It was after the Washington Post ran that story on me in the Sunday magazine section.
I had told the reporter why I continued to live in Southeast. Nobody's going to drive me out of my own house. Actually, I think it was the title chosen for the article that pushed Chief Pittman and some others in the department over the edge. The young journalist had interviewed my grandmother while researching the piece. Nana had been an English teacher, and the impressionable writer ate that up. Nana had proceeded to fill his head with her notion that because black people are basically traditionalists, they would logically be the very last people in the South to give up religion, morals, and even formal manners.
She said that I was a true Southern man, having been born in North Carolina. She also questioned why it was that we idolize near-psychotic detectives in films, TV, books, and newspaper articles. Chief Pittman especially took offense. I couldn't prove it, but I believed the story had been placed by someone in the mayor's office.
I gave a one-two-three rap on the door of the headmaster's office and Sampson and I walked in. Before I could say a word, Pittman held up his right hand. The killer's hit two times already. Six people are dead so far. Sampson and I are the senior people on that case.
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Basically, we're it. I've already made contingencies. Their pubic hair was shaved while they were tied up in bed. Were you apprised of that? I glanced at Sampson and saw him shaking his head. Chief Pittman gestured toward the headmaster's inner office. He wanted the two of us inside the room.
I shook my head. I wanted to have witnesses when I was around him. The odor of stale cigarettes billowed out at me.
I know you're a good cop. I know your heart's usually in the right place. Here's what I'm thinking! Six black people are dead already. A crazed, homicidal killer is out there.
He's in heat. He's sharpening his eyeteeth. Now two white kids have been kidnapped, and that's a horrible thing. But I'm already on a fucking case! His face was very red. I decide!
You're experienced as a hostage negotiator. You're a psychologist. We have other people to send into Langley and Condon. Besides, Mayor Monroe has specifically asked for you. So that was it. Now I understood everything. Our mayor had intervened. It was all about me. You're both working on this kidnapping. That's all I have to say to you at this time. Pittman turned his back on us and walked away. We were on the Dunne-Goldberg kidnapping case, like it or not. We didn't like it. The driver was I. It was eleven o'clock.
The BMW streaked to sixty in the few seconds it took to get to the administration building. The motorcycle then braked easily and smoothly, barely throwing gravel. Still seated on the bike, Jezzie Flanagan pulled off a black helmet to reveal longish blond hair. She looked to be in her late twenties. Actually, she'd turned thirty-two that summer. Life was threatening to pass her right by. She was a relic now, ancient history, she believed.
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She had come straight to the school from her lake cottage, not to mention her first vacation in twenty-nine months. Two D. Jezzie Flanagan managed a friendly smile for the two harried-looking policemen. I was on my vacation.
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I race the bike. I raced it here. Jezzie Flanagan took the shortcut across a pristine lawn that was lightly coated with frost.
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She disappeared inside the school's administration building. Neither of the D. Her blond hair blew like streamers in the stiff winter wind. She was definitely stunning to look at, even in dirty jeans and work boots.