Bloody Genius

Chapter One

Barthelemy Quill led his companion though the murk and up the library stairs toward his personal study carrel. Though Quill was normally restrained to the point of rigor mortis, she could hear him breathing, quick breaths, excited now. They'd been there before and the woman found the experience both weird and interesting. She was a step behind him, and lower, and she reached out and stroked his thigh.
But at the top of the stairs, Quill put out a hand, pressing it back against her chest, and whispered, "Shh. There's a light."
The library was never entirely dark, not even in the middle of the night, but there'd never before been a moving light. She could see one now, no brighter than an iPhone, dancing like a ghost through the book shelves.
Not a security guard. It was an iPhone, she thought. Not the flashlight, but the much weaker screen light.
Quill moved away from her and closer to the light — he was wearing gray dress slacks, a gray knit dress shirt and black sport coat, so he was basically invisible in the dark. The woman felt a chill crawl up her arms and she stepped sideways into the book stacks. She'd well-learned the lesson of trusting her instincts about trouble. She turned a corner on one of the stacks, and crouched, listening into the silence.
Then Quill's voice: "Hey! Hey! Where'd you get... I'm calling the police! You stay right where you're at."
Then a wet Whack! And another, after a second: Whack! The sounds were violent and heavy, as if done with a crowbar. The whacks were followed by a couple of bumps. Not another word from Quill.
The woman crunched herself up, made herself smaller, opened her mouth wide, to silence her breathing, a trick she'd learned in another life, while taking singing lessons. Like Quill, she'd dressed in dark clothing, as their entry into the library was unauthorized and possibly illegal. Before this moment, that had added another thrill to their clandestine meetings.
Now...
Something terrible had happened, she thought. After the two sounds of impact and the subsequent bumps, there was a deep silence, as though the iPhone user were listening.
That was followed by shuffling noises, more bumps, a door closed and a locked turned, and the weak iPhone light reappeared. She never saw the person with the phone, but kept her arms over her face and her head down: faces shine in the dark and eyes are attracted to eyes. She heard light footsteps fading away, risked a look up and saw the iPhone light disappearing around the corner toward the stairs.

The killer was as stunned as Quill's companion. Quill had come out of nowhere, as the killer stood by the open carrel door, laptop in hand. Quill's face was twisted with anger. He shouted, "Hey! Hey!" and something else, then, "I'm calling the police!"
He turned away, and without thinking, panicked, the killer lifted the laptop computer and brought the edge of it down on Quill's head.
After the first blow, Quill said, "Ah," and went down, and his forehead hit the edge of the carrel desk and rebounded. His gray eyes jerked to the assailant, but had already begun to dim. The killer swung the notebook again and this time, Quill went flat on the floor.
The Dreambook made an excellent weapon, not because of its Intel Xeon i7 processor, or its 64 gigs of RAM, or its high-definition display, but because it weighed more than twelve pounds and had sharp corners.
By comparison, an Irwin Tools fiberglass-handled general purpose claw hammer, an otherwise excellent weapon, weighs only sixteen ounces, or one pound.

When the killer sank the computer into the back of his head, the professor smacked the desk with his forehead, his head turned and his eyes twisted toward his assailant, and he dropped to his hands and knees like a poleaxed ox, if oxen have hands and knees.
A second blow followed, a downward chop like the fall of guillotine blade. The later autopsy suggested that the first blow was sufficient to kill, if the assailant had been willing to wait for a minute. He wasn't.
The second impact certainly finished the job and Quill sprawled across the floor and partially under the carrel desk, leaking both blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Quill never felt much pain, only an awareness of the blows and himself beginning to fall. The lights went out and he dropped into a darkness deeper than any sleep.
The carrel had been his own personal library cubbyhole, renewed semester by semester over the years. Strictly speaking that shouldn't have been done, but Quill was rich and handsome and famous for his research into innovative therapies for spinal nerve injuries. So he got by with it: and lately, it had become a go-to place for his late night sexual assignations, away from all eyes.

The killer had a thousand thoughts raging through his head. Near the top, however, was Get out! And DNA! And Fingerprints!
The library was nearly silent, the silence broken by the vague clicks and hums of any nighttime building with heaters and fans. The killer stood listening, then looked down at the body, licked his lip once, thinking. The laptop came with a soft plastic cover. He used it to wrap a hand and then dragged Quill's leg, which had fallen through the doorway, into the carrel, where, with the door closed, the body couldn't be easily seen through the narrow translucent window.
His heart was pumping hard, he was breathing like a steam engine. He tried to calm himself, took a moment, stepped on something. The key fob to Quill's BMW lay on the floor where he'd dropped it, with his cell phone. The killer took the cellphone, the keys and the murder weapon, took another moment to listen to the library. As expected, it was empty and dead silent: the library closed at six o'clock and he'd murdered Quill at the stroke of midnight.
The killer left the carrel at three minutes after midnight, pulled his black ballcap further down over his eyes and tilted his head down, to defeat any cameras. He locked the carrel door and started toward the stairs: the hair on the back of his neck rose, like a chill you'd get walking past a cemetery. He stopped: was he alone? He listened, heard nothing. He walked slowly and quietly down the stairs to first floor, creeping through on soft-soled running shoes, and out.
The river was right there. He went out on the walkway, stopped under a light to separate the professor's keys from his key fob, and threw the key fob into the river. The keys went in his pocket; he might find a use for them.
He continued across the bridge to the other side, seeing no one. On the far side, he stopped to put the computer and the soft cover into his backpack. The cell phone went into a 'Mission Darkness' faraday bag with a see-through window, along with his own. Quill had been making a call when he was killed, so the killer had access to the phone's operation and could keep it working with the occasional poke.

