training course with members of various law enforcement agencies. The curriculum included lectures by experts in interrogation strategy, serology, child homicides, murder and the law, and coroner protocol. All week I looked at gruesome crime scene and autopsy photos and listened to horror stories without even wincing.
Then came the forensic entomologist.
The “bug guy” was hilarious. In fact, he could be doing stand-up at The Comedy Store. He passed around vials of parasites floating in alcohol and talked about the implication of finding stinkbugs at a crime scene and how long it takes for cockroaches to skeletonize a dead body. All good stuff if you are a homicide detective or a crime fiction writer.
I don’t like bugs but like everybody else, I deal with them. On at least two occasions, my garbage can has blossomed with maggots. It was icky but a few sprays from a can of bug killer made them melt faster than the wicked witch of the west.
I was confident I could handle anything Bug Guy threw my way. Then he showed the photo.
I will spare you the details since some of you may be enjoying a cheese Danish about now and I don’t want you to have a physiological response near your keyboard. We all know how delicate they are. I’ll just say the picture was so gross that a week later I still can’t get it out of my head. It lives with me day and night, scuttling into my consciousness whenever my mind is free to wander. I tried to banish it with reason and meditation but the image is an alien that has invaded my brain.
Later, I confessed my wussitude to a homicide detective friend of mine. As predicted, he wasn’t fazed by any bug action. However, he had a confession of his own. He is freaked out by horror movies. He said, “Anything you shoot five times and it’s still coming at you? I’m out of there.”
I presume we all have an “ick” threshold. What’s yours?
P.S. On Saturday night, I attended the annual Twice a Citizen banquet honoring the hundreds of Los Angeles Police Department Reserve Officers. The LAPD command staff (chiefs and such) selected my partner and me as the Department’s Co-Reserve Officers of the Year. Police Chief William J. Bratton presented us with the award. Pretty cool.