© 2009 Thomas H. Richardson—all rights reserved
Reprinted by permission of Eric Flint
The two photoshoppings were done by me.
Apartment of Geri Kinney, near the university
Monday afternoon, May 15, 1634
Geri Kinney spun the knob on her keyless deadbolt. “Momentchen, ich komme,” she said loudly. But her open door revealed no black-toothed, middle-aged German man and no awestruck university student. “Hi, Jimmy. Come in.”
After Geri shut the door, James Alec Wild grinned and pulled out his wallet. “Ken Miller says we’ll have food cans in under three years.” He pulled two twenties out of his wallet. “So in three years, I can get a discount.”
Geri took the twenties, and moved to the other room to hide them. She called back, “I haven’t taken canned food in two years. And you’re already getting a discount.”
“Yeah?” Jimmy said.
Geri couldn’t put the money into her Velcro-tabbed pouch with Jimmy here; he’d recognize the “ripping” sound. So instead, she jammed the money under her pillow. Meanwhile, she called back, “The Germans, I charge them more.”
“No shit?” she heard.
“Yeah, and I take bills or guilders or florins. But the college boys, I’ll do them for cheaper, if it’s green paper.”
“Cheaper than forty?”
By now, Jimmy was sitting in her overstuffed chair, with his pants down around his ankles. Geri walked up to him and said, “Everyone but you pays more than forty. That’s all you need to know.”
Then Geri knelt, and gave him what he’d paid for.
As Jimmy was zipping up his pants and fastening his belt, he said, “I just came from seeing Linda and the boys. And shit, looks like Linda and her new kraut husband are getting along.”
Geri said, “Is that good for you, or bad for you? Your ex-wife—”
“You ever think about marriage?”
Geri let the smirk show. “All the time. I’d starve if not for married men.”
He frowned. “I didn’t ask this so you could make a joke.”
“Yeah? Marriage is a joke. Wifey’s supposed to stay all faithful and saintly, but ‘boys will be boys’ if Hubby steps out? Please.”
“I’m just saying, if you stay in this life, sooner or later you’ll get messed-up by some guy.”
“Well, I have your gun. And I have those moves you and Dad showed me. I’ll be okay.”
“But if you got married—”
“What man is going to bring home a whore to meet Mutti and Vatti?”
“Haven’t you heard? Us up-timers, we’re all rich. And we all do wizard shit.”
“Yeah? Abracadabra. Guess what, nothing happened. And I’m not rich either.”
“Well, I think you’re hot. You’re prettier than Linda, and God knows you’re better in bed.”
Geri wasn’t bantering anymore. “If you’re going to bullshit me, if you’re trying to sweet-talk me, maybe you should leave now.”
“What? Bullshitting, why would you think that?”
“Because if I’m so goddamn pretty, if I’m so wonderful at sex, then why’d Philip Garrett honkytonk on me when I was fifteen and giving him the world?”
“Goddamn, I try to pay you a compliment, Geri, and you go all soap opera on me!” He was quiet for several seconds, then said, “There’s something I’m trying to ask you, but you won’t let me.”
“A whore and an ex-con, married? It’s divorce court waiting to happen.”
“Not so. Sometimes they work out. As for the ‘ex-con’ thing, I was younger. And the guy, he was asking for it. It wasn’t all my fault.”
“It never is. You and my daddy should form a club.”
Jimmy took half a step closer. “You calling me a liar?”
If Jimmy hadn’t acted like an asshole right then, Geri would have apologized for hurting his feelings—maybe even on her knees. Instead, she glared at him. “If I say ‘Yes, you’re a liar,’ you gonna beat me up?”
“I can’t believe I’m taking shit from a whore.”
“The whores of the world are kept in business by all the jerks of the world.”
“To hell with you, Geri. You know, back in your Goth days, you looked like a black-and-white clown.”
Geri went to the front door and jerked it open. “You need to leave. Now.”
Jimmy didn’t move. Instead, he said, “For a Grantville girl doing what you’re doing, you sure are full of yourself!”
“Get the hell out!” When he didn’t move, she turned toward the bedroom and said, “If you’re still here when I come back, I’ll blast you where you stand.”
“Like I want to stay here.” He walked to the door, then headed down the stairs. “Skanky slut whore!” he yelled, loud enough for the whole town to hear.
Geri flew to the top of the stairs and screamed, “You just doubled your price, you asshole. No more forty dollars for you—if I even let you through my door. You hear me, you jackass?”
Slamming the door made a nice boom. It almost made her feel better.
Soon after, her door got pounded on. “I said get out, Jimmy.” She yanked the door open.
Then she gasped, embarrassed. “Ach, es tut mir leid. Bitte, bitte, kommen Sie ein!”
Pieter Freihofer’s house
Tuesday, May 16, 1634; before dawn
“Your Honor, Your Honor, please wake up.”
“What’s wrong, Ilse?” Pieter Freihofer asked, squinting at his cook in the dim light.
“The Town Council, some are here. They wish to speak with you.”
He sat up, though his body begged for more sleep. “Tell them it will take me time to get dressed.”
When Pieter stepped into his parlor, waiting for him were indeed some councilmen, plus Karl Strom, the young assistant dean of the university law school. Pieter’s five visitors looked like they’d been awake all night.
“Gentlemen, what’s going on?” Pieter asked.
Stadtrat Heyder said, “An up-timer woman, Geri Kinney, was murdered yesterday afternoon. Here in Jena.”
“Politically, that is awkward.”
“It’s a mess, is what it is,” said Stadtrat Krausold. “The likely murderer is an up-timer man.”
“And you’re here for me to advise you? I think Strom here is better suited. He knows up-timer law better than I, and he’s even talked to up-time women at the medical school.”
Stadtrat Teuscher spoke up. “Advise us? No. We’re asking you to accept the post of Special Investigator-Prosecutor for this murder.”
“Well, certainly I did a lot of that, until recently,” Pieter said. Before Jena’s new law, passed less than a year earlier, judges (and only judges) questioned witnesses, arrested suspects, questioned suspects, and tried and sentenced those suspects. Pieter added, “But under our new laws, ‘police’ do crime investigation.”
“Give this investigation to the police?” said Stadtrat Wex. “Those jumped-up ex-watchmen? The ones who aren’t stupid, lazy, drunk, or corrupt are all CoC, and those people think most up-timers are saints.”
“So why me?” Pieter asked. “Why not Schiffer or . . . ?” Pieter stopped speaking when he realized that his five visitors were looking embarrassed.
Assistant Dean Strom said, “The problem is judicial torture. The Americans hate it—fiercely and implacably.”
“Then how do Americans convict people of crime? Witnesses are often mistaken, and often sworn statements are lies.”
Strom answered, “The Americans have—or they did have, at least—many up-time tricks for discovering reliable evidence. If one of us here raped your cook, for instance, the Americans up-time would know who.”
“Wow,” said Stadtrat Teuscher.
“As a result,” said Strom, “the Americans don’t need confessions to convict criminals, and they think judges who torture to extract confessions are savages.”
Pieter sighed. “Then all of us judges except Fassbinder, we’re all tainted, so far as Americans go. You’re back to your police.”
Strom shook his head. “But we’ve checked records, and you’ve done less judicial torture than the others. You often get suspects to confess during the pre-torture conference.”
Pieter said, “It’s no big secret, how to do it. Most people fear the torture, and their consciences bother them anyway. If I’m a good listener, they’ll confess beforehand. Now, the Landschädlichen “—criminal class—”will not willingly confess except under torture, and sometimes lie even then. But because they all think themselves more clever than I, they can be tricked into confessing.”
“Tricked how?” asked Stadtrat Wex.
Pieter smiled in mockery. “There is the truth I tell God, and the ‘truth’ I tell a suspect. But once they confess, does it matter what I said? Confessio est regina probationum, confession is the queen of evidence.”
Stadtrat Krausold said, “You prove again, you’re our best man. What is your answer?”
Pieter said, “I will do this. I’ll need to reassign my case load, though.”
The five visitors looked relieved. Strom pulled a slip of paper from his sleeve. “You want to talk to this young man. He is one of my law students and, so far as I know, he is the only good witness you have to the crime.”
Pieter took the piece of paper. “‘Werner Brecht.’ I will speak to him today.”
Pieter then added, “But first I must see the deceased.”
Near the apartment of Geri Kinney
Early morning, Tuesday
Pieter was a little surprised by the policeman who was actually guarding the up-timer’s door, rather than drinking beer in a tavern. But what really surprised him was the presence of an up-time bicycle, a large green knapsack, and an up-time red-haired woman in her thirties, all three of which leaned against the hallway’s opposite wall.
Much about up-timers puzzled Pieter, and now this woman’s clothing puzzled him. He knew that up-timers could dye clothing bright colors; and that up-time, they could buy already-made clothing that fit as well as any clothing made by tailor or seamstress. Yet the up-timer woman’s pants and top were both loose and baggy, and both were the same dull-green color.
When Pieter had entered the hallway, she’d glanced at him. She kept watching him as he turned to speak to the policeman. Pieter then showed the policemen his commission from the Town Council. As the policeman was opening the door, and Pieter was rolling the paper back up, then retying the ribbon the woman spoke, “Mein Herr?”
Pieter turned around. “Yes?”
“Are you here to investigate the murder of Geri Kinney?” the woman asked. Her eyes were puffy and red, perhaps from lack of sleep.
“Yes. I am Judge Pieter Freihofer. How may I help you?”
“My name is Mary Patricia Flanagan, and I’m one of the Leahy group who’s teaching at the medical school. I want to help in your investigation.” Flanagan stood straight, and looked at Pieter squarely. She reminded him of a cavalry captain Pieter had known in younger days. The up-time pistol that was holstered at her hip strengthened this martial impression.
Pieter asked her, “How can you help?”
“Up-time medicine can determine facts about the person’s death, and what happened just before. I know those tests. In addition, Elizabeth Pitre, who’s a friend of mine, has been trained in forensic investigation, and she’s sent me a step-by-step guide to what to do.”
Pieter had no idea whether this Flanagan woman could help him. He likewise had no idea whether whatever judge eventually tried this case would let her testify. But he understood the politics: Grantville would accept the trial and execution of an up-timer, if it was based on up-time evidence. “Follow me,” he said.
With a wave, Mary Pat declined Pieter’s not-yet-spoken offer to carry the knapsack for her; but she clearly was struggling to get it through the door. Once in the room, she shut the door, walked to the corner farthest from the dead woman, set the knapsack down, and dumped the contents on the floor. She unholstered her pistol, did something to it with her thumb, then laid it on the floor as well. She spent a minute organizing the things she’d poured out of her bag.
Pieter didn’t recognize many of the things lying at her feet. But the big rectangular bag with handgrips on the long sides, this he understood. The bag was black, and made of a strange material, but very poor German people buried their kin in something similar to it.
At the end of the room was another door, going to Kinney’s bedroom, Pieter presumed. That door had a round brass bulb with a zigzag slot where the door lever and keyhole should be. Geri Kinney lay dead near that door.
Pieter knew the dead woman had to be Miss Kinney because the corpse had brunette hair cut in an up-time style. The corpse’s light-purple skirt, which was hemmed above the knees, was also a hint. The corpse was laying on its back, its toes about three feet from the bedroom door. The body was in full rigor, with the wrists bent and the fingers making their ghastly curl. Pieter saw pale-yellow fly eggs that coated the corpse’s lips and staring eyes and filled the dead woman’s nostrils. Flies crawled on the pale face.
A few feet from Kinney’s head was a two-foot length of twine. Kinney had a red line of matching width around her neck—a line that was dotted with fly eggs and visited by more crawling flies.
Mary Pat asked, “Do you have any suspects yet?”
Pieter said, “I’m not allowed to discuss that.”
Flanagan frowned, then shrugged.
A man’s voice loudly said, “I just want to put this on her table. I won’t bother anything!”
Pieter went to the hallway door and opened it. The policeman’s bulk was partly blocking his view, but facing him was a young man who wore the robes of a law student. The young man held a folded piece of paper in his hand.
Pieter tapped the policeman on the shoulder, then stepped forward. He said, “I am Judge Pieter Freihofer, and I am investigating this murder. Who are you, and what is your business here?”
“Your Honor, I am Rolf Krebs, a law student at the university. I also am . . . a friend of Miss Kinney.” Krebs was craning his neck to see through the open door.
Pieter glanced back; Kinney’s corpse and Mary Patricia Flanagan were plainly visible to young Krebs. Flanagan now gripped her pistol, but it was pointed at the ceiling. Turning back to the law student, Pieter held out his hand and said, “Do you have something for my investigation?”
Krebs blushed. “No, this isn’t official. It’s, ahem, personal. It’s for her family.”
Pieter kept his hand out. Blushing even redder, Krebs handed over the paper.
Pieter unfolded it. He saw a pen-and-ink drawing of a rose laying on a table, next to a burning candle. The drawing was detailed, and had clearly taken much time to make.
Pieter said, “I will ensure that her family gets this.” He turned to go back into the room.
Pieter turned back toward the law student.
Krebs said, “You’re lucky to have an up-timer working for you. The murderer, whoever he is, has cause to worry.”
When Pieter’s attention returned to Flanagan, she was in the corner, exchanging her pistol for a pen, a paper with blue lines forming squares all over it, a device that clamped that paper to a flat board, and a strange device that extended a metal ribbon with ruler-markings on the ribbon. She began to make a map of the room.
When Flanagan was through locating all the furniture on her map, she then used her ruler-ribbon and some sketching to map the location of Kinney’s corpse and the twine.
Then Flanagan stood and looked around the room, checking things against her map. She nodded, signed the map, and handed it to Pieter.
Pieter was puzzled anew. In all this time, Flanagan had not done anything more than glance at Kinney’s corpse.
Flanagan went back to her pile and exchanged the ruler-ribbon and paper-clamping board for some printed papers, a strange device that looked like a giant silver nail (with a clock where the nail-head should be), and a pair of scissors. Flanagan laid these down on the floor by Kinney’s body, then picked up the silver nail, gazed at its “clock,” and wrote something at the top of the first printed page.
At last she knelt over Kinney’s corpse. More flies were crawling on the body. Flanagan was pulling away clothing from the dead woman to expose her abdomen. Then she eyed Pieter and said, “This isn’t sacrilege.”
Pieter wondered, “Sacrilege”? What is she—
Flanagan took the silver nail and stabbed the corpse’s exposed flesh. Pieter gasped in shock, and almost dived forward to stop this corpse-mutilation. But he caught himself and merely watched.
Flanagan was now staring at her up-time watch. After a time, she shifted her look to the silver nail’s clock, then consulted her papers, and glanced again at her watch.
“Geri Kinney died between fourteen and sixteen hours ago,” Flanagan announced. “Between four and six in the afternoon, yesterday.”
Pieter looked at her sharply. “Did someone in Jena tell you that?”
“No,” Flanagan said, and tapped her printed papers. “Geri’s liver temperature told me that.”
Flanagan then picked up her scissors. By well-planned cutting of Kinney’s clothing, Flanagan was able to remove the clothing without moving the body at all. Pieter had to keep reminding himself, This isn’t sacrilege. This isn’t desecration.
Flanagan went back to her pile and exchanged the scissors and instructions for the paper-clamper board and a new sheet of blue-lined paper. She also picked up a strange box with a curved mirror in front. She grabbed something on the side of the box and made quick circular motions with her hand, while the box purred like a cat. After a minute of this, she stopped and touched something on top of the box. Then something in the middle of the curved mirror shone brightly. The box was a lantern, but one that didn’t need oil and didn’t smoke.
