In the morning, when we came into the meeting room, there were newspapers all over the table. "We've read the morning papers," Jack said, gesturing around. "You are barely mentioned. The criminal ring was busted by the sterling efforts of Inspector Ibarra and his officers, on a night when you happened to be speaking at the school."
Doc nodded. "Are you going to write an article, setting the record straight?"
My employer shook her head as we sat down. "I will write an article, but not about that. Let him take the credit, it wasn't a triumph of deductive reasoning anyway. No, I'm going to write an article, for the U-town paper, about Doug. He did his job, even though I'm sure he knew he might get killed. He had seen their faces, after all. But he did what a reporter should do under those circumstances, he made sure the story got out. When it's done, I'm going to see about getting it printed in the school paper at Barlowe as well." She smiled. "Besides, if the murder gets tied up in people's minds with my speech, it might make it more difficult for me to get booked at other colleges."
Ray shook his head, lighting a cigarette. "It turned out Doug was wrong about one thing. It wasn't drugs at all. The contraband was bootleg college gear. Shirts, caps, all that sort of thing. They had it made cheaply, and then they sold it for full price. The school's soccer team has been doing particularly well this year, so they sold a lot in the nearby towns, as well as on campus."
"The guard ratted on the student," Doc said. "Claimed the killing was his idea. They'll fight it out in court, I guess."
Jack shook his head. "Such a stupid thing to die for. College T-shirts."
Jan shook her head, lighting a cigarette as I poured us coffee from the urn. "Well, no," she said. "He didn't die for contraband college clothes, any more than he died for the drug shipment he thought was in those cartons. He died for a principle."
Ray nodded. "That's it. They offered to buy him off, according to their story, but he refused."
Pat came in carrying a big plastic bag. "A cop came up and gave this to me. He wanted it to get to you right away."
It had Jan's name on it, so Pat placed it in front of her. My employer ripped it open, and inside, carefully folded, was her traveling suit from two days before. She pulled out jacket, trousers, vest, shirt, tie, and shoes. The shoes were in a smaller bag, to keep them from dirtying the suit.
Then she pulled out another small bag, which said "Miss Malin" on it. She opened it and pulled out Christy's gun.
"Was there a note?" I asked.
She shook her head. "No, but the whole thing is a big thank you note anyway, I would say."
"Well, it's probably as much of a thank you as you're ever going to get from him."
She shrugged. "It's enough. That's a good suit, I'd hate to lose it."
It did not occur to her until much later that Ibarra had manipulated the entire situation to make it likely that she would solve the case for him. Why else put Ron in the room with us and let us talk to her for so long? Also, he had made no mention of the fact that she was a well-known amateur detective. In those types of encounters, there was usually some version of the "I don't like amateurs, they should leave it to the pros" speech.
I didn't mention this idea at the time; I didn't want to spoil anything about the night for her. She didn't realize it until later, when we encountered Inspector Ibarra again. But that's another story, for another time.
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