Back inside the library, Quill's companion waited, frozen in place, for what seemed for hours — maybe ten minutes. After the iPhone light disappeared, she had not heard another thing.
Taking a chance, she dug silently in her purse and found the switchblade she'd purchased in Iowa, where they were legal, as personal protection. She wrapped the knife in the tail of her jacket and pushed the button that popped open the razor-sharp four and seven-eights-inch serrated blade, the mechanical unlatching muffled by the jacket.
She listened for another moment, then crawled down the aisle between the book stacks, got to her knees, then to her feet, and slipped over to the carrel. The door had a small vertical-slit window, but with translucent the glass.
She muttered, "Shit," and waited, and waited, listening, tried the door, but it was locked. She turned on her iPhone's flashlight and directed it down through the window, but couldn't see anything at all through the cloudy glass. Nothing was moving inside.
Quill, she thought, might be dead. He was probably badly hurt, at the least. She should call the police; but she wasn't the type.
The thought held her for a moment. She didn't owe Quill. He'd brought her into this. If he was still alive, and survived, she could tell him that she ran away and never knew that he'd been hurt.
The decision made, she turned off the light and slipped through the library, her lips moving in a prayer that wasn't a prayer, because she didn't know any, but simply a please please please please addressed to any God who might be tuned in. She made it down the stairs and out in the river air, the Mississippi curling away beneath the bridge in nothing like innocence: the river had seen more murder than any single man or woman ever would.
A half-block from the library, the woman folded the knife but kept it in her hand, her thumb on the spring release. On the far side of the bridge, she was swallowed up by the night.

Because he was murdered on a Friday night and had no firm appointments over the weekend, and missed only one day at the lab, Quill's body wasn't found until Tuesday, when an untoward odor began leaking under the carrel's locked door.
Definitely not coffee.
Inquiries were made, a second key was found, the door was opened, the cops were called.

Quill lived alone since his third wife moved out. Neither of his first two wives, or his estranged third wife, made any secret of the fact that they thoroughly disliked him.
A two-week investigation produced baffled cops. The cops didn't think they were baffled — not yet, anyway — but the StarTribune and local television stations agreed that they were, and who do you believe, the cops or the mainstream media?
When no suspect had been produced after two weeks, Quill's well-connected sister, co-heir to their father's wildly successful company, Quill Micro-Sprockets, called her old friend and a major political donee, the governor of Minnesota.
The governor called the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety; the Commissioner called the Director of the Bureau Criminal Apprehension; the BCA chief called one of his supervisory agents; the supervisory agent, after a comprehensive course of vulgarity, obscenity and profanity, made a call of his own.
At the end of the daisy chain was a Flowers.

Chapter Two

Virgil Flowers walked out of a café in Blue Earth, Minnesota, slightly bilious after a dinner of brown slices of beef and brown gravy over brown potatoes and dead green beans, coconut cream pie on the side, with a pointless Diet Coke. He had to quit all that; he knew it, but hadn't yet done it. He burped and the burp tasted... brown.
He'd taken three steps out the door before he noticed a motley group of twenty people standing in the parking lot, staring up at the sky to the south. When he turned to look, he saw the UFO.
There was no question about it, really.
The alien craft was obviously far away, but still appeared to be more than half the size of a full moon. It was motionless, hovering over the countryside like a polished dime, brilliantly lit, alternating gold and white light, almost as bright as the setting sun, and hard to look at without squinting.
A man dressed like a farmer, in mud-spattered jeans and muddier gum boots, said wisely, "It only appears to be motionless. It's probably a jumbo jet headed into the Twin Cities, flying low and right toward us. The sun's hitting it at just the right angle and we're getting a reflection."
A pale woman with orange-blond dreadlocks, and the voice of a high school teacher, said, "No, it's not a jet. It's not moving. Line it up with that phone pole and you see it's not moving."
Virgil and the farmer edged sideways to line the UFO up with a phone pole and the woman was right; the UFO wasn't moving. The farmer exhaled heavily and said, "Okay. I got nothin'."
More people were coming out of the café, attracted by the crowd in the parking lot.
A man in a plaid sports jacket said, "This could be the start of something big."
"Like an invasion," the dreadlocks lady said. She mimed a shudder. "Like in Cloverfield. You don't know exactly what it is, but it's coming, and it's bad."
"Wouldn't they invade Washington or some place like that?" a thin man asked. "Why would they invade Iowa?"
A jocko-looking guy said, "Not because they're recruiting a pro football team," and he and a jocko friend, who was wearing a red University of Minnesota jacket, exchanged high fives.
Somebody said, "I left my camera at home. Wouldn't you know it? Probably see Bigfoot on the way back."
A short fat mail carrier: "I saw a show where the aliens completely wasted LA, but it turned out everything was controlled from one central bunker and when the Army hit that, all the alien tanks and shit quit working."
"Independence Day," somebody said. "Where they nuked the mother ship and then the fighters could get through the force fields?"
"No, I saw that one, too, but this was a different movie," the letter carrier said. "Ground troops in LA. Got the aliens with a bazooka or something."
A young man with black-rimmed glasses and slicked-back dark hair said with the voice of authority: "Battle: Los Angeles. Thirty-five percent on the Tomatometer. The ground squad lit them up with a laser indicator so American fighters could target the alien HQ. Or maybe they called in the artillery, I don't precisely recall."
A young woman in a jewel-blue nylon letter jacket that matched her eyes said, "I hope they don't get us pregnant with those monster things like in Aliens. You know, that ate their way out of your womb when they hatched."
"I don't think that was Aliens," the authoritative young man said. "But just in case, maybe you oughta get a lotta good lovin' before they get here."
Jewel-blue, the voice of scorn: "Dream on, Poindexter."

Virgil scratched his chin, momentarily at a loss. He was a tall thin blue-eyed man, with blond hair curling well down over his ears. He was wearing a canvas sport coat over a 'Moon Taxi' tee-shirt and jeans, with cowboy boots and a blue ball cap. As an official law enforcement officer of the State of Minnesota — L' Étoil de Nord — he thought he should do something about an alien invasion, but didn't know exactly what. Call it in, maybe?
He watched the thing for another moment, the flickering light, then walked over to his truck, and dug out a pair of Canon ten-power image-stabilized binoculars for a closer look. He saw a tear-drop shaped research balloon, several stories high, probably made from translucent polyethylene film. The low angle sunlight was refracting through it. Most likely flown out of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, he thought, which was more or less directly south.
"What do you see?" asked the woman with the dreadlocks.
"Weather balloon," Virgil said.
"That's what they always call it. A weather balloon. Next thing you know, you got an alien probe stuck up your ass," somebody said.
Virgil passed the binoculars around and they all looked and then they all went home, disappointed. A UFO invasion would have been a hell of a lot more interesting than Spam 'n eggs for dinner. He took the binoculars back to his truck, noticed that he hadn't pulled the plug out of the boat, pulled it, and water started running down into the parking lot.
On his way out of Blue Earth, Virgil saw more groups of people standing in parking lots, watching the UFO. If he wasn't careful, he could wind up investigating a balloon.