Within seconds, it was obvious to Pieter that Flanagan planned to map Kinney’s corpse, just as she’d earlier mapped the room.
As the up-timer was training her up-time lantern’s beam over every bit of the corpse’s skin, Pieter asked, “What are you looking for?”
Flanagan said, “Surprises, basically. A stab wound would suggest that she actually died of stabbing, and the strangulation was done postmortem to fool you. I’m looking for bruises. They show up after death, and will say if her murderer hit her. Of course, broken bones say the same thing.”
A few minutes later, Flanagan put her lantern down and said, “I’m ready to turn her over.”
“Did you find anything?”
The up-timer woman looked puzzled. “There’s no stabbing so far, which confirms strangulation. No broken bones—except for the hyoid bone, of course. No surprises so far. But I expected bruises on her wrists or face, to show that she struggled. Nothing. And look around the room—there’s no furniture knocked over, nothing seems out of place. It’s like she let the guy walk right up to her and strangle her!”
Flanagan rolled Kinney’s corpse over. As Pieter expected, the body was statue-rigid. If Kinney’s body had been unlifelike pale before, now much of what he saw was a dark red. The heels, calves, buttocks, elbows, and shoulders all were purple.
Pieter commented, “She wasn’t moved. This is where she died.”
“Look at that,” Flanagan said, pointing. “The marks made by the twine don’t go to the back of the neck. Instead, the skin on the back of the neck, between the twine marks, is darker. I think it’s bruised.”
Pieter realized what that meant: “She was strangled from behind.” Then he thought about how the body had laid when they’d found it. “She turned her back on him, and let him get between her and the only door out of her apartment.”
Flanagan nodded. “She trusted him. Then he strangled her.”
As before, Flanagan and her lantern examined every bit of Kinney’s skin; Flanagan even pulled Kinney’s hair aside and checked the base of her skull for a stab wound.
A few minutes later, Flanagan rolled Kinney’s corpse onto its back. “I can’t check for bruises back there, but I saw no stab wounds, and no broken bones. No surprises.”
Flanagan was marking her “corpse map” when Pieter saw her suddenly startle. She grabbed the lantern, shoved it at Pieter, and said, “Can you hold this? Shine it on her fingers!”
And while Pieter watched, she waved away two flies that had been half-hidden under the fingernails of the body’s right hand. “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” she exclaimed. Then she added in German, “Blood under her fingernails. This is wonderful.”
Nothing that brings flies can be “wonderful,” Pieter thought.
Flanagan leaped across the floor to her pile in the corner, then hurried back. Now she was holding a tan-colored bag that had writing on it, and a roll of silver ribbon. But Pieter discovered, when he touched it, that the underside of the silver ribbon was strongly sticky. Flanagan pulled the bag over Kinney’s right hand, then used the sticky silver ribbon to close-off the end of the bag against Kinney’s right arm. “The plan is to cover her hand so that no more flies can get to it.”
Flanagan’s smile was bloodthirsty. “She might have scratched her killer. And if so, we maybe can tell you something about him. I hope so, in any case.”
Flanagan handed her corpse-map to Pieter, then opened the black bag. “Will you help me put her in the body bag?” she asked Pieter.
Normally, Pieter would have given this task to an assistant. He hated handling corpses. But he refused to look squeamish to this up-timer woman. “Yes, I will help you.”
It had been twenty years since Pieter had touched a corpse who wasn’t family. Pieter discovered that his age and wisdom hadn’t made this task easier.
The last thing that Flanagan did was to get a pair of tweezers, pick up another sack that had writing on it, pick up the twine with the tweezers, drop it into the sack and seal it with a green ring that could be stretched and twisted.
She looked at Pieter and sighed. “I’d hoped to take the murderer’s Fingerabdrucke. But I can’t get useful Fingerabdrucke from twine.” So saying, Flanagan tucked the sacked twine into the black corpse-bag.
Pieter asked, “Is that an up-time word? I don’t know what you mean by `finger marks.'”
Flanagan pointed to the fingertips of her left hand. “See these lines of skin? Mine are unique, yours are unique, every person on earth has a unique Fingerabdruck.”
“So what do you use them for? Divination, like tea leaves?”
She paused for several seconds, as if trying to decide something; then she said, “I was hoping there would have been a fingerprint of the murderer that was visible to the naked eye—a bloody fingerprint on a drinking glass or a knife blade. But, our bad luck, there’s nothing like that in the room. Still, let me show you what I’m talking about.”
From her pile of mysteries, Flanagan brought forth a sheet of snow-white up-time paper, a tiny jar, and a tiny bowl that was so shallow that it was almost flat. Flanagan tore the white paper into two pieces, then opened the jar and poured into the bowl a gray powder that was unnaturally fine. She said, “These are graphite particles—think of it as artificial charcoal. Pretend it’s blood. Now, please rub one of your fingertips around in the dust; get it shiny gray.” After Pieter did that, Flanagan told him, “Now, mash your fingertip against one of the pieces of paper, then lift your finger straight up.”
When Pieter did that, his fingerprint was clearly visible on the half-sheet of paper.
From her pile of mysterious items, Nurse Flanagan now picked up what she called “tape,” a sticky ribbon as wide as her wrist, that was transparent like glass. By using the knife built into the tape dispenser, Flanagan was able to get herself a square of tape without needing to touch the sticky underside much. She pressed the square of tape down on Pieter’s charcoal-gray fingerprint, peeled the tape loose—and the fingerprint came with it. Now Flanagan pressed the tape, with its captured fingerprint, against the other piece of paper. “Look at that,” she said. “You left a bloody fingerprint, and now I have an accurate paper record of it.”
“Criminals in Jena should quake in fear with you here, Nurse Flanagan.”
She shook her head. “I’m not trained in this and I’ve never done this before. So I didn’t even try to capture any invisible fingerprints, because I know I can’t.”
She nodded. “Whenever you touch a smooth surface, you leave fingerprints.” Pointing to her up-time lantern, she said, “My fingerprints are on this, just as yours are on the oil lantern.”
Pieter picked up the lantern and examined it closely. “I don’t see them.”
“You can’t, but they’re there. I think my friend Elizabeth could make them show up,” Flanagan said casually, “but she says that’s a tricky job to do right, and she’s got training. Me, the amateur? I’d either destroy evidence or waste time.”
Flanagan looked at her watch, walked over to the body bag, and closed it. After that, she started to refill her knapsack. Pieter walked over and gestured to the up-time things still on the floor, the knapsack, and the filled black bag. “Whose idea was this? Whose idea to do all this?”
Flanagan said, “My idea. This needed doing.” She said it as if that explained everything.
Soon Flanagan put everything back in her knapsack except for a small, odd-shaped thing; she picked up the oddity and held it in her hand. She eyed Pieter and said formally, “I am employed at the University of Jena Medical School. I ask for temporary custody of Geri Kinney’s remains so that an autopsy can be performed.”
“The woman is murdered, and you want to make her insides be entertainment for medical students?”
“It would be a murder-investigation autopsy, not a teaching autopsy. They would do medical tests that I cannot do here. They would again examine the outside of her body, and confirm my notes. They would test the blood under her fingernails. They would examine her vagina for bruising, which means nonconsensual sex. And yes, they . . . ahem . . . they might cut her open. They might look inside her.”
“And their doing these things would help my investigation?” Pieter asked.
“Then I consent. Inform me when the family can have the body for burial.”
The oddity Flanagan was holding turned out to be a hand-held radio. “On my way with the body.” She asked Pieter, “Will you help me carry the body outside?”
Of course Pieter agreed. Did he want up-timers snickering at him?
As he and Flanagan were carrying the body down the outside steps, she remarked, “Both the medical students and the law students have asked if we would do the autopsy in the operating theater, but that’s the wrong place. It would be a circus.”
A minute later, Nurse Flanagan, Pieter, and the black bag were at the street, waiting for a horse-drawn cart to come from the medical school. Nurse Flanagan turned to Pieter and said, “If you find a visible fingerprint in Geri’s apartment, messenger me immediately. Even if you’re sure the fingerprint is Geri’s, I’ll come back here with paper and tape and capture it. With one good fingerprint in the right place, and help from the angels, we can blow this case wide open.”
Law library, University of Jena
Later that morning
The law-school assistant dean, Karl Strom, had told Pieter that Werner Brecht was a “good witness” to Kinney’s murder. Herr Strom had spoken less than truth, Pieter realized.
“I didn’t actually see the murder,” Brecht admitted.
“What did you see?” Pieter asked.
“I was walking back to my apartment house, when I heard Miss Kinney and a man shouting. In English. They both were angry.”
“Do you speak English? Do you know what they were saying?”
“I speak some English, and read it better than I speak it. But they were using many words that aren’t in West Virginia law books.”
“Too much to hope for,” Pieter said. “Continue your tale.”
“To go into my apartment house, I had to walk around the up-timer’s truck. About an hour after the up-timers were screaming, I was walking past Miss Kinney’s apartment when I noticed her door was open. She never leaves it open. I went in to check on her, and found her on the floor. She had been strangled.”
“You reported her murder at 5:47 p.m. What time do you think you discovered her body, and what time were the up-timers shouting at each other?”
“It didn’t take me long to find a policeman, only about fifteen minutes after I found her. So that’s around five-thirty. The shouting was about an hour before that—say, four-thirty.”
“About an hour before? You’re sure about that—not less time, not more?”
“Your Honor, what’s the big idea? Are you saying I’m stupid? Or scatterbrained, or lying?”
Pieter smiled to soothe the youth, explaining, “She died after the argument, so I must be clear when that is.”
“Of course, sure,” Brecht said. “And yes, I’m certain about the time.”
Pieter wrote all that down, then asked, “After you found the body, tell me exactly: What did you do?”
“After I threw my trash away—that’s why I was walking in front of Miss Kinney’s apartment—I came back to my apartment and wrote down everything I could remember about the truck the up-time man was driving. Then I found a policeman and told him about the murder.”
“Let me see what you wrote down,” Pieter said.
Brecht pulled out a paper from his sleeve. On it he had written:
on left Door: MALLERS HARD_ _ _ _
tall Man, his Age in thirties? Pale blue Eyes. Walks with a Limp.
Pieter pointed to the bottom of the writing. “Who is this man?”
“That is the man who was with her yesterday.”
Pieter looked at Brecht sharply. “You just told me you didn’t see the murder, or the man she was arguing with.”
Brecht shrugged. “I didn’t. But this man I’ve described, he’s come to visit Miss Kinney several times. I’ve never seen her with any other up-timer.”
“So he’s her betrothed, perhaps?” Pieter asked.
Brecht shook his head. “Um, Your Honor, did nobody tell you, um, about her? About Miss Kinney?”
“Tell me what?”
“Miss Kinney was a—she was a sister of Rahab, Your Honor.”
Pieter stared open-mouthed at the young man. “An up-timer, a prostitute? As rich and sorcerous as they all are?”
“Yes, Your Honor. She entertained men.”
“And how much did she charge, this up-timer prostitute?”
Werner quoted two prices, and Pieter nearly choked. Then Werner added in a matter-of-fact tone, “Of course, more time cost more money.”
“And she didn’t starve? She got men, at those prices?”
“Oh yes, Your Honor. Several of my friends at the law school visit her regularly—visited her regularly. My friend Rolf once stood in her apartment and read her a bawdy poem in Latin.” Brecht lowered his voice and added, “Of course, being an up-timer, she couldn’t understand it.”
Pieter finished writing in the case’s Akte (dossier). Now he looked at Brecht. “As soon as I can arrange it, you and I will go to Grantville. I need to find the truck and the up-timer you saw.”
Brecht nodded. Then he said, “Your Honor, if it’s all right with you, Rolf Krebs will wish to come too. Partly because he’s interested in up-time law.”
“The same Rolf Krebs who wrote a poem for Miss Kinney?”
“Indeed, Your Honor.”
“Very well. But he’ll have to pay his own way.”
Brecht shrugged. “For Rolf, that won’t be a problem.”
An hour and a half later
Pieter had met with Judge Schiffer, to transfer one of Pieter’s two active cases to him; and then had dumped his other case in Judge Fassbinder’s lap. Now Pieter returned to “his” empty courtroom, and through the door into his office, in order to sign whatever paperwork his clerks had waiting for him. After doing that, Pieter planned to hit the streets—he had an English-language translator to recruit and a murder to solve.
But waiting in his judicial chamber was a young woman. She was in her late twenties, with straight brunette hair. Perhaps she was unmarried because her face was plain, and she was as thin as an up-timer, although her rich clothing told Pieter that she could certainly afford to eat. She had intelligent eyes. She sat by the room’s second door—the one that led to the clerks’ office—and Pieter wouldn’t have been surprised if there were two or three big guards standing just outside that door.
“Can I help you?”
The woman leaped up and gave a well-practiced curtsy. “Your Honor, I am Anna Maria von Schurmann, from Utrecht. I have a letter of introduction from Erdmann von Regenberg in Pomerania.” From a slit in her skirt, she pulled out a wax-sealed, folded piece of paper. “Herr von Regenberg knows you?”
“In a way. His young son and I once had business together,” Pieter said. He managed to keep irony out of his voice.
As Pieter took the paper that Anna Maria was holding out to him, he said, “You have a German name, and yet you come from a Dutch city attacked by the Spanish. Which likely makes you a war refugee, yet you don’t look or act like a war refugee.” He raised an eyebrow.
“My father was German, but I have been raised in Utrecht since I was a small girl. Some months ago, my mother and aunts decided I should go on a grand tour. They decided this about the time the Spanish came to Utrecht,” Anna Maria said, smiling at her own joke.
“A grand tour? A good idea,” Pieter said, smiling at the joke himself. Anna Maria was about ten years too old, and the wrong sex, to really be going on a grand tour. ButWe’re sending you all over Europe to see the sights sounds a whole lot better than We’re sending you out of town before Spanish soldiers ravage you or disease kills you.
Anna Maria continued, “So after visiting interesting places elsewhere in Europe, here I am in Jena. And now I wish to visit Grantville.”
“Ah, yes, Grantville,” Pieter said. Then he broke the wax seal and began to read.
A minute later, Pieter said, “Herr von Regenberg writes that you draw, you paint, you speak many languages, and you are ‘curious about everything.’ All these will help you in Grantville.”
“The best minds in Europe, even brilliant children, are flocking to Grantville. Can you speak English?”
In reply, she spoke a sentence he could not understand, in an English accent.
He said, “The up-timers insist that their English is very different than the speech of England now. You will have an adventure, I bet, learning to talk with them!”
Anna Maria shrugged. Then her shoulders tensed and she asked, “So will you write me a letter of introduction to any up-timers, please?”
“There’s no need for a letter as such. The up-timers hate being formal; a scribbled note will work. That is, if I can’t give you a personal introduction.”
She blinked. “You would do that for me, go with me to Grantville and make introductions? Grantville is a day’s coach-ride from here.”
He laughed. “First of all, the up-timers have set up a train“—Anna Maria looked puzzled, hearing the unfamiliar word—”that makes the trip to Grantville in only three hours. You can be in Grantville by early afternoon tomorrow, making your own introductions. Or I can walk you over to the medical school right now, and introduce you to the up-timer woman there who’s helping me with my murder investigation.”
Anna Maria choked. “The medical school has an up-timer woman?”
“Two women, actually.”
“What—what do they do there?”
“They teach. They are nurses, which up-time had lower status and less responsibility than did up-time physicians. Still, these nurses know more about medicine than any man in the medical faculty.”
Anna Maria stared, her mouth open. After a time, she said, “My goodness. But how can an up-timer nurse help you with a murder?” Clearly what she meant was Why do you need an up-timer nurse to help you take depositions?
