Home > Righteous Prey (Lucas Davenport #32)(8)

Righteous Prey (Lucas Davenport #32)(8)
Author: John Sandford

   Like Virgil, he’d been a college jock, a hockey defenseman versus Virgil’s third-baseman. They’d both gone to the University of Minnesota, Lucas twelve years earlier than Virgil. Lucas had once been Virgil’s boss at the BCA, a status that had never impressed either of them.

   “Okay, I know why I’m here,” Virgil said. “Why are you here?”

   “I got a call from Porter Smalls,” Lucas said. Smalls was a U.S. senator from Minnesota. He and the other Minnesota U.S. senator, Elmer Henderson, had conspired to get Lucas appointed as a deputy U.S. Marshal, partly because they liked him and considered him a law enforcement asset, and partly because they could use him. “Sikes was one of his larger donors.”

   “Good to know this is going to be a clean, well-run operation without political interference,” Virgil said.

   Lucas nodded at the cluster of cops in the driveway and said, “Here comes your boss.”

   Jon Duncan shouldered his way through the crowd. Like Lucas and Virgil, he was wearing a parka, jeans, boots, and a mask. Unlike them, he sported a Russian-style fur-trimmed hat with the side flaps tied down over his ears, which exponentially increased his nerd factor. He knew that, and it bothered him not in the slightest, because he was warm. He nodded at Lucas and said to Virgil, “We might turn you around and send you home—the feds are being obstreperous. Anyway, you ought to look at this.”

   “What is it?”

   Duncan handed Virgil a piece of paper that had been folded over twice, and then sat upon in a car, so it held a butt-curve. “A press release from the Five. You need to read it to get the full favor.”

   Virgil unfolded the paper and glanced at Lucas. “You’ve seen it?”

   “Yes,” Lucas said. “It’ll piss you off. Fuckin’ posers.”

 

 

THE FIVE


    We have struck again, as Batman might say, and another asshole is on his—Did we say his? We meant her—way to Hell. This time, we visited the Twin Cities, as we’re sure our beloved Twin Cities law enforcement community will discover tomorrow morning.

    This particular body is in her garage. We stuck her in the heart with a butcher knife and left her lying in a puddle of blood, currently being absorbed, or possibly, sopped up, as the vulgar might say, by her silver fox coat. Pity the poor foxes, we pray you, but not this particular asshole. She was well known both for her insatiable greed, single-handedly putting dozens of workers on the streets, and for her right-wing-crazy politics.

    So that’s Three. We’re tracking Four as we write. Good day to you gentleman and gentlewomen, and please, try to be fair—these people really are gargantuan assholes.

    The Five

    P.S. Once again, the Five have donated one Bitcoin each, now worth a total of $218,050, and have sent the wallet’s address to the Northern Reach Garden Co-Op, for reasons that will become apparent.

 

   Virgil finished reading and nodded. “It’s like the Washington Post says: snide, college educated, politically liberal, knows the difference between ‘lying’ and ‘laying,’ capitalizes ‘Hell’ as a proper noun. Probably rich if he can tell the difference between a mink and a silver fox on the fly. Or, it could be a ‘she,’ I guess.”

   “Doubt it,” Lucas said.

   “The FBI probably has fifty experts arguing about the difference between ‘lying’ and ‘laying’ right now,” Duncan said. And, to Virgil, “You want to look at the body?”

   “Will I learn anything?” Virgil asked.

   “No, but . . .”

   “I know. ‘Always look at the body.’ I think Lucas is responsible for that particular commandment,” Virgil said, tipping his head toward Lucas. “I first heard it at the BCA.”

   “That was me,” Lucas said. “Gets your heart rate up. The murder stops being theoretical. Look in their eyes, if they’re open.”

   “Then we should look,” Virgil said.

   “I already did. I didn’t learn anything,” Lucas said. “There’s a tank of hot coffee in that Minnetonka squad. I’ll get you one, if you want a cup.”

   “I got a bottle of it in the truck,” Virgil said. “Don’t go away.”

   Duncan led the way through the crowd to the garage, which was built of gray limestone from ground level to shoulder height, and from there up, was finished in wooden shingles. The back wall was covered with pegboard on which were mounted rakes, hoes, a sickle, manual hedge cutters, and an empty golf club travel bag.

   Four cars were parked in a line, with two side-by-side overhead doors: a gunmetal-gray Lexus SUV, a red Ferrari, a black Mercedes SUV, and a reddish-orange Porsche Carrera Turbo. A group of cops were discussing whether the Ferrari and Porsche should be seized as evidence, and if so, who’d get to drive them to the impound lot.

   Sikes’ body was on the concrete floor behind the Lexus, a lush fur coat open beneath her, a congealing puddle of blood beneath it. Her face was almost paper-white in death, strong rather than pretty, with blunt features and a mouth that naturally turned down into a grimace. Her teeth were just visible between pale, slightly parted lips; she had a diastema. She had hair the color of last year’s wheat straw, cut efficiently, rather than fashionably.

   “She was stabbed, once, big knife, below the sternum, angling up to the heart, like the press release said. The guy knew what he was doing,” Duncan said.

   Virgil looked at the body for fifteen seconds, learned nothing useful. He could smell the blood. He’d once worked with a female homicide cop who described the scent of drying blood and the off-gassing of dead-body odors as “icky.” Virgil had never come up with a better word for it: a sickly, fleshy smell, with a hint of copper.

   He found the sight of her depressing and felt the first stir of anger. As an investigator who did murders out in the countryside, he’d seen far worse—decomposed bodies not found for days or weeks, crawling with flies and maggots. Still, he felt a touch of nausea from the sight and smell of Sikes, the icky odor of death mixed with a hint of a flowery perfume and the grate of car exhaust.

   Lucas and Virgil were each other’s closest male friends, in the way men form friendships around shared traumatic stress and a predilection for jockstraps. Though they were friends, they were not alike.

   Lucas could look at a body and become immediately absorbed in the technical details of the death: how the killing had been done, possible motives, who had the opportunity. He saw murder as a puzzle. The body was a detail, but not the only one. Murder signaled a competition that he was determined to win.

   Virgil sought balance, rather than a victory. He wanted to wrench his world back into what it should be, a peaceful place where people cooperated to create a civilization. He disliked violence and rarely resorted to it. Murder was always a shock to his system.

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