TC-Kim1

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IAA: Huge swaths of the high plains lay under snow that first fell in November, but it was a dry cold and the roads were clear. From the air Headwater looked like an abstract map drawn in fine black ink on paper bleached an unearthly white.

IAB: The victim was found by a man named Tashunka, who was older than the town of Headwater yet still a boy of the People when the Golden Gift came to Wanica in the final hunt. The biggest animal he ever killed was a coyote baited with a rabbit he caught in another trap.

IAC: Tashunka almost didn't see the girl. Her body was dangling at a roadside attraction that had always bored him. On a map somewhere one line terminated on another. Three states came together at this place, but even when there was no snow Tashunka had never seen any lines.

IAD: What caught his eye was not so much that the dead girl was naked but how her head and arms bent slightly back, and how her feet didn't touch the ground, as though she were nailed to an invisible cross. So he backed up his truck and parked in the little tri-state corral.

IAE: There was another set of tire tracks in the snow and two sets of footprints which became a tangled net near the body. Tashunka halted his approach to leave the site clean for the sheriff, but he could see no movement of the girl's chest and no condensation from her mouth.

IAF: The dead girl was too pale to be one of the People, but she was certainly White Wing of the Church of Green Dome. Her ponytail gave that away. And Tashunka wept with frustration that he could not do the simple kindness of closing her frozen eyes staring out upon eternity.

IAG: Then Tashunka recognized the dead girl: Kimberly Zinter. He wept more deeply, knowing why she was murdered and guessing who the killer must be. Of a certainty the unhappy union of the Red Wing and White Wing of the Church was finished. He retraced his steps to the truck.

IAH: An hour later Tashunka returned with Sheriff Roddy Walker to the little fenced-off area nigh to the road. The tri-state marker was a wooden beam embedded in the ground, one foot square with a sloping top, and Kimberly's back rested on this, held fast by her frozen blood.

IAI: The sheriff told deputy Bill to start snapping pictures while deputy Bob followed Roddy around with a notepad and took down a running commentary. "I need to steal your sole with my camera, Chief," Bill said, "so lay it out there." Tashunka smiled and lifted one leg.

IAJ: Bill got a photo of the bottom of both the old Indian's boots to make sure they could differentiate his footprints from that of the perps. Then Tashunka was left behind as Bill methodically photographed his way to the girl's body. Roddy and Bob followed in his wake.

IAK: Old Tashunka watched from the road. When the sheriff and his deputies completely surveyed and documented the murder scene they all pitched in, lifted Kimberly free of the survey marker, and laid her gently on a foldaway stretcher that sheriff Walker had brought with him.

IAL: Tashunka was surprised to hear the sheriff shout an oath. Roddy has read the plaque that Kim's body was covering and realized they were at the exact place some surveyor decided the corners of two states ran flush against the border of a third. That made the case Federal.

IAM: Then they walked the body out of there, pausing a moment for Tashunka to get his first close look at it. "This was Kimberly Zinter," he told them, and he put his fingers on her face just long enough to melt the eyelids so he could close them. "I've seen her at Temple."

IAN: The sheriff dug around in the glove box of his truck and came back with a manila folder containing a photo, which he compared to the dead girl's blood-streaked face. "The gentleman is right, boys. This was the local girl the FBI was looking for. One of the two, anyway."

IAO: After the deputies carefully loaded the body of the girl in the canopy of the department's green 1940 Dodge half-ton truck, Bob said, "So this wasn't gonna be our case from the gitgo, even if she wasn't lying dead spread out over three states. What do we do now, sheriff?"

IAP: "We're going to do our job 'til somebody says different, Bob. Go back to the marker and start walking around it in a spiral that grows four feet wider on every turn. Try and find something that could be the murder weapon. Looks to me like that would probably be a knife."

IAR: Tashunka said, "I remember when you were just a boy, sheriff, and I remember when you left us. None of your men are Greendomites. You might not be up on Church politics and they can't help you. I don't know who did this terrible thing to the girl but I can tell you why."

IAS: But inactivity had cooled the sweat under Roddy's coat and he shivered in the face of a stiff wind from the frozen plains. "This is not the place, Tashunka," he said, "This body must go to our little hospital. Meet me at the station in an hour and I will listen to you."

