Evelyn’s eyes swim into focus, peering at me through the rear-view mirror. “Earth to Jaymi. You back with us? Did you see anything?”
“I certainly did. It was … difficult to summarise, but ever so Pippa.”
“I mean,” says Evelyn, patiently, “did you see that narrow door in her hallway?”
“Oh. Sorry. Forgot.”
Alaia turns in the passenger’s seat and scrutinises me around the head-rest: “Jaymi? Covering up for Pippa, are we?”
“Just tired. Plus, it was a bit of a rushed tune-in, may I say? I felt a bit chivvied there.”
“Hmm,” says Alaia. “I don’t know. I shall have to think about that.”
“Oh well, next time,” says Evelyn, parking outside the Metropolitan. “You know, the more I think about it, the happier I am that this second head appeared tonight. It’ll mean the heat comes off Shigem, because it’s appeared only a day after the Lucan head.”
“But couldn’t Shigem have been responsible for both?” I ask.
“No, because the second head takes things to such a new level, it’s cranking up the disrespect so high, that I don’t think Lucan can pretend to think Shigem did this. If Lucan suggests that Shigem would dare to plant the Kev head, knowing the atmosphere that existed already after the Lucan head, then Lucan might start to look stupid or desperate.”
“So what you’re implying,” I say brightly, “is that if Lucan decides Shigem couldn’t have made the second head, then Lucan will be less likely to think he made the first head either—because his not making the second head means that, as a possible perpetrator of just the first head, Shigem didn’t already have any more wax heads in his criminal record than any other possible perpetrator had, including the head that was still in the future.”
Evelyn peers at me in the overhead mirror, then bursts out laughing. “You’re seriously cuckoo, Jaymi—that’s way too logical!”
“But couldn’t different people in fact have been responsible?” I continue. “Why not? If so, then Lucan could still say Shigem left the first head, even if we’ve established he couldn’t get away with saying Shigem left the second one…”
“Cuckoo!” calls Evelyn. “Cuckoo!”
“Guilty as charged,” I say. “But aside from my guilt there, what I’m saying is also true!”
“Granted,” says Alaia, “but if there were two perps, then it certainly looks as if they both went to the same sculpting class.”
“Maybe they did,” I say. “Maybe we’re onto something here. Evelyn, who teaches handicrafts in Asbury Park?”
By now, hilarity has erupted. “Anyway,” says Evelyn through her laughter, “whatever ridiculously cuckoo way Jaymi wants to analyse it, the important thing is that I think Lucan may now have to find someone else to point the finger at.”
“I hope so,” I say.
“I vote for Kev,” says Alaia with venom.
“By the way, does Lucan hate Shigem?” I ask. “How much does he even know him?”
“They’ve never hung out together and Shigem doesn’t go to Downstairs, but this is a small town,” says Evelyn. “Shigem’s hard to miss, he’s been here all his life and he hosts Paradise, so Lucan knows who he is. Lucan calls him batty-man, chi-chi-man, femian, shemian, even though Lucan himself is with Angel. But I think Lucan’s now just acting out of some gut reaction that Shigem is selling out by being with Kim.” Alaia nods. “Especially since Shigem’s leaving town for Kim—even leaving the country for him.”
“Why would Lucan think being with Kim was selling out?”
“Kim’s a white boy, Jaymi—like you, you Nebraska boy. Can’t just ignore that. I don’t think Lucan can, anyway.”
“Damian could be from Nebraska,” I say, “though not as wholesome and corn-fed as me, of course.”
“Damian’s better at the permanent telephones than you are,” says Evelyn. “I don’t know, Lucan’s been here all his life and he knows Shigem’s been here all his life too. So although they’re very different and Lucan calls him a pussy-boy, Lucan probably has a grudging respect for him somewhere, just as a home-town boy.”
“And even a subtle feeling of betrayal, just at his leaving?” I ask.
“Could be,” says Evelyn.
“Especially with Kim,” adds Alaia.
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