Jon Duncan, a supervising agent at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, called as he crossed I-90, heading north on Highway 169. "We need you to investigate a murder."
"Where at?"
"University of Minnesota," Duncan said.
"What happened?" Virgil asked. "Why me?"
"A professor got murdered. Head bashed in," Duncan said.
"Again?"
"What?"
"A professor got murdered there two weeks ago," Virgil said. "Is this another one?"
"No, no. Same one," Duncan said. "Minneapolis homicide is working it, but they got nothing. Turns out the professor was the brother of this rich woman, Boopsie or Bunny or Biffy, something like that, last name Quill, who gave a lot of money to the governor's campaign. You know what the governor thinks of you..."
"Ah, Jesus, I hate that guy," Virgil said. "Why doesn't he leave me alone?"
"Because you're good at doing favors for people like him, and he's good at doing favors for rich people," Duncan said. "You brought it on yourself, with that school board thing."
With Virgil investigating, the state attorney general (at the time) had managed to send most of a school board to prison for murder; the attorney general, who'd actually done nothing but look good on TV, had taken full credit for the investigation and subsequent prosecution, and was now the governor. He did have nice shoulders, a baritone voice and extra-white teeth.
"You know it'll piss off the Minneapolis cops," Virgil said.
"Does that bother you?"
Virgil said, "Well, yeah, it does, as a matter of fact."
"Huh. Too bad. Doesn't bother me at all, since I won't be there," Duncan said. "Anyway, I have a name for you: Margaret Trane. A sergeant with Minneapolis homicide. Known as 'Maggie.' She's leading the investigation, coordinating with the campus cops."
"Don't know her," Virgil said. "She any good?"
"Can't say," Duncan said. "I judge women by their looks and the size of their breasts, not whether they're competent detectives." After a moment of empty air, Duncan blurted, "For Christ's sakes, don't tell anybody I said that. I mean, I was joking. Okay? Big joke, maybe a little insensitive..."
"I'm not recording you," Virgil said.
"Yeah, but somebody might be, you never know," Duncan said. Virgil could imagine him looking over his shoulder. "We have the most amazing surveillance stuff now, right here at BCA. I've been messing with it all week. Anyway, get your ass up here tomorrow. The governor would like to see this solved by the end of the week."
"It's already Thursday," Virgil said.
"Better get moving, then," Duncan said.
Virgil didn't want to go to the Twin Cities to mess around in a Minneapolis murder investigation. The cops there handled more murders in a year than did the BCA, and were good at it.
Virgil tried to tap-dance. "You know I'm supposed to be working that thing in Fulda... there are some pretty influential religious groups..."
Duncan interrupted: "Are you towing a boat?"
"A boat?" Virgil could see the Ranger Angler riding high and still damp in the rearview mirror.
"Don't bullshit me, Virgie. That thing in Fulda is weird, but it's basically chasing chickens and you're towing your boat, which means you don't care about Fulda any more than I do. Get your ass to Minneapolis. I got you a room at The Graduate, by the U. It's your dream hotel — it's got a beer joint, a Starbucks and the piece de resistance, an Applebee's. Mmm-mm."
"Does sound good," Virgil admitted.
"The kind of place I'd stay. Any questions?"
"All kinds of them, but you won't have the answers," Virgil said. "Talk to Trane before I get up there, so she'll know I'm coming and it's not my fault."
"I can do that," Duncan said. "I'll blame it on the governor. Anything else I should know?"
"There's a UFO hovering over Iowa, due south of Blue Earth," Virgil said.
"I wouldn't be surprised," Duncan said. "So: I'll email the media coverage on this killing. You'll have it before you get home."
"I'll be home in about five minutes."
"No, you won't — you just crossed I-90 heading north. We got a new toy and I'm tracking your cell phone. Have been ever since you pulled your goddamn boat off the goddamned Mississippi."

The Fulda incident.
A minister with the Universal Life Church — "Get Ordained Today!" — had married six people, three men and three women, to each other as a group, and they'd sent a group nude photo off to the New York Times, which (of course) had published it on their "Vows" page, with the appropriate black rectangles covering the naughty bits, along with a narrative of the ceremony.
"We believe there should be no barrier whatsoever to personal sexual expression, in whatever combination the voluntary participants feel to be genuinely authentic," blah blah blah.
If the group wedding had actually taken place, it violated Minnesota law. Various conservative ministerial associations had demanded action. Action required investigation to make sure that nobody in officialdom was getting his or her weenie pulled.
Virgil was the designated hitter, but when he got the assignment, his eyes had rolled so far up into his head that he could see his scalp. He had not yet begun to investigate despite increasing pressure. When asked why, by an attractive if somewhat hefty Rochester television reporter, with whom he was sharing a bag of doughnuts in the Mankato Dunkin' Donuts, he'd unwisely replied, "I had to wash my hair."

He took the opportunity to negotiate with Duncan: "If I investigate up in Minneapolis, I won't have time for Fulda."
"I understand that. If you're out of pocket, I'll pass the word to our new attorney general and get him to send one of his own dimwitted investigators out there."
"Man, you're developing the righteous bureaucratic chops," Virgil said, impressed.
"I am, it's true," Duncan said. He'd once been a competent investigator. "I'll call Trane and tell her you'll be there by noon tomorrow."

Virgil pulled into the farm an hour later, backed the boat into the barn next to the new used compact John Deere tractor they'd bought the previous autumn. They'd rigged it for snow plowing, as well as general farm utility use, and a good thing: the past winter started off easy, but turned ugly in late January and stayed that way. By early March, they'd had a snowdrift in the side yard that reached up to the lowest wire on the clothesline. Then came April and thundersnow. Now, in early September, the snow was gone, barely, and the tractor was hooked up to an aging hay baler.
The farm belonged to Virgil's pregnant girlfriend, Frankie, who was expecting twins sometime in the next couple of months. An ultrasound said they were getting one of each. Frankie, her blond hair done in a pigtail, waddled across the barnyard to meet him.
"Catch anything good?"
"Walleyes. Johnson Johnson's going to clean and freeze them, we'll have a fish fry the next time we go over."
"Good. Listen, Rolf is baling tomorrow — it looks like it could rain Monday, so we got to get it in," she said, squinting up into the UFO-free sky.
She was talking about hay, which was already cut and laying in windrows in the alfalfa field. Rolf was the oldest of her five sons.
"Aw, jeez, honey, Jon Duncan called..."
Fists on her hips: "You're trying to slide out of it again?"
"Hey, c'mon, it's work. That professor who got killed up in Minneapolis. Jon wants me up there by noon tomorrow..." He was tap-dancing like crazy.
"If you leave here at ten o'clock, you'll get there in plenty of time, and if you get up at five, you could throw for four hours before you have to clean up."
"Five o'clock? Mother of God, Frankie..."
"Well, I can't do it. Goodyear called and offered me a hundred dollars to paint their logo on my stomach." She was blimp-like. She'd started out short, slender and busty, and now, sometimes, seemed to Virgil to be wider than she was tall.
"Ah, well. Another couple of months, babe..."
She rubbed her stomach: "I don't know. I've been through this a few times, and I think it could be sooner. Hope so. This is getting to be a load."

