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“Um,” I say. “Well… the thing is… That wasn’t where I was this morning. The thing is, um, this morning, I, um. I went running.”
Detective Canavan drops his pen. “You what?”
“Yeah.” I wonder if, considering how many members of the NYPD are currently swarming around the Washington Square Park area, looking for evidence in Dr. Veatch’s murder, I should ask them to keep an eye out for my uterus. You know, just in case they happen to find a stray one.
“You went running,” Detective Canavan says, in tones of incredulity.
“I’m not trying to lose weight, just get toned,” I say lamely.
Detective Canavan looks as if he’s not about to touch that one with a ten-foot pole. He has, after all, daughters of his own.
“Well, you must have walked in this direction on your way back to your place to change before work,” he says. “Did you see anything then? Anything—or anyone—out of the ordinary?”
I swallow again. “Uh. I didn’t change at my place. I changed at… a friend’s.”
Detective Canavan gives me a look. And I do mean a look. “What friend?”
“A… new friend?” I realize I sound like Jamie Price, raising my inflection to an interrogative. But I can’t help it. Detective Canavan’s scaring me a little. I’ve been involved in plenty of murders in Fischer Hall before.
But I’ve never been a suspect in any of them before.
Besides, his grilling me like this reminds me of my dad. If my dad had any interest whatsoever in my personal life. Which, it happens, he does not.
“What new friend?” he demands.
“God!” I cry. It’s a good thing I was born when I was, and hadn’t been a member of the French Resistance or anything. I’d have cracked under Nazi torture in two seconds. All they’d have to do was look at me and I’d have spilled every secret I knew. “I’m sleeping with my remedial math professor, okay? But you can’t tell anybody, or I could get him in big trouble. Is there any way you can not put his name down in your report? I’ll give it to you, of course, and you can talk to him, and everything, if you don’t believe me and want to check up on my story, and all. But if there’s any way you can keep his name out of this, it would be really, really great… .”
Detective Canavan stares at me for a second or two. I can’t tell what he’s thinking. But I can guess. Grade grubber, I think he’s thinking. Sleeping with the prof for an A…
It turns out I’m wrong though.
“What about Cooper?” he wants to know.
It’s my turn to stare.
“Cooper?” I blink a few times. “What about Cooper?”
“Well.” Detective Canavan looks as confused as I feel. “I thought he was your… you know. Main squeeze. The cat’s pajamas. Whatever you kids are calling it these days.”
I stare at him, completely horrified. “Main squeeze? Are you eighty?”
“I thought you were warm for his form,” Detective Canavan growls. “You said you were, that night those frat boys tried to make you into that human sacrifice… ”
“I believe those were the roofies speaking,” I remind him primly, hoping he doesn’t notice how much my blush has deepened. “If I recall correctly, I told you I loved you, too. Also the planters outside the building. And the paramedics. And the ER doc who pumped my stomach. As well as my IV stand.”
“Still,” the detective says, looking oddly nonplussed. For him. “I always thought you and Cooper—”
“Yeah,” I say quickly. “Well, you were wrong. I’m with Tad now. Please don’t make things hard on him by putting it in your report. He’s a nice guy, and I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize his getting tenure.” Except bone him repeatedly.
I don’t add this part out loud, of course.
“Uh,” Detective Canavan says. “Of course. So… you didn’t see—or hear—anything when you were in the park?”
“No,” I say. Inside Dr. Veatch’s office, someone has made a joke—about the Garfield calendar, perhaps? — and someone else is smothering a laugh.
“Well, what do you know about this Vetch guy?” Detective Canavan wants to know.
“It’s pronounced Veetch,” I correct him.
He blinks at me. “You’re kidding me.”
I smile ruefully. “No. I’m not. I know he was married once. He was getting divorced. That’s one of the reasons he took the job here. From Iowa, I think.”
“Illinois,” Detective Canavan corrects me.
“Right,” I say. “Illinois.” I fall silent.
He stares at me. “That’s it?”
I try to think. “Once,” I say, “he showed me a page from his Garfield calendar that he thought was funny. It was a cartoon where Garfield gave the dog—”
“Odie,” Detective Canavan supplies for me.
“Yeah. Odie. He gives Odie a lasagna. And the dog is all happy. But then Garfield leaves the lasagna out of reach of the dog’s leash. So he can’t get to it.”
“Sick bastard,” Detective Canavan says.
“Who? The cat? Or Dr. Veatch?”
“Both,” Detective Canavan says.
“Yeah,” I agree.
“Can you think of anybody who might have a grudge against him? Veatch, I mean.”
“A grudge? Enough of a grudge to shoot him in the head?” I reach up and run a finger through my gel-stiffened hair. “No. I don’t know anybody who hated Owen enough to kill him. Sure, there’re kids who may not be—have been—overly fond of him, but he’s the hall director. Well, interim hall director. And ombudsman to the president’s office. Nobody’s supposed to like him. But nobody hated him—not that much. Not that I know of.”
Detective Canavan flips through his notebook. “Veatch had anybody fired in the past couple months?”
“Fired?” I laugh. “This is New York College. No one gets fired. They get transferred.”
“This divorce he was going through. Acrimonious?”