Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22)(5) by Janet Evanovich

“It’s either the best or the worst fraternity on campus, depending on your point of view. The Zeta house is better known as the zoo,” Connie said. “Draw your own conclusions. And Ken Globovic holds the title of the Supreme Exalted Zookeeper. Last month the Zetas dumped a load of Alka-Seltzer into a rival fraternity’s water system and all their toilets exploded. They said it was a chemistry experiment and inspired by the movie Animal House.”

“I bet they got a A on that one,” Lula said. “I would have given them a A.”

I shoved the file into my messenger bag. “Anything else come in?”

“No, but Billy Brown is still out there, and he’s a medium bond. It would be good to get that money back.”

Billy Brown, now known far and wide as Billy Bacon, made national news when he greased himself up with bacon fat and broke into a multimillion-dollar home by sliding down the chimney. He set the alarm off on his way out and was attacked by a bacon-loving pack of dogs before he was able to get to his car. When the police rescued him they found $10,000 in jewelry and $5,000 in cash stuffed into his various pockets. Vinnie was dumb enough to bond him out, and no one’s seen Billy Bacon since.

“I’ll keep my eyes open,” I said. “I’ll do another drive through his neighborhood.”

“I’ll go with you,” Lula said. “As I remember he lived on K Street, and they got a deli that makes excellent egg salad. They put chopped-up olives in it and use lots of mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is the secret to a good egg salad. And you never can go wrong with olives. We could time our investigation so that it coincides with lunch. And before we go anywhere you might want to put some concealer on that pimple, so people don’t go screaming in horror and run away when they see you up close.”

•••

We took Lula’s car because she drives a red Firebird that’s in pristine condition while my car, which I’m pretty sure used to be a Ford Something, is a rust bucket.

“We’re going to Kiltman College, right?” Lula asked. “You know what they call it? They call it Clitman. I mean, who’d wanna go to a school they call Clitman? If I had my choice I’d go to Rider. That’s a better name for a school. I mean I’m all in favor of acknowledgin’ ladies’ special parts, but I don’t want it on my diploma, if you see what I’m saying.”

I was in favor of acknowledging special parts too, but I didn’t want to talk about them. I was raised Catholic, and talking about special parts with Lula made my stomach feel a little icky. Truth is, I had a hard time with the blind-faith part of Catholicism, but I was very good at holding on to Catholic guilt.

“I’d rather not talk about the you-know-what,” I said to Lula.

“Boy, there’s lots you don’t want to talk about today. You don’t want to talk about why you got dumped neither. I’m guessing it was a surprise. When did this happen? Last night? Maybe it’s on account of you’re sexually repressed.”

“I’m not sexually repressed.”

“You don’t want to talk about any of your special parts even though they’ve been brought into the mainstream lately. Ladies’ special parts are big news now.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m sexually repressed.”

“It don’t mean nothing good, neither. So when did he dump you? Did he dump you after you did the deed? ’Cause that’s never a good sign. That could mean there was something lacking in your performance.”

I was thinking it was a good thing I’d left my gun at home in my cookie jar because if I had it with me I might shoot Lula.

“On the other hand, he could have asked for something unreasonable,” Lula said. “If that’s the case then good riddance is what I say. Like I don’t do none of that butt stuff no more.”

“Good God.”

“Exactly. It’s against human nature. I have my standards. And, okay, so some playful spanking is allowed, but, honey, you better not leave a welt. You leave a welt on my booty, and you’ll have Firebird tire treads on your ass.”

“I don’t want to know any of this,” I said to Lula.

“Well, I’m just sayin’. I keep my skin silky soft with lanolin, and I don’t want no welts. What’s the world coming to when a girl allows for welts on her booty?”

•••

Kiltman College sits on the northwestern edge of Trenton. It’s a medium-sized school known for academic excellence in the sciences, turning a blind eye toward fraternity debauchery, and for having the youngest Jeopardy! champion, wunderkind and biology prodigy Avi Attar, enrolled in its undergraduate honors program.