Devil's Night

Devil's Night by Todd Ritter

Book: Devil's Night by Todd Ritter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Todd Ritter
thousand dollars there. The week before, Kat noted, someone had withdrawn two hundred bucks.
    “I knew the historical society was struggling,” she said. “I just didn’t think it was this bad. They’re swimming in debt.”
    “It wouldn’t surprise me if even some members didn’t know about this,” Nick added. “Figures like these are something an organization’s leadership might want to keep secret.”
    “Clearly, Constance Bishop knew. And so did whoever put this together.”
    Kat scanned the spreadsheet again. In the top left corner was the name of the man who had prepared it, along with his title: Claude Dobson, Treasurer, Perry Hollow Historical Society.
    “I think,” she said, “that it’s time we paid Mr. Dobson a little visit.”
    *

    Fifteen minutes later, Kat found herself staring at a wall of rifles. There were more than a dozen of them, ranging in age from old to downright ancient. Wood polished and barrels gleaming, they looked like a museum display in the middle of Claude Dobson’s living room.
    “You’ve noticed my collection,” he said, ignoring that there was no way Kat couldn’t have noticed them.
    “Yes. It’s quite the display,” said Tony Vasquez, who sat next to Kat on Mr. Dobson’s sofa.
    It was just the three of them in the living room, Nick having been ordered to wait in the car. Ex-cops could sort through desks. Interviewing suspects was a different matter.
    Since he was in charge of the investigation, Kat let Tony do most of the talking. She was content to sit back and study Claude Dobson, who had been a history teacher at Perry Hollow High School when she was a student. Although he was much older now, his appearance was much the same as it was then. Same downturned mouth. Same shock of white hair. Same ruddy cheeks that led to rumors that he kept a flask in his desk. The only changes Kat could detect were his jowly chin and rheumy eyes.
    “History is my hobby,” Claude said. “But historical weapons are my passion.”
    “Just rifles?” Tony asked
    “Heavens no. I have several knives, a Japanese sword, a hand grenade from the First World War.”
    “Do any of them still work?”
    Claude shot the lieutenant an exasperated look that Kat remembered well from her days in his classroom. “Have you ever heard of a samurai sword that stopped working?”
    “I meant the guns,” Tony said. “And the hand grenade.”
    “I suppose they would, if I bothered to use them. Which I don’t. They’re simply objects of beauty to show off and admire. Then there’s the historical value, of course. This country—every country, quite honestly—was built on the use of weapons like these. Many people forget that. Ah, but you’re not here to talk about my collection. You want to ask me about Constance.”
    “That’s correct,” Tony said. “How well did you know her?”
    “Oh, exceedingly well. We worked closely together for decades. The historical society is a small, insular organization. We knew each other inside and out.”
    “Did you like her?”
    “I didn’t dislike her,” Claude replied. “We had our ups and downs. But you can say that about many people.”
    “Mr. Dobson,” Kat said. Having been a student of his, she didn’t even consider addressing him any other way. “Emma Pulsifer told me Constance and other members of the group didn’t see eye to eye. Especially about finances. I can only assume she was referring to you.”
    Claude Dobson turned his attention from Tony to Kat herself. Despite the watery eyes, his gaze was still potent. For a split second, Kat felt like she had been caught cheating on her homework.
    “I had you as a student, didn’t I?”
    “Yes, sir. In 1989.”
    “If I recall, you were a mediocre one. C-plus material.”
    “I don’t remember,” Kat said, even as her memory managed to dredge up the fact that she had received a B in his class.
    “So tell me, Chief. How does it feel to accuse one of your old teachers of committing arson

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