IAT: After that Sheriff Roddy drove deputy Bill and the body around the large hill near the crime scene which was named Green Dome. It was almost five thousand feet above sea level, but only eight hundred feet above the town of Headwater, and never green at all in January.

IAU: "I just can't win, Bill," Roddy lamented. "Half the male population of Headwater between 18 and 45 is off killing Japs and Krauts and Eye-talians. Things were getting real quiet around here. Then the FBI sets up shop and stay all summer. Now I got my first homicide."

IAV: They passed the stretch of national grasslands where the Bureau parked their trailer but there were no lights on, no smoke from a wood stove. Bill said, "The FBI was here last summer but now people are saying they saw some G-men back in town, staking out the bus station."

IAW: "Our victim and another girl named Sofie Krause were in custody somewhere for half of last year, but they escaped and made the FBI look ... hell, they are incompetent. But they wouldn't kill the girl for doing that, if your thoughts are trending on those lines, Bill."

IAX: Roddy drove around the northern slopes of Green Dome and Headwater came into view, the biggest town for a hundred miles around. The population was down to a thousand, now owing to the war. Bill asked, "What do you want me to do after we give the body to Dr. Wahkan?"

IAY: "Develop the film and file it," Roddy told his deputy. "Then get back to the scene and help Bob look for the murder weapon. I didn't see any prints leading away from the marker so I figure the perpetrator either tossed it or kept it. Either way is a good thing to know."

IAZ: The town's one doctor was Wahkan to the People, but the whites called him Plenty Practice. No one had ever died under his knife, but not even a local legend such as Wahkan could call back the dead. "Kim Zinter," he said when he saw the bloody corpse. "Heartbreaking."

IBA: Dr. Wahkan donned a pair of rubber gloves. "I have never carried out this protocol for you, Sheriff, and for your father of happy memory only five times." He felt behind the girl's head and discerned the bump had opened to become a bone cup as he knew it would last year.

IAB: "I saw her last year," said Dr. Wahkan. "And also the other girl, the one named Sofie. They both had the same symptoms."

"Symptoms?"

Dr. Wahkan gently rolled Kim's body a half-turn so Roddy could see the open bone cup and the bristle of black pins, like little hairs.

IAC: "I'll be damned," Roddy said, when the doctor lifted the girl's ponytail away so he could see.

"We call this the Change," Dr. Wahkan told him. "Naturally both girls were alarmed when it started to happen to them, but they were safe. It is known among the Kuwapi people."

IAD: "I told Kim and Sofie it had been present among some members of the Red Wing for a human lifetime and more, but they wouldn't listen to me. I tried to explain it to their mothers, but they insisted on a second opinion. Now Headwater is infested with the outsiders."

IBB: ""Headwater is a good place, Doctor, but my hand is forced simply by where the killer chose to leave the body. I must report to the very outsiders who have made things not so good for us over the last few months. Please help me learn who did this to her, and why."

IBC: Tashunka waited outside the sheriff's office long past when Roddy said he'd meet him, trying to stay warm inside his running truck. Roddy apologized for the delay and invited the old fellow in for some fresh coffee. "Doctor Wahkan had some interesting things to say."

IBD: Tashunka followed the sheriff inside and sat shivering in his seat until the coffee was ready. "And what of the three stupid white boys who took a bullwhip to a plains Indian and didn't think he'd have friends who could think of doing something far worse in retaliation?"

IBE: "The three stupid white boys were still there looking perfectly miserable until they laid eyes on the dead girl. That seemed to make their whole day. Would that Headwater had a bigger hospital. They wouldn't tell me what was so funny. I figure you're about to tell me."

IBF: Tashunka leaned back in his seat nursing the coffee. His eyes landedon a photograph of the elder Sheriff Walker, now deceased. Two years already? "Everyone greatly loved and respected your father, Roddy, both White Wing and Red Wing alike. I was there at his Final Rite."

IBG: Roddy flushed with sudden anger. "And I, his only son, trained to replace him, was not permitted to be there at his precious 'Rite' because I don't believe in fairy tales about angels and sun gods and killing relics and I made the mistake of letting everybody know that."

IBH: "Sheriff, if you allow your heart to grow black then you will take everything I tell you as coming from the left hand with the damned. What you call the 'killing relic' sets the Church of Green Dome apart from all other faith assemblies. It is divinity which can be seen."

