Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22)(7) by Janet Evanovich

No one came forward.

THREE

WE LEFT THE Zeta house and got back into the Firebird.

“That was a big waste of time,” Lula said. “And they were all fibbing about not knowing where Gobbles is hiding out. I figure he’s in the cellar.”

I had the same thought, but I didn’t want to go into the Zeta house cellar. I was afraid it would be a dungeon where they kept the cross-dressing pledges. Or even worse, it could be filled with spiders.

“There’s a story here,” I said to Lula. “This guy has no priors. He’s a good student. I didn’t see anything weird in his room. His fraternity brothers obviously like him, because they’re protecting him. His family hired a good lawyer for him, but he chose to disappear and not show up for court.”

“Yeah, but that’s typical of a amateur,” Lula said. “Everybody’s afraid to go to jail for the first time. Especially if they got freaked out over getting arrested and locked up overnight in one of them cells at the police station. And it’s not like he got friends and relatives already in jail waiting for him like most of the people in my neighborhood. In my neighborhood the only way you can afford to get dental work done is to get yourself sent to the workhouse for a couple months. So it’s not like it’s perceived as a bad thing, you see what I’m saying?”

I read through Globovic’s file again. His parents lived about an hour away in East Brunswick. I’d get to them eventually, but I wanted to run through the local connections first.

“Globovic was accused of attacking the dean of students,” I said to Lula, “so let’s talk to him next.”

After ten minutes of confused driving around the Kiltman campus, Lula managed to find the administration building.

“This school must have been built around cow paths,” Lula said, pulling into the lot and finding an empty space to park. “There’s no signs on any of the little roads, and GPS don’t know nothing.”

The campus was mostly composed of big blocky redbrick buildings. Two or three floors for all but the science building, which looked brand-new and was five stories. The administration building was fancied up by four columns marching across the front.

Martin Mintner, the dean of students, had an office on the second floor. A small waiting area in front of his office held four uncomfortable wooden chairs and a scarred wood coffee table with a couple dog-eared magazines on it.

“This must be where the bad kids get sent,” Lula said.

The door to the dean’s office was open, so I stuck my head in. “Knock, knock.”

The man behind the desk was slightly paunchy with dark hair cut short. Receding hairline. Gray beginning to show at the temples. I guessed he was in his early fifties. He was wearing a light blue buttoned-down shirt with a gray and red repp tie. He had a cast on his left forearm.

He looked up from his computer at me. “Yes?”

“Dean Mintner?”

“Can I help you?”

“I hope so,” I said. “I’m looking for Ken Globovic.”

Red spots instantly appeared on Mintner’s cheeks. “What exactly is this in reference to?”

“I work for Vincent Plum Bail Bonds,” I said. “Mr. Globovic has missed his court date, and I need to locate him.”

“Bounty hunter?” Mintner asked.

“Bond enforcement.”

Mintner nodded. “Of course. He should never have been released from jail. He’s a maniac. Broke into my house and came after me with a baseball bat. Broke my arm and practically totaled my living room.”

“Was the bat his only weapon?”

“So far as I know,” Mintner said. “I imagine all the details are in the police report.”

“Why did he come after you?”

“I don’t know,” Mintner said. “Because he’s a maniac? He just burst through the door and rushed at me. I didn’t get a chance to ask him why he was trying to kill me.”

“He must have been unhappy about something,” Lula said.

“He’s a Zeta,” Mintner said. “They’re all troublemakers. It’s the fraternity from hell. The school has been trying to close it for years, but the Zeta alums are big contributors to the endowment.”

“We were just there,” Lula said. “It seemed like a nice place, except for the guy in the dress getting whacked with the paddle.”

Mintner looked like he wanted to pop a couple Xanax. “They’re all perverts,” he said. “A bunch of sickos. I’d have the house burned to the ground, but they’d only rebuild. And Globovic is the worst. He’s the ringleader. He’s the mastermind for all the depravation. Every sick toga party springs out of his sick brain.”