For dinner Shelby served pasta with a light sauce consisting of olive oil, onion, tomatoes, shrimp, dry white wine, and Italian parsley. However, the girls refused to eat it, insisting instead on smothering their noodles with butter and grated Parmesan. That was fine with Bobby, but Shelby glared at me like I was responsible for corrupting her daughters’ eating habits. Honestly, I don’t see them that often.

After dinner, Bobby also inquired about Mr. Mosley’s health and welfare. I told him the same thing I had told Shelby. That prompted another discussion concerning the aging process, during which Bobby announced that he did not look old, feel old, or behave in any way that could be construed as old, as he was sure his lovely wife would testify, but that I was free to seize any excuse—including advanced age—that might explain my obvious dilapidated and sorry physical, emotional, and mental condition. I would have raced him around the block but I was afraid I’d lose.


During the bottom of the third inning of the Twins-Angels game, my cell phone sang “Don’t Fence Me In.”

“I bet that’s the girlfriend,” Shelby said.

“Ahh, Nina,” Bobby cooed.

Nina Truhler was the “jazz girl” Mr. Mosley had referred to. Only it wasn’t her. It was Ivy Flynn.

“Oh, God, Mr. McKenzie …”


“Mr. McKenzie, unbelievable …”


“The guy …”

-- Advertisement --

“What guy?”

“He shot at me.”


“He shot at me.”

“Who shot at you?”

Bobby Dunston’s eyes grew wide. He rose from the sofa where he had been sitting with his wife and stood in front of me.

“Ivy? Are you all right?”

A deep breath. “Yes.”

“Who shot at you?”

“Some guy. In the ditch. He shot at me in the ditch.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m in a bar.”

“Are you safe?”

“What do you mean, am I safe? I’m in a bar. I don’t go to bars.”

“Did you call the police?”

“Should I do that? If I was trespassing-that’s probably why the guy shot at me.”

“Tell me what happened.”

Another deep breath. A second. A third. I didn’t rush her. After a moment, Ivy began speaking again in the same patient voice she used when I met her at Lori’s Coffee House.

“I was collecting samples. I came across a large pasture. I might have neglected to tell you, but Sevin XLR Plus is often sprayed on unbroken ground such as pastures and roadside ditches. That’s because grasshoppers tend to lay eggs in undisturbed ground and, after they mature, disperse into neighboring crop systems. Although there are as many as 100 species of grasshoppers on the Northern Great Plains, only five rate as the most important crop pests—the two-striped grasshopper, the migratory grasshopper, the clear-winged grasshopper, and the red-legged and differential grasshoppers.”

This was more than I needed to know, but the longer Ivy spoke, the calmer she became, and I didn’t want to disrupt the process.

“I halted my vehicle and climbed down into the roadside ditch. There were no grasshoppers there, Mr. McKenzie, which I find telling. I began gathering samples. I heard someone calling something, but the words were snatched away by the wind. I looked up and saw a man approaching. A big man. Fat. He was carrying a gun—a shotgun—I recognized a shotgun. And he started shooting—he just started—I saw muzzle flashes and puffs of smoke—at least I think I saw … Mr. McKenzie, I wasn’t trespassing, it was a public road, a county road.”

“You’re sure you’re all right?”

“I scrambled out of the ditch, climbed into my car, and drove off. I drove very, very fast. I drove for a long time. I’m not actually in Norwood Young America anymore. I’m in—” She stopped speaking. I heard the sound of music and her voice calling, “Where am I?” The question was followed immediately by laughter and the murmur of voices. “I’m in Glencoe,” she told me after a few moments.

Glencoe is nowhere near NYA.

“Tell me where you are and I’ll come get you.”

“That’s not necessary. I’m okay.”


“No, really, Mr. McKenzie. I’m fine. It was scary, but I’m fine now. I’m going to get something to eat and then drive home.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, sir. But what should we do about … about the guy?”

“I’ll deal with it.”

Bobby shifted his weight and sighed.

I asked Ivy if she had noted the address. She had. She had written it down along with the approximate distance from Mr. Mosley’s hives when she catalogued her samples.

“You collected samples from the ditch even with the guy shooting at you?” I asked.

“Only one. I labeled it before entering the bar. I kinda like this place.”

I kinda liked her.

“It is my intention to begin testing samples tomorrow,” Ivy said.

“Begin with this one.”

“Yes, sir.”

-- Advertisement --