IBI: Roddy glared at him while he took another sip of coffee, then lowered his eyes. Soon he was calm again and said, "You are absolutely right, Tashunka, and I know how important the relic is in the life of your Church. So let us call it by its right name, the Golden Gift."

IBJ: "You know Mark Lange was the first Prophet of the Church, and Wanica was his Apostle. When Wanica died, Prophet Lange chose Peter Twofeathers to replace him. Then Lange himself died, making Twofeathers the Prophet, and he in turn chose Klaus Hansen to be the Apostle."

IBK: Roddy nodded. "Yes, the authority moving from White to Red Wing and back, over and over so long as heaven and Earth last. That was the theory, anyway. It worked like a charm until the day the authority actually moved to the Red side and the White side didn't much like it."

IBL: Tashunka said, "Red and White wings swap power but the Golden Gift stays in the Red Wing. God gave it to Wanica, who gave it to Twofeathers. Hansen says the Apostle should have it. Twofeathers thought it would quiet things to give it up, but he gave it to Gabriel Shybear."

IBM: "Gabriel Shybear. That explains how he got his whipping. He said his house had been ransacked too. They must have been trying to beat the Golden Gift out of him. It's a good thing I never embraced the Green Dome Church as my own, Tashunka. It's much too violent for me."

IBN: "It gets better," Tashunka said. "The instant Twofeathers said Gabriel Shybear was the new Extraordinary Lay Minister of Final Rites half the Bunners stood up and walked out of the Temple. That must have been the Prophet's cue to lance the boil and bring things to a head."

IBO: Roddy smiled at Tashunka's use of the word "Bunners". By strict canon law all Greendomites had to wear their hair in a ponytail, even the men, but in the White Wing this ponytail was done up in a bun, even the men. He shuddered at how close he had come to being a Bunner.

IBP: Finally Tashunka dropped his bomb. "Peter Twofeathers declared that he was setting aside the central discipline of the Church in a single case so that Jerry Shybear could be wed to Kimberly Zinter. Klaus Hansen himself left in protest, along with all the other Bunners."

IBQ: Sheriff Roddy Walker leaned forward, rendered speechless, as Tashunka knew he would be. Even people who had nothing to do with the Green Dome Church knew about their biggest hobby horse. For a time the Mormons had polygamy. The Greendomites have mandatory cousin marriage.

IBR: Roddy knew a deep current of racism ran among the Bunners but the requirement for consanguineous marriages kept a firm lid on it. Kim Zinter was fourth generation White Wing at least, she'd have no kin among the Red Wing. Her marriage would have blown the door wide open.

IBS: As though he could read Roddy's mind, Tashunka said, "Apostle Hansen would see this marriage between Jerry and Kim as a horrible disease infecting the body of the Church. Their children would have marriageable cousins in both wings and it would just grow worse from there."

IBT: Deputies Bill and Bob rushed in just then and threw a Cellophane bag on the sheriff's desk containing the murder weapon. "Found it," Bob said, "Just like you guessed, throwing distance from the body." The blade was thin, flexible, nothing more than a steak knife perhaps.

IBU: Roddy picked up the bag and frowned with disappointment. "This game isn't as fun when the other side isn't even trying to win. Not a run-of-the-mill Sears Roebuck kitchen knife: no, something handmade, something an admirer would make special just for the Church Apostle."

IBV: Erik Zinter fought in a world war before they starting getting numbers. He was one of the merry but homesick doughboys who went into battle late in 1918 singing and whooping with all the enthusiasm of a college football team pouring out onto the field just before kickoff.

IBW: They came with six hundred aircraft plus one hundred forty-four tanks under Col. George Patton. Three thousand pieces of field artillery unleashed by the Allied side and countless bombs dropped from the air tore the battlefield into a pock-marked pigsty filled with mud.

IBX: The Germans withdrew but they fought a rear-guard action with a ferocious bite. Erik took two rounds from a Bergmann Maschinenpistole 18/1 that shatters the bone in his upper left arm and he developed gas gangrene in the field hospital lying just out of range of enemy fire.

IBY: The amputation was performed in less-than-ideal circumstances. Afterward Erik rode a train to Paris with a hundred other casualties. The same train carried soldiers fresh off the boat back to the Western Front, which had become a vast machine for mangling and killing men.