Virgil rolled out the driveway the next morning at 10:15, having kissed both Frankie and his yellow dog, Honus, good-bye. He took two days of clothes, figuring he wouldn't be working on Sunday and would be back home. On the way out the door, Frankie called, "You wanna know what was the last thing Honus licked, before he kissed you good-bye?"
Well, no, he didn't, but he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, thinking, Probably his balls. I hope his balls.
Though the morning had been cool, Virgil's aching arms and neck were covered with thin red scratches from the bales of dried alfalfa he'd been throwing; it would have been much worse if it'd been hot and he'd had to work in a tee-shirt. They still hadn't gotten in more than half the field, but Frankie's second and third oldest boys, Tall Bear and Moses, would be throwing that afternoon.

Virgil liked all the aspects of living on a farm, except for the farm work. His parents always had a garden and the teen-aged Virgil was expected to put in time picking and pulling and shucking, not because they needed the food, but because it was good for him. Later, as a teen-ager, he'd detassled corn to make summer money.
He hated it all. He was a rocker, not a horticulturalist.
Frankie kept an oversized vegetable garden — potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, green beans, like what — out behind the barn in what had been, decades earlier, a pig sty. A variety of annual flower and herb beds sprawled along the driveway and the front of the house, and all had to be prepped, planted and harvested.
A month earlier, Virgil had yanked a stunted orange dirt-smelling carrot out of the ground, had flicked an earthworm away, and had said, "All of that fuckin' work, for this? Are you kiddin' me?"
Frankie'd laughed. She thought he was joking. He wasn't.
And she had that clothesline in the side yard, left over from the seventeenth century or something. She had a perfectly good clothes drier, but she made Virgil tote the wet bed sheets and blankets out to the clothesline in the summer, because, she said, they smelled like sunshine when they were dry. Virgil had to admit she was right about that.
But carrots? You could get a perfectly good bag of peeled carrots at a supermarket for what, a couple of bucks?
And that was more carrots than he'd eat in a month...

He cut highway 169 at St. Peter, headed north, rolled past the farm fields and suburbs and then onto the Interstate highways, up I-35W toward the glass towers of downtown Minneapolis, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore on the satellite radio singing "Downey to Lubbock." If he could play guitar like Alvin, or the harp like Gilmore, he'd now be famous in Texas, Virgil thought. Part of Texas, anyway. Okay, maybe only in Cut-and-Shoot, but somewhere in Texas.
He parked outside the Minneapolis City Hall in one of the spots reserved for cops, put a BCA card on the dashboard, sighed, and went inside.

The Minneapolis City Hall was not a pretty place, inside or out, and was the most barren public building Virgil had ever been in. Narrow empty hallways were punctured by closed doors that rarely seemed to open at all. Hard benches that resembled church pews were spotted along the hallways, but he'd never seen anyone sitting on one. Strange things were undoubtedly happening behind all those doors, but he couldn't imagine what they might be.

Minneapolis homicide was part of a broader department that included other violent crime units. Entry was through a tiny dark anteroom where a young woman sat behind a window from which she could check visitors. She looked at Virgil's ID, said, "Let me get somebody..."
The door to the interior popped open a minute later and a balding cop with a coffee cup and a smile said, "C'mon... I'm gonna want to listen to this."
Virgil said, "Aw, man..."
The office consisted of an L-shaped room with two long, narrow legs that ran around the corner of an exterior wall of the building. Working cubicles were backed up against the outer wall, each with two desks on opposite sides of the cubicle. Large windows let light into the space.
The cubicles were not overly tidy; sport coats and jackets were hung from the cubicle walls, and paper was everywhere. The cop led Virgil down the hall past a half-dozen cubicles, most empty, others with cops looking at computers. He stopped halfway down the left leg of the office, pointed at a cubicle two down from where they were standing, and half-whispered, "She's in there," as if she were a dragon.

Margaret Trane was a sturdy fortyish cop with twenty years on the force. She had short brown hair, brown eyes, and was dressed in blue nylon slacks with leg pockets, a white shirt and a blue jacket. Virgil peeked into her cubicle where she was peering near-sightedly at a computer screen. She became aware of his presence, turned, frowned, checked his cowboy boots and T-shirt and asked, "Yes?"
"Okay. I'm Virgil Flowers... I was..."
"I know who you are, Flowers," she snapped, leaning back in her chair, not bothering to hide her anger. "What do you want from me?"
"A little less hostility would help," Virgil said. "I don't want to be here any more than you want me. If I can figure a way to get out of this job, I'll be gone."
"You're pals with the governor."
"No. I don't like the governor. He's a weasel," Virgil said. "I once did something that helped him get elected..."
"I know about the school board thing," Trane said. Her voice was still cold, her eyes as frosty as her voice, and skeptical. "What do you want?"
Virgil shrugged. "Here I am. I thought if I could review what you've already done..."
"Everything we've done so far has been useless, so there's not much point," she said.

Virgil took a breath. "Look. I can start all over, by myself, get everybody confused about who's doing what, and you won't see me again. Be a big waste of my time, probably irritate the hell out of a lot of people, including you, but I can do it. Or, I could look at your reports and start from there."
She opened her mouth to reply, but before she got a word out, a man who'd walked up behind Virgil, said, "Margaret, could I speak to you for a moment?"
Trane said, "I'm..."
"I know what you're doing, Margaret. Step in here." He nodded at an interview room, across the hall. "Right now."
The man was tall, thin and balding, wore gold-rimmed glasses and rumpled gray suit pants and a white shirt. He had an empty holster on one hip; a cop who could have done advertisements for an accounting firm. He nodded at Virgil as Trane got up and brushed by him into the interview room. He said, "We'll be just a moment," and closed the door.

