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.Rudy certainly knew how to handle reporters, but he’d already had quite a day.Even Rudy hadn’t made it inside the second tape, so he probably didn’t know much more than we did.“Ask those guys guarding the line if there’s a spokesman.” There probably wasn’t one, but they might have some tidbits to offer, if he asked nice.The cops were kids.They’d love the attention.Noah hesitated.He’d hoped I could offer a better inside track.When I didn’t, he stepped over to the nearest protector of the peace and was back almost immediately.“They’ve called in the ATF.No official—or unofficial—comments until after the feds arrive.”“ATF, huh.” I looked first at Noah, then at Melvin, who seemed intent on not joining in our conversation.Even Melvin’s concentration was broken by a sharp, loud voice.“Melvin Bertram! Finally, somebody who can tell me what the hell is going on here.”Lionel Shoal, unfazed by his afternoon with L.J.Peters.“My gahdam business is destroyed, and I can’t get one of these stupid hicks to talk to me.They act like mouth-breathing morons.”I felt spines all around us stiffen, and eyes cut toward Shoal.Not heads, just eyes.Shoal seemed un-aware that he was surrounded by hick morons.Did this guy really not have a clue?Melvin murmured quietly to him about the ATF, probably wanting to send a subtle message that he needed to quiet down.“This is a royal effin’ joke.” Shoa L.J abbed his fist at nothing, paced a half step and spun in frustration, anger on a short leash.“I got to find one of these morons that can tell me something, gahdammit.”He stomped off toward the nearest fresh-faced deputy, who’d heard most of the exchange.Good luck, Lionel.“That guy’s got some anger-control issues,” I said.Melvin agreed with a curt nod.“Ready to go?”“Yep.Least we can say we attended this event.”“No postcards to show for it, though.”Noah had picked the wrong time to disappear into the crowd.Shoal’s lack of control could be a reporter’s dream.My feet were numb and tired.I’d forgotten to bring my earmuffs, so I was glad to climb into the heated seat in Melvin’s Jeep.“So, this Noah works for your dad?”I snorted.I’d have to start calling him Clark Kent—there when things started, then gone in a blink.“I’m not sure he even knows what Noah was hired to do.”“Having a go-get-’em reporter in Dacus, that’ll be news.”“Yeah.I can’t quite figure him out.He seems a bit too.I don’t know.”“Out of place?”“Overqualified.This can’t be his dream job.But he apparently loves the outdoors.Drives around with a canoe on top of his car all the time, like he might need to use it at a moment’s notice.”“Waiting for God to break his promise and flood us out again?”“Who knows.” I couldn’t read Melvin’s face, but something in his tone hinted that he’d taken a dislike to the Dacus Clarion’s new ace reporter.I’d leave that topic alone for the time being.When we got back to the office, I climbed into my car.It was well after midnight and too late to wake up Mom and Dad, so I took the direct route to Luna Lake, not the least tempted to take the long way around by Golden Cove.10Monday MorningDespite my late night and black-and-white dreams filled with a sense of anxious waiting, I woke early Monday thinking about Maggy Avinger and her angel.My subconscious had hatched a plan, or at least a likely path.I sailed down from the mountain cabin, trusting all the junior deputies were sleeping in after their late night at Golden Cove.I caught the hospital pathologist in her office and got answers to my three questions: No, they hadn’t done even a limited autopsy on Harden Avinger; yes, they could do a tox or heavy metals screen on an exhumed body; and yes, it would cost a lot of money.Okay, I had answers.No solutions yet, but some answers.The more I mused on it, the more convinced I was that Maggy needed hard evidence to dispel even a hint of wrongdoing.Then she could worry how to keep the monument from being erected.The epitaph would loom larger than the angel, even though she refused to see it.I drove over to Innis Barker’s monument company.Both “monument” and “company,” singularly or together, implied a concern of more substance than the reality.The Dacus Monument Company was a portable metal shed, dented and surrounded by a scattering of sample headstones on the little patch of grass that fronted Cane Street.As I drove up, Innis Barker peered out the door.He looked like he’d been planted on this spot about the same time as the rust-flecked shed.Wiping his hands on a cloth, he had to stoop to step out the door.His overalls were covered in dust, and instead of offering to shake hands, he nodded a curt hello.“How do, ma’am.” His greeting was somber.Guess in his business it was bad form to appear too happy to see customers.“Mr.Barker, I represent Maggy Avinger.Do you have a minute to talk about her husband’s memorial?”He shook his head and wiped more dust onto his face from the rag in his hand.“A bad business, that is.Don’t know how I can help.A bad business.Come around back.”He led the way around the shed to a wooden barn that stood in back, under a sheltering oak.Through an opening in a sliding door, I could see blank stones and what I took to be carving tools and equipment So this was where letters appeared on a headstone, in an orderly, though dusty barn.He motioned to a sunny spot and a weathered picnic table under the leafless oak [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]