IBZ: In Paris Erik met a Red Cross nurse whose name-tag bore a surname he recognized. While she changed his dressings Erik learned that Clara was of the Brannens who had stayed behind in Pennsylvania when the wagon train went west so she knew little about the Green Dome Church.

ICA: Soon they knew they shared the same great-gramma: second cousins. That plus her all-American girl-next-door good looks interested Erik. Clara was pleased how Erik maintained a good attitude despite his misfortune. He didn't feel sorry for himself even after losing an arm.

ICB: There was pain but right on through it Erik maintained a deliciously wicked sense of humor. They could not talk for long but Clara passed along to him the address of her parents in Pennsylvania after he declared he wanted to stay in touch with her when they went home.

ICC: Their pen pal relationship gradually blossomed into something they thought was love. In 1922 Erik drove halfway across the country in his Model T. It took a full month. He used the Yellowstone Auto Trail and aside from two big auto repairs he averaged five dollars a day.

ICD: Part of this money came from his veterans' "bonus" of sixty dollars but some employers went out of their way to give returning vets seniority. Erik had accepted a job in Headwater painting houses using his remaining arm, and spent three years laying aside for the wedding.

ICE: In Clara’s hometown Erik sold his tin lizzie to pay for the wedding. Pennsylvania was the first anti-cousin marriage state, but only first cousins couldn’t get hitched, not second ones. And they were so obviously in love both of Clara's parents gave their nuptial blessing.

ICF: Erik's parents back in Headwater were a harder sell. After the train ride west he became the black sheep of the family for passing over a perfectly good (albeit horse-faced) local first cousin for a beautiful second cousin from back east. Why, any heathen would do as much.

ICG: Kimberly Zinter was born to Erik and Clara in 1925. Kim knew her two best friends Sofie Krause and Dory Twofeathers from as early she could remember, as far back as the economically frothy days of 1928 when they shared the same nursery while even their mothers found work.

ICH: By 1932 the Depression really started to bite. Clara was fired first, but soon even Erik was jobless. Builders found applicants with two good arms suddenly willing to paint. Still, Erik retained the good spirits that had endeared him to Clara in that Paris hospital.

ICI: There are rich seams of bituminous coal inside Green Dome hill and under Headwater itself but the geology of the area is so folded and jumbled there has never been an economical way to reach it by drilling a straight shaft. The coal would be exposed only in spots.

ICJ: During the Great Depression Erik Zinter created twisting passageways through the bulk of Green Dome. By day other men followed in his wake to reinforce the tunnels with timber and remove the coal. In the heart of the Great Depression, Headwater experienced a boom.

ICK: Great heaps of black gold from the mines began to piled up on docks in Chicago. Suddenly the unemployed, unemployable Erik Zinter had a brand new brick red Ford Model B, his first automobile since selling his Model T, and he also completely paid off his modest home.

ICL: There was enough money left over to send Kim to the excellent Green Dome parochial school to be with her friends. So affairs stood for ten years. Then coal miners stumbled across Erik’s dead body and learned that Erik had been in possession of the most sacred Church relic.

ICM: The Golden Gift was returned to Peter Twofeathers but this sparked the current tussle between Red and White wings. Sheriff Walker recalled the recent death of Erik Zinter and he yearned to dodget the duty to notify Clara Zinter of the discovery of her daughter’s body.

ICN: How does one break it to a newly-widowed woman that her family has now been entirely wiped off the face of the earth? The young woman who answered the door was not Clara Zinter. Her hair was a dark ginger. She had light green eyes, icy green, striking for being rare.

ICO: She had a pretty face but she was a little too chubby even for the time before Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy made skinny sexy. "Are you--" Roddy was looking at the spitting image of the deceased, Kimberly Zinter, standing in the doorway, patiently waiting for him to speak.

ICP: He pulled out his file to be sure. Identical. He was not aware that Kim had a twin sister. "Is Mrs. Clara Zinter at home?"

"Mother isn’t here," the young lady said, "I swapped places with her. Mom’s with her own folks in Pennsylvania. You’re Sheriff Walker, right?

ICQ: I’m Robyn. Do you want to come in? I’m sure you have a few questions and it will be better than standing here in the doorway."

