Excerpt from the book:
Friday, October 7
Ansel Benedict, public relations director at the university, telephoned at six-thirty Friday morning. His voice sounded hollow. I might want to check the university police department early, he said. “There’s been an accident.”
I scrubbed my face and brushed my teeth, finger-combed my hair into a ponytail, stepped into the stale twills and a mock turtleneck from the chair, slid into the scruffy sandals and darted out the door.
Ben Deuces worked the front desk at university police headquarters. He looked surprised.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
He glanced at the clock on the wall, then back at me. “What’re you doing here? It’s not even seven. How’d you know?”
“Sources.” I gave him a sincere smile. “What kind of accident?”
“A brutal one.” He arched his eyebrows and lowered his voice. “Some Phi O shooting beaver at the Chi Psi Sorority House is what it looks like.”
“What happened? Did they grab him and give him a swirly?”
I sobered. “For peeking in their windows?”
“It’s really strange. One of the girls found his body on the sidewalk early this morning. There was a ladder against the house. His neck was broken. The chief figures he was drunk and lost his balance, but the ladder didn’t fall. And there was something else.”
“What’s that?” I opened my notebook.
“Well, it’s kind of personal.”
“Just say it, Ben. What?”
Ben looked down, studying an invisible something on his desk. “His pants were unzipped and...well, this little bit of ribbon was sticking out. Turned out, it was tied around his....”
My eyes shot to his face. “His dick? He had a ribbon tied around his penis?”
“Yes.” Ben returned my look, curiosity apparently overcoming embarrassment.
“Baby blue?” The question sounded inane.
He squinted. “How’d you know that?”
“Have you called any other law enforcement people?” I tried to keep a lid on an escalating sense of urgency.
“Ben, I need to see Simp. Now.”
“I can’t let you go in there.” He said the words but made no move to stop me. “He’s got Shons and Forester in there, debriefing them. They took the call.”
“Where’s the body?”
“At the infirmary, I guess.”
I marched to the door of University Police Chief Simpson McClellan’s office. “Ben, I’ll tell him you tried to keep me out, but I’m going in there.”
When I opened the door to McClellan’s office, three sets of eyes narrowed. I held up a hand as a sign of peace but stepped inside and closed the door behind me.
“Chief, Wednesday they found a male student’s nude body out in the county by the side of Highway Thirty. He had a rubber band and a baby blue ribbon around his penis.”
Shons and Forester diverted their eyes.
McClellan scowled. “It wasn’t on the radio.”
“The sheriff wanted the ribbon and the rubber band part kept quiet.” I stepped further into the room, staring at McClellan. “I was there. I saw the body.”
The chief looked skeptical and began shaking his head.
“I don’t mean I saw the whole body. Not the ribbon.” Darn, I was getting sidetracked. “You need to call Sheriff Roundtree right now. Have you moved the body?”
“Hell, yes, we moved it. He was there in the middle of the sidewalk, a block off campus.”