“Come, I’ll walk you to the Medical School while I explain. Then with luck, Nurse Flanagan will be there to further explain what I cannot. What I saw today was amazing.”
Five minutes later, the judge, Anna Maria, and her two bodyguards were headed toward the medical school. “. . . And Nurse Flanagan seemed certain that if the murderer had left a bloody fingerprint, he would be in Jena’s prison before the day is out.”
“My goodness,” Anna Maria said, well-bred enough to understate her total shock. Then she changed topics: “I wish not to embarrass myself around the Americans. Is there anything I should never do, around an up-timer?”
The judge said, “Yes. Never talk down to an up-timer, as to a social inferior. Even though any of them will tell you, his bloodline is no better than a peasant’s.”
“Is it because up-timers put on airs? Everyone I’ve talked to, says that everyone who meets an up-timer thinks he or she is Adel. I do not understand this—how can I meet a blacksmith and mistake him for a baron?”
“Equality,” the judge said. “The idea that all men are equal before God. German pastors and priests say it, but the up-timers believe it.”
They had entered the medical school and were walking down a hallway. Anna Maria smelled unusual smells, some awful, some merely odd, and heard a man screaming somewhere in the building. Two young men passed them in the hallway, talking about “bacteria of the colon.” Anna Maria had no idea what “bacteria” were.
Only seconds had passed since the judge had spoken. Now Anna Maria replied, “So is living in Grantville how that—that witch got her unnatural ideas? That peasants are—Ha!—the equals of nobles? She is in Amsterdam this minute, spewing those ridiculous ideas.”
Judge Freihofer had stopped in the hallway, in front of a wooden door. But instead of knocking, he turned to face Anna Maria. He said, “Many things about that woman offend me as much as they offend you. But here’s a warning: Never criticize Gretchen Richter in front of any up-timer. Such as Nurse Flanagan here.”
So saying, Judge Freihofer knocked on the door. A woman’s voice with an unfamiliar accent said, “Kommen Sie ein, bitte.”
He gripped the door lever, but then turned back toward Anna Maria. “Tomorrow morning, three of us will be taking the train to Grantville, in order to investigate this murder. You are welcome to ride with us.”
Less than a minute later, the judge was headed home, and Anna Maria was seated facing a genuine up-timer, Mary Pat Flanagan.
Fifteen minutes after that, a stunned Anna Maria and her bodyguards were headed toward an inn for the night. Anna Maria had much to think about.
On the train to Grantville
Wednesday, May 17, 1634; morning
Frau Küster, Pieter’s translator during this trip to Grantville, was about the same early-twenties age as Werner Brecht, Rolf Krebs, and Anna Maria von Schurmann. And right now Küster was showing the excitement of a child. Pieter smiled, recalling his own youth.
“What do you think, Rolf?” Werner Brecht asked. “The speed of this train, is it like a trot or a canter? I say it’s a trot. A fast trot.”
Rolf Krebs replied, “No, it’s a canter.”
“My friend, if this is a canter, you’ve ridden only sickly nags.”
“It’s a slow canter, but it’s a canter,” Krebs insisted.
“Objection: Arguing facts not in evidence. It’s a trot,” Brecht said.
Krebs said, “We need an independent ruling. Frau Küster, what say you?”
She shrugged. “My only experience with horses was my father’s plowhorse. Who tells a plowhorse to trot or canter?”
A smiling Anna Maria laid down her sketchpad. “It’s neither a trot nor a canter, because a horse is not pulling this train, a truck is.”
Pieter was smiling as well. “A truck that is colored a most unhorsely blue, and that growls like a dog.”
Krebs asked Frau Küster, “So you grew up on a farm? You didn’t grow up in Jena?”
She nodded. “Our farm was north of Apolda.”
Brecht asked her, “So why are you in Jena, and not at your home north of Apolda? Or on some other farm?”
The change was remarkable, Pieter thought. Frau Küster had been acting happy and lively since yesterday afternoon, when Pieter had asked her to translate for him in Grantville. But now, after Brecht’s questions, Küster’s smile disappeared and her eyes went dead.
With strained voice and stiff posture, Frau Küster said, “Why am I in Jena, instead of back home? Misfortunes.”
A half-hour later, the train was leaving the Rudolstadt station. The youngsters were excited—and to be honest, so was Pieter. Off to the southwest was what looked like a forested mountain range. That had to be where the Ring of Fire was!
Rolf Krebs asked, “So Your Honor, what do you want to see in Grantville?”
Pieter replied, “The police house, to talk to Chief Richards. After all, that’s why we came here.”
“You don’t want to see anything else?”
“Not today. If I am lucky, we’ll all be leaving on the afternoon train, along with an up-time man in shackles.” Pieter nudged the sack at his feet; it clanked.
Krebs then asked, “And what about you, Frau Küster? What would you like to see in Grantville?”
Her eyes glowed. “The original Freedom Arches. And definitely I want to see the high school.”
Pieter said, “Yes. I must admit that, if I had the time, I would love to visit the library there. Imagine, looking up your friends’ names, and finding out if the future remembers them.”
“That too, I suppose,” she said. “But I want to see the place where Jeff Higgins proposed to Gretchen Richter.”
Anna Maria shot Frau Küster a sharp look, then said, “That legendary library, that’s my preference too. As soon as we get to Grantville, I’m headed to the library as fast as I can go.”
Krebs laughed. “Which is very fast, in Grantville.” He turned to Werner Brecht and asked, “And what would you like to see in Grantville, Werner?”
Brecht shrugged. “Not much. I think Grantville is overrated. You?”
Krebs answered, “I wish I could walk around inside the high school for hours and hours, before I visited their library. Imagine, hundreds of up-time girls of marriageable age, all dressed to show their knees! Wonderful.”
Pieter noticed what Krebs clearly wasn’t noticing: that Frau Küster was scowling.
Minutes later, Anna Maria pointed out the window and said, “They weren’t kidding!”
The train had been moving west, paralleling the Saale. Now the upriver direction of the Saale changed to southeast, but the train turned due south. After the train turned, the miracle done to the Thuringian landscape was clearly visible from the right side of the train.
To the passengers’ immediate right, a gentle Thuringen hill rose up—and stopped. Beyond it, a tree-covered American hill towered above it.
The train was approaching a line of cliffs, up ahead and to the right, with a gap between them. But whereas cliffs normally were at least a little rough in their surface, these cliffs were shiny-smooth. They reminded Pieter of the side of a marble baptismal font, or the face of a granite headstone.
After several minutes, the train made a half-right turn; the shiny cliffs, and the gap between them, slid to the left. The American cliffs came closer, and now Pieter could see that the cliff faces were striped with different colors of rock, in different widths. As Pieter moved still closer to the cliffs, at last he could see imperfection there: mud smears, soot, rust stains; most of the stone stripes lost their luster when viewed closely. And yet a few other stone stripes, even three years after the Ring of Fire, gleamed. Closer, ever closer Pieter’s eyes came to these scattered, smooth bands of rock, and still they kept the shine of a stonemason’s masterpiece, till they vanished from sight.
The train soon passed between the cliffs, moving through the gap that Pieter had spotted earlier. The America-Thuringia boundary was marked by a wooden sign to the left of the track that read, “Die Ringwand hier.” Beyond the sign was a creek, and beyond the creek was a road that looked to be made of molded tar.
Soon after the train passed the Ring wall, it slowed, then turned sharply right. The gentle hills of Thuringia had allowed the entire train ride from Jena to be traveled in straight lines; but now past the Ring, the land was filled with steep hills. Rather than try to climb those hills, the train made S-turns to stay in the valleys between the hills.
But geography wasn’t the only thing that was new and strange to Pieter.
Everything was different. The trees were different; the plants were different. Dots of yellow told Pieter that safflowers were growing wild here, but everything else was unfamiliar. A bird flew from one tree to another, its color a brilliant red that would make a dyemaster weep. A creature chased its fellow around a tree; both were shaped like squirrels, but they were bigger than any squirrel that Pieter had ever seen, and they were colored gray-and-yellow instead of red.
Anna Maria was sketching like a woman possessed.
Not twenty minutes later, at the Grantville train station, Anna Maria and her bodyguards hurried off toward the high school, riding in a genuine up-time “taxi.” Meanwhile, the four Jenaites were leaving the Grantville train station for the police headquarters, riding in their own up-time taxi. Pieter had wanted to take a horse-drawn taxi, it being much cheaper, but Krebs had offered to pay the extra money.
In only a minute, the taxi had stopped in front of the “police station.” Pieter and Krebs paid the driver.
Rolf Krebs looked over at Frau Küster and grinned. “Such a short trip! We didn’t see much of Grantville, did we?” He laughed, and added, “I think I wasted my money.”
While Krebs and Frau Küster were talking, Pieter looked around. And listened. And smelled.
The smell was different here. It was springtime, and perfume was in the air, but it was not a perfume Pieter had ever smelled before. But mixed with that perfume were alien smells, not made by either beasts or sweating men.
Pieter heard the clip-clop of a horse, along with the clatter of a wagon. That, at least, was familiar. But when the wagon moved out from behind a shiny-leafed tree, Pieter saw that on the side of the wagon was a sign in English. With a Star of David in a corner of the sign! So much for some things staying the same.
The police station was near a main road, and now moving along that main road was an ear-splitting noise. It had the same artificial sound as a truck or car, and was moving quickly enough to burst the heart of even the fastest horse. But when Pieter turned to look, the source of the racket turned out to be not a truck or car, but rather a bearded man astride a—a thing. A two-wheeled monstrosity that looked like an up-time bicycle’s mean first cousin.
And Jeff Higgins had come to Jena in September 1631, riding on a metal beast such as that? No wonder the university students and refugees had listened to his preaching—who would have dared walk away?
Pieter felt completely overwhelmed by Grantville. One of these up-timers was a murderer, and to catch him, Pieter had to outthink him. But how could Pieter succeed at that, when these people’s thoughts were so alien to him? For the first time in decades, Pieter felt unequal to the task before him.
Still, it was his task, for he had promised the Town Council he’d do it. Pieter might fail, and live out his days knowing that a murderer walked free; or he might suffer humiliation and be removed from this position. But no matter how abject his failure, he would never quit.
Thus resolved anew, Pieter picked up his bag of manacles and fetters, and then the four Jenaites walked toward the police building. Peter’s ears still were ringing from being blasted by the bearded man’s car-bicycle.
In the office of Police Chief Preston Richards
Five minutes later
Chief Richards was a trim up-timer man, late thirties, with close-cut hair. Now he was asking a question in English, his eyes moving between Werner Brecht and Frau Küster.
Frau Küster, translating, said, "Chief Richards wants to know if Mr. Brecht remembers the license plate on the white truck he saw."
"No," Werner Brecht said. "Sorry."
Chief Richards shrugged. Then he looked at Pieter and said, "I think I know the man this paper describes."
Chief Richards picked up a telephone, and began talking as if to a person. Küster translated—
"Hello Ken, this is Press, how are you? . . . Great. Listen, I have some people here from Jena about Geri Kinney's murder, is Marlene there? . . . We'll want to talk to her, yes. And James Alec Wild, is he there? . . . I can't tell you, Ken, but we'll have to talk to Wild too. Did he, or did he not, take one of your trucks into Jena, two days ago? . . . So nail him to the floor till we get there. . . . We're rolling in a few, see you soon."
Chief Richards put down the telephone, and walked to a set of tall, metal, gray cabinets. He stopped in front of one cabinet, opened a drawer, plucked something from it, carried it to his desk, and opened it. He beckoned Pieter and Werner Brecht over. "Ist er euer Mann?” he asked.
On one shiny piece of paper were two shades-of-gray pictures of the same man. In one picture, his face was looking straight ahead; the other picture showed him in profile. In neither picture did he seem happy.
Brecht said, “Yes, it’s him, I think. That’s the man I’ve seen going to visit Miss Kinney.”
Krebs came over and eyed the pair of pictures. “He looks familiar. I might have seen him once.”
Pieter said to Chief Richards, “So you know this man? What is his name?”
Richards replied, “His name is James Alec Wild, and he is a convicted criminal. Convicted for assault.”
Frau Küster didn’t know that last term, and had to confer with Chief Richards. A minute later, Pieter had the sense of it: Wild had been tried for beating-up a man.
“Beating someone up was a crime up-time?” Krebs said. “Amazing.”
Wild was tried and convicted up-time? I’ve found the killer, Pieter thought. “You said he was convicted. Why didn’t you carry out the sentence?”
Richards said, “We did. He served all the years of his sentence, they released him from prison, and he came back to Grantville.”
“Why didn’t the up-time judge order him executed? Then Miss Kinney would still be alive.”
Chief Richards gave Pieter a steely look. “That’s not our way. We don’t kill men, except after they kill. We also don’t torture suspects.”
“We stopped doing that,” Pieter countered, “mainly because of you people. Now the Landschädlichen lie to us judges, and laugh in our faces. It makes our work harder, and puts dangerous men on the streets.”
Frau Küster said, “Ahem, Your Honor, most respectfully? Sometimes men weren’t tortured because they were landschädlich but only because they were poor. A poor man who says ‘I didn’t do it’ is never believed.” Frau Küster turned to Chief Richards and said, “If we know who this man in the pictures is, shouldn’t we go talk to him now?”
“Yes,” Chief Richards said in a flat voice, while glaring at Pieter. “Sure. Let’s go.”
Pieter hid his annoyance at Frau Küster with an indulgent smile. “A poor man, innocent and unjustly tortured? I doubt this happened often. The old laws had safeguards.”
Outside Miller’s Hardware
Three minutes later
As soon as the police car had stopped moving and had quit making noise, Werner Brecht was out the door and was running toward two white trucks. He walked around the nearer white truck, then the farther, then he yelled, “This is it!”
Everyone rushed over. Brecht was pointing to the door on the truck’s right side. The door had an irregular, bowl-sized indentation, which had green specks in it.
Brecht said, “I remember this. The first time I saw this door, I wondered, ‘Why is it green there?'”
Chief Richards pulled a small book from his pocket, walked behind the truck, wrote something down, then put the book away. “Shall we go talk to everyone? Your Honor, best you leave the shackles in my trunk for now.”
Office of Ken Miller
Two minutes later
Marlene Kinney demanded, “Where is he? Where is this judge who can tell me about Geri’s murder?”
James Wild worked for Ken Miller. But so did Marlene Kinney, mother of Geri—and it was Mrs. Kinney who now came bursting through the door and into Miller’s office. Already there and waiting were Pieter and the other Jenaites, Chief Richards, and Miller. “Jimmy the Wildman” was on site, Miller had assured everyone; but at the moment, Wild was “unloading the Mennonite wagon.”
Pieter said to Mrs. Kinney, “I am Pieter Freihofer. My condolences on your loss. I am doing my best to make sure that justice is done.”
“An up-timer, Mary Patricia Flanagan, examined your daughter’s body, and took it to the medical school for further examination.”
A nagging little uncertainty made Pieter not mention the blood under the fingernails that had excited Flanagan so much. Why did Miss Kinney turn her back on her killer, after she and Wild screamed at each other?
“Do you know who her killer is?” Mrs. Kinney asked Pieter.
At that moment, Werner Brecht’s chair creaked as Pieter saw Brecht lean forward. Rolf Kreb’s foot-wagging stopped.
Pieter replied, “I am not free to say. But there is someone here who might have answers for me.”
Mrs. Kinney said, “I’m afraid you wasted a trip. Geri didn’t write to me much, she couldn’t telephone me—as if she would!—and my husband Gil is out of town.”