The cop who'd pointed out Trane had been eavesdropping from the next cubicle. He stepped out with a grin and said, "That's Lieutenant Knox. Nothing like getting off on the right foot, huh? Trane's now getting her ass handed to her by the lieutenant, which will make her even happier than she already was."
Virgil said, "I can understand why she's pissed. I would be too, in her shoes."
"Yeah, but here you are, a cowboy with actual cowboy boots, likely with horse manure in the insteps, and a band shirt, so you probably enjoy standing around bullshitting with people on street corners. Maggie, on the other hand, does not do bullshit. At all."
"What's wrong with my shirt?" Virgil was wearing a vintage Otis Taylor "Trance Blues" T-shirt available only on selected internet blues sites.
"It's not that often that you see a cop wearing one, unless maybe he's undercover," the cop said.
"I'm trying to elevate fashion standards among law enforcement personnel," Virgil said. "So... Trane. She smart?"
"Yeah, she's smart. Smart as she is, the StarTribune says she's baffled. What pisses her off is, she actually is. Baffled. She's got no clue of what happened over at the U. No suspects, no prints, no DNA, no murder weapon, no time of death even. She doesn't even know for sure why the dead guy was where he was, or how he got there."
The door to the interview room opened and Trane scooted out, almost as if she'd been kicked in the ass. She scowled at Virgil as the lieutenant disappeared down the hall, pointed at an empty desk and said, "That desk belongs to a guy on vacation. You can use it until he gets back. He'll be back in two weeks, but a highly qualified investigator like yourself probably won't need more time than that. All the drawers are locked, but you can use the computer. I'll open my files for you. Let me know when you're done and I'll close them."
Virgil said, "I appreciate it. While you're doing that, if you could point me to a men's room..."
"I'll show you," the other cop said. "I'll walk you across the street to the cafeteria, give you the lay of the land." To Trane, he said, "We'll be a few minutes. You should go lie down in the lady's room and put a cool damp hanky on your forehead."
"Fuck you," Trane said, but not in the mean voice she'd used on Virgil. She was already settling back in front of her computer.

Virgil had been to the Minneapolis cop shop a few times, but the cop, whose name was Ansel Neumann, and who was a detective sergeant, gave him the full two-dollar tour. They wound up in a cafeteria in the government building across the street from City Hall. The two buildings were connected by an underground tunnel, the government building tall and modern and now, after a few decades of being modern, a little shabby; the City Hall was old and squat and ugly, with dim empty hallways with ranks of closed doors and stone floors that kicked echoes out from your feet when you walked through them.
They ordered some kind of pie, which was yellow and might have been custard, or possibly banana, and Neumann briefed Virgil on the computer system, and what he could expect in Trane's files, as well as a review of what the media was doing.
"They've been all over Trane's ass — a Channel Three crew ambushed her out at her house during dinner and they spent some time yelling at each other. She's got a problem."
"Why take it out on me? I understand not wanting an outsider, but..."
Neumann: "Because it suggests she can't handle the case?"
"I'm not doing that."
"No, but guess what happens when the governor's fair-haired boy shows up here and the case gets solved? Who gets the credit? Who's the village idiot? Trane figures she's going to wind up sitting in the corner with a pointy hat on her head."
"Ahh... shit."

When Virgil and Neumann got back to the homicide office, another cop had shown up and was eating a tuna salad sandwich at the desk over the cubicle wall from Trane. Trane was again peering near-sightedly at her computer screen. Virgil said, "Margaret?"
"What?"
He tipped his head toward the interview room: "Step in here for a minute. We need to talk."
She launched herself from her chair, followed Virgil unto the room, closed the door and crossed her arms. "What?"
Virgil held up his hands in a placating gesture: "I don't think you need my help. I'm not here voluntarily. I'd be pissed if I were in your shoes and I told Ansel that. I understand it. But we're stuck with it. If we figure this thing out, I'll disappear. Nobody from the media will ever hear my name and if anybody asks me, I'll tell them you ran the show. Because, honest-to-god, I don't need this."
She unfolded her arms. "It's just... insulting, you know?"
"I know how you feel about it. You know Lucas Davenport, right? You must have overlapped." Davenport had been a Minneapolis homicide cop before he went on to the BCA, and then to the U.S. Marshals Service.
"Yeah, he's a friend," she said.
"He's a friend of mine, too. We're almost best friends, in an odd way," Virgil said. "Give him a call. See what he thinks."
She nodded, if still a bit grudgingly. "Okay. Let me open the files for you. And I will give Lucas a ring."

Chapter Three

Virgil spent the afternoon reviewing Trane's work; the room was cool and damp and smelled like paper and floor wax. He got up to walk and think, a few times, wandering over to the government building. A few people stopped to peer into the office, checking the guy with the blues T-shirt.
Trane asked, "How are you doing?" a couple of times, and he said, "Good. You're a good reporter," and she was, and she went away, possibly mollified, possibly to pee.
Her reports were chronological, rather than ordered by subject matter, so Virgil made notes on a yellow legal pad, organized by subject.

There was one picture of the murder victim, Professor Barthelemy Quill, when he was alive, an informal portrait in his laboratory that looked like it might have been taken by a newspaper reporter — it had a newsy look.
Judging from a door behind Quill's shoulder, he was a tall man, over six feet. He had neatly trimmed short hair, originally light brown or blond, now shot through with gray, and a full head of it. Under the hair was a sober oval face with thin blond eyebrows and sharp blue-gray eyes that said, "I went to a private boy's school and then off to the Ivy League" — a face you'd see on a high-level federal prosecutor or Naval officer.
The file also included a couple of dozen digital prints of the body as it was found, before it was moved and during the move, as well as closeups of the entire carrel and the area around it.
The blood from the head wound appeared black against the fair hair both at the wound and where it trickled down Quill's skull to create a stain on stone-tiled floor under his chin. He was wearing gray slacks, a gray shirt and a black sport coat. The ensemble gave him the aspect of a vampire, especially since his lips were pulled back in a death grimace, revealing a long eye-tooth.
Trane had interviewed more than fifty persons who'd known Quill, including his estranged current wife, two ex-wives, two ex-lovers, all the lab employees, colleagues at the university and the neighbors, and a group of academics with whom he was feuding. She'd extracted from them narratives of their relationships with the dead man, and accounts of their locations on Friday and Saturday.
The academic feud had taken quite a bit of Trane's time: there had been some violence involved, and she'd done interviews with both Quill supporters and Quill haters.

