The next few hours were a bit hectic. Greg of course was ecstatic, as was James Lawrence. Tosh and I stayed away from the re-union of the two, as we were a bit busy with the police at the time. They did, in fact, consider arresting us—after all, assault and kidnapping were crimes that we were, technically, guilty of—but a brief radio chat with Greg, followed by a longer discussion between Greg, the campus police chief, the city police chief, and the sheriff (with a late-bid put in on our behalf with a phone call from James) kept us out of the clink and the kidnapper in. But eventually, well after 2AM, we were settled back in our rooms at Pandora's Box, me in my ugly (but comfortable) orange corduroy wingback chair with ice on my shoulder and my sore leg propped up, and Tosh sitting near me, bong in hand, blowing smoke up the chimney as he explained what I had missed while crawling about in camo up on campus.
“First things first, Tosh; who was that guy?”
“Jim Jones. He works at Central Services.”
“Doing student records?”
“No. But he’s made friends there, of course. That gave him access to a lot of information. That's how he hooked up with Smith, for example. There aren't too many Republicans on campus, and Smith is one of the few.”
“How did he know that?”
“Smith is one of those guys who tried to start a fraternity last year.”
“Yeah, that's kind of a hint, huh?”
“Right,” Tosh said.
“But how did you end up finding Jones? I mean, needle and haystack and all that.”
“There were two key points to the whole thing: Sharona being James’ daughter, and who the kidnapper was.”
“But you didn't know who he was when you started dealing with this nonsense,” I said.
“True,” he said. “But when Greg took us to the crime scene”—he shook his head; I guessed that he was remembering that it wasn't even marked as a crime scene, let alone being examined as one—“I saw a few important things that maybe other people hadn't noticed that told me plenty about him.”
Tosh nodded to himself as he mentally ticked off the points; I could almost see him standing there in the redwoods by McHenry, checking items off on a clipboard. “Sharona was captured on campus. The kidnapper was strong, almost certainly male, at least six feet, about 220.”
“How the hell did you know all that?”
“He left faint impressions of his footprints in the redwood duff. Based on the depth of the imprint and the size of the shoe, I could estimate it.”
“In redwood duff?” I said, utterly incredulous.
“Totally,” he said. He grimaced a bit. “At one tree I picked up a few fibers where he must have brushed against it; the fibers were about 5'8” off the ground.”
“You said he was six foot.”
His head came back down to look at me in that familiar way when he was surprised I wasn't following him. ”But it's your shoulders or elbows that are the likeliest to brush against a tree and leave traces.” He nodded a couple of times, “And you’re hips, some; not as much.”
“So his shoulders were 5'8” up, making him around 6' or so.” He gazed into space to get himself back on track.
“And the weight?”
“By the size and depth of the impressions.”
“Seriously, Tosh; in redwood duff?”
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...