Home > Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)(5)

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)(5)
Janet Evanovich

The usual box of morning donuts was open on Connie’s desk. I chose a Boston Kreme and went to the coffee machine at the back of the room.

“Where is everyone?” I asked Connie.

“Lula called in to say she had to file a report at the police station this morning. Vinnie took Lucille to the airport. She’s visiting her sister in Atlanta.”

Lucille is Vinnie’s wife. Vinnie owns the bail bonds office; Lucille’s father, Harry the Hammer, owns Vinnie. Vinnie is a decent bail bondsman but a fungus in every other way. He has a body like a ferret’s and a face to match. He keeps his hair slicked back. His pants are tight. It’s rumored he’s had an amorous adventure with a duck, and once in a while he fancies a good whipping from the local gypsy dominatrix, Madam Z.

“Sounds like you and Lula had a fun night,” Connie said.

“It defies description. You had to be there. Have you heard anything about the dead man? Have they identified him?”

“Nothing on the dead man, but the factory is shut down. They’re going to have to scour it out and disinfect everything. Was the guy really covered in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts?”

“Yeah,” I said. “It’ll be a long time before I don’t get the creeps when I see a Bogart Bar. And that really bothers me, because Bogart Bars were a favorite part of my childhood. I feel like someone’s trampled on my memories.”

“I know what you mean,” Connie said. “I loved Bogart Bars when I was a kid, and this messes with my mind. It would have been better if the dead guy had been coated in liverwurst.”

I had an instant mental picture of someone coated in liverwurst and flash frozen. I gave an inadvertent shiver and gagged.

“Two new files came in late last night,” Connie said, taking the folders off her desk and handing them over to me. “Assault with a deadly weapon and Simon Diggery.”

Simon Diggery was a professional grave robber. He lived in a dilapidated double-wide south of town.

“What did Simon do now?”

“He got caught digging up Myra Kranshaw. He said he was looking for worms to go fishing and didn’t realize Myra was down there.”

“What did he get off her?”

“Her diamond engagement ring and a pearl necklace.”

“And I assume he didn’t show up for his court appearance.”

“I called him and he said his truck was on the bum so he couldn’t get to the courthouse, but he’d be happy to say ‘Howdy do’ to the judge if he could get a ride.”

I shoved the files into my messenger bag, finished my donut, topped off my coffee, and Lula hustled in.

“Are there donuts left?” she asked. “Because I need a donut. They didn’t have nothin’ to eat at that police station. How is it that they ask you to come in first thing, and they don’t even have a donut for you? And you know they got them somewhere in that building. No cop worth anything starts his day without a donut.”

“How’d it go?” I asked.

“It went okay. I didn’t get arrested or anything. I think I might get charged with careless truck driving or something, but the cop who was taking down the information kept getting confused, so I don’t know what’s gonna come of it all. After a while he stopped writing things down, and his eyes got that far-off look.”

“Imagine that,” Connie said.

“I was being excellent about explaining it all to him, but he wasn’t getting the picture,” Lula said. “And he kept asking me dumb questions, like when was the last time I drove a tractor trailer and did I have a license.” Lula took a chocolate glazed out of the box and wolfed it down. “I’m starved,” she said. “I could use a bucket of chicken. Is it lunchtime yet?”

I checked my watch. “It’s nine-thirty.”

“Hunh,” Lula said. “Seems later than that.”

“I need to escort Simon Diggery to the courthouse,” I said. “Are you on board?”

“Say what? No way. Last time I was almost killed by his snake. You remember we were in his piece-of-doodie double-wide, and his snake jumped out of the closet at me.”

“That was a mop. It fell out when you opened the door, and you freaked.”

“Well, it could have been his snake.”

“I’ll buy you a breakfast sandwich.”

“Done and done,” Lula said. “Let’s go get Diggery. Only we gotta go in your car because I’m not putting him and his smelliness in my Firebird.”

I hiked my messenger bag onto my shoulder, Lula helped herself to a second donut, and we left the bonds office. I stopped at Cluck-in-a-Bucket and took a call from Ranger while Lula ran in and ordered her food.

“Bogart’s plant is shut down for a system-wide cleanup,” Ranger said. “It’s scheduled to go back on line tomorrow morning. Show up at the plant at eight o’clock tomorrow and they’ll find a job for you.”

“Any information on the dead man?”

“Arnold Zigler. He was in charge of human resources at Bogart Ice Cream. Lived alone. Last seen late Friday afternoon.”

“Do you think he could have accidentally fallen into the chocolate mixer?”

“It would have to be after he was shot in the head and frozen solid.”

“Any suspects?”

“I haven’t got any information on that. I’m on my way to the plant now. I’ll know more after I talk to Bogart.”

I disconnected with Ranger, and Lula hustled over with a breakfast sandwich, a bucket of chicken, a side of biscuits with gravy, and a giant soda. I watched her buckle up and dig in to the chicken.

“Aren’t you worried about the calories in all that food?”

“It’s not as much as you might think on account of I got a diet soda. And I was careful to balance out my meal with something from different major food groups. I got fried protein, tasty carbohydrates, and gravy.”

“Gravy isn’t a food group.”

“Say what?”

A half hour later I was on a gravel road that wound through a couple hundred acres of Trenton that had as yet been unmapped by GPS. People who lived here were for the most part off the grid because there was no way they could or would pay an electric bill. Small, ramshackle houses were interspersed with rusted-out mobile homes set on cinder blocks. Broken-down cars and refrigerators littered front yards. Feral cats roamed in packs.

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