Trane had trouble determining the victim's exact time of death, because Quill had been known for solitary walks around the campus. He'd left his lab, alone, at one o'clock Friday afternoon and hadn't returned. He hadn't shown up on Monday, either, which was unusual, but not unprecedented. His laboratory director had tried to call him twice on Monday, but Quill's phone was apparently turned off. That was not unusual — he famously hated being interrupted "by any idiot who can poke a number into a keypad."
Because Trane hadn't been able to determine an exact time of death — the medical examiner pegged it between Friday evening and noon Saturday — she'd been unable to eliminate alibis of the people closest to Quill, or those who'd been involved with Quill in a vicious campus controversy concerning the relationship of medicine and culture.

Quill had an office and lab in Moos Tower, a research center on campus. He would spend mornings there, arriving around at eight o'clock after a stop at a Starbucks where he picked up coffee and a slice of banana or pumpkin bread, which he ate at his desk.
The next few hours were spent conferring with his senior lab assistants and reviewing on-going work. In the afternoons, he often left the lab to walk and think, sometimes returning to work into the evening on scientific papers. The lab's work had been published in all the major medical journals concerned with spinal injuries.
Trane noted that Quill's lab workers called him either "Barth" — not Bart — or "Dr. Quill." He had a medical degree, but had never used it to practice; he also had a PhD in bio-medicine and had done advanced work in bio-robotics.
After leaving the lab on Friday, Quill had met with a professor of micro-surgery and a professor of radiology at the university medical center. That meeting lasted until about three o'clock.
He'd been sighted by two medical students at Coffman Memorial Union around three o'clock, at the coffee bar; and may have been sighted by two neighbors, walking near his home around five o'clock, but that was uncertain.
According to Trane's reports, Quill lived alone in a large redbrick house on East River Parkway, within long walking distance of his lab. In good weather, he often walked, and occasionally biked, to the university. If he'd actually been spotted by the neighbors, that was the last time he was seen alive by any witnesses Trane had been able to locate.

Quill's estranged wife lived in a condo, owned by Quill, east of the University. At the time of his death, they were negotiating the terms of a divorce. There was a severe pre-nuptial agreement. Interestingly, the estranged wife would get little of Quill's money, and no alimony at all, if they divorced while he was alive, but would inherit a substantial fortune if he "pre-deceased" her.
Virgil said, "Huh," but noted that the wife had an iron-clad alibi — she was also an academic, and had been in Cleveland for a conference on the structure of natural languages. That didn't mean she couldn't have had an accomplice to do the killing.
The will — actually a revocable trust — precisely dictated what would happen with Quill's estate when he died. Other than his estranged wife, nobody would get more or less if Quill were killed yesterday or thirty years later; but most would get it sooner if he were killed yesterday.
His daughter was an exception. Under the terms of the trust, she was to be paid sixty thousand dollars a year until she was thirty, the money intended to cover her education. After age thirty, she wouldn't get another nickel, ever. Since she was already getting the payments from the trust, it made no difference to her when or whether Quill died.

Trane had gone to Verizon, Quill's phone service provider and had extracted a record of where the phone had been. The phone had been turned off around six o'clock on Friday night, but Verizon's automated system had continued to track it until midnight. Quill had been around his house and neighborhood until about 9:30, when he'd left the area of the house and had driven to an area known as Dinkytown. He left his car in a private parking lot and never went back to it.
After leaving the car, he wandered around on foot, with no protracted stops. Then the phone traced a walk across the campus and then across a footbridge over the Mississippi.
A midnight, the phone had been turned back on, in the library — but then, ten minutes later, again outside the library, it had disappeared altogether. At six o'clock the next morning, it popped up again, on the footbridge between the east and west banks of the Mississippi. A Google search had been made on Starbucks, perhaps to check opening times. The phone then was carried to the library, which didn't open until eight, had been turned off again at the library, was tracked for a few more minutes, and then disappeared again. It hadn't yet reappeared on Verizon's records, or been found.
"You're telling me that he was killed Saturday morning, before the library opened. He must've had a key to the outside doors, to get up to his carrel," Virgil said to Trane.
She turned from her computer. "He had a key, no question about that," Trane said. "We don't know who gave it to him. Of course, it's possible that somebody with a key let him in. I talked to an assistant at the library who said she saw him once, very shortly after the library opened, coming out of his carrel. Not to say that he couldn't have been waiting outside and got in the minute it opened, but she had the impression that he might have slept in the library. Doesn't know for sure. I originally thought he must've been killed after six-fifteen, the last time we can locate his phone, but now...
She pressed a hand to the side of her face, thinking about it, and Vigil asked, "What?"
"I keep reminding myself, I know where the phone was," Trane said. "I'm not a hundred percent sure where Quill was — that he was with the phone. The phone wasn't with the body and neither were the computer or his keys. We know he kept his house and office keys on his car key-fob. He was driving a BMW that night -- the BMW that we found in the parking lot."
"If Verizon can track phones when they're turned off..."
"They can, if the battery isn't pulled..."
"... then what happened when it disappeared? He took the battery out?"
"That would be one way, but there are a couple of others. You can buy cases that shield phones from electromagnetic radiation. Maybe he had one."
"Or the killer did," Virgil said.
"Yup. Or the killer did. It's possible he was killed at midnight and the subsequent tracks were the killer. It's also possible that Quill had a phone shield. Met somebody at the library, dropped his phone in a shielded case so he couldn't be tracked, spent the night somewhere — maybe a woman? — then went back to the library the next morning and was killed then. None of his lab associates ever saw a shielding case. If he was deliberately shielding his phone at times, he might have kept it a secret. The Verizon records don't show any previous instances of shielding, though."
"Then if the phone was shielded, it was mostly likely the killer who did it," Virgil said.
"You could make that argument. If that's right, then Quill was mostly likely killed at midnight. But then, the killer would have had to have had Quill's phone code, because it popped up again the next morning."
"All this only applies if Quill's phone had an access code, or maybe a fingerprint code..."
"He did have a code and he kept it secret," Trane said. "We know that from his wives... and he hadn't changed phones since the second divorce."
"If he kept it secret from his wives, is it possible he was having affairs?" Virgil asked. "Visiting hookers?"
"It's possible and I've asked that question," Trane said. "Nobody knows of that kind of history. He apparently was sexually straight, his wives agreed that he was always sexually active, and even a little rough, but he wasn't driven by sex. He was driven by his research."
"Rough? How rough? Violent?" Virgil asked.
She shook her head. "Nothing like that. Muscle-y. He moved them around enough that they sometimes had bruises — but none of them said they didn't like it."
"He was a strong guy, then?"
"Not a body-builder or a weight lifter, but three times a week at the gym, doing a full circuit, working hard at it. He owned a Peloton bike, it's at his house, and Peloton records show he worked out almost every day, for exactly half an hour, but heavily. He was in good shape. No. He was in great shape."
"Yet no signs that he resisted the killer?"
"The killer hit him from behind," Trane said. "He never saw it coming."

