Page 27

Dr. Jessup, overhearing this conversation, laughs heartily. But there’s nothing sincerely humorous in the sound.

“I guess Heather’s been working here for so long she’s starting to consider herself an expert in homicide,” he says loudly—but not loudly enough to be overheard by any of the students who might be milling around.

“Yes, well,” Detective Canavan says, “this building does seem to see more than its fair share of manslaughters.”

Dr. Jessup looks slightly queasy upon hearing this, as if regretting having brought up the subject in the first place.

“Here.” Sarah comes running back, out of breath, a slip of paper in her hand. “Here it is, Detective. Jamie Price’s home address and phone number. This is where she is. Or where she will be. So you’ll go question her?”

“Sure thing,” Detective Canavan says, taking the slip of paper, folding it in half, and putting it in his pocket. “Now, if you people don’t mind, I have places to be, things to do… ”

“Of course, of course,” Dr. Jessup says, laying a hand on the detective’s back. “Just one more thing… ”

The two men step from the lobby, followed by the rest of the housing administrators, as well as Reverend Mark and, of course, Muffy Fowler.

Sarah looks at me. She’s still panting.

“He’s not going to ask Jamie what she knows, is he?” she asks.

“I don’t know, Sarah,” I say. “Maybe. Probably not right away. He says whatever evidence they have against Sebastian is pretty convincing.”

Sarah’s eyes are wet again. “Then Gavin’s right,” she says. “We’ve just got to go and ask her ourselves.”

“Sarah,” I say. “I really don’t think that’s a very good idea.”

“A man’s life is at stake,” Sarah insists.

“I’m with Sarah,” Gavin says. “Plus, I think Jamie needs us.”

“Sebastian needs us,” Sarah corrects him.

I look at the ceiling. “This is not happening.”

“And,” Sarah goes on, “there’s no need to rent a car. I know someone who has one… someone I’m sure will be happy to help us.”

I look at her curiously. “You do? Who?”


November turned out to be a friend

But December still finds me alone again

“Calendar Boys”

Written by Heather Wells

“No,” Cooper says.

I’m not surprised. They’ve ambushed him, following me home and—despite my assurances that it’s going to go down this way—insisting he’ll let them borrow his precious and tenderly restored BMW ’74 2002.

Yeah. Because that’s about as likely to happen as my getting up every morning to run a 5K. For the fun of it.

Still. They’re standing in his second floor office, where he has the window wide open to let in the late-afternoon breeze, stray random bullet from the park be damned.

“Cooper,” Sarah says. “You don’t understand. This is an emergency. A young man’s life may be at stake.”

“Take the train,” Cooper says. He’s sitting with his feet on his stupendously messy desk, going through his mail in a bored sort of way. Cooper is usually very tidy in his personal life—he keeps the public areas of his house and even his bedroom almost obsessively neat most of the time.

But his office and car are another story. I can’t understand it. Often it looks like a tornado ripped through both—papers, cheese-smeared burger wrappers, wadded-up napkins, empty coffee cups, Post-it notes with cryptic writing on them, piles of them, everywhere. Periodically he goes through both—the office and the car—and cleans them beyond recognition to sparkling and spartan neatness. Then he starts letting things pile up again. He claims this is how he stays “organized.”

It’s really a good thing that he has me to do his billing, actually, or he’d have no money at all coming in, seeing as how he’d never even be able to find his clients’ statements, let alone send them out on time.

“Sure,” Gavin says. He’s looking at a fly that’s just landed on a particularly cheesy-looking wrapper from Johnny Rockets that’s sitting on top of one of Cooper’s office stereo speakers. “We could take the train. But how are we supposed to get from the train station to Jamie’s house? Huh?”

“Easy,” Cooper says, casually flipping an announcement from Publishers Clearing House that he may be a million-dollar winner onto the parquet floor. “It’s called a cab.”

“I don’t even know if they HAVE cabs in Rock Ridge,” Sarah cries. “In fact, I very much doubt it fits in with their town plan.”

“Tough break, kid,” Cooper says. “Guess you’re gonna have to rent a car.”

“You have to be over twenty-five to rent a car in New York,” Gavin points out.

Cooper looks up from the Victoria’s Secret catalog he’s found beneath the rest of his mail. “Well, what do you know?” he says. “Heather, aren’t you over twenty-five? Oh, but wait… I believe you and I already had a little talk about you getting involved in this particular murder investigation this morning, didn’t we?”

I scowl at the tops of my shoes. I get where he’s coming from. I really do. But he doesn’t have to be so insufferably pedantic about it.

“You guys,” I say to Sarah and Gavin. “Cooper is right. The police don’t need our help. We should probably stay out of this.”

“But Sebastian didn’t do it!” Sarah shrieks.

“Then he has nothing to worry about,” Cooper says calmly, as he hands the Victoria’s Secret catalog to my dog, Lucy. Since she’s been sitting beside him this whole time, patiently waiting for exactly this moment, she lets out a happy doggie gurgle, then slides to her belly and sets to work, methodically ripping the catalog to shreds, and adding to the general detritus already lining Cooper’s floor.

Sarah does not seem particularly soothed by Cooper’s assurance. In fact, it seems to have the complete opposite effect on her. She flops down onto the paperwork-strewn couch across from his desk (fortunately Cooper has an outer office in which he receives clients, and which he keeps scrupulously neat. Were they to see this, the inner sanctum, doubtless his client list would shrink significantly through lack of confidence in his detecting abilities—primarily his ability to find anything in his own office, such as his clients), and, hugging herself, begins to rock back and forth, her gaze fixed on the floor. She appears to be making a slight keening noise.