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Murder On The Mind

Murder On The Mind

Murder On The Mind 21


  * * *

  I wasted the rest of the day with mundane tasks—namely laundry. After dinner, I returned to my cramped room. I needed a desk. I needed more space. I needed my own space.

  I studied the copy of Sumner’s calendar Maggie had given me. The daily register was broken down into half-hour increments. Most of the entries were downright cryptic. Maggie had included a Rosetta-stone-like key for me. Merrill, R1010C translated as a meeting with Bob Merrill in Conference Room 1010. Most of Sumner’s appointments had been right at the bank, the entries made in neat, fat, girlish script—the secretary’s, no doubt. The last entry for Thursday, four thirty, was made in a messy scrawl, which I assumed to be Sumner’s own hand. According to the newspaper, he left the bank about four o’clock and was never seen again.

  I stared at the entry: Ron. Ron Myers? He was a colleague on the same floor. Surely the cops had talked to him—and every other Ron in the building. I’d have to ask Maggie.

  My mind wandered to thoughts of Sumner’s remains . . . or lack thereof. According to the deer hunting book, the internal organs were usually left in the field. Hunting season in western New York State occurs in the fall, when only a deep frost is expected. It had snowed less than an inch in Amherst the night of the murder; it may have snowed more than that on the outskirts of town, and since then we’d had a major snowstorm. I couldn’t remember the weather patterns in and around Lake Erie to know just where the snow belt lay. Instead, I thought about the steaming pile of organs left in the cold night air. What if the raccoons hadn’t gotten them? What if . . . ?

  Richard didn’t have a map of western New York, but he said Brenda had one on the back seat of her car—a Buffalo atlas, which included all of Erie county. My shoes were snow-caked from trudging through the ever-forming drifts to retrieve it. I sat at the kitchen table and flipped through the atlas pages, with no idea where to start looking.

  Brenda shuffled into the kitchen on slippered feet. Although it wasn’t late, she was dressed in a blue quilted bathrobe. “Is that from my car?”

  “Yeah. Rich said I could—”

  “Okay, but I want it put back where it belongs. You want some hot chocolate?”

  “Sure.”

  She got the milk out of the refrigerator and heated it in a saucepan on the stove. No instant stuff for Brenda. She had a cylinder of Ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate and cocoa, and scooped teaspoons of the stuff into large mugs.

  I turned my attention back to the atlas, still with no clear idea of what to look for. The pages flipped past. Whole sections of the book were devoted to the outskirts of Buffalo. I ran my hands over the paper, hoping for some kind of impression.

  Brenda plunked a steaming mug, heaped with fluffy clouds of Reddi-Wip, in front of me, taking the adjacent seat. I took a sip. Better than the cheap stuff, for sure.

  “What’re you doing?” she asked, took a sip, and ended up with a whipped cream mustache.

  I kept fanning through pages, running my hand over the type—waiting for . . . something. “I’m looking for Sumner’s guts.”

  “Are you kidding?”

  “No, I’m not.”

  She wiped her lip with a paper napkin. “What’ll you do if you find them?”

  “I have no idea.”

  She took another sip, watching me as I continued to run my hands over the pages. “What’re you hoping to come up with?”

  “I’m not sure. But as far as I know, the cops haven’t found his insides. What do you know about DNA testing?”

  She looked thoughtful. “I’m sure they took tissue samples during the autopsy. It would be easy to match them.” She glanced down at the page in front of me. “If you find them.”

  My index finger rested on the town of Holland. “I think I already have.”