Ken Miller said, “Marlene, they’re here—mainly they came to talk to Jimmy.”
She said, “Jimmy the shit? Why do they—?” Then Mrs. Kinney’s face got angry, and she started yelling in English, using words that Frau Küster was unable to translate.
Chief Richards leaned over and murmured to Pieter, “Jimmy Wild was Geri Kinney’s first customer, I think.”
Mrs. Kinney turned on her employer and yelled something accusatory; Pieter caught the words Jimmy, truck, and Jena. Ken Miller shrugged, and Mrs. Kinney gave him a venomous look.
Then the door opened, and a blue-eyed man limped in. From Chief Richards’s pictures, Pieter recognized the man as James Wild; but Wild’s face looked five or ten years older than in the pictures.
Wild said, “Yeah, Ken, you need something?” His eyes were on his boss; he gave the Jenaites no more than a glance.
Mrs. Kinney rushed forward, with violence obviously on her mind; but Chief Richards grabbed her around the waist from behind. Mrs. Kinney could no longer move, but she could still yell; and again, Frau Küster missed words.
When Mrs. Kinney finally had quieted herself, Brecht said, “Ist er.” He pointed to Wild.
Wild finally took notice of the Jenaites. He looked at Werner Brecht in puzzlement.
Which was not the way Pieter expected a murderer to react, being identified by a witness.
Pieter stood. He said, with Frau Küster translating, “I am Judge Pieter Freihofer, from Jena. I have a commission to investigate the murder of Geri Kinney.” Pieter took out the commission, untied the ribbon, and showed the paper to Wild. Pieter pointed to the words Geri Kinney, and Wild’s face got serious.
But what Wild’s face did not show was fright, anger, or defiance, the usual reactions when a criminal met Pieter, his questioner. Pieter thought, Something is odd here.
Wild, meanwhile, was saying, “I guess you know I was there Monday, huh?”
Pieter turned to Mrs. Kinney—who was yelling and waving her hands around—and said, “Please, I must ask you to be quiet.”
Chief Richards said something in a stern voice, and pointed to the door. Mrs. Kinney shot him a look, closed her mouth, and took her seat.
Pieter replied, “Yes, I know you were there Monday. Was that spur of the moment, or planned?”
Wild said, “Planned. Well, I had hardware to deliver in Jena, and I did that, and then I dropped in, unofficial, on Linda and the boys.”
“And after you visited your ex-wife and your sons . . . ?”
“Instead of driving to Grantville, I went to Geri’s place.”
Mrs. Kinney muttered something that was probably an insult.
Pieter said, “So what happened during your visit with Miss Kinney?”
Wild said, “I paid her, and then she got busy…”
Or so Frau Küster translated his words. But judging by how red Mrs. Kinney’s face was getting, Wild had said something quite different than those bland words.
Wild continued, “. . . and then we talked, and then somehow the talk turned into an argument, and then I left.”
So far, Wild had been completely cooperative. But Pieter knew that was about to change. Pieter asked, “So what was the argument about?”
Wild frowned and crossed his arms. “Sorry, that’s personal.”
Pieter nodded, and set the question aside. Instead he asked, “What was Geri doing when you left?”
“Yelling at me down the stairs, loud enough to bust an eardrum. Very unladylike. She told me, she might not let me see her again.”
“Hallelujah,” Mrs. Kinney said.
Pieter asked Wild, “By ‘down the stairs,’ you mean the argument took place in the hallway outside Miss Kinney’s apartment?”
“We started arguing and yelling in her apartment. But the screaming ended up in the hallway, yeah.”
“Did anyone see this argument? Did anyone come out into the hallway while you two were yelling, or was already in the hallway?”
“I can’t recall anyone. Nah, I’m pretty sure nobody was there.”
Pieter again asked Wild, “So what was your argument about?”
“Hey, buster, I just told you, I’m not telling you shit. All that stuff is personal, and it doesn’t matter for catching Geri’s killer.”
Again Pieter laid that question aside. “So what time did you get to Miss Kinney’s place, and what time did you leave?”
Wild said, “Hm . . . I got there at four-fifteen exactly, according to the dashboard clock. She finished up in under ten minutes.” Pieter noted Mrs. Kinney fuming, and decided that Frau Küster had cleaned up Wild’s words again. Now Wild gave Mrs. Kinney a challenging look, and spoke again. “Geri did a great job that day. She proved herself master-level in her craft.” The words, as Frau Küster translated them, were as bland as porridge, but Mrs. Kinney looked ready to leap across the room and kill Wild.
He finished up: “And then, five minutes after I zipped up my pants, somehow Geri and I were in the hallway, screaming at each other. I was back in my truck at four-thirty.”
“Four-thirty exactly, or four-thirty about?”
“Exactly. Straight-up four-thirty.”
“And how do you remember that?”
“Because I remember thinking at the time, ‘That was sure a sorry-ass way to spend fifteen minutes. What the hell just happened?'”
“And what did just happen? What was the argument about?”
“Jesus Christ, you are one pushy kraut bastard! I’m not telling you that, got it?”
Rolf Krebs said to Wild, with Frau Küster translating, “I am not a violent man, but we ‘krauts’ are three to your one, up-timer. Show respect.”
Pieter waited to see if a fight would break out. When none did, Pieter said to Wild, “And Miss Kinney was alive when you left?”
“Didn’t I just say that?”
“So what is your relationship with Miss Kinney, beyond the merchant part?”
Wild said, “Well, I first met her in 1996, four years before the Ring fell. I was just out of—I had just come home, and Geri had just started hooking. Geri needed money, and I wasn’t getting much action from Linda, so it worked out.”
“You liar,” said Mrs. Kinney. To Pieter she said, “That year ’96 that he’s trying to gloss over? My daughter was sixteen, and wrecked up from a broken heart.” She said to Wild, “Geri would’ve quit selling herself and gone back to school, if not for you putting bills in her hand.”
“Yeah, sure,” Wild said. “You think I was the only guy with her, down at the swimming hole? I wasn’t. And I never asked her to do any nasty pervert stuff, so cut me slack.”
“Oh, you are a good, good man,” Mrs. Kinney said sarcastically.
The two up-timers glared at each other. In the silence, Frau Küster turned to Pieter and murmured, “Geri Kinney chose this life?”
Pieter looked at Wild and said, “Ahem. To repeat my question, what was your relationship with Miss Kinney, beyond exchanging money for services?”
Wild said, “I liked her. Even though in ’96 she looked like a witch—black clothing, black lipstick, black nail polish, ghost-white makeup. No offense, but if you Germans had gotten hold of her during the first few months after the Ring of Fire, you krauts woulda burned her at the stake soon as you saw her! And yet, she wasn’t scary or freaky in ’96 despite how she looked, she was nice. And“—Wild smirked at Mrs. Kinney—”I think Geri has always liked me back.”
“You’re dreaming, Jimmy,” Mrs. Kinney said.
Pieter said, “I have no more questions.” He saw Wild relax.
So what do I know? Pieter asked himself.
The facts were these: Geri Kinney had argued with Wild, had gotten him angry. And Wild was a dangerous man when angry. And then about this same time, Kinney had turned her back on a man, and had been killed. Which meant that either Kinney was a fool for trusting Wild, or Wild was not the killer. The problem was, Pieter had no evidence that Kinney was foolish, and Pieter had no other suspect.
Karl Strom, the law-school assistant dean, had once said something that had flabbergasted Pieter: “The up-timers don’t worry about fugitives.” If someone ran away, the up-time policemen could send messages faster than the fugitive could move, so that the fugitive would run straight into other policemen. Radio-with-pictures told the general public to look for the fugitive. The up-time police even had special glasses that could see a man hiding in a tree at night!
As a result, so Herr Strom had explained to Pieter, up-timers arrested someone only when the police had “probable cause,” which is what the up-timers called sufficient indication. Up-time, even a man strongly suspected of a crime, if the evidence wasn’t yet there, was allowed to leave after questioning.
Oh, to be a judge in such a paradise! Pieter thought. Because in Germany of the seventeenth century, if a man ran, he was gone. As a result, judges in Germany imprisoned suspects as soon as they became suspects, until they were tried or until they were no longer suspects. If a judge thought that a witness might disappear, the judge would imprison the witness as well, pending trial.
So despite Pieter’s new misgivings about Wild’s guilt, Pieter now declared, with Frau Küster translating, “James Wild, a resident of Grantville, I arrest you for the murder of Geri Kinney, a resident of Jena.”
Wild’s face turned white. Mrs. Kinney started screaming at him. Chief Richards rushed over to Wild and put up-time manacles on Wild’s wrists—in the process, blocking the still-yelling Mrs. Kinney from reaching Wild.
Wild yelled, “Marlene, I didn’t kill Geri!”
And Pieter wondered whether he’d arrested the wrong man.
Pieter and Mrs. Kinney set a time tomorrow when they would meet at Geri’s apartment in Jena. Then Chief Richards took James Wild and Pieter in his car to the police station, Wild in the back seat, Pieter in the front. The other Jenaites were left at Miller’s Hardware for the moment.
At the police station, Chief Richards pressed Wild’s fingers against an ink pad, then pressing his fingers against a white paper that was made for such things. Both up-timers acted like this was familiar. Chief Richards explained to Pieter that any fingerprints found at a crime scene would now be compared to Wild’s fingerprints on these fingerprint cards.
Chief Richards then unlocked a desk drawer, and brought out a box smaller than a woman’s hand. Putting it to his face, he took photos of Wild, again in face-front and profile views.
“If he escapes from your prison, we’ll have pictures of him to show people,” Richards explained.
Chief Richards and Pieter went to the back, to put Wild in lockup till it was time to take him to the train station. Pieter knew well that the prison at Jena was a dark and foul-smelling place; but the Grantville jail had no smell, and was lit as brightly as sunlight. The chief explained that the metal object in the corner of the cell was for bodily wastes.
With Wild put away, the chief glanced at his watch. “I have a little more paperwork to do before you and your prisoner leave, but I can finish that after I bring your people back here.”
Chief Richards and Pieter, in the police car, found Frau Küster in the hardware-store parking lot, quite alone. “Those two boys are still inside,” she laughed. “I’ll go drag them out, but I might need help from the army.”
A minute later, the three young people were approaching the police car. Rolf Krebs was carrying a strangely shaped black box with a metal red flag attached to it. “What is that?” Pieter asked, as Chief Richards opened the police car’s back door.
“A genuine up-time-style mailbox,” Krebs replied, as he, Brecht, and Frau Küster got into the back seat. “I write many letters to a young woman in Magdeburg, and so I need a sturdy mailbox.”
Frau Küster smirked. “Your Honor, do you know what I found these two talking with Mr. Miller about, just now? Strongboxes! Mr. Miller has many pretty wooden yard ornaments, and these two were asking him about strongboxes!”
Brecht replied, “Because Mr. Miller sells the best strongboxes I’ve ever seen.”
“They made even better ones up-time,” Krebs added. “Is it true, Chief Richards, that the up-time strongboxes with spinning wheels on the front, nobody could break into them?”
The chief answered, “Yes and no. Even the best ones can be broken into, but you need to know how, have the right tools, and be patient.”
In the office of Chief Richards
Five minutes later
On a desk that was in a corner of the room were several boxes connected by black ropes, along with a palm-sized, round-topped box, which had a gray rope. While sitting at that desk, Chief Richards moved the round-topped box around, and stared at the box that was in front of his face, which showed a changing picture. Two of the boxes on the desk made steady sounds.
Pieter and the youngsters watched all this in fascination.
Chief Richards did something to the round-topped box, and said “Done.” One of the sound-making boxes got louder.
A minute later, that box pushed a piece of paper out. Chief Richards grabbed it and handed it to Pieter, who passed it to Frau Küster. Other than Wild’s full name, which was underneath his two pictures, Pieter couldn’t read it.
Werner Brecht said, “These pictures were made today?”
The chief smiled. “They were made while he was buying a mailbox.”
Krebs started untying his money pouch from his belt. “Chief, I will pay you almost anything you can ask, if you make a picture of the four of us.”
The chief’s smile vanished. “The digital camera and the computer are for police business. I’m not running a tourist business here, kid.”
Pieter said, “Chief, if your price is reasonable, I will pay the same amount, plus postage, for you to mail a picture to me in Jena.”
When Chief Richards still looked rebellious, Pieter leaned down and murmured, “The truth is, I will be telling my nieces and nephews about this day for years to come. And has there ever been a government office in the history of the world that didn’t need more money?”
Fifteen minutes later, Pieter smiled as Frau Küster wrote her name by her face-front row, left-in Rolf Krebs’s picture.
In James Alec Wild’s cell
Thursday, May 18, 1634; early morning
“I did not kill Geri Kinney,” Wild said, as soon as Pieter walked into the cell. “I would never hurt her.”
Pieter knew better than to agree or to disagree with those statements. Instead, he said, “Please remove your shirt.”
As Wild was pulling his shirt over his head, he asked, “Ain’t I entitled to a lawyer?”
Pieter lifted up his lamp to light the right side of Wild’s face. “Certainly you’re entitled. If you wish to hire an attorney, we will let him visit you whenever he wishes.” Pieter was looking for the scratches that Miss Kinney had made in her killer’s skin.
Pieter saw no scratches on Wild’s face. Pieter moved his lamp down near Wild’s neck.
Wild said, “I ain’t talking about hiring a lawyer. I can’t afford that. I’m talking about Jena, or the SoTF, or USE, or somebody pays for my lawyer because I can’t.”
Pieter saw no scratches on Wild’s neck.
Pieter replied, “That’s right, you Americans did that up-time, didn’t you? Well, the answer to your question is no. Jena can’t afford to hire your attorney.”
Pieter walked around Wild, holding the lamp close to Wild’s arms.
Wild had no scratches on his hands, and none on his right arm. Pieter even checked Wild’s left arm. No scratches.
This complicated Pieter’s life. The killer, whoever he was, had to have scratches on him.
Maybe the light isn’t good enough, Pieter thought. He got the jailer to let him out of Wild’s cell, got a second lamp, and brought both lamps back.
With twice as much yellow light on Wild’s skin, Pieter still could see no hint of scratches.
When the jailer answered the pounding of the door the second time, Pieter told him, “Bring fetters here; I wish to take the prisoner outside.”
Minutes later, the jailer and a pike-carrying guardsman returned. Wild’s ankles were shackled, and he, Pieter, and the pikeman went outside.
By sunlight, Pieter saw that Wild had a tattoo of a dragon that covered his entire back and then went over his shoulder and onto his chest, while the dragon’s tail went around his waist. It was impressive, actually. But what Wild had no mark of, no sign of, not even a hint of, were fingernail scratches made by a healthy young woman who had been fighting for her life.
Pieter realized: He is not the killer.
Since Pieter had told Wild that he wouldn’t be given a free attorney, Wild had said nothing. Now Pieter asked him, “Is there nothing else you wish to say to me?”
“Depends,” Wild said. “Did Chief Richards tell you that I . . . ?”
“That you were imprisoned for a violent crime? Yes, I was told.”
“Mount Olive Correctional. Which means, anything I say now, can and will be used to fuck me over.”
Outside Geri Kinney’s apartment
“Tell me again, what you want from me?” Marlene Kinney said.
Mrs. Kinney had met Pieter at the Jena train station, and he had walked her over to Geri Kinney’s apartment building. Pieter had just unlocked the hallway door with Geri’s key then dropped that key into a pouch as he and Mrs. Kinney walked into the apartment. Mrs. Kinney was carrying a large but slim blue box by its blue handle.
As Pieter shut the door, he answered Mrs. Kinney: “Tell me if anything is amiss. Please inform me if you see something you expect not to see, or if you don’t see something you expect.”
