Well, I wasn't ever expecting to write anything for this show, but then this idea came along and put itself on paper, so…


What's Life?

August 17, 2012


The detectives were quickly ushered past the yellow tape. Everyone wanted this taken care of as soon as possible.

"So… who was the victim?" Reese began to question the officers already in place as her partner continued on past her.

"We don't know," the man apologized. "Unidentified at this point."

"You checked his pockets? And his jacket?"

"Yeah," he replied as if he was almost offended. That had to be the first place anyone would look. "But no wallet, no papers, letters, business cards." He counted the dead ends on his fingers. "Nothing. And nobody's called in to report someone matching his description is missing either. So right now we have nothing to go on but him," the man gestured at the corpse.

"Okay," she nodded to dismiss him before turning to face the nameless man.

Crews had already been standing over him for a while, staring at him with his head tilted first one way and then the other.

She looked at her fellow detective a bit worriedly before looking at the dead man herself.

He was very plain, normal. Average height. Medium hair. No glasses, tattoos, piercings.

But what made this man so out of the ordinary was the fact that he was stuck up to his thighs in a freshly dried cement sidewalk in the middle of downtown and had absolutely no identification on his person.

"So…" Crews began.

Dani sighed to herself. She knew that tone of voice. It sounded so innocent, but he was about to start another one of his trademark conversations. And she wasn't sure that she could handle it right now, not when they'd just been handed a case that began this unpromisingly.

"We don't know who this guy is," Crews continued. "He doesn't have an identity."

"It's not that he doesn't have an identity, Crews," Reese broke in, feeling the need to explain things to him in a way he could understand. "It's that we haven't figured it out yet."

"It's like it's a mystery," he returned, awed.

She half turned toward him and replied disbelievingly. "Yes, Crews. It's like it's a mystery. And we're the detectives."

"That is so cool," he said, turning toward her with one of his (for anyone he hadn't already been introduced to) disarming smiles.

She stared for a moment before shaking her head and returning her attention to the corpse in cement. She knelt down and began to rummage through his pockets.

"The officer said that there wasn't anything there," Crews pointed out. "There wasn't anything in his pockets. No ID."

"I know, Crews," she said as she continued. "I'm just looking to see if there's anything else there that might help us figure out what his identity is."

"He's dead. He doesn't have an identity."

"Everyone has an identity."

"Not dead people," Crews posed.

Reese paused a moment before repeating, "Everyone has an identity." She knew that she had a choice at that moment- to let the matter rest and let herself examine the scene of the crime in peace or to continue the conversation and encourage Crews to be his absolutely annoying self. Somehow, she couldn't find the self-control in her to rein in this time. She rose to his challenge.

"He can't be nobody. People can't be nobodies because that's what it means: no body. This guy has a body so he has to be somebody and we have to find out who he is."

"But I mean, if you really think about it, dead bodies can't have identities, can they? They don't do anything that give them meaning or purpose or any sense of self. Because they're dead."

"Yes, I know they're dead. Thank you, Crews," his partner deadpanned, hoping to stop his conversation there. No such luck, however.

"I knew you knew that. But dead bodies don't really have identities. Whenever someone talks about a person, it's always talking about them when they were alive. There's not much to talk about when referring to a dead body, because they can't do much except sit in their coffins. Or in this case, cement."

Reese pursed her lips and gave a tense sigh.

"People can only be identified by what they do during their lifetime, right? People can only be remembered for what they did during their life. Because once you're dead and gone, you're dead and gone and all that's left of you is a headstone and a memory."

He paused, cocking his head to look at the dead man. "All you leave is a trail of memories with the people that knew us," he murmured gently. "And hopefully they're good ones."

"Crews," Dani interrupted.

"Yes, Reese?"

"You're doing it again."

He raised his eyebrows. "I didn't realize I was doing it again." Then he paused, brow furrowed. "What was I doing again?"

"Zoning out and talking to the dead guy."

"I wasn't talking to the dead guy. I was talking to myself and the dead guy just happened to be there."

"That sounded like you'd rehearsed your defence."

Crews sniffed and turned to look at the storefronts around them, clearly avoiding that last jab. Reese rolled her eyes and then smirked as she returned to her now quiet and serene examination of the basically nonexistent contents of the man's pockets.

