TITLE: The Value of a Smile
RATING: R (cause Deb’s a pottymouth)
WORD COUNT: 772
SUMMARY: Dexter ponders on the reasons for smiling
A smile could mean so very many things, with nuances as varied as the wearer whose face it graced.
Smiles came in all sizes and shapes, they were barometers indicative of the mood of the smiler. Some smiles were good, others less so, depending upon ones perspective.
For example, when Dexter smiled at his sister, or at his co-workers at the Miami Police Department, it was generally from a sense of expedience—of doing what normal people were supposed to do in order that he appear normal to the others. Except that Dexter Morgan wasn’t normal, not in the accepted sense of the word, and he knew it. And somehow Sergeant Doakes knew it too. Therefore Dexter was quite careful to smile at the sergeant on a regular basis, and to be unfailingly polite to him.
Funny how in a building crammed full of police officers, Doakes was the only one that found Dexter to be off.
And he never smiled back.
Of course, come to think of it, Dexter’s sister Deb wasn’t big on smiling either. Mainly because she was usually pissed off about something. In fact, a smile from her was often something to be wary of. It generally meant that she was contemplating some bit of evil.
It was only Dexter that couldn’t get away with being less than believable in his smile, because Dexter was the one that was living the lie, pretending to be what he wasn’t—namely, normal. Some might even say human.
Dexter wasn’t saying one way or the other. He was what he was, and he couldn’t imagine himself being any other way.
“Shit, Dex, you’re in the way. If you’re gonna do something, do it. Fuck!”
There she was now. The queen of foul language herself. He wasn’t offended by her words. Dexter felt nothing. Obligingly, he moved for her, although in all fairness he’d been there first, and he was working a crime scene here. She pushed by him with a grunt.
The corpse was propped up against the wall, still in situ. The blood smears which began a few feet up the wall were a bloody trail against the pallid wallpaper. “Excuse me, bro.” That was Angel No Relation Battista, aiming and clicking from various angles. Last photographs of the deceased, taken for posterity. Personally, Dexter preferred his slides.
“All right now,” Angel encouraged the victim. “Smile for the camera.” A click and another flash.
Dexter half expected the remains to accede to the polite request, but it was and would remain a physical impossibility, for the victim’s lower jaw had been removed by the killer. For what reason, Dexter had not yet begun to speculate. But he would ponder the possibilities. That was just who he was, and what he did. Delving into the mind of the murderer. Wondering what made him or her tick.
Of course it had something to do with the message that had been scrawled across the wall in the victim’s own blood: JAWBONE OF AN ASS. But what?
“Jeez, Angel, you’re fucking morbid,” Deb complained. She shook her head and punched Dexter in the arm. He wanted to protest that he’d not been the one to say it, but realized it would do no good.
“You finished here, Dex?” his sister asked.
He rubbed his arm and nodded. “Yeah, I got what I need.”
“Good, let’s get the fuck outta here so they can take that away.” She waved one hand vaguely at the corpse, before exiting the premises, Dexter trotting obediently behind her.
“Can we stop for lunch?” he asked hopefully, but he got no immediate response. Why was it, he wondered, as he took his spot in the passenger seat of Deb’s official vehicle, that normal people could be mirthless and out of sorts as often as they liked and no one gave it a second thought, but he, Dexter, had to be more human than them and smile when he didn’t even understand why he should other than it was part of the rules as set down by Harry.
That was all he needed, he supposed. To remember the rules and to live by them.
Deb stopped into a small lunch place they both liked, and Dexter ordered the Cuban sandwich he craved. When the waitress brought it, he remembered that gratitude was one reason that people smiled. So he gave her a big one.
“Jesus, Dexter, you trying to fuck her?” Deb asked before she pushed half a sandwich into her face.
Smiles. One of life’s mysteries, Dexter decided, biting into his own food in a more controlled manner. Go figure.