“That won’t work, Your Honor.”
“Oh?” Pieter said. He was now lighting the oil lamp that was on the table.
“Do you have family, Your Honor?”
“No. I have no close family.” There was a story behind that, but this was not the time to tell it.
Mrs. Kinney said, “My daughter is twenty-three—was twenty-three. She’s been a stranger to me since she was thirteen, and I haven’t talked to her hardly at all in the last two years.”
Pieter’s heart sank. “Hardly at all?”
“Gilbert and I helped her move to here, in ’32. After that, she didn’t want me to come here. To be truthful, I didn’t push it—Lord knows what I’d find here.”
“So did you talk to her at all in the last two years?”
“Oh, once a month she’d come to Grantville for a hair trim, and usually she’d let me know ahead of time. But sometimes the only way I’d know she’d come and gone was Cora or Velma or Veda saying something snotty.”
“I’m sorry for that.”
Mrs. Kinney sighed. “Enough. I got work to do here.” She took two steps while carrying her blue box, stopped, and looked at Pieter. “Will I know where she died here? Did she bleed?”
Pieter said, “She didn’t bleed. You won’t know unless I tell you.”
Mrs. Kinney shook her head fiercely, and then walked into her daughter’s bedroom. Pieter followed, carrying the oil lamp.
In the bedroom, the wardrobe stood in a corner. At the room’s opposite corner, a small table had a chair on one side of it and a big mirror attached to the other side of it; on the table were two of those box lanterns with rotating handles like Flanagan had used. The bed was clearly up-time.
Mrs. Kinney did something to the box she’d carried in. There were two snap sounds, and the blue box split open on the bed, creating two large but shallow tubs.
Mrs. Kinney walked to the mirror table, picked up one of the up-time lanterns, spent a minute rotating its handle to make it purr, and then made it shine.
She walked over to the wardrobe and opened its doors. She pointed to the inside of one of the open wardrobe doors. “This is what Geri looked like, from age thirteen till late 1631.”
The giant color photograph showed three young men and a young woman. All four had black clothing, black hair, night-black lips, night-black fingernails, and snow-white faces. Two men held stringed instruments whose shape could only be described as an unholy parody of a Spanish guitar; each guitar even had a long black tail going down to the floor. Pieter couldn’t tell what the woman was holding to her mouth, but it also had a black tail. The drums, at least, Pieter understood. At the top of the picture was printed the English word Futility—but the two ts had each been replaced with a photograph of a stone cemetery cross.
Stunned, Pieter said, “They look like a witch and three sorcerers.”
“They do, don’t they?” Mrs. Kinney said. “No, they’re musicians.”
Minutes passed. One by one, Mrs. Kinney was removing items of clothing, folding them, and putting them in the suitcase. On the bed a pile of hangers was growing.
Mrs. Kinney reached into the wardrobe and pulled out a long-sleeved wool garment that was pale pink. “I’m surprised Geri brought this here.”
Mrs. Kinney was pulling the garment off the hanger. “Because she hated the color—” Mrs. Kinney looked surprised. “Something’s inside this sweater.”
She finished removing the garment. Revealed was a pouch made of blue-jeans cloth, that hung from the hanger’s horizontal part by two looped straps. Mrs. Kinney pulled on the nearer end of each strap and, with a great ripping sound, it came free.
Seeing Pieter’s reaction, she said, “That’s Velcro. It’s supposed to sound like that.”
“What does Velcro do? Besides make noise.”
“When you touch something with Velcro on it to something else with Velcro on it, the two things stick together. It’s real useful.”
Once the pouch was free of the hanger, she pulled on the front of the pouch, and with another r-r-rip, it opened. She reached a hand in, and pulled out—
—a lot of green USE bills. A minute later, she told Pieter, “There’s five hundred ninety dollars here.”
“What about men who didn’t pay in paper money? There are no coins in that pouch, right?”
She shook it. “You’re right, no coins here.” She stood up from the bed, picked up the up-time lantern, and swung its beam around. “She’d keep the coins in that.”
The light was shining on a large and strange-looking, tan-painted metal box. The front had a painted metal door, and in the middle of the door was a red round thing with numbers and marks on it. “My god,” Mrs. Kinney.
“What? What’s wrong?”
She stepped toward the box. “See the door on the safe? Someone tried to break in.”
“Don’t go any closer!” Pieter said. When she froze in place, he asked, “Now please tell me what that box is, and what do you see wrong with it?”
“That’s her safe. The safe that Geri bought in Morgantown in 1999. It’s a, it’s an up-time . . . it’s an up-time strongbox. See that round thing on the front? You spin that around, and if you do it right, you can open the door.”
“But otherwise the door won’t open, no matter what?”
“Yeah. It’s a fire safe, which isn’t as good against thieves, but still, see the door, the top edge and the side edge? The paint’s chipped and scratched. Somebody tried to crowbar his way in.”
In Pieter’s head, church bells were going off. “Mrs. Kinney, you said, ‘up-time strongbox’?”
“Um, yes,” she said, clearly puzzled by his intensity.
Pieter picked up the other up-time lantern, made it purr for a minute, then walked up next to Mrs. Kinney. Sure enough, someone had worked on the safe, but had not popped open the door, or even deformed it.
Then Pieter got an idea. “Put your light on the floor,” he said to Mrs. Kinney, as he squatted down and floored his own light.
The late Geri Kinney had not been a good housekeeper; the floor around the safe was dusty. By the low-angled light from the two lamps was revealed dustless ruts that showed that the safe had been pushed or dragged toward the bedroom door. The light on the dust also showed many copies of a man’s shoeprints surrounding the safe. The footprints were where Pieter would stand if he tried to pick up the safe.
“How heavy is that safe?” Pieter asked.
“A hundred fifty pounds, empty. Gil and Joey had the devil’s time getting it up the stairs.”
Pieter moved the two up-time lamps this way and that way, but always at floor level. The lights revealed that the shoeprints right by the safe were smeared from sliding sideways, or trampled on each other—with one exception.
One shoeprint, two feet away from the safe and near the wall, was perfect—when lit from floor level.
Pieter, taking care to avoid the perfect shoeprint, walked up to the safe. He used his two lights to inspect the safe, hoping for visible fingerprints. No luck.
He looked over at where he knew the perfect shoeprint was. By regular light, it was again invisible. Think like Nurse Flanagan, he told himself. How would Nurse Flanagan capture a shoeprint made out of dust?
Pieter gave Mrs. Kinney her up-time lantern back, and put his own back on the table. As he did so, he thought, Now I have a motive for murder, and only two suspects. But which one did it, Werner or Rolf?
Five minutes later the suitcase was much more full, as Mrs. Kinney was muttering something in English as she was folding a dress. Pieter caught the words Geri, Jimmy, and safe. Mrs. Kinney put the folded, bright-red dress in the suitcase, walked over to the wardrobe, and picked up something from the bottom.
What Mrs. Kinney had picked up was a yellowing copy of an English-language newspaper, the Jena World. But as she was carrying it to the bed, things fell out of it.
Mrs. Kinney gathered them up: Six coverless thin books, each showing on the front a color photograph of a slim and barely-dressed young woman, lots of English-language words, and at the top in big letters, the English word COSMOPOLITAN.
“Aha, something else Jimmy missed!”
Pieter said, “What are they?”
Mrs. Kinney sighed. “These are copies of Cosmo, an up-time magazine for young women who, um, are sexually active. Every issue has many advertisements showing beautiful women who are dressed sexy. Two years ago, right after Geri cut off her black hair, she started buying up copies of Cosmo—”
“To show the pictures to seamstresses in Jena, so they’d copy the clothing for her.” Mrs. Kinney looked away. “After all, what says ‘I’m a high-priced up-time whore’ better than dressing like a Cosmo Girl?”
“So are these magazines valuable?”
“Valuable? In ’32, Geri told me she had to spend nearly all the cash she had, just to buy these six copies. Now in ’34, if I sold these magazines, I could feed everyone in this building for a year with the money.”
Mrs. Kinney dropped the Cosmopolitans into the suitcase, closed it and carried it to the bedroom door.
She glanced at the open wardrobe, then said, “I still got more clothes to pack up,” as she walked to the head of the bed. She grabbed a pillow—
—and green-and-black things fluttered to the floor.
While Mrs. Kinney was dumping the pillow out of the pillowcase, Pieter rushed over to pick up the green things. They were two twenty-dollar bills.
“What’s forty dollars doing under her pillow?” Mrs. Kinney asked.
Pieter thought, That’s an excellent question.
“Let’s see if there’s more money around here,” Pieter said.
He looked under the other pillow. Pieter dumped that other pillow out, and looked in its pillowcase. He and Mrs. Kinney shook out the blanket and each of the two sheets. They lifted up the mattress. They pushed the bed away from the wall. Pieter grabbed the other up-time lantern off the mirror table and looked under the bed. Not one more pfennig was found.
Pieter had been thinking. Now he said, “Mrs. Kinney, the material in the money pouch that makes the ripping sound—”
“Would Mr. Wild recognize that sound if he heard it? Would he know that he wasn’t hearing cloth ripping?”
“Sure, any up-timer older than four would know that sound.”
“Hmm,” Pieter said.
Mrs. Kinney whipped her head around and eyed the bed. She asked, “Did you find an up-time gun while you were searching the bed? Under a pillow, on the floor, anywhere at all?”
“No. Was I supposed to?”
Pieter and Mrs. Kinney went through the motions of searching the bed again but—no surprise—didn’t find an up-time gun.
“Geri had a leather holster for the gun,” Mrs. Kinney said. “That’s missing too.”
After the stolen handgun and the mysteriously appearing twenty-dollar bills, there were no more unpleasant surprises.
Half an hour after Pieter had discovered the hidden forty dollars, Mrs. Kinney had filled both pillowcases. The pillowcases, as well as the suitcase, were by the hallway door. As Pieter was putting the oil lamp back on the table, he saw Kreb’s pen-and-ink drawing there.
Pieter picked up the drawing and gave it to Mrs. Kinney. He explained, “This was left here by Rolf Krebs, one of the two young men who came to Grantville yesterday.”
She unfolded the drawing and looked at the drawing of the rose and candle; her eyes widened. “Wow. This is so sweet. This Mr. Krebs, was he . . . ?” One of my daughter’s sex customers? was what Mrs. Kinney couldn’t make herself say.
She sighed. “I feel a hundred different emotions right now.” She was silent for a long time, as she looked at the drawing, and as tears ran down her face. At last she said, “Nobody in Grantville was this nice to Geri.”
Pieter thought, Then I hope for your sake that Rolf Krebs isn’t the man who killed her.
Mrs. Kinney turned her wet face toward Pieter. “Fact is, Geri was always a victim. People in Grantville were always acting mean to Geri, because she was different. Why? She seldom did drugs, she just dressed weird! Is that so wrong?”
“Perhaps she was a victim, yet it seems it was her choice to become a prostitute.”
Mrs. Kinney slapped the table. “How dare you? Geri was a victim! She wouldn’t have dropped out of school and become a—become a whore, if not for that boy Philip, who broke her heart and laughed at her! And once she started doing you-know-what, Jimmy Wild was always there with money, to lure her into keeping that life. And then Gil . . .”
Mrs. Kinney had stopped speaking; Pieter prompted, “And then Gil . . . ?”
Mrs. Kinney now was looking at the oil lamp, not at Pieter. “My husband Gil was not a good father to Daphne or Geri.” She saw Pieter’s face and added, “It’s not what you think. Gil isn’t a pervert, he’s just a complete bum of a father. He’s a bully. And maybe I should have—”
Someone knocked several times on the hallway door. Before either Pieter or Mrs. Kinney could stand up, the door opened and Werner Brecht stepped in. His eyes went wide when he saw Pieter. “Your Honor! I didn’t know you were here—”
“Obviously. Why are you here, then?”
Brecht squirmed. “I saw that the policeman was gone, and I heard a woman’s voice—I didn’t know it was you, Mrs. Kinney, honestly!—and so I thought the apartment had already been rented out, and I came to warn the new people about the murder here.”
Pieter put on his I-believe-you face and said, “Mrs. Kinney, may I present Werner Brecht? Of course you recognize him as the other young man from yesterday.”
Mrs. Kinney said, “Were you . . . ?”
“The person who found your daughter and reported her homicide, yes,” Brecht said.
Pieter thought, That wasn’t the question Mrs. Kinney was asking. Were you aware of that, Brecht?
Aloud, Pieter said, “I told the policeman to take lunch, while I’m in Miss Kinney’s apartment with her mother. But your thoughtfulness for the new tenant is commendable.”
Red-faced Brecht said, “Um, thanks. I’ll be going now. Mrs. Kinney, my condolences. Goodbye.” Two seconds later, the door shut behind him.
As soon as Werner shut the hallway door, Pieter stood up. “Mrs. Kinney, thank you for examining your daughter’s property with me. May I carry your things to the train station?”
Mrs. Kinney waved a hand in agreement, but then said, “Your Honor, what happens now? When will you bring Jimmy to court?”
Pieter might still need Mrs. Kinney’s help, so he wasn’t about to say I don’t intend to put Mr. Wild on trial. Pieter instead said, “My investigation isn’t yet finished. For instance, soon I must talk to Mary Patricia Flanagan, who examined your daughter’s body.”
Mrs. Kinney said, “Mary Patri—? Oh right, she’s . . . a nurse, right?” Then Mrs. Kinney’s eyes went wide. “There’s something she needs to know. Something she’ll want to know,” Mrs. Kinney said, as she was reaching into her purse. She pulled out a pencil and piece of paper. She scribbled something, and then shoved the paper toward Pieter.
Mrs. Kinney looked Pieter in the eyes. “Please give this to Mary—uh, to Nurse Flanagan. It’s very important.”
Pieter walked Mrs. Kinney from her daughter’s apartment to the train station. He then said goodbye to Mrs. Kinney, but he didn’t immediately leave the train station. Instead, he went to the station telegraph office. Pieter sent Police Chief Richards a telegram.
JAMES WILD NOT MURDERER
ONE OF TWO MEN I BROUGHT YESTERDAY IS MURDERER
IF PHOTO NOT ALREADY SENT I NEED IT FAST FAST FAST
KILLER TRIED TO OPEN GERI KINNEY’S SAFE
ASK MR. MILLER WHO STARTED TALK YESTERDAY ABOUT SAFES
University of Jena
Twenty minutes later
Pieter had explained to Mary Patricia Flanagan about the shoeprint in the dust. Now he asked, “So do you know any up-time tricks to capture it?”
“Depends. Can you see it when you’re looking straight down at it?”
“There’s no mud in the shoeprint, no dirt, nothing a different color?”
“Everything’s gray dust.”
She shook her head. “We could capture it with enough tape, yes, and transfer it to paper, yes. But if it’s all dust and you can’t see any of it, what’s the point?”
Sighing, Pieter changed the subject: “So did your up-time tests on Miss Kinney’s body uncover much new information?”
Flanagan made a fist, and slapped it against her hip. “Hardly any. There wasn’t enough blood under her nails for us to type, and forget DNA profiling! We can do neither X-rays nor tox screens—well, except for alcohol. I can tell you that she wasn’t raped, and that’s the only new info I have. Basically, I got your hopes up, and wasted people’s time. I’m sorry.”
Pieter gave her a reassuring smile. “You needn’t apologize for not solving my case for me.”
She sighed. “But if we were back in the year 2000, there’s so much more that I could tell you!”
Pieter smiled again. “But if this were the year 2000, I’d be long buried, so it wouldn’t matter whether you told me or not.”
