“I’m sorry about all this, Ivy.”
“Oh, don’t be. Actually”—her voice dropped an octave or two as if she were afraid to hear herself say it—“it was kinda fun.”
She fear’d no danger, for she knew no sin. John Dryden had written that over three hundred years ago. Now I knew what he meant.
Bobby Dunston was still standing above me when I deactivated my cell phone, his hands on his hips.
“Someone shot at someone?”
“Not in your jurisdiction,” I told him.
“Does this involve Mr. Mosley’s bees?”
I smiled at him, although I don’t know why.
“The game’s afoot,” I said.
“Ahh, man. Not again.”
The next morning I found Mr. Mosley working the hives near a shed about the size of a two-car garage—the “bee barn,” he called it. He was wearing a white hat with a round, flat brim not unlike what you’d expect park rangers to wear, with a light-colored wire-mesh veil that hung down over his shoulders. He was carrying a smoker, a galvanized metal container resembling a large thermos with a narrow funnel at the top. You light a fire inside using old newspapers and kindling such as pine needles, cotton rags, corn cobs, tree bark—whatever—and puff smoke into the hive. The smoke masks the pheromones secreted by the sentry bees at the entrance of the hive so an alarm isn’t sounded when you approach. The smoke also compels the bees to gorge themselves on honey, presumably because they believe the hive is on fire and they’ll need to swarm and find a new home. As a result, you’re able to go about your work unmolested. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never actually tested the theory myself.
I watched Mr. Mosley move among his hives, wondering not for the first time how he did it so fearlessly. I called to him through the screen of his back door. He waved at me to join him near the hives. Yeah, like that was going to happen.
Eventually he moved back to the house. I watched him slowly remove his gloves, then his hat and veil, watched him fluff what remained of his white hair with both hands. Again I was jarred by how old he appeared. It seemed like only ten minutes ago he was telling me to choke up on the bat if I wanted to get around on a fastball. And now … I promised myself I would spend more time with him.
He said, “I liked that little girl you sent over. Ivy Flynn? She knows her Apis m. mellifera. Ain’t afraid of ’em, either.”
“Yeah, she’s tough as nails.”
I deliberately crossed my arms over my gray sports coat and Minnesota Wild sweatshirt, knowing what was coming.
“Pretty eyes. And hair. I don’t recall ever seeing hair that shade of red. Are you involved with her?”
“Uh-huh. Well, you should be.”
“She’s a kid.”
Mr. Mosley raised an eyebrow.
“She’s my employee.”
He raised the other. “I’m startin’ t’ wonder about you, McKenzie.”
I doubted my love life could stand much more scrutiny, so I changed the subject, telling him of Ivy’s encounter the previous evening with the shotgun-wielding fat man. Mr. Mosley became so concerned over her safety that I had to assure him twice that Ivy had escaped unscathed.
I told him that earlier that morning I called up Carver County’s Web site on my computer. “Did you know that Carver County was named after a Massachusetts explorer who may or may not have ever set foot in the place? Guy named Captain Jonathan Carver. He had gone west in the hope of gaining fame and fortune, failed, and then wrote a book—Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768. The book did pretty well until it was discovered that much of the manuscript contained plagiarized accounts of the adventures of other explorers. Carver died penniless.”
From the expression on Mr. Mosley’s face, I might as well have been lecturing him about the properties and characteristics of dirt.
“Anyway …” I told him that I fed the address Ivy had given me into a search engine on the Web site that allowed citizens to access their neighbors’ property tax information and was instantly informed that the primary taxpayer/owner of the property was a finance company called Lundgren-Kerber Investments. A phone call to Lundgren-Kerber and a little fast talking revealed that the tenant was named Crosetti, Frank—which made me think of Frankie Crosetti, the great shortstop who helped the Yankees win eight world championships between 1932 and 1948.
“I know most of my neighbors,” Mr. Mosley said. “I don’t know him.”
“Crosetti moved in just over six weeks ago,” I said. “Which means he probably isn’t responsible for the Sevin XLR Plus that had been sprayed on his land—if, in fact, Sevin XLR Plus had been sprayed on his land. Still, I’m a little annoyed about what happened with Ivy. So I figured I’d wander over there and have a friendly chat with the man. Explain the situation. Ask him not to shoot at Ivy anymore.”
“I’ll go with you.”