The tires of the SUV crunched over the frozen dirt road as Detective Niemi, huddled in the front seat, slowly drove down Sauvola Road. The heater tried miserably to keep up with the cold, which had fallen to eight below with the wind child. Niemi wiggled the toes of his numb feet. Wind gusts threw up small cyclones of white swirl in the low beams. Niemi leaned forward in an attempt to see. His mind raced, “What the eff! How am I supposed to find a mailbox in this?” At 4:45pm it was already dark and the swirling snow made visibility incredibly poor. Niemi mumbled to himself, “Why would anyone want to live out here? The nearest grocery has to be an hour away. I enjoy my solitude, but this?”
Niemi hit the brakes hard. The SUV skidded forward and veered to the right, the right fender bumped hard into the bank of snow lining the road. “I think that was it.” He backed up, the tires spinning wildly before catching. Niemi peered down the drive. He saw a pair of faded parallel tire tracks leading up to a house and a State Trooper vehicle.
Niemi parked behind the State car, he jogged to the kitchen door, his boots crunched as they struck the hard packed snow. He knocked twice in rapid succession and opened the door to get out of the cold. State Trooper Stephanie Miller sat at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee. Petite, athletic State Trooper Stephanie Miller sat at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee. She ran her fingers quickly through her blonde hair, nodded, “Would you like some coffee, sir?”
“Yesssss,” Niemi replied enthusiastically. “How are you doing tonight? Been here long?”
“I’m good, Sir. I got here maybe ninety minutes ago. The niece called from Marquette area. Her uncle hasn’t called for several days and she got worried.” Miller took a sip of coffee, “She left messages and didn’t hear anything, so she asked if we could check it out.”
Niemi nodded, “So where is the body?”
Miller pointed, “Back by the sauna. I’ll show you.”
Both bundled up before venturing out into the cold. Niemi clasped the hot coffee tight in his gloved hands. Light from the open sauna door shone on a small mound of snow which lay in the shoveled path several feet from the door. Miller spoke, “I covered the body up. The poor guy was naked lying here.” Miller removed the blanket. Underneath, the frail stooped figure of a 70 year old male lay frozen. She pointed out a trail of frozen blood that seeped from the right temple down the rigid face.