"Don’t mind if I do," Roddy said. He took off his hat and stepped in. The hardwood floors were covered with throw-rugs. He could smell the gas furnace.

ICR: A radio was playing "I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, and Robyn turned it down.

"Please, Robyn, if you could turn the radio off. It’s hardly appropriate for what I must tell you." The girl complied, and invited the sheriff to be seated.

ICS: A small coffee table between them. Robyn smoothed out her plaid dress and Roddy saw that she wore bobby socks. "You were about to tell me that you found the body of my sister," Robyn said, "and that she had been brutally murdered."

On one level Roddy felt relief.

ICT: His duty to notify the next-of-kin had been mooted. But Robyn had stated things she should not know. "You don’t seem too cut up about it," Roddy said, taking a small notebook and pen out of his jacket liner. The sympathetic bearer of bad news was a detective again.

ICU: "When did you know your sister was dead, Miss Zinter? Did an old Indian fellow pay you a visit today?"

"Just Robyn, please," she said. "One name. Robyn. Not Miss Zinter. Nobody else has visited me today, Sheriff Walker. I find it difficult to say how I knew she had died.

ICV: I mean I could tell you, and it would be true, but you would believe I was insane."

Roddy said, "Robyn, this is a murder investigation so I exhort you to hold to that thought, that whatever you tell me must always be the truth. Now, as for believing you are insane:

ICW: I’m already having trouble with your attitude toward the news that your twin sister has been murdered."

"Sheriff, have you ever heard stories about identical twins who seem to have a link that defies any explanation? You know, the ones who were separated at birth.

ICX: They never met, yet they led lives with coincidence piled upon coincidence, with the same type of job, and even the same type of spouse?"

"Robyn, are you’re saying you and Kim had some kind of radio in your head that always let you know what was happening to the other?

ICY: Because if that's what you're trying to tell me, young lady, I wouldn’t believe you were insane. I would run you in to the station for further questioning, for knowing material facts about this case with no plausible explanation why." But Robyn was shaking her head.

ICZ: "That's not what I'm trying to tell you, Sheriff." She stood up and walked over to her record collection, where she pulled a ten inch 78 RPM record from its sleeve. Holding it up for Roddy she said, "This is Kim. And in every instant of time, a copy is made of her.

IDA: By the time she’s seventeen Kim is quite a stack of records. But something happens to her that she can’t explain. Maybe she starts skipping. Her friend Sofie over there is another stack of records who starts skipping too. The music store says nothing is wrong with them.

IDB: But Kim’s mother is a stickler for high fidelity and she won’t take that for an answer. She quits her job at the music store and takes Kim to Lusk for a second opinion, and she convinces Sofie’s parents to do the same. Next thing you know both records are in quarantine.

IDC: There's six months of tests but nobody ever figures out why Kim and Sofie skip. Soon they realize they’re never getting out of quarantine, so they escape, but that's a whole other story. Kim Zinter changes her label and becomes Robyn. Sofie Krause changes her label to Hunky.

IDD: Soon Hunky is back with Doriel, and Robyn is back with Gabriel. Robyn and Gabriel want to get hitched, and the Prophet says he can swing it. But the Apostle says, ‘Will no one rid me of this troublesome platter’ and the Deacon takes a kitchen knife to her.

IDE: Now enter a blue-eyed black-haired dreamboat named Mike. Eight feet tall! Somehow he reaches back into that stack of records named Robyn and pulls out a disk from after the Deacon stole it, but before he broke it. Robyn fell silent and waited for Sheriff Roddy to reply.

IDF: Finally he said, "You win, Robyn. People as growing stacks of records? That’s too batshit crazy to take you downtown or lock you up. The Deacon did it, you say? Paul Bergin?" She nodded yes. "You didn’t give me enough probable cause to even check him out."

IDG: Robyn said, "My sister was killed with a knife from Bergin’s kitchen, one with a distinctive handle. Tomorrow is trash pick-up day. If you dig in his garbage can you'll find the whole set. You won’t even need a search warrant since he has already thrown it out."

IDH: "Now that I can use," Roddy said. "Kim’s body was found on the tri-state marker, which makes it a federal case. Whoever killed her did that on purpose. That’s why I’m trying to break this case before the FBI gets here, on the principle never give a perp what he wants."

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