Chapter 9

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Zandra makes a fist and pounds at the hand forcing her head underwater. It slams into the side of the tub instead. She realizes it's not a hand holding her down at all. She must've slipped beneath the water as she fell asleep.

If the point of those threatening notes is to psychologically terrorize Zandra, it's working.

Zandra rises from the tub and changes into pajamas, although she isn't in the mood to sleep anymore. Her stomach growls, but she doesn't feel like eating, either. Her feet bring her downstairs into Sneak Peek.

She unlocks the front door and freezes. The envelope with her note is gone. It couldn't have been more than 30 minutes since she left it. And there's already a note perched in the gap between the building and the mailbox. Not only that, but there appears to be another severed finger.

Using the sleeve of her pajamas to shield her hand, Zandra plucks the finger and note from the mailbox. The task is somehow less gruesome than before, but it still boils the contents of her stomach.

Upstairs in the condo, Zandra compares the fingers sitting nonchalantly on a plate next to the stove. They're both "wearing" purple nail polish, but one is significantly smaller than the other. She scoots them next to each other until they fit like two spoons in a drawer. It's slight, but they both angle to the right toward their tips. This could only mean the fingers came from a left hand. One is probably a ring finger – minus the ring – and the other a pinky.

The well-manicured cuticles suggest the fingers came from a female, but it's hard to tell. Zandra's not used to sticking her nose so close to severed digits. She compares them to the photo of her "daughter." Can't tell if they match up. The woman in the photo has her left hand inside a mailbox and her right out of view.

The information from her examination doesn't reveal enough to head out the door and find this eight-fingered "daughter" of hers. But the note, that might be more helpful. Zandra takes a look.


Zandra takes a step backward. Her guts feel dizzy in a way they haven't for a long time. It's not so much the fingers in the mail as the stress of the situation. Too much shit happening all at once. The packed calendar on the fridge shows just how badly she can't afford to deal with this. And yet, she chose to taunt this asshole. Hard to stay focused anymore. Decisions about anything don't come easy. When they do, this happens.

But maybe she can wrap this up tonight yet. After sticking the fingers inside a freezer bag and tossing them in the freezer, Zandra leans onto the counter with her head cradled in her crossed arms. Whoever is behind this must be close. That's worse news for him – or her – than it is for Zandra. Because if there's one thing she doesn't do, it's bend to assholes. That's best left to the bathroom, not threats in the mail.

Think. You're a "psychic" detective, aren't you? Get it together. The answer is here. All you have to do is see it.

Zandra runs down a list of traits from the customer Uncle Guss described.

Dvorak keyboard.

1935 Royal Deluxe typewriter.


Horn-rimmed glasses.

Tattoos on arms.

Apartment housing near campus.

It's not a rock solid list, but it's enough to get her started. She adds to it.

Fingers from left hand.

Fingers could be male or female.


That last initialism gives Zandra pause. Even for a Luddite like her, she knows it stands for "laugh out loud." The LOLs seem to break up the note into sentences like periods. Who writes like that? It's not anyone in Zandra's age group. It would have to belong to someone younger.

Which brings her right back to the college crowd. Sure, there are other groups of young people in Stevens Point. But most of them are young professionals. It's not impossible for one of them to use LOL, but it's more likely the initialisms came from a college kid raised in the era of Internet shorthand.

That means Zandra's original hunch about the typewriter being purchased by someone living in the college housing area around campus is probably correct. This game of narrowing the odds is fast and loose, but it's how she built her reputation as a "psychic."

But who in that crowd would have something on Zandra? What loose strings could be hanging loose?

Zandra clenches her jaw when the answer finally hits her. She changes back into her flowing purple gown. It doesn't matter that it's late. Time to pay someone a visit.

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