With no tests, and no critical homework to hand in, I decided to bail on my classes and spend my time at the Box studying that Friday instead of making the long trip up to campus. Plus that would make me handy to Tosh in case he had any plans that required another pair of hands. And he did. Sort of.
We were sitting downstairs in the living room. Tosh was drinking some coffee, and I was taking a break, re-reading a fantasy novel in a chair next to the fireplace. A couple of people were out on the deck; Carl was practicing his club juggling, Marie and Lucas were sunbathing, and Billy looked like he was reading something. Robert, miraculously, was actually doing the dishes. The others were out and about, I presumed. Well, Jerome and Ralph might be in the garage, sculpting and brewing beer, respectively, but they weren’t in the living room, anyway.
“So, what about tonight?” I said to Tosh.
Tosh looked a little embarrassed. I was getting used to his expressions by now, and could tell that he was going to ask me to do something that he thought I might prefer not to. Given that we had run the gamut from learning to play disc golf to me getting clocked in the head in a dark forest, I braced myself.
“I'm going to need your help.”
“So, where's the band playing?”
“Condoland, but you won't be there.”
“I won't be there.” One of these days, I was going to stop repeating what Tosh was saying to me when the train of his thought left me standing at the station platform; there must be a better way of indicating befuddlement than that.
He shook his head. “I need you up on campus. In fact,” he looked at his watch, “The sooner the better, probably.”
I glanced at the clock on the wall—it was never correct, but always close enough. “Tosh, it's only, like, 11 in the morning.”
“What did you do in the Marines?”
I shook my head like a dog with water in its ear. “What?” After realizing that he wasn’t making some kind of snarky comment about my late-sleeping habits but genuinely wanted to know what I had done in the Corps, I thought for a minute, mentally sorting the list into “stuff I can talk about” and “stuff I can't”. Then I moved a bunch of items from category A to category B on the assumption that he didn't want answers like, “Spent a lot of time cleaning my rifles” or “Learned that insects can be a good source of protein in a pinch.”
“I can't discuss most of it. I was a scout-sniper. I did some covert stuff I can't really talk about.” I grimaced. “Some of it I don’t want to talk about. Why?”
He nodded; I had clearly confirmed some stuff that he had already guessed. Sorry; “deduced”. “I need you to go up to campus and set yourself up under cover near that building we went to when we were playing disc golf.”
I frowned. “I'm not killing anyone, Tosh.”
His eyes got wide behind his glasses. “No, no! I need you there for when Smith comes to get the equipment. My guess is he'll do it around dusk, before it's dark enough for him to need a flashlight.”
“And what do you want me to do to him? Hit him over the head with a rock?” I said hopefully.
“No; just follow him. If I'm right, he'll be taking the equipment to the kidnapper.”
“And you want me to nab the kidnapper?”
“No, he won't be there; he'll show up later. Following someone, if I do everything right.”
“You're not using that girl as bait really, are you Tosh?”
“Baby? No, definitely not.” He grinned with one side of his mouth. “There'll be some bait, but I think you'll be surprised by it.” He sobered again. “Just be ready, if you would. Baby's car is a red Honda Prelude. If my guess is right, you should be able to see it go up the drive to Crown. Just be on the lookout, okay? When I need your help, I'll give you a holler.”
YOU ARE READING
A Study with SlugsMystery / Thriller
It is the early 1980s, and women are disappearing from the university campus in Santa Cruz, California, home of the Fighting Banana Slugs. The local police and state investigators are baffled, and so solving these crimes is left to a dope-smoking...