She smiled, for a second, then went back to her frustration-face. “There’s a blood test that it’s very important that we give her, but we can’t, here and now. And because we can’t, people might die.”
Both Flanagan and Mrs. Kinney had used the same words, very important. Noting this, Pieter loosened the strings of his pouch, pulled out Mrs. Kinney’s paper, and handed it to Flanagan. Pieter asked, “Does this help?”
Whatever was on the paper made Flanagan happy. “This is an answer to prayer!” she exclaimed.
“It is?” Pieter said. “What does it say?”
Pieter of course didn’t understand most of what Flanagan told him next, but he got this much: A sexually transmitted disease came to America from Africa in 1980. By then, the Americans had erased smallpox and polio (Flanagan said casually), but this African disease laughed at American physicians. The only good news: It was possible to prevent catching the virus, and not everyone who got the virus got the disease.
So why was Flanagan now so happy? Because in March of 2000, Geri Kinney got tested for this virus. At the end of March, 2000, Geri got her test results back. As of one month before the Ring of Fire, she officially did not carry this sexual-disease virus.
Which meant, in turn, that this up-time disease had stayed up-time; Geri Kinney had not brought it to the seventeenth century.
An epidemic had been averted.
Pieter Freihofer’s house
One hour later
Pieter was pacing the floor in the front hallway. When he heard the door knocker, he rushed to answer the door.
Standing there was a youth, flushed with exertion. Beyond him, at the bottom of Pieter’s front steps, was a downtime bicycle.
The boy held a telegram in his hand. Pieter tipped him well for bringing it.
PHOTO ALREADY SENT
YOU WILL GET TOMORROW
KEN MILLER SAYS HE FIRST TO MENTION SAFES
HE DOESN’T REMEMBER WHO SPOKE NEXT
HAVE YOU RELEASED WILD
Pieter thought, Thor’s hammer, I’d better answer this quickly! He jerked open the door, ready to run out to the street and call the boy back.
But Pieter needn’t have worried. The bicycle remained by his front steps, and the boy was astride the bicycle, looking up at Pieter expectantly. “Yes, sir, do you wish to send a reply?”
When Pieter nodded, the boy took off the knapsack he was wearing, and from it removed a telegram form. Pieter filled out the form.
WILD IS HELD NOW AS WITNESS
HAVE NOT TOLD WILD HE NO LONGER SUSPECT
JAILER MIGHT TALK
Pieter and the boy both counted the words, and then the boy quoted a fee.
“That’s more than I was charged at the railroad station!” Pieter said.
“Yes, sir. But you’re paying for convenience.”
“And how do I know you won’t try to steal the money?”
“See here? Every blank is numbered. If I don’t turn in the blank and its money, I’ll go up before a judge.”
“You’re up before a judge right now. See to it that this telegram gets sent promptly.”
The boy gulped, leaped onto his bicycle, and sped away.
Jena City Hall
Friday, May 19, 1634; morning
Once Pieter had received the photograph that Chief Richards had sent by special delivery, Pieter had dashed to City Hall. Once inside the building, Pieter had hurried straight to the room where Frau Küster and other clerks worked.
“Your Honor,” Frau Küster said, “it’s good to see you again.”
Frau Küster and the other clerks worked in a big room that was lit only by windowlight and a candle on each desk. The more senior clerks sat with their backs to the windows, and sat facing the more junior clerks. Pieter had been in rooms like this all his life, and had never before thought them to be lacking; but now he thought, This room is too dark. It’s gloomy in here. In Chief Richards’s office, Pieter could have stood anywhere and read a book without eyestrain; now it seemed unchristian to keep anyone working in the dark.
Frau Küster was one of the junior clerks laboring in deeper darkness. On her desk, Pieter could barely see an up-time-printed document in English, and next to it was a paper on which she was making notes in German about “water treatment.” Frau Küster’s penmanship was awful.
Pieter said, “Frau Küster, I have a favor to ask of you.”
“Name it,” she said, grinning at him. “After taking me to Grantville, I will do anything for you.”
“The matter is delicate. Please come with me outside.”
Seconds later, they both were blinking in the sunlight, as Pieter pulled the photograph from its yellowish-tan mailing envelope. He and Frau Küster spent several delightful minutes sharing their impressions of the town from the future.
At one point, Pieter was chuckling. “And the faster that man went, the louder his machine got! I thought to myself, ‘Grantville will make me deaf for the rest of my life!'”
She laughed. “Oh, a motorcycle is loud, I agree. But when I saw Jeff Higgins riding his, my thought was, ‘How is the American making it not fall over?'”
Frau Küster was still smiling when Pieter turned to stare at an oak tree. He said, “When Mr. Wild was talking about acts he performed with Miss Kinney, he used many vulgar terms of English that related to prostitutes and sex acts. I know they were vulgar, because they angered Mrs. Kinney to hear them. Yet you knew every word. You didn’t pause, or stammer, or act uncertain. That speaks well for your drive to master English.”
She was silent for a time, and Pieter could only guess at the expression on her face. At last she said, “I am blessed to have this job. I want to do well at it.”
Pieter nodded, then said, “I have a problem: The murderer tried very hard to steal Miss Kinney’s safe from her bedroom.” Of course, Pieter had to use the English word.
“I, um, do not know that word, safe. Not as you use it.”
“It’s an up-time strongbox. It’s made all of steel, and it’s heavy. It has a door, and uses a spinning wheel to somehow keep that door locked.”
Her eyes went wide. “Mr. Krebs and Mr. Brecht—”
“Exactly. One of them was trying to trick information out of Mr. Miller. One of them is the murderer.”
“That’s terrible,” she said. Then she asked, “So how can I help you?”
Pieter turned to gaze at the oak tree again. “There was a time, not so long ago, when Jena was bursting with women who would sell themselves for a piece of bread.”
Her voice was wary: “Yes, before God brought the Americans and they drove the evildoers away.”
He nodded. “You are a married woman and a city clerk, very respectable, but I’m hoping that you know women who were prostitutes in those troubled times.”
Again, her voice was wary: “I . . . know several such women, yes.”
Pieter turned to look at her, as he pushed the photograph and envelope into her hands. “This is yours to keep, regardless. But I ask you to show it to all those unfortunate women, and ask them if they recognize either of these men.”
Frau Küster looked puzzled. “Why? Do you think a former refugee prostitute saw Miss Kinney’s murder?”
“No. But a man who would kill one prostitute might well have hurt others. Especially when the woman he hurt didn’t dare fight back.” Pieter then tapped his finger on Werner Brecht’s face and then Rolf Krebs’s. “I have two suspects. That is one too many.”
She nodded, and then her chin went up. “Count on me. Any man who hurts a starving woman is worth less than a grain rat, and any man who kills a woman deserves the wheel.”
Pieter Freihofer’s house
Anna Maria von Schurmann and her bodyguards had dropped in to pay Pieter an unexpected visit. Now she was gushing, “. . . a day, two at the most, then on to Magdeburg, that was the plan, but Grantville is fascinating, and so now I’m here only to collect my things, and I’ll be spending the next month at the Inn of The Maddened Queen, and that place is a story in itself, and I feel so fortunate to visit a place like Grantville!”
Pieter smiled. “Well, you saw more of it than I did. I went there, questioned a man, arrested him, and brought him back.”
She nodded. “It’s the talk of Grantville. He’s an up-timer.”
“I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to discuss the case.”
“Then let me show you what you missed in Grantville.” She gave an order to one of her men, who rushed out the front door and returned a minute later with her sketchpad. Anna Maria said, “I bought this right here in Jena. Tuesday evening it was empty, but look at it now!”
The sketchpad was close to complete. The first three sketches were of Pieter himself, sitting on a train seat; Frau Küster pointing out a train window, her face excited; and Rolf Krebs sitting and laughing about something, while next to him, Werner Brecht sat looking solemn. Next came sketches of the Ring cliffs, from a distance; the Ring cliffs, seen close; a many-windowed up-time building that the train had passed near, with up-time and down-time children playing in front; and then finally Grantville buildings, scenery, and people that Pieter didn’t recognize.
She explained all her sketches, so it was almost as if Pieter had toured Grantville with her. Minutes later, she was saying, “I drew this one, sitting in my chair at a table at the SoTF State Library.” Seconds later, she turned the page in the sketchpad, and a sheet of up-time paper with up-time printing fell to the floor.
Pieter couldn’t read the English, but he recognized the write-up’s illustration. “Is that you?” he said.
She nodded. “An older version of me, and I’m remembered by my Dutch name.” She added in a tone of wonder, “Up-time history remembers me as an exceptional woman scholar. This paper tells everything I ever did in the other seventeenth century, and it’s a long list.” She looked in Pieter’s eyes. “Leaving me to ask myself, ‘What do I do now?'”
At that moment, Pieter’s housekeeper entered the parlor. “You have callers, Your Honor: Pastor Eberhard Bartsch and his wife, Mari Küster.” The housekeeper added, her disapproval only partly masked, “They insist she be allowed to talk to you.”
“What’s wrong, Minna?”
Minna sniffed. “For a so-called Lutheran pastor, his clothing is shabby.”
Seconds later, stone-faced Minna was leading Frau Küster and a man into Pieter’s parlor. Frau Küster was holding the tan up-time envelope that Pieter had given to her only hours before.
“Your Honor, I messed up, and I’m very sorry,” Frau Küster said. “But first, let me introduce my husband Eberhard Bartsch, pastor of Saint Lazarus, one of the new chapels of need.”
She said that proudly, which was puzzling. Chapels of need had been established for the poorest people in Jena when the population expanded, and were undoubtedly a punishment assignment for pastors.
Pieter’s first thought was, What did you do to make someone angry at you? Instead, he tactfully said, “Well, you’re young yet.”
Bartsch replied, “Yes, Your Honor, I was ordained a little less than a year ago. But I asked for a chapel of need, please know.”
Pieter didn’t know what to make of that. So he smiled and said, “I’ve never met a saint before.”
“Not so, Your Honor, I’m chief among sinners. But God used my sin and weakness to give me a wonderful woman and a holy mission.” Bartsch smiled at his wife.
Anna Maria asked, “Is Saint Lazarus in a good part of town?”
“No, ma’am, it’s in the dangerous part of town,” Bartsch replied.
“I . . . see.”
Before things could get more embarrassing for someone, Pieter asked, “So why have you come here, Frau Küster?”
She opened the envelope and took out the picture that Chief Richards had made of the four Jenaites. The image was wrinkled, and blotched with brown on the left side. It was also torn. Frau Küster said, “The wind caught it, and blew it out of my hand into a mud puddle, and before I could pick it up, a horse stepped on it and tore it. I’m so sorry.”
“What a remarkable picture,” Anna Maria said. “I would love to make art like that.” Then she thought of something: “This is just a souvenir, right? Of your trip to Grantville? So why did she come here to apologize for ruining it?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” Pieter said.
“Wait, this picture is part of your murder investigation ?”
This woman is way too sharp. “Let me say only that it is vital that Frau Küster be able to show a picture of these two young men to certain people in Jena.” Pieter then said to Frau Küster, “I’ll go send a telegram to Chief Richards as soon as I can, asking him to send another picture. When I get it, I’ll inform you.”
“Why trouble him?” Anna Maria said. “If this drawing is important, then time is important, and you have an alternative.”
“I do? What?”
“Maarten, go get my drawing supplies. Hurry!” As one of Anna Maria’s bodyguards rushed out the front door, she went to her sketchpad, found the drawing she’d made of Rolf Krebs and Werner Brecht, and tore it out. “I didn’t take time to detail their faces,” Anna Maria said. “But now I think that between the three of us and this up-time picture, I can draw how they look.”
With charcoal for drawing and wax balls for erasing nearby, Anna Maria was bent over the drawing of Krebs and Brecht. She was filling in facial features, as her bodyguards and Pastor Bartsch watched.
Anna Maria asked Pieter, “You won’t tell me why I’m drawing these two men?”
“That’s correct, I can say nothing.” Pieter pointed. “His eyes need to be just a tiny bit farther apart.”
“I think they’re okay,” she said.
“She’s right, Your Honor,” Frau Küster said. “Right now, his eyes look perfect.”
“Make his nose a little thinner,” Pieter said.
“I agree,” Frau Küster said.
“Not even a hint why?” Anna Maria asked.
Anna Maria finished the drawing in time for her and her bodyguards to catch the afternoon train back to Grantville, though without much time to spare. Frau Küster and Pastor Bartsch had already departed with the new drawing when Anna Maria stood in Pieter’s front hallway. Anna Maria eyed Pieter and said, “This has been so exciting, helping investigate a murder. If there’s any other way I can help, send me a telegram at the Inn of the Maddened Queen.”
“Come now. Once you return to Grantville, you’ll forget Jena exists.”
She shook her head. “This murder, it matters, to her family at least. Listen, I’m eager to attend the salon that the Encyclopedia Society is hosting next Friday; but send me a message to help you, and I’ll skip that salon without a second thought.”
Rather than tell her That will never happen, Pieter said politely, “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Pieter Freihofer’s house
Saturday, May 20, 1634; morning
Pastor Bartsch and Frau Küster paid Pieter a second visit—but this time, their faces wore smiles. Frau Küster greeted him with “The two suspects are now only one.” She was pointing to a face in Anna Maria’s sketch.
“So what have you discovered about Rolf Krebs and Werner Brecht?”
After she told him, Pieter said, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but—shall we walk to the Freedom Arches on this beautiful May morning?”
On the walk across town, Pieter remarked, “I’m sure there are plenty of sinners for you to preach to, there at the Freedom Arches.”
Frau Küster smiled. “Plenty, yes. Of course, it helps that we’re active in the Committees of Correspondence, and that Eberhard teaches reading at the Freedom Arches on Monday. The poor in Jena know us.”
Pieter shook his head at the oddness of life. I’m headed to the Freedom Arches of all places, in the company of a religious fanatic and a former refugee prostitute. What will my friends say?
Outside the Freedom Arches Southeast
Who said Lutheran pastors were dull? Pieter thought.
Pastor Bartsch was preaching to him. “As Jesus died for both Gustav II Adolf and for Lazarus the beggar, so did the Americans recently give the vote to both Michael Stearns and to Gretchen Richter—a woman and a one-time refugee.”
“And former camp whore,” Frau Küster added.
Bartsch nodded. “So you see, Your Honor, God’s plan for mankind’s redemption, applied to government—that’s what democracy is.”
Pieter held up a hand. “This discussion has been fascinating, but now I need to think about catching that murderer.”
The Freedom Arches was located at the intersection of two streets. On one street or the other were small groups of tough-looking men, and a few women, who all stopped their conversations to eye Pieter. Pieter noticed that even the so-called drunks who clutched bottles watched him alertly. Several of the tough men standing on the street began to drift toward him, and they all looked ready to fight.
And then they stopped moving, and their faces and postures relaxed. Some.
Startled, Pieter looked around. His two companions were making a gesture of thumb and index finger brought together to make a circle. When she noticed Pieter looking at her hand, Frau Küster smiled at him and said, “We don’t want misunderstandings.”
When Pieter stepped through the Freedom Arches door, the noise level dropped. Then a man’s voice said, “That’s Judge Freihofer,” and the room went silent. Every eye was staring at Pieter.
Pastor Bartsch took a half-step forward. “Friends and brothers, the up-time prostitute Geri Kinney was murdered, and Judge Freihofer seeks her killer. He suspects none of us, but he is here because Miss Scholz maybe has seen something. Be kind to him, he’s not a kinggeorge.”
“Oh yeah?” a man’s voice yelled from a corner of the room. “I say he is a kinggeorge, and he’s bamboozled you, Pastor Eberhard.”