The murder weapon was unknown. People who'd spoken to Quill at his library carrel said Quill kept a large and powerful laptop computer there. The computer was missing, but Trane had learned from credit card records that Quill had spent more than twelve thousand dollars on a high-end laptop, a Dreambook Power P87 the year before.
She'd found a similar laptop with an identical case and the medical examiner had confirmed that a corner of the laptop could have done the damage to Quill's skull — but Trane didn't have the actual laptop, so that was also uncertain.
Virgil asked Trane, "Is it possible that there was something on his computer or phone that somebody was desperate to get?"
She shrugged. "Who knows? I've asked the question, but nobody can think of what it might be. He was a research scientist, but not a loner. There are extensive notes on everything done in the lab. This laptop... we know Quill wasn't a gamer, he didn't play video games. This thing had fast processors and a lot of storage, and would work well for virtual reality work. His top assistant said you might use it to display and manipulate MRI images, but he didn't know why Quill would try to hide that, why he'd be doing it in a study carrel. They have plenty of computer power in the lab. Still... he had a huge amount of power there. He must've been using it for something."
"Maybe he screwed something up, with a patient, and wanted to keep the images where only he could see them."
"That had occurred to me, too. There is a lawsuit involving one of his patients, a suicide, but I don't see anything there. Virgil, this is something I've been struggling with, thinking he might have a secret life of some kind — but all of his work is very public. I mean, it's all done in teams. When surgery is involved, he doesn't do it, a team of surgeons does it. I cannot, for the life of me, find anything in his professional life that he'd eant to hide."
"Okay."
"One other thing: that computer is a fairly rare thing. I've been watching the local Craigslists and ebay and I've been Googling 'for sales', and the computer hasn't shown up on any of that. It could be in the river."

Virgil finished taking notes at three o'clock. Trane had been coming and going while he worked and when he kicked back from the computer, she was coming in the door with a paper cup of coffee.
"Finished?"
"Not really. I need to think about it all. You get any... vibrations... from anyone?"
"I got vibrations from a lot of people. Quill was highly respected but not much liked," Trane said. "A couple of people hinted that he wasn't particularly generous with credit for scientific papers. That's a big deal at job-hunting time, for young scientists. His ex-wives didn't like him. I asked why, and they said he was cold, mean, arrogant. Everything but violent. He had a child with his first wife, a daughter, who also didn't like him much, although he supported her and his first wife quite adequately for more than twenty years until his death. His daughter goes to St. Thomas. She's pretty much a slacker... a C-to-B student, though her mother says she's bright enough. She doesn't want to work, that's all. Doesn't want to work, ever."
"Does she inherit anything? Outside that trust?"
"Nope. She gets a trust fund payout until she's thirty, enough to pay college tuition thought a PhD, if that's what she wants, and to eat and live in a decent apartment. Then it ends. She gets nothing more in the will. Of course, if he'd lived, he could have changed that."
"How old is she now?" Virgil asked.
"Nineteen. I interviewed her. She wasn't too upset about him getting killed," Trane said. "He wasn't present as a father — only his money was. I gotta say, my impression was that she's way too lazy to actually kill somebody, and she's got a solid alibi for the whole time period when Quill was killed."

"Quill seems to have been successful with women, on some level? Girlfriends? Jealousy?
"Not finding it. Hasn't dated recently, as far as I've been able to determine, but... maybe. I'm still looking. Nobody's come forward. His wife and his exes say he was incredibly smart, which was why they were attracted... and of course, he had family money. Quite a bit of it. Money's often attractive in a man."
"I wouldn't know. I've had to rely on my good looks and personal charm," Virgil said.
She gave him a mild stink-eye, unsure whether he was joking or not and Virgil said, "You've got to get used to my sense of humor."
She said, "I talked to Lucas. He said you weren't a terrible guy, most of the time. Nothing like Hitler, anyway. I was supposed to remind you to keep your hands off his daughter."
"That's a Davenport joke," Virgil said.
"I got the impression that it was a ninety-percent joke and a ten percent death threat," Trane said.
"Yeah, that's about right," Virgil said. "So. In five hundred words or less, tell me what you've figured out."
"Won't take five hundred words. He was killed in the carrel. He must've had some trust in the killer, because he turned his back on him, in a close space — the killer almost had to be inside the carrel with him. If it was a 'him.' It might not have been, because the carrel would be crowded for two males. If the killer is a 'her,' she's strong. I've tried lifting a similar laptop over my head, quickly, and then swinging it down hard enough to kill. I can do it, but I'm strong. Twelve pounds, overhead, accelerating, chopping down and doing it fast enough that Quill didn't see it coming... it's harder than you'd think."
"Okay."
"The autopsy gave me nothing more than the cause of death. He had no alcohol or any trace of drugs in his body. Nothing under his fingernails or on his clothes, and no reason there should be, he obviously didn't resist. No DNA."

