Draft50

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CHAPTER 50

Dr. Trochmann finished decapitating Kim Zinter's body and Dr. Wahkan howled an anguished objection to that that could be heard even outside the clinic. Sheriff Walker heard Special Agent Mark Felt's stomach growl and guessed the man might not have eaten since breakfast. He invited Felt to dine out.

Felt heartily agreed, so long as the sheriff remembered not to talk about the case in the restau- rant. That gave Roddy very little time to bring Felt up to speed. Hhad decided on Bea's Chicken Inn only five blocks east of the hospital. Headwater wasn't a large town. Roddy took him over in the half-ton truck and Felt invited him to spill out what he had uncovered up to that point.

Roddy said, "We have what is very likely the murder weapon, and it has fingerprints. We have many photographs of the scene with tire and boot marks in snow."

Roddy pointed out of the wind- screen to the left. 'That house com- ing up is the home of the deceased. I made contact with her twin sis- ter there, one Robyn Zinter, who is not a resident of Headwater. She already knew Kim was dead and described circumstances of that death. I didn't bring her in because I knew this was going to be the Bureau's case from the gitgo. And some of the things she said were pretty crazy."

"After we eat I want to visit a judge. I want you to get a warrant to arrest Robyn Zinter. Let's see how crazy she is then."

Bea's Chicken Inn was kitty- corner to Robyn's house. When Roddy pulled into the parking lot he gave Felt one more item from the case. "I wanted to let you know we have a lead on the owner of the murder weapon. My deputies are set to move tomorrow unless you call it off."

"Why would I do that?"

"The source of the lead was the aforementioned Robyn Zinter. But the lead is too good to risk passing up."

"Do you think she's indulging in misdirection, sheriff?"

"I can't figure her out at all. She expresses zero sorrow for her sis- ter. None. If I understood her correctly, Agent Felt, this Robyn is not choked up over her sister's death because she thinks she's somehow a copy of her sister from just before she was murdered. She's intelli- gent and sweet but half the things that come out of her mouth make no sense at all."

"I can't wait to meet her," he said. "But first, Bea's Chicken Inn, you say? Did you know I haven't had a bite since early this morning in Witchita?"

"Then you're in luck, Agent Felt, homestyle fried chicken is Bea's forte. I wanted to put Headwater's best foot forward."

"When they went inside and were seated in a booth Roddy remarked that the place was much less busy that it used to be on weeknights. "Coal mining was the mainstay of the town and that's drying up."

Felt said, "I heard wartime meat rationing will start in a month or two."

Roddy nodded. "Places like this won't close up, but they'll have to collect ration cards from customers and put them all together to get resupplied. I suppose it'll be even less crowded then." He shrugged. "Tell me about yourself, Agent Felt. Why did you choose the FBI?"

"I have a law degree,' Felt said, 'and I was leaning toward the inter- section of business and government, but the war intervened. In wartime our country becomes, temporarily, a military dictatorship with all hands on deck. So as with your coal miners here my work dried up."

"Your education was not criminal law?"

"Well, make no mistake, Sheriff Walker, I was immersed in criminal law at Quantico. But the crimes that draw my attention aren't the kind that happen in towns like Headwater. I want to go after spies."

The waitress came to take their order, and both men, knowing they would later visit a judge at his own home after working hours, re- frained from ordering wine. She took the menus but left the two silver half- dollar coins that had been on the table when the men were seat- ed.

"The people who ate at this table before us were from the Red Wing of the Church," Roddy said confidently.

"How do you know?" He gestured at the two coins. "Those half-dollars. 1942. The mint mark should be D for Denver, but they'll both be O be- cause the die was worn and nobody caught it.

Mark Felt looked at both coins and confirmed that Roddy's guess was true. "How strange. But what's the connection to the Red Wing?"

"There's a fellow I know here who runs a pawn shop, he brought these to my attention. Normally a mint mark of O would make these collecti- ble. This fellow looked into it and found out the Denver Mint had struck about a hundred of these flawed fifty-cent pieces before their quality control spotted the problem and halted the run. But there are many more than a hundred of them circulating here in Headwater. Every- where you go in Headwater you'll see them, always from the Red Wing, usually retirees living on social security, this old fellow gets a tube for his radio at the hardware store and leaves some half-dollars, that old lady gets her hair done and leaves another stack."

"Do you think somebody in Headwater is actually counterfeiting coins?"

"If they are, Agent Felt, I really don't see how they would profit by it. If you melt a silver half-dollar down all you get is a half-dol- lar's worth of raw silver bullion.

"But Pawn Shop Guy says the little O under 'In God We Trust' makes it collectible."

"Sure, if there was only a hundred of them. There's probably a hundred thousand of them now and they're breeding. I chalk it down to one of the many unexplained things about this town."

"There's more?"

"There's much more, Agent Felt, as you'll find out after we eat and the judge eats and Robyn eats and we go visit them. Take the Squaw River for one. It's the only stream in the tri-state area that flows year-round from its source. Geologists cannot explain it."

Felt chuckled at that. "So the Church is named for Green Dome, but nobody knows what makes it so green. You might be right about all the unexplained things in Headwater. Just before we met I was reading that Chief Wanica and one boy named Tashunka somehow fought off a dozen armed men."

Roddy was tempted to tell Felt the same Tashunka found the deceased, but that would be germaine to the case.

The waitress arrived with their food. The sheriff withheld his reply until after they were served. Then he said, "My guess is Special Agent in Charge Tolson is running that particular mystery to ground. But I don't want to break your rule and talk about active cases while we're eating."

They stopped conversing and ate while Mark Felt expressed his appre- ciation for the food with grunts and eyebrow gestures. After a time Roddy asked, "How many spies have you caught, Agent Felt?"

"None so far," Mark admitted. "I've only been with the Bureau for one year. Half of '42 was spent at the Academy and in DC, and for the rest of the year I was in Texas in hot field offices doing little more than interviewing references people had listed when they applied for gov- ernment jobs. Hardly the exciting life of a g-man that I envisioned."

"How's the pay?"

"About sixty a week."

"Not shabby at all, Special Agent Felt."

"What is shabby is having to pick up and move every few months. My wife Audrey and I were in the middle of another move to DC so I could catch spies like I wanted, but I got diverted here."

"How long have you been married?"

"Just four years, Sheriff Walker. The Director moves agents around for no better reason than to 'toughen them up' as he puts it, and he will never understand the toll it takes on the families of those agents. But somehow my beautiful girl still puts up with me."

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