Frau Küster grabbed Pieter’s arm, and made a show of spinning him around to face a picture on the wall. “Do you know Chip Jenkins?” she asked loudly. “He’s an up-timer who is at the law school as both student and lecturer. Have you met him? He brought us this. Isn’t it a wonderful picture?”
On the wall near the door was an up-time-printed color photo of an up-time oil painting. A meeting was in progress, and among some seated people a man stood, speaking to someone not shown. The speaker stood straight, with head held high, and five men and a woman were listening to him. This was amazing to Pieter, for the speaker was dressed in a laborer’s clothing, while at least two of his respectful listeners were wearing jackets and ties.
Pieter knew better than to give his honest reaction. So he groped for words: “Oh yes, very wonderful, the painting is very—it’s very . . .”
Pieter was very aware that while the room was no longer graveyard-quiet, whatever he said about this picture would be easily heard by many people who were carrying knives.
“It’s very democratic,” Pieter said.
Pastor Bartsch slapped Pieter on the back. “And we thank the Lord for that!”
Now Pieter felt safe facing the people in the room. And when he faced them and looked around, he was surprised. Not by the sight of poorly dressed people eating and drinking—this he expected—but by the printing press and aproned printer in the middle of the common room. By the printing press, Pieter saw a liveried servant holding an unfolded pamphlet by a corner, the man moving his lips as he read. The printing press added the odor of ink to the smells of sweat and tobacco that Pieter had expected.
A familiar-looking man sitting in a corner was glaring at Pieter. After some moments of trying to place his face, Pieter recalled him. Last year, Pieter had tried Corner Man’s brother for robbery, and had ordered the defendant put to the sword. Perhaps Corner Man bore a grudge.
While Pieter was staring-down Corner Man, he felt a touch on his arm. Frau Küster told Pieter, “I’ll go get Ludmilla.” Frau Küster hurried off, as much as the press of bodies allowed.
Ludmilla Scholz smelled of both sweat and fresh-baked bread. Her arms were snow-white from flour. Her figure was solid, tending toward fat. Her center-parted hair was braided.
Miss Scholz, Pieter, Pastor Bartsch, and Frau Küster all were sitting around a table in the Freedom Arches’ common room. Laying on the table was Anna Maria’s drawing of Rolf Krebs and Werner Brecht.
Miss Scholz pointed. “It was him. Definitely him.”
Pieter asked, “Are you sure?”
In a courtroom, Miss Scholz would politely reply, “Yes, I am sure.” But in the Freedom Arches, she gave Pieter a look saying Are you an idiot?
“When did this happen?” Pieter asked.
“It was in 1631, I’m certain. There was snow on the ground, and I hadn’t heard of Americans or the Ring of Fire yet. February? March?”
Pieter nodded. “So what happened?”
“I went out that day, though I was sick. I ran into him, and he wanted . . . a service, for one pfennig. Even though the price was two pfennig then. But I was starving, and cold, and feverish, so I didn’t argue much. He paid me, then I started to . . . you know, and then I vomited on him. And he punched me, and kicked me, and took my money pouch.”
I know who killed Geri Kinney now. But I still have to prove it. Aloud, Pieter said, “Miss Scholz, where do you live? I’ll need it for court records.”
A few minutes later, Pieter, Pastor Bartsch, and Frau Küster were starting toward the exit door when Corner Man yelled, “Hey, Judge! This time, make sure the man you execute is the actual bastard murderer, and not some innocent patsy, okay?”
The room went silent again.
Pastor Bartsch said, “Arni, you—”
Pieter touched Bartsch’s shoulder, then stepped in front of him. Pieter raised his voice and replied, “Thieves steal. Murderers kill. Most men are good, but a few men are beyond repair. Your brother stole once before. Can you deny it?”
Corner Man glared. “In ’29 he stole a leg of lamb. Our mother was sick, our father was gone, and we and our sisters were starving.”
“Perhaps that is why the first judge showed kindness; your—”
“‘Kindness’? He ordered Helmut flogged!”
“—your brother’s second judge”—Pieter tapped his own chest—”followed the law. Your brother was now twice a thief; he died.”
The crowd murmured angry words.
Corner Man, who had been sitting, now rose up like an angry bear. Pieter saw that he was wearing a knife at his side. He leaned on the table, eyed Pieter, and said in a quiet voice, “And how do you know that Helmut was a thief a second time?”
Pastor Bartsch said, “Arni. Please sit down.”
Corner Man remained standing, remained staring at Pieter, and remained armed.
Pieter shook his head. “Arni, leave the word tricks for men who’ve read law. That emerald ring and the money pouch were found in your brother’s house. Under his bed. He confessed to stealing them.”
“Under torture,” Corner Man added.
Seeing Pieter’s shrug, Corner Man laughed bitterly. Then he said, “Mr. Weissberg said in court that his robber was a tall man. My brother was shorter than Pastor Bartsch.”
“So what? Often victims say that the criminals are tall and strong and fast.”
“Rosina’s current husband Rutger is tall. Did you know that?”
“Many men are tall,” Pieter replied.
“Mr. Weissberg said in court that his tall robber had a deep voice.”
“I’ll say it again: Many crime victims, their testimony—”
“Helmut had an ordinary voice. I’ll bet you don’t even remember it, though you heard him scream so much. But Rutger? He has a voice like a bullfrog. And Rosina and Rutger married only hours after Helmut was put to the sword. Did you know that?”
Oh no. Aloud, Pieter said, “No, I did not know that.”
Corner Man’s hand flew to his knife; he jerked the weapon straight up above his head. Holding the knife high, he said to the entire room, “See my blade!” He brought the blade down slowly, then handed it to a companion. “Let no one fear that I will kill this judge, though I have good cause!”
Walking toward Pieter, and with his gaze locked on Pieter’s face, Corner Man again spoke loudly enough for the entire room to hear: “Pastor Bartsch will tell you, he refused to marry Rosina and Rutger. Not before a year had passed.”
“That’s true,” Bartsch said. “To marry sooner, that would not have been respectful to Helmut.”
“So do you know how Rutger got married? He took Helmut’s ‘grieving’ widow to Grantville! They were on the train before Helmut was even cold!”
“And you have to wonder,” Frau Küster murmured, “how he could afford that. Train rides were even more expensive a year ago.”
By now, Corner Man was standing in front of Pieter. “‘Thieves steal. Most men are good.’ Rutger knew you would think that. He fooled you.”
“I think,” Pieter said, “that you don’t want to admit that Helmut was the thief.”
Corner Man laughed in scorn. “But Your Honor, I knew Helmut much better than you—though I never made him scream like you did. I know Rutger, who you never tried to meet. I especially know Rosina—that woman could make the Black Pope swear off celibacy! Try again.”
“Helmut had been flogged for stealing before!”
“True. And when you learned about the leg of lamb, did you stop? Did you quit? Did you look at anyone but my brother for stealing the emerald ring? I know you never talked to Rutger.”
Pieter didn’t want to admit it. He certainly didn’t want to admit it in a room full of people he was accustomed to putting on trial. But Pieter needed to believe that he was a fair man. “No,” Pieter said, “I never suspected anyone but Helmut.”
Corner Man bowed. “Thank you.” He started to turn away, then whirled back around and punched Pieter in the upper abdomen. Gasping Pieter dropped to the floor.
It was minutes before Pieter could speak again. Corner Man stood there, smiling with hands on hips, the entire time.
When Pieter could stand and speak both, he asked Corner Man, “Why did you do that? I admitted I was wrong.”
“Why?” Corner’s Man’s smile was wolfish. “Because here and now, I can cause pain, and you must suffer it.”
Corner Man looked at Pastor Bartsch and made a dismissive hand motion. Get this trash out of here.
Pieter, with help from Pastor Bartsch, struggled to the door. Corner Man called out, “The American police think a rich man can be a thief, and American judges think a poor man can be a saint. I think the Americans make much fewer screwups that way.”
But Pieter only half-heard him. I sentenced an innocent man to death. This is awful.
Outside James Alec Wild’s cell
At the parsonage, Pieter thanked Pastor Bartsch and Frau Küster for their help. But he was too proud to thank them for possibly saving his life. At least twice.
Then Pieter walked to the prison. He urgently needed for James Wild to answer one question.
For the past two days, Pieter’s cook had been delivering a noontime meal to Wild at the prison. Pieter figured that Wild, who at the moment would be enjoying a full stomach, should feel cooperative.
But when a guard brought Pieter down the walkway to Wild’s cell, Pieter saw two people he wasn’t expecting.
The first surprise was an up-time woman, who was talking to Wild through the cell door.
The second unexpected person was a guard already outside Wild’s cell. A guard who was leaning against the wall opposite the door; a guard whose jaws were working, and whose feet were surrounded by blue-and-white dishes. Only half of those blue-and-white dishes still had food.
“What, you couldn’t save some for me?” Pieter’s escort said to the other guard.
“What are you eating?” Pieter demanded.
The woman gave Pieter a look saying Please, mister, don’t make trouble!
The eating guard smirked. “The prisoner was generous, and decided to share some food with me. Of course I said yes.”
Pieter turned to his escort and said, “You! Go back to the guardhouse! Now!”
“But I must—”
One guard hurried away. Then Pieter turned his eyes on the other guard and on the woman. “Ma’am, I am Judge Pieter Freihofer, commissioned to investigate the murder of Geri Kinney—”
She dropped an unpracticed curtsy. “I’m Edith Wild, Jimmy’s mother. Pleased to meet you.”
The guard, Pieter noticed, had stopped chomping.
Pieter asked Edith Wild, “What has happened here?” When she made a covert glance toward the guard, Pieter added, “I can help you, but you must tell me everything.”
She said, “He brought me here to visit my son. When I got here, I saw a man, someone’s cook, who had brought a basket of food for my son to eat—”
The guard said, “Those rich up-timer-lovers all can afford cooks. I asked the prisoner, real polite, if he’d share some food with me.”
Edith Wild shook her head. “He told my son that he would haul me back outside right away, unless Jimmy gave up food.”
“How much food?” Pieter asked.
“Not all that much,” the guard said. He sounded cocky.
“Half,” Edith Wild said.
Pieter eyeballed the guard. “You are aware, aren’t you, what the penalty for extortion is?”
The guard laughed. “Who would testify against me? The prisoner? Ooh, I’m worried. His mother? Women can’t testify—you of all people should know that.”
Pieter’s smile was reptilian. “Seems to me, you’re betting your life on an invalid point of law. Up-time, women testified all the time; and if a Jena judge lets this up-time woman testify nowadays, it’s unfortunate for you.” Then Pieter erased his fake smile. “But there’s one thing you’ve overlooked, regardless of a court ruling.”
“Oh yeah, ‘Your Honor’? And what could that be?”
“That was my cook you met, those are my dishes, and that is my food you’ve eaten. I hope for your sake that the judge who takes your case shows mercy. Otherwise? Up-timers say our sentences are barbaric.”
The guard was a big man, but he moved quickly to put dishes into James Wild’s outstretched hand.
When all the food and all the empty dishes were out of the walkway, Pieter told the guard, “Leave us. Leave the lantern too.”
“No, it’s forbidden, I can’t leave you—”
“Yes, you can.”
“How am I supposed to get back to the guardhouse without the lantern?”
“Oh, come now!” Pieter said, laughing. “Maybe your full belly will light your way.”
When the guard’s bulk could no longer be seen, Edith Wild said to Pieter, “My son is not the murderer of Geri Kinney.”
Pieter almost said I know that. But he caught himself, and said instead, “I’m no longer certain of his guilt. But I’m not free to release him.”
James Wild, who had kept silent since Pieter had arrived, now said, “Then screw you.”
Edith Wild admonished her son in English. James Wild answered her with an unwilling tone of voice.
Then Wild said, “So Judge, why are you here? What do you want to know?”
Pieter said, “My one question is this: Last Monday, how much money did Miss Kinney charge you?”
“And then you’ll ask me what our argument was about, right? You’re trying to trick me?”
“No, I came here to ask you only one question. Then I won’t say another word until your mother is ready to leave.”
Mother and son exchanged words in English.
Wild told Pieter, “Geri charged me forty dollars.”
And for Pieter, a whole bunch of things that had been confusing about this case suddenly made sense.
But not all of Pieter’s confusion ended. Pieter said, “She lowered her price for you, which sounds kind, but then she told you she wouldn’t let you come back, which sounds unkind.”
“She told me she maybe wouldn’t let me come back. But if she let me come back, I’d get no more discount.”
“How much more?”
“Eighty. Geri’s very last words to me, ever, were ‘You just doubled your price—no more forty dollars for you, you hear me?'”
“And Miss Kinney told you this in English?”
“Yeah. At the top of the stairs, as I was leaving. But she didn’t say it, she yelled it. I’ll bet they heard her in Grantville.”
Aha, Pieter thought. Motive.
Some time later, Pieter and Edith Wild were walking in daylight outside the prison, toward her carriage. Pieter had learned that she was a widow, and that she was Wallenstein’s personal nurse in Prague.
He and Mrs. Wild were surrounded by six tough-looking Bohemian hulks, who’d appeared as soon as she stepped outside.
“Ma’am, your son is innocent. I know who killed Geri Kinney, and I know why he murdered her—”
“So why haven’t you freed my son?” she demanded.
“I can’t release him now, because I don’t trust the jailer not to talk. And because the true murderer is a law student, so he might have some courtroom tricks planned, should I arrest him.”
“While you are fretting about legal fine points—”
“Woman, I know this law student is the murderer, but I can’t prove he’s the murderer! And soon as he knows that I know that your son is not the killer, he can run away! And if I arrest him now and try him now, without proof, he’ll walk away a free man.”
“Then I demand that you find the proof, Your Honor. My Jimmy does not deserve to be in that sewer of a jail.”
Pieter walked to the telegraph office, his heart heavy. Minutes later, as he paid for the telegram, he thought,It’s official: I’m stupid. But I won’t let a killer go free because of my pride.
ANNA MARIA VON SCHURMANN
INN OF THE MADDENED QUEEN
I NEED IDEAS
PLEASE HURRY HERE
Geri Kinney’s apartment
Sunday, May 21, 1634; early afternoon
Both turn-crank lanterns set on the floor, and their focused brilliance made it easy for Pieter to show the dusty shoeprint to Anna Maria.
“You could have told me all this, you know,” Anna Maria said. “I can keep a secret.”
“What’s done is done,” Pieter replied. “You’re here now. Do you have any idea what to do?”
She turned to him and smiled. “I do indeed. Remember how Nurse Flanagan captured your fingerprint? You told me that it became visible using dust made from ‘artificial charcoal’?”
He could have kicked himself. “And you have real charcoal, to outline the shoeprint with. Charcoal which at any time I could have asked you for.”
Anna Maria gave him a steady look. “I’m used to men not asking for my help. Not because they didn’t think of it, but because of their pride.”
“Well, it seems ridiculous to say, ‘Women are silly, women are stupid, women are weak,’ now that I’ve met Nurse Flanagan.”
“And Rebecca Abrabanel, she’s not that way, either.”
“Very strong. Very smart. I want to be like her.”
“Then there’s Gretchen Richter—”
“Enough talk. I need to buy a new piece of charcoal and a new sketchpad, and we need to borrow that tape.”
It wasn’t till Monday morning that Pieter and Anna Maria could accomplish their tasks. At the medical school, Anna Maria surprised Pieter again by asking Nurse Flanagan if there was an up-time trick for working near dust without breathing on it. Anna Maria’s question prompted Nurse Flanagan to loan Anna Maria a surgical mask.