"Okay." Virgil scrolled down the computer screen, tapped the screen: "You've got all these NCIC files on a guy named Boyd Nash. What's that about?"
"Nash is a... I guess a scientist would say he's a dirtbag. I don't understand zall the details, but he's some kind of scientific predator and he had some contact with Quill."
"Predator?"
"Yeah. He looks for new research that he can get some details on, then he goes to this law firm that cooperates with him... Conspires with him, I'd say. Anyway — give me some rope here, because I don't entirely understand it — they find a low-level graduate student or technician who knows something about the field that the research comes from, and they write up a description of the work and then they file for a patent. When the original company or laboratory tries to use their own research, the law firm files for a patent violation. It's complicated and technical enough that the courts don't usually understand what's going on. Sometimes Nash wins, and sometimes he loses, but if he wins, he can get a substantial settlement, because fighting the court judgment can cost more than the settlement. The law firm gets a third, of course, but Nash can still get out with tens of thousands of dollars."
"In other words, he steals research, pretends it's his, or belongs to somebody he's working with, and uses a court decision to extort a settlement from the good guys."
"That's about it," Trane said.
"You eliminated Nash as a suspect?"
"Not completely, but there seemed to better leads," Trane said. "The night that Quill disappeared, Nash was in Rochester. He checked into the DoubleTree Hotel for a convention... it's in the notes, something like the American Institute for Medical Technology. I talked to him, he gave me names of people he spoke to there, both that night and on Saturday and Sunday when the convention ended. I called those people and it all checked out. He had American Express receipts for the hotel for both nights, Friday and Saturday."
"It's only about an hour and a half each way. He could have been down there until ten o'clock..."
"I know. I worked through all that," Trane said. "It seems unlikely — it's the kind of convention he'd go to, for the contacts he needs, and why would he think he'd need an elaborate alibi? He couldn't have known Quill would be at the library at midnight. And how would he have gotten in the library? Lot of moving parts, there."
"All right. Now — tell me about this big feud that Quill was involved in."
"Oh my God," Trane said. "You ever get in one of those situation where somebody's yelling at you and you feel like your sinuses are getting jammed up by the sheer bullshit?"
"All the time. That's my life story," Virgil said. "What's going on?"

A woman named Katherine Green, Trane said, a newly tenured professor in the University's Department of Cultural Science, had written a well-received book entitled "Cultural Medicine," which argued that medicine which worked well in the West might not work so well in other cultures, or in what she called "micro-cultures."
In a particularly controversial passage, she'd suggested that families in Marin County, California, and Clark County, Washington, had developed their own micro-cultures that rejected the Western imperative on childhood vaccination. The Marin and Clark County micro-cultures' emphasis on a naturally robust lifestyle would likely prove as effective as vaccination, Green said — and possibly more effective.
"That started people screaming," Trane said. "Because it seemed to offer support for the anti-vaccination movement, which mostly consists of uncertified crazies."
The book made it on the New York Times' bestseller list and Green, after making a three-week tour in support of sales, returned to home ground at the university, where she was invited to give a lecture at the Coffman Theater.
"I've seen a video," Trane said. "About halfway through, several people started booing. That started a bunch of arguments and people in the audience started pushing each other around. There were a couple of campus cops there and they got everybody back in their seats, and Green managed to finish the lecture.
"Then Quill got up and said her book was ignorant, unscholarly, uninformed and a bunch of other stuff. Green has a reputation herself — she likes to fight. It seems like she lives for controversy. She called him rude, culturally illiterate, a racist and a few other things, and he called her a silly twat. Yelled it, actually," Trane said. "That set things off again, and they had to call more cops, because it got out of hand — a small riot. A graduate student got hauled away to jail and was charged with assault because he hit another guy with a chair."
"Did it break, like they do on TV?" Virgil asked.
"No," Trane said, a trifle impatiently. "Anyway, Green tried to get Quill fired for sexism, filed against him with the Title IX committee — the twat word. Quill insisted that he'd called her a silly twit, not twat. He was lying, because he did call her a twat. It was plain as day on the video, but there was no way the U was going to fire or even censure Quill. He was way too important."
A week or so after Green's lecture, Quill and three professors from the medical school held an open seminar at the Mayo Auditorium to discuss the wrong-headedness of Green's book and to question the very existence of Department of Cultural Science, which, according to flyers posted in the medical school advocated "Witchcraft vs. Medicine."
"Well, you can guess what happened — Green showed up with staff and students from Cultural Science and they had another riot on their hands," Trane said. "It's been pretty much open warfare since then. Quill proposed eliminating the Cultural Science department entirely — it's hard to get rid of tenured professors, but if their department is abolished... well, they don't have jobs."
"Then everybody in Cultural Science is a suspect."
"Yeah," Trane said. "That would be eighteen faculty and graduate assistants and support staff, and a large but unknown number of students."
"Sounds like you've come down on Quill's side of this thing," Virgil ventured. "You know, intellectually."
"Of course I have," Trane said. "I wouldn't say it on television, but the Green people, the Cultural Science people, are a bunch of Froot Loops."
Virgil leaned back in his chair, put his boots up on the desk and said, "I don't know. I feel the great karmic twang might favor Green-ites. I'll start there, find this Katherine Green."
Trane rubbed her face with both hands: "Karmic twang. Oh my God, he said karmic twang. You could probably go undercover with Cultural Science. They'd love that T-shirt."

From the other side of the cubicle wall, the cop who'd now finished his tuna fish sandwich said, "I thought he said karmic wang."
Trane said, "Shut up," and back to Virgil, "I'll get you a phone number."
"I'd like to go through Quill's house this evening, if it's not sealed up," Virgil said.
"I've got the key, I can meet you there after dinner... like seven o'clock?"
"That's good."
Tuna Fish said, "You oughta tell karmic wang that Green is quite the hottie."
Trane again said, "Shut up," and to Virgil, "I guess she is, but that's irrelevant."
Tuna Fish said, "No, it's not. The hottest sex is always between two people who don't like each other. That's why feminists date drug dealers or drummers at some point in their lives. In your situation, you got the handsome, brilliant, rich and probably horny divorcing professor on one side, and the best-selling academic unmarried hottie on the other. You even look at her boobies? Think there might be sparks?"
"Thank you, Dr. Freud."
"You're welcome. It's better than anything you've come up with," Tuna Fish said.
Virgil: "Give me the number for Green."

Trane gave him the number and asked, "How are we going to do this? You and me?"
"How about if I work it as kind of like... an assistant, or an intern," Virgil suggested. "On my own, because there's no point in both of us standing around looking at the same guy. You do your thing and I do mine and we meet every morning and night until we get the killer."
"I'm happy to you're so... sanguine... about getting him. We had a fifty-percent clearance rate on murders last year. If we don't do better, Knox's going to be the new lieutenant guarding the landfill. I'll be the sergeant in charge of the sloppy wet diaper service dump."
"Aw, we'll get him," Virgil said. "If we don't, I've got an extra pair of barn boots I can give you. You know, for the diapers."