"There's nothing in here," she eventually sighed. "Just a bit of lint and a used staple and a crumpled up price sticker." She stood up and held out the few bits of trash to her partner, wondering where on earth they could go from here.

"Robbery gone very weird?" she asked as he held up the sticker nearly to the tip of his nose for a closer look.

"I don't think so," he responded slowly.

She crossed her arms and challenged him for an answer. "And why don't you think so, Crews?"

The detective shrugged lightly. "I think this is just how he lived life. This is how he went along the ebb and flow of humanity, making his memories."

Reese blinked at him until she had made it clear that she was fed up with hearing his nebulous Zen talk. "Yeah… life," she repeated.

"Life…" he rolled the word around on his tongue before perking up and asking, "What's life?"

"Oh, God, no," Reese said, putting her hand to her temple. "Do not go there, Crews; I don't want to hear your theories about life."

"I wasn't going to tell you."

"Oh good. Because it sounded like you were."

"No, it's a magazine."

"What?"

"You were supposed to say that it's a magazine," he reiterated.

"I was supposed to say… what? What are you talking about?"

"Haven't you ever heard the song?"

"What song? Crews, what on earth are you talking about now?"

"One person says 'life'. And then the next person asks 'what's life?' and the first person responds 'it's a magazine.'" He explained, ticking his index finger from one side to the other as he went from one person's role to the next.

"That's not much of a song."

"Well, it's not really a song," he clarified. "There isn't a melody, but that's the nearest thing I can think to call it. But there's more, don't worry."

"There's more?" she asked, not liking where this was going.

"Oh yeah. In fact, it's one of those things that can kind of go on indefinitely."

"Oh no," Reese groaned. "I don't need to hear this…"

"It's actually really fun."

"I don't want to hear it."

"So then the next person asks 'how much does it cost?'"

"What? How much does what cost?" she asked, completely thrown for a loop.

"The magazine Life. And then the next person says 'ten cents.' So the first person says, 'that's too bad. I only have a nickel.'"

"Crews."

"The other person responds 'that's tough.'"

"Crews," Reese repeated more forcefully, rubbing the bridge of her nose.

"'What's tough?'" he parroted in the "first person voice."

"My fist is tough," Dani spelled out for him as her patience was running oh-so-very-thin. "And if you don't stop, you're going to figure out exactly how tough it is."

"'Life.'" Crews finished the cycle.

Reese stared at him for a long moment.

"And then you can start all over from the beginning except the other person is saying it. You switch places; it keeps on going back and forth. And you can go forever. Forever and ever. Until you want to stop. Or until the warden makes you stop. It's incredible how just a few words— that aren't even mean words or directed against anybody— can annoy a person, isn't it?"

Reese seethed, fighting to keep herself under control. "Hmm," she finally ground out. "Incredible how that happens, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it really is." He nodded his head, making his sunglasses lenses glint in the early morning sun. "Well…!" he took one last look around him before heading back to their car.

"Where are you going, Crews?" she asked with arms outstretched. This was getting ridiculous. "We aren't done here."

"You said that there wasn't anything else to see here, wasn't anything else in his pockets. And it's pretty obvious that we've learned everything we can here."

"That's true, but we don't have anything else to go on anywhere else," she said.

"Yeah we do," Crews said confidently.

"What?"

"Memories," he clarified. "Of his life."

"But we don't know where to get those. We don't know who to talk to. We don't know who his friends or relatives are. We don't even know who he is yet!"

"That's okay."

"That's okay?" she asked skeptically. "Wha…?"

"I asked him."

"You… asked him?" She pointed to the dead man. "You asked him?"

"Yeah, I asked him where we should go."

"And… he gave you an answer?" She pinned him with her best unbelieving stare.

"Yep," he responded cryptically.

"I thought you said you were going to stop talking to dead people."

He began walking even faster to the car. She had to start a light jog to keep up with him. "Where are we going, Crews?" Reese pressed.

He didn't answer, just turned back to yell over his shoulder, "Come on, Reese! We've got places to go, people to see, life to live, memories to make!"

She closed her eyes and shook her head in disbelief, but followed his lead anyway.


My grandpa taught me the "Life" ditty. And someone assures me there's a verse for the game, but this is all I know well enough to include.