had taken the summer off; I wished I'd taken the summer off.

It soon became obvious that one didn't simply wander in off the campus and strike up a conversation with a Nobel Prize winner-at least, not with this particular specimen. Smathers had a ground-floor office, and his first line of defense was a large, hawk-faced woman who looked as if she'd barely escaped the last pro-football draft.

Being the only dwarf criminology professor/former circus headliner/Black Belt karate expert/licensed private investigator on campus has its advantages; most of the people at the school had at least heard of me. Counting on this modest notoriety to get me around what looked to be some sharp corners, I smiled broadly at the woman. Incredibly, the nameplate on her desk identified her as Mrs. Pfatt.

Mrs. Pfatt finished typing a line, then slowly looked up at me. Except for a glint of suspicion, her murky black eyes were blank. 'Yes?' she asked coldly.

'Is Dr. Smathers around?'

Mrs. Pfatt stared at me for what seemed a long time; behind her thick glasses, the woman's eyes were large and unblinking. Finally, she said: 'Is Dr. Smathers. . around?'

'Yeah,' I said. 'Around. I'm Dr. Frederickson, and I'd like to introduce myself to my esteemed colleague.'

'I'm afraid that's impossible,' Mrs. Pfatt said briskly. 'Dr. Smathers is a very busy man, and I know you don't have an appointment.'

'Then why don't you give me an appointment?' I replied, raising my tone a few professional notches. 'Let's call it a request for a consultation. I'm a criminologist; I'd like to talk with Dr. Smathers about certain areas where our research interests may overlap.'

'Dr. Smathers has no time for consultations,' she sniffed, turning her attention back to her typewriter.

