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.“Very.”Willy absorbed that thoughtfully, adding finally, “And that’s all he does? Eat and brag? Nothing else? No vandalism? No jerking off on women’s underwear? Doesn’t seem worth the effort.”Ron shrugged in response, but his brain began considering the same incongruity.Willy shoved himself out of the chair with his right hand; the other arm, withered by a bullet years before, was anchored to his side by having its hand buried deep in his pants pocket.“I think he’s doing something more, and you guys’re too dumb to notice it,” he declared, heading for the door.“Good thing we only do major crimes upstairs, or I’d make you look bad.You owe me if I’m right,” he added before disappearing to go to work.Klesczewski didn’t take offense.While Patrol had done a good job with the initial response, taking photos, notes, and statements that he’d considered adequate five minutes ago, now he was thinking, like Willy, that a personal visit was in order.* * *Lloyd and Lisbeth Jordan lived on Brattleboro’s northern edge, just shy of the Dummerston town line.It was as close to a suburb as Brattleboro got—a wealthy development that had become over time more like a neighborhood than an entrepreneur’s ambition.Even in such purely capitalist matters, Brattleboro had exerted its quirky socialist influence, softening the hard edge of a real estate venture until it looked merely like a gathering of old hippies, all of whom had just happened to get lucky on Wall Street.Ron Klesczewski knew the underlying truth, of course, for while a few of the houses did look modest enough, he’d been reliably told that almost all of them exceeded the half-million-dollar mark.Certainly the most garish newcomers had tossed self-effacement aside, and gaudily overindulged in columns, fountains, tennis courts, and pools, eroding the gentility that had once charmed and sedated the older residents.The Jordan spread was such an example, slapped on a raised denuded slope at the terminus of a paved dead-end road like a Disney castle on a soundstage.All the surrounding trees had been removed and replaced with acres of manicured, putting-green perfection, allowing for a panoramic view of the West River Valley, true, but inviting the winter’s galelike winds to wrap the building in an annual icy embrace.Ron didn’t even want to imagine the heating bills for forty-five-hundred square feet, all housing a single couple.Not a concern now, of course, in the early summer warmth.The winter just past had been mild, leading most amateur meteorologists to predict a final, late-season snowstorm.But by now, even men as prone to caution as Ron were conceding that spring might be here to stay despite the old-timer’s description of Vermont weather as “nine months of winter and three months of damn poor sledding.”Ron drove up the curved, crushed-stone driveway, past a couple of incomprehensibly abstract lawn sculptures fifteen feet tall, and alongside a dry-laid rock wall, the cost of which probably rivaled his mortgage.He stopped opposite a semicircle of granite steps leading up to a colonnaded marble porch and a pair of solid wood double doors that would have thrilled Mussolini.As he swung out of his car, one half of those doors opened to reveal a stocky man dressed in Docksides, no socks, white slacks, a boldly striped blue shirt, and, of course, a red ascot tucked under his florid chin.“Damn,” Ron murmured to himself.“No yachtsman’s cap?”He slammed his car door and raised a hand in greeting, beginning the long climb to where the regal homeowner stood, legs apart and hands on hips, framed by the yawning entrance.“Morning.You Lloyd Jordan?”The man in the outfit responded indirectly.“You the cop who called?”Ron was getting closer by now.“Lieutenant Ron Klesczewski.I head up the detective unit.” It wasn’t his standard greeting, but he figured a little pennant waving of his own couldn’t hurt.“’Bout time,” was the predictable response.The handshake Jordan gave him was soft, moist, and meant to be perfunctory.It worked.Ron pretended to reach for a notepad and wiped his hand against the seat of his trousers.“You weren’t here when the initial responders came by?” he asked innocently.“Right after your 911 call?”Jordan scowled and stepped back into the doorway, allowing Ron access if not actually asking him in.“Flatfoots.Barely knew to scrape their shoes.”Ron didn’t tell him that he almost hadn’t dropped by, given the thoroughness of their work.He did say, “I’m actually here as a courtesy, Mr.Jordan.There’s little more I can add to what they did.”Lloyd Jordan’s eyes widened.“You’re joking.You here to give me a bumper sticker, then? A sorry-for-your-loss pat on the head? What the fuck do I pay these goddamned taxes for if all I get is a bunch of Keystone Kops bumping into each other?”Ron pretended to consult the contents of his pad.“I understand your irritation.What did you lose, by the way? Nothing was noted in the report.”Lloyd’s pink face darkened and his eyes narrowed, although he didn’t immediately respond.From his years of interviewing secretive people, Ron sensed he’d hit a button.“Nothing,” came the answer from a woman’s voice back in the house.Ron stepped inside, his eyes adjusting from the midday sun.He was in a two-story amphitheater—more lobby than entranceway—cool and dark, with a sweeping staircase before him and a palace-suitable chandelier overhead.The owner of the voice was on the fifth step of the staircase, heading down in bare feet, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.She was as country-casual as her husband was Greenwich-chic.“We were just shaken, is all,” she added, crossing over to him and giving him a cool, firm handshake.“Lisbeth Jordan.Glad to meet you.Thanks for coming.”“My pleasure,” Ron answered her, meaning it.“Ron Klesczewski.”“We don’t know what might’ve been taken,” her husband broke in [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]