An hour later, Maggie is sitting across from me at the coffee shop.
Smug as hell.
“Well, I guess you got what you wanted.”
“We both did. Here is your check.”
I play along.
“Thanks. So, when did you realize the mine was yours?”
She surveys my face and considers her answer. She looks around and then leans in.
“What the hell. I was a student, that is true. But I was never his Teaching Assistant. I was hers.”
“Yep. I stumbled upon her research about the mine and never knew it’s darker secrets until she started to complain about his research. He was getting in the way and she was super pissed.”
“In the way?”
“Yep. His work started to cross over into hers and, when grants are on the line, things get heated. She thought he was trying to include her stuff into his and was going to get the college to agree. Then she would lose her grant.”
“And that’s when you learned the secret of the mine?”
“Not at first, she complained, and I pretended to listen. So, she started to feel safe around me. Safe enough to get REALLY loose lipped. After a few weeks of playing BFF, she revealed the big secret, the two massacres. That’s when the real name of the mine, WALKER, hit me.”
“And that was when you hatched the plan?”
This surprised her.
But not enough to make her quit. That’s thing about conspiracies, people get comfortable when they think they won. Then they talk.
“You are a smart one, aren’t you? Yes, that was when I started shopping for wild-grown honey. That Chan guy is a good beekeeper. When I realized it was his family that was involved I started dropping hints to him AND the good Professor. I knew that eventually the two would connect.”
“But how did you get him to kill for you?”
She looked around again.
Leaned back in.
“That was the easy part. I got cozy with the Professor, dropped hints around the other students. Eventually the rumors got to his wife. I cozied up to her too, and explained I did it FOR her and, I’ll be damned if she bought it.”
She leaned in again.
“And here’s the best part. I got cozy with Chan too. He thought I was working for him.”
I put on my best smile.
“And then you set up a meeting.”
She laughed out loud.
“HAH! YES. It was perfect. I even supplied the gun. That stupid beekeeper wanted to just talk to them, work something out, But I convinced him that they didn’t want to talk and were plotting to kill him and keep the mine.”
She sat back. VERY pleased with herself.
“And now I wait for the reward money.”
“What reward money?”
“You didn’t know, but the wife’s family put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. So, I hired a PI, you, to dig it all up for me. I, of course, am at the top of that list now.”
“Well, you were.” Says Ranger Rick, sitting inconspicuously behind her.
My turn to be smug.
“Yeah, I left out a few details of my own, honey. That reward will be mine now. Get it, MINE?”
He arrests her on the spot. Of course, she tries the tears again. But that man is a robot.
The barista calls out “BARBIE!”