Broken Prey
Author:John Sandford

 

WEATHER CAME BACK from London with the kids and the housekeeper. The orthopod took the steel rods out of Lucas’s arm but left two titanium screws, which would be permanent. The arm ached, and the cast drove him crazy. He found he could scratch his arm with an ingeniously bent clothes hanger.

 

Letty, his ward, said, “You know, every time you scratch, there’s a bad smell.”

 

“Thank you. You do so much to help my self-confidence in social situations,” he said.

 

She was still teasing him when the phone rang. When Lucas picked it up, Nordwall told him that O’Donnell’s body had been found in the middle of a cornfield two miles from his home. The body was found by a farmer responding to his wife’s complaints of a persistent bad odor from across the road. O’Donnell had been shot once in the forehead.

 

“Grant, Rogers, whoever he was, must have been looking him right in the eyes when he pulled the trigger,” Nordwall said.

 

 

 

THEY NEVER FIGURED out who the killer was. He was buried under the name Roy Rogers, though nobody really thought that was his name. DNA records were kept in case anybody ever came looking for him.

 

 

 

AND FINALLY, a month after the shootings, deep in the bowels of the security hospital, nine patients and a doctor met for a group-therapy session. One of the patients, a man known for his silence, timorously raised a hand as soon as everybody had a chair.

 

Sennet, who was running the group, suppressed a look of surprise and said, “Lonnie? You have something for us?”

 

Lonnie, who feared many things—too many things, hundreds of them, a new one every minute—dug into his pocket and took out a tattered roll of yellow paper. “I found this the day everybody got shot. I didn’t steal it, it was lying in the hall.”

 

“Okay,” Sennet said, encouraging him. “What is it?”

 

Lonnie unrolled the paper. “It’s a list. It says, Best Songs of the Rock Era. It has a hundred songs on it.”

 

“May I see it?” Sennet asked.

 

“May I have it back?” Lonnie looked frightened, as though the list might be seized. “I think about it a lot.”

 

“Sure. If it’s only rock songs,” Sennet said.

 

Lonnie passed the paper round the circle of the group, each person glancing at it. When Sennet got it, he scanned the list, then passed it around the rest of the circle, and back to Lonnie.

 

“Do you have some thoughts about it?” Sennet asked.

 

“Well, these are the one hundred best rock songs, okay?”

 

“Okay.”

 

Lonnie’s lip trembled. “But, there are no Beatles on the list. Don’t you see? There are no Beatles . . .”