Back in Miss Kinney’s bedroom, Pieter cranked the up-time lanterns and put them on the floor, as Anna Maria donned the surgical mask. Then she got on hands and knees, Pieter gave her the charcoal, and she slowly and carefully outlined the shoeprint.
Next came the tricky part. Pieter tore off a foot-long piece of tape, which he carefully passed to still-masked Anna Maria. She pressed the tape-strip down on the floor to cover the left edge of the shoe outline. He gave her another strip; this soon covered the right edge of the shoe outline. She laid the third piece between and atop the other two pieces of tape. The shoeprint’s charcoal outline now was covered with a sheet of tape.
Pieter tore the first page out of the new sketchpad and brought it near the tape that covered the floor. With trial and error, and one near-disaster, Pietter and Anna Maria got the tape-sheet off the floor intact. Then it was just a matter of pressing it onto the paper. Which they did—with only a few problems. That tape was sticky!
When they were done, the tape sheet was wrinkled in two places, instead of laying down smoothly. Still, Pieter had a piece of paper he could show in any courtroom in the world and say, “The man who wore this shoe tried to move Geri Kinney’s safe.”
Judicial chamber for Pieter Freihofer
Tuesday, May 23, 1634; morning
Pieter’s note to them all had said the same thing: “Please meet with me and the others in my chamber at nine a.m. I might get there late, but please don’t leave.” And sure enough, it was almost ten o’clock when Pieter walked into the room, with him carrying a box. He put the box on the floor behind his desk, and took his seat.
Standing or sitting were the four people who had ridden with him on the train to Grantville, nearly a week before.
Pieter said, “I apologize for the wait, but I had court business to take care of. There will be more people joining us soon.”
“I’m wondering why you called us here,” Werner Brecht said.
“I suppose you are,” Pieter agreed. Pieter looked around, into the eyes of Brecht, Rolf Krebs, Frau Küster, and Anna Maria von Schurmann. Then he continued, “I’ve called you here to tell you what I’ve learned in my investigation, since each of you has been involved somehow in the case. Divulging this is highly irregular, but the murder of the up-timer Miss Geri Kinney was irregular.”
“Why did you ask Miss von Schurmann here?” Rolf Krebs asked. “She has no connection to the case at all.”
“I have my reasons,” Pieter said. Krebs gave Pieter and Anna Maria a saucy smile, as if to say, So you two are sleeping together, huh?
“It’s not what you think, Mister Krebs,” Anna Maria said. Krebs gave her the saucy smile again.
Pieter continued, “All of us except for Miss von Schurmann were present when I arrested Mister James Wild for the murder of Miss Kinney. Soon after, Mister Wild told me that he had not murdered Miss Kinney—”
“Of course he’d say that,” Brecht said.
“Under the laws we had until recently, my task would have been easy. I would have pressed Mister Wild for a confession, under the principle of ‘Confession is the queen of evidence.’ Had he not confessed voluntarily, I would have questioned him more forcefully until he did. But I did not do that because, one, the laws now forbid judicial torture; and two, Grantville would not accept one of their own being condemned to death after a tortured confession. But let me add that I am heartily glad that I am forbidden to torture Mister Wild.”
“Why?” Brecht demanded. “Without torture during his questioning, he can lie to you.”
Pieter gave Brecht a long look, then said, “I say it again: I am glad I no longer must choose whether to torture.”
Rolf Krebs said, “So where does that leave your case? You have no witness to the actual murder, you have only one suspect, he won’t confess and you can’t make him confess.”
“Correction: I had only one suspect,” Pieter said. He walked to the courtroom door and opened it.
Into the room stepped a fettered Jimmy Wild, a jailer who was holding a pike and wearing a key ring, and Edith Wild.
“What’s he doing here?” Brecht demanded.
Pieter said, “Nurse Flanagan of the medical school examined Miss Kinney’s corpse. She figured out that Miss Kinney scratched her strangler. But look at Mister Wild—no scratches on his face, his neck, his arms, or his hands.”
“So?” Krebs said. “Everyone knows that up-timers heal fast.”
Widow Wild shot Krebs a look that said, Are you really that stupid?
Pieter got up and walked over to Krebs and Brecht. He peered closely into their faces and said, “I see no marks on your faces. Now I ask you to turn around so I can examine your necks better.”
“What? I don’t have to do that,” Brecht said. “We’re not suspects here!”
“I’m afraid one of you is, Mister Brecht, because of something you two did in Grantville. Now please do as I ask, or I will have to be—” Pieter glanced toward the man with the pike. “—insistent.”
Both Brecht and Krebs turned their backs to him. Pieter pulled up their hair and examined the sides and back of their necks. “No scratches on your necks. You may turn around now.”
Brecht and Krebs flashed each other relieved looks.
“Now each of you, pull up your right sleeve as far as it will go, then let me examine your right arms.” Pieter looked and said, “You’re clean, Mr. Krebs.” After that, “You too, Mister Brecht.”
Both young men stood looking at Pieter, their faces relaxed. Then Pieter said, “Now each of you, pull up your left sleeve as far as it will go.”
Rolf Krebs looked resigned, and pulled up his left sleeve; while Werner Brecht—
Werner Brecht exploded. “This is ridiculous! Why do Rolf and I have to suffer this? We aren’t the murderer, he is!”
“Jailer, come here!” Pieter commanded.
Werner Brecht turned his head to look at something behind Pieter and to his right; then froze. Pieter grabbed Brecht’s left sleeve and jerked it up his unresisting arm. Three red, inflamed, and parallel lines showed clearly.
“God in heaven, Werner,” Krebs exclaimed, “you’ve got scratches on your wrist! Did you kill Geri?”
Brecht jerked his arm out of Pieter’s grip. “No, Rolf! I caught my hand on a sharp corner on my table, I swear.”
“Do you believe your friend, Mister Krebs?” Pieter asked.
“I . . . suppose so, Your Honor.”
“In any case,” Brecht said, “you can’t convict me of murder only for having scratches on my wrist.”
“That is true, Mister Brecht,” Pieter said. “If that were all I had.” Pieter opened a drawer on his desk and pulled out the shoeprint. “Miss Kinney had by her bed a safe, and someone tried hard to break into it, or to carry it from the room. Not only did he fail at both tasks, but he left his footprints in the dust.”
Pieter got up and walked to the center of the room, where he laid the shoeprint on the floor. “I helped make this, but most of the work, and all of the cleverness, is to the credit of Miss von Schurmann here. Mister Wild, please step on this.”
Widow Wild announced the result. “Jimmy’s foot is too big. Jimmy’s not the man!”
“I agree,” Pieter said. “Jailer, remove the fetters from Mister Wild’s ankles. Mister Krebs, please oblige me.”
“Why?” Krebs asked.
“Because Miss Kinney owned a safe, and in Grantville, you and Mister Brecht were asking how to break into a safe. Mister Krebs, I’m waiting.”
The jailer had laid down his pike and had pulled the key ring off his belt, and was now squatting down at Jimmy Wilds’s feet. Rolf Krebs glanced at Werner Brecht, then stepped forward to plant his shoe atop the shoeprint.
Pieter said, “Mister Krebs’s shoe is a little too long. Your turn, Mister Brecht.”
Werner Brecht didn’t move.
“Mister Brecht, you will cooperate. The only question now is, what happens to you beforehand.”
“Please do it, Werner,” Krebs said.
Werner stomped forward and stomped his foot onto the charcoal outline.
“Your shoe matches, Mister Brecht,” Pieter said.
Brecht glared at him. “The lines are blurry on this drawing—crooked, too! I’m sure there are a hundred men in Jena whose shoe seems to match this drawing. Help me out here, Rolf.”
Krebs reluctantly stepped closer. Werner Brecht lifted his foot off the shoeprint for several seconds, then put it back down. Krebs looked at Pieter and said, “He’s right, Your Honor, it’s not a perfect match.” But then Krebs looked at Brecht and said, “But it’s a good match. Did you try to rob a dead woman, Werner?”
“He did, Mister Krebs,” Pieter said, as he walked back to his desk. Pieter picked up the box he had brought in, minutes earlier, and set the box on his desk. Pieter with his right hand removed a leather holster from the box; and with his left hand, Pieter removed an up-time handgun from the holster. Pieter told the room, “Once Mister Brecht left to come here, a policeman and I searched his apartment. Eight days ago, this was in Miss Kinney’s bedroom.”
“What the hell?” Brecht said. “Why did you search my apartment?”
“Suffice it to say that I played a hunch and I was right.”
“And how do you know it’s Geri’s gun? Maybe I bought it from a different up-timer.”
“Try again, pencil stub,” Jimmy Wild said. “I gave Geri her gun. Check the serial number, and if it’s got the numbers six-six-seven in there, the judge owns your sorry ass. June of 1967 is when I was born. Um, Your Honor, please don’t touch the trigger while you’re looking.”
Pieter examined the gun more closely. “Sure enough. There’s a big number engraved into the barrel, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth numerals are six-six-seven.” Pieter put the gun back in the holster, and then the holster back in the box, as both Jimmy and Edith Wild looked relieved.
“All right, fine,” Brecht said, “I went into her bedroom, and I took her gun, and I tried to take her safe. She was already dead. I was in her place for only a few minutes. It’s not nice to rob a dead person, I admit it, but I didn’t kill her.”
Krebs frowned. “Then why are there scratches on your wrist, Werner? You lied about trying to steal the safe, so why should anyone believe you about not killing her?”
Frau Küster spoke up. “I don’t understand why you would rob her. What did she ever do to you?”
Pieter answered before Brecht could. “She overcharged him. Mister Wild, tell Mister Krebs there—the young man who didn’t steal Miss Kinney’s gun—how much you paid that last time to Miss Kinney.”
Jimmy Wild said, “Forty dollars.”
Krebs said, “What? But—”
Pieter said, “Yes, even with your `discount,’ you and Mister Brecht paid more than that. And Mister Wild, when Miss Kinney yelled at you at the top of the stairs, she mentioned the forty dollars, did she not?”
Wild nodded. “Yeah, she said—”
“What she said, she said loudly, correct?”
“Yeah, she yelled her head off.”
Frau Küster said to Werner Brecht, “Wait, I thought you were just her neighbor. You were one of her johns?”
Krebs said, “Go ahead, Werner, I dare you to lie about this.”
Brecht shrugged. Then he turned to Pieter and said, “But if they were arguing about her doubling his price, you can’t prove I understood it.”
“But I can, Mister Brecht. When I talked to you on the morning after the murder, I asked you, ‘Do you speak English? Do you know what they were saying?’ You didn’t say no. Instead, you said, ‘I speak some English, and read it better than I speak it. But they were using many words that aren’t in West Virginia law books.’ You evaded my second question.”
Brecht said, “Well, if I heard her say that she was only charging him forty dollars, why would I kill her?”
Pieter said, “I’ll let Miss Scholz answer that.” Pieter walked over to the door to his clerks’ office, and opened it. Into the room stepped Ludmilla Scholz. Pieter turned around to see Brecht look at Ludmilla with his face showing puzzlement, then shocked recognition, then fear and panic.
“Who is this, Your Honor?” Anna Maria asked.
Pieter said, “This is Miss Ludmilla Scholz. Three days ago she recognized Mister Brecht from the picture you drew, and then she told me an interesting story about him.”
Ludmilla glared at Brecht, then told the room, “I am a good woman, who three years ago was a refugee forced to sell her body.” Ludmilla told a gripping tale, ending with “. . . and then when I was already cold, and sick, and desperate, this man was kicking me and robbing me, yelling, ‘How dare you cheat me!’ He was so angry about one pfennig.”
Pieter thanked Ludmilla for speaking, then eyed the room. “So what can I prove happened? Last Monday afternoon, Miss Kinney and Mister Wild got into an argument. At the top of the stairs, she yelled at him in English, ‘No more forty dollars for you.’ Mister Brecht heard the words, understood them, and got angry. Soon after, he talked his way into Miss Kinney’s apartment, saying or doing nothing to alarm her. As she was walking toward her bedroom door, he pulled out the twine he’d brought and strangled her. He took her gun and tried unsuccessfully to take her safe. After a while, he informed the police of her murder, not mentioning his own involvement.”
Pieter eyed Werner Brecht and repeated, “All this I can prove, with more than sworn statements.”
Brecht laughed. “And here’s one thing you haven’t proven, ‘Your Honor.’ Geri Kinney deserved to die. I admit it, I killed her. Why? All the time she told us down-time students that she was doing us a ‘favor,’ by giving us a ‘discount,’ she was laughing at us. The up-timer over there, he got the favors and he got the discounts. Monday after he left, I showed up at the whore’s door, and all I had was guilders. Meaning, I had to pay and pay and pay for the privilege of an up-time woman giving me sex. And just like every time, before she’d do anything with me, that day she took my money and headed for her bedroom. Well, I didn’t get any sex that day, but I did get my guilders back.”
Pieter said, “Thank you for that admission, Mister Brecht, in the presence of eight witnesses.”
“You mean, because confessio est regina—”
Werner Brecht bolted for the door to Pieter’s courtroom, yanked open the door, and was gone before anyone in the judicial chamber could give chase.
Pieter waited, calm, even as everyone else in the room acted every way except calm.
“HEY, LET GO!” A fist hit flesh. “OW!” Two fists hit flesh. “STOP IT!” A rain of fists followed. “STOP IT, STOP, GOD IN HEAVEN, STOP!”
Three of Widow Wild’s Bohemian bodyguards squeezed themselves through the door, pushing and dragging Werner Brecht. Pieter walked to the other door out of his chamber—the door that led to his clerks’ office—opened the door, and beckoned with his hand. Widow Wild’s other three bodyguards stepped in. They gave Werner Brecht an eager smile.
“Jailer,” Pieter said, “I arrest Werner Brecht, a citizen of Jena, for the murder of Geri Kinney, a citizen of Jena. Fetter him and take him away.”
When Brecht was fettered, Rolf Krebs stepped in front of him. “You killed Geri,” Krebs said. “You.” He punched Werner Brecht in the nose.
An hour later, Pieter, Anna Maria, and her bodyguards were at the train station. Pieter sent a telegram to Police Chief Richards.
WERNER BRECHT ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF GERI KINNEY
BACK ROW ON RIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPH
ANNA MARIA VON SCHURMANN DESERVES MUCH CREDIT
I FREED JAMES WILD
Pieter walked over to Anna Maria, who was sitting on the train platform. He said, “Enjoy your time in Grantville. I thank you for the help you gave me.”
She smiled. “This isn’t goodbye. You will see me again, believe it.”
“Of course, for Brecht’s trial.”
Her face became serious. “No. My goal now is to enter the medical school here. But I don’t just want to become one of the few up-time-trained woman physicians in all of Europe. Eventually I want to learn how to become a medical examiner.”
“What is that?”
“A physician who examines dead bodies to determine how they died; if they were murdered, what happened during the murder.”
“I see. What Nurse Flanagan did in Miss Kinney’s apartment.”
“Yes, and Nurse Flanagan admitted to me that every minute she was there, she was guessing what to do. Being a medical examiner is work that needs doing. It needs to be done right, and it helps the victims’ families.”
“That will be a very different life than yours in the other world.”
She shrugged. “I was a scholar in the other seventeenth century, I don’t need to be a scholar in this new one.” Then she asked, “And you, what now?”
He said, “I still having atoning to do. I sent an innocent man to die because I believed a lie, then I made the innocent man lie that he was guilty. My penance is to punish the criminals, free the innocent, and find evidence to show that liars are lying.”
She nodded. “So in the years ahead, we each will be a . . . I believe the up-time word is detective.”