88.2 Late Thursday afternoon Evie drove to a cold and empty state park parking lot restroom. The sky was overcast and the day darkening.
88.3 She went into a closed stall and began to cut her hair. She watched the blond locks flush away, and kept clipping until it all felt short.
88.4 Then she went out to the sink mirror and trimmed a little more. She quickly mixed the dye and washed it over what was left of her hair.
88.5 It was a cold wait, behind the door of a stall, for the twenty minutes to set the color. She rinsed & towel-dried her clipped hair.
88.6 She pushed the wet towel deep into the trash and walked out just as a woman and child were coming in. Evie looked away and went to her car.
88.7 She ran the motor and turned up the heat to finish drying her now very short dark hair. The parking lot was empty when she drove out.
88.8 She left the car off of a muddy and obscure logging road, a short and winding forested drive from Highway 20.
88.9 Then, in hiking boots, cap & rain parka, bag on her shoulder, she walked back out, by a rushing creek where she tossed her cell phone.
89.0 It was dark now. She thumbed at each vehicle going east then walked until the next one came by. Finally a truck, & the sound of brakes.
89.1 She ran forward to the cab and climbed up. There was a beer logo on the trailer. “Howdy,” the driver said. He drove back into the lane.
89.2 He had a Willie Nelson cd playing. Evie tried to look over at him without turning her head. He was heavy, and had a sand colored beard.
89.3 There was a war tattoo above his wrist. Iraq. And he had a tiny gold loop earring. Finally he glanced over at her. “Kevin,” he said.
89.4 “Holly,” she said. He asked where she was headed. “Oh,” she said, “Just gettin’out, ya know, of a bad situation.”
89.5 “Got it,” Kevin said. “There’s lots of music in there,” he pointed to a storage box below the dash. “Play whatever you like.”
89.6 Evie found an old Patsy Cline disc, and when the Willie Nelson ended she put it in. Kevin smiled and sang along sometimes.
89.7 Evie sat back in the shadows of the cab when Kevin pulled up at a taverns in Corvallis, to deliver kegs of microbrew from Ashland.
89.8 Then he drove south on I-5 to Eugene. He had friends there, out of town. At about 9:00 they arrived at a small, isolated house.
89.9 There was a big pot of clam chowder, and some little kids who finally went to bed. Then Kevin and Evie sat around with the parents.
90.0 The woman was called Sunshine, and she had long black hair. Her man was short and played a banjo more than he talked.
90.1 They passed around a joint, and Sunshine sang some pretty songs along with the banjo. Evie smoked but kept very quiet.
90.2 Later Kevin slept on the floor by the fire and Evie slept on Sunshine’s couch. They got up early Friday morning and drove on south.
90.3 Sometimes Kevin talked about his life. He was anxious to get home to his wife in Ashland, a seamstress with the Shakespeare festival.
90.4 He had a cat there too. It didn’t have a tail and was named Snip. He talked about the swans in the pool in Lithia Park…
90.5 Kevin talked, but Evie just listened. He decided she had been badly abused by some guy back at the coast; he didn’t ask questions.
90.6 At noon they stopped again.“OK Holly,” Kevin said. They were at a truck-stop just north of Ashland. “You can get another ride here.”
90.7 Evie gathered up her bag, kissed Kevin on the cheek & climbed out the door. The big truck rolled away as she walked into the building.
90.8 She bought a long hot shower & a hot lunch. It took another 20 minutes to find a ride in a pickup truck with a cowboy headed to LA.>
[Why is Evie listening to Patsy Cline? I’m surprised. She’s not exactly the first choice of murderous vamps]
[What do you think “Walkin’ After Midnight” is about?]
a6.7 Bill was in an extremely bad mood. The day had not gone well. Various senior policemen had thrown cold water over his ideas.
a6.8 He had been told that his Lockerbie connection was a fantasy he had dreamed up. Matters were made worse when he mentioned Shona.
a6.9 “You seriously expect us to take action on the word of a very junior constable? Even you must admit this is pure speculation.”
a7.0 He was left with the distinct feeling that he was not a favoured person, and that he had wasted people’s precious time.
a7.1 At his desk, Bill’s black Yorkshire obstinacy kicked in. The whole Broxburn business was riddled with messages. Why not Pan Am 103?
a7.2 What could tie a corpse in a nursery garden to a horrific terrorist attack on an aircraft? The answer had to be in front of him.
a7.3 In his mind he dismissed the swathes of facts he had, looking for the ones he didn’t have. The drug. The book. The missing couple.
a7.4 He rang Tom Fordyce. “Tom, have you got that book? Have you read it?”
“Yes, and yes,” came the reply.
“I’d have told you by now.”
a7.5 “You mean there’s nothing?”
“Not that I can see. I didn’t like it, to be honest. It’s a bit contrived. Very American in its thinking.”
[Can I have Tom Fordyce’s telephone number? I need to talk to him about American thinking.]
a7.6 “What’s that supposed to mean?” “Well, there’s a lot of violence. Axes, poison. Plus improbable stuff like diamonds found in a forest.”
a7.7 “Any links to Lockerbie?”
“I don’t think so. There’s a tale where two American tourists are murdered on a coach tour.”
a7.8 “I don’t think that’s it,” said Bill gently. “Better bring me the book, Tom. There’s two young people missing because of it. “
a7.9 Next he rang Andrew Mulligan, painful though it was. “The drug, Andrew?” “Truly,” replied the pathologist, “you read my mind.”
a8.0 “I was on the spur, at this moment, of calling you to enlighten you on the findings of our chemical brethren. Their report is before me.
“And they confess themselves puzzled. They have applied the best alchemical techniques, namely gas chromatography and others, to the sample
a8.2 As I interpret their prose, cousin Bill, they appear to have discovered that your corpse was pumped full of scopalamine.
a8.3 Even I could hazard the guess that Scop was a likely candidate, apart from the digestive problems I believe I mentioned.”
a8.4 “So what are they puzzled over?”
“The drug appears to have been tweaked,”
“Something to do with carbon groups.
a8.5 “Excess levels of tropinone. Hyoscaminine attenuation…Am I boring you?” “I could listen to you all day,” replied Bill.
a8.6 “I could read you the whole paper for your penance. But I’ll spare you and give you some nice conclusions, such as I understand them.”
a8.7 “Please do.”
Andrew Mulligan’s tone changed. “I don’t think you will like this, Bill. The drug is purged of many side effects.
a8.8 The lab suggests the hallucinogenic element may be minimalised, while the amnesic after-effects remain, together with the loss of will.
a8.9 “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Mulligan sighed. “Scopalamine is already the date-rape drug of choice in Mexico, despite the hazards.
a9.0 People die, because it’s a dangerous drug, and unpredictable. But this one isn’t, apparently. The toxicity is minimal.
a9.1 No one has tried it out, but the toxicologists suggest that a small dose is sufficient to make you hyper-responsive to suggestion.
a9.2 When it wears off, you won’t remember what happened. There are a few effects, sure. Massively slowed digestion. Dilation of pupils.
a9.3 But nothing permanent. And no hallucinations to confuse the issue. All that stuff has been taken out by some chemist somewhere.
a9.4 Or maybe by some genetic engineers. It’s plant-based, remember. Remarkable what you can do with plants these days.”
a9.5 “So, what you are telling me,” said Bill slowly, “is that the victim was full of a drug that would make him respond to suggestions.
a9.6 He would do what he was told, and remember nothing? If someone said “lie down among these fruit trees, he would do it?”
a9.7 “Quite probably. And if you asked him to describe his darkest secret, he’d do that too. This looks like a truth drug, Bill. A good one.
a9.8 Some people might say it’s the Holy Grail. I wouldn’t comment on that. But if I had it, I could sell it. Big time.”
a9.9 “So where did it come from?”
“Ah,” said Andrew Mulligan, “That’s your job, detective. We scientists just do the donkey work.”<
a10.0 Friday brought Bill good news and bad news. The good news was that Wee Fergie had been tracked down. The bad was a tweet.
a10.1 Shona rang him first thing. “It came in overnight. ‘Heading towards the truth. Happy times #uncannydeath’. I thought you’d like it.”
a10.2 “Shona, do we really have no way of tracking who’s sending this stuff?” “We could take the legal route, Sir, but do we have the time?
a10.3 “From what I can see, he’s opening and closing accounts and shifting through a variety of proxies. That one was sourced from France.”
a10.4 “France? We’re looking at France?”
“Not really, Sir. It’s just he’s using an anonymous proxy server with an IP address there.”
a10.5 “So he’s not in France?”
“I very much doubt it. But of course, he could be. And he’s stopped using @bigcrimenews.”
a10.6 “So what’s he using now?”
“@fallingleaves, Sir. Opened yesterday.”
“Falling leaves? Is that another message?”
“I couldn’t say.”
a10.7 Bill turned to the good news. Wee Fergie was in a cell for resisting arrest. A police car had been damaged. But he’d talked.
a10.8 Bill had the transcript of an interview which took place at Moffat, a station so small it barely existed. Wee Fergie blamed his girl.
[Such appalling disloyalty. I hope he serves time.]
a10.9 He skimmed the text. She sounded quite a woman “Quite mad….any strays going she takes in…thinks she’s a Goddess…Gave them cash..
a11.0 …cash the business could do with….boy in search of his dead father…girl, don’t know, no idea…crazy foreigner mad on horses…
a11.1 But Bill noticed that while confessing to dropping Janice and Euan at Gretna, Fergie obstinately denied knowing their plans.
a11.2 Bill didn’t believe that for a second. He rang Hawick, where Fergie was currently languishing.
a11.3 “You’ve got plenty to charge him with. Throw the book at him. Tell him his business is up the spout.
a11.4 Tell him his woman is sleeping with a show-jumper. Say his lorry is unroadworthy. Pile it on. You’ll get more out of him, I’m sure.”
[So this is how the questioning is to proceed?]
a11.5 Bill wondered if he should go to Hawick. Probably not. He’d send Tom. Tom was a plodder, but he’d stick to the trail.
a11.6 He turned to the tweet. Truth. Heading towards the truth. Thanks to Mr Mulligan and his chemists, he could now put Truth in context.
11.7 And he had to assume #uncannydeath knew he could. So ‘heading towards’? Some kind of climax approaching? Bill lost his temper.
11.8 No violent gesture or words accompanied this, merely a hunching of the shoulders and furrowing of the brows.
a11.9 But he was fed up with being led down a trail without knowing why. So far, he’d remained silent, just gathering tweets and thinking.
a12.0 Maybe it was time to respond. He called Shona. “Can you reply to this #uncannydeath person?”
“Maybe, if the account’s still live.
a12.1 What should I say?”
“Truth has many faces. What is yours?”
There was a pause. “Just like that,Sir?”
“Yes, dammit, just like that.”
a12.2 There was another pause. “I’ve sent it, Sir. From @LB_Police. A Direct message. Is that OK?”
a12.3 “That’s fine. Keep an eye open for a reply.” He was about to put the phone down when Shona said “Wait.”
“There’s a reply. Almost instantaneous. ”The DVD’s in the post.’ ”
“Just that. ‘The DVD’s in the post’.”
a12.5 Bill’s temper subsided. He was one step behind again. ‘Play it long, Bill,’ he said to himself. You aren’t going to get ahead.
a12.6 He’s thought it all out. Wait for the mistake. It’s all you can do. And hope the postman is on time.<
90.9 Zachary got up at 6 a.m. on Friday. He had slept little and was happy to make coffee and think. He left a phone message at the lab.
91.0 When Emma came into the kitchen in her butterfly pajamas he poured her Cheerios and milk. “Daddy,” she said. “I dreamed I could fly.”
91.2 “No kidding?” he said. “Where did you go?”
Emma drank some juice, sat back & blinked her long eyelashes. “I went to Mexico,” she said.
91.3 “Mexico?” he said. “Why did you go there?”
“I like tacos,” she said. “I think that’s why I went.”
91.4 When Zach reached his office the lab message waited. The new round of tests found a deadly level of aconitine present in Blue’s body.
91.5 It was the toxic essence of the aconite plant, just as Billy had suggested. Death would have followed 2 to 6 hours after ingestion
91.6 So perhaps the fall killed Blue, but he was dying anyway. A supplemental report would be sent to the Medical Examiner’s office
91.7 Zachary picked up the phone again & called Iris. He knew he should go see her, but he was rushed, & somehow comfortable with calling.
91.8 She answered immediately.
“Miss Oat,” he said, “Detective Brown.”
“Zachary will you please call me Iris?” her voice was exasperated.
91.9 “Can you talk for a moment?” he asked.
“Yes Zachary, I can talk. It is not busy here yet this morning.” Iris was in her robe.
92.0 He asked,“Can you think of any reason why Evie Lane would have killed your friend Blue?” Iris frowned, and sat down at her kitchen table.
92.1 “Evie a killer?” she said.
“I am just asking,” Zach said.
Iris thought a moment. “Well she did grab right onto Wendell,” she said.
92.2 “How is that a motive?” he asked
“Oh,” Iris said, “I am quite rich. Could be something to do with that I suppose…”
92.3 “Rich?” Zach was amazed.Then Iris explained about the fortune she gathered from the sale of the paintings. It was a short call.
92.4 Zach considered. Why did Blue have to die? It had to be more complicated than just a break-up made in order to seek a richer mark.
92.5 He rang Jeremy’s cell number. Jeremy answered but his mouth was full. “Oh Dectective!” he said, chewing.
92.6 “I’m coming to see you this morning,” Still chewing.“I followed up on that Evie Lane stuff. I think you better round her up Dectective—“
92.7 Then Jeremy choked and coughed. “Why do you say that?” Zach asked. “What did you find?”
92.8 But Jeremy was still coughing. “Kindly get down here Jeremy,” Zach said.
“Okay,” Jeremy whispered. Zach went to update Owen.
92.9 But there was a call from upstairs. Wendell Oat was in the station, reporting a missing person: Evie Lane. “Send him down,” Zach said.
93.0 Wendell was led into Zachary’s office. He looked terrible. “I was up all night,” he said. “She never came home. I’d made a dinner.”
93.1 “Is anything missing?” Zachary asked. “A suitcase? Her computer? Her cell phone?”
“Her car,” Wendell said.
93.2 “She always has the phone, but she isn’t answering. She just moved in—the big suitcase is still in…the bedroom.”
93.3 “When did you see her last?” Zachary asked.
”Yesterday morning. I was out for a while. There was a note. Said she would be home late.”
93.4 “So I waited. But now…” He looked very sad.
“I want to search the apartment,” Zachary said. Wendell nodded.
93.5 Zachary handed Wendell over to an officer to complete the missing-person report. He didn’t mention the arrest warrant he had planned.
93.6 Jeremy arrived and followed behind Zachary. “There are some secrets about that woman,” Jeremy said.
“Yeah? Well she’s bolted,” Zach said.
93.7 He worked on all the issues: an arrest warrant, a track on the cell phone, a search of the apartment and a bulletin of the missing car.
93.8 He spoke directly with Owen, and Owen set up a release to the media. Evie had about a 18 hour lead on them. Jeremy looked smug.
93.9 When everything was well in process Zach dragged Jeremy back to his office. They settled in chairs. “Okay,” the detective said.
94.0 Jeremy began.“I read Blue’s story and researched every term. I think it’s a real-life thing, biographical.”
94.1 “A memoir,” Zachary said..
“Yeah, that,” Jeremy nodded. He continued. “The drugs weren’t just for fun, or medical.”
94.2 “It was some kind of mind or memory control work. Government run. They were both involved, Blue and Evie, but it not in the same way.
94.3 She was on the fringe of management. He was a lab rat. I think the lists of people are other rats. Some of them are dead now.
94.4 Some are missing. I’ve researched a few live ones — pretty regular people. It may be they don’t recall much about what happened.
94.5 There is something about memory, erasing it. And getting people to do things, manipulation.” Jeremy’s voice trailed off.
94.6 Finally Zach spoke. “She likely poisoned him.”
Jeremy nodded. “Motive?” he said.
94.7 “Money,” Zach said, “and maybe he remembered too much. Get the lab rat info to Owen. He’s looking for help to access that project.