The Barker Street Regulars

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Authors: Susan Conant
admittedly pretty ordinary-looking, but think about trace evidence! Put this stone and the pillowcase and the twine under a microscope, and you’ll probably find fibers and maybe even little flakes of skin or whatever that you can test for DNA. I mean, if we get lucky, maybe he slept with his head on the pillowcase. Maybe he had a cut on his hand and bled on the twine!” Instead of rushing to use my phone to summon a team of crime-scene technicians, Kevin reminded me that he’d warned me about that stretch of the river.
    “I was just driving by. I didn’t intend to stop. But obviously it’s a good thing I did. So what are you going to do about it?”
    Kevin shrugged. “It’s M.D.C.” As the signs on Greenough Boulevard announce, the agency in charge is the Metropolitan District Commission. The M.D.C., for reasons I don’t understand, maintains and polices a lot of parks, skating rinks, pools, and other recreation areas in Greater Boston.
    “You know people at the M.D.C.,” I said. “And the crime took place in Watertown. I’m sure you know people there, too.” I didn’t mean just any old people, of course. “And I know I should’ve noticed the license plate.”
    “Make and model of—”
    “Kevin, it was a perfectly ordinary van. Panel truck. With no windows. The kind plumbers drive. Electricians. Or like a delivery van, but with no sign on it, no lettering or anything. Just a plain van. I’m not Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t see anything distinctive about it.”
    “Hey, hey,” said Kevin. “ ’Quick, Watson, the needle.’ I got no use for that.”
    For the past week, Kevin, together with the state police and someone from the D.A.’s office, had been investigating the brutal and highly publicized murder of a Cambridge drug dealer named Donald Lively. Lively, who’d been in his early thirties, had been bludgeoned to death in the parking area behind his lavish condo in East Cambridge, only a few blocks from the courthouse. According to the papers, he’d been operating an elite cocaine operation that catered to software millionaires, wealthy foreign students, and other beautiful people with runny noses. Because of the proximity of Lively’s headquarters to those of the law, the case had received lots of media attention. Kevin and a couple of other investigators working on it had had their pictures in both Boston newspapers and had appeared on the TV news. Kevin was, however, atypically silent about the progress of the investigation. Today, he looked preoccupied and discouraged.
    “That’s some Hollywood version,” I said defensively. “In the stories, Watson doesn’t approve, and eventually, Holmes gets cured. Anyway, Kevin, I want you to find this guy who tried to drown the cat.”
    “You call the M.S.P.C.A.?” The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
    “Yes, but they’re obviously not going to do any-thing. They did ask about his van, but they had no interest in examining the evidence. And if his foot hit this stone when he kicked the pillowcase, he might be limping! That would help. Even apart from that! Kevin, I could identify this man.” I tried to talk Kevin into let-ting me go to the station to look through mug shots. Anyone vile enough to commit assault and attempted murder on an animal would surely have his picture on file in connection with other crimes, too. Kevin didn’t disagree, really. He just said that he’d think about it. He left without the stone, the pillowcase, and the twine.
    After Kevin’s departure, I ran to the local convenience store for cat food, litter, and a disposable cat litter tray that I filled and installed in my bedroom. This time, instead of trying to entice the cat out, I shoved a bowl of smelly canned cat food into its den, firmly closed the bedroom door, and got to work on the dogs. Kimi is easier to bathe than Rowdy. I did her first and then tackled Rowdy, who considers water a form of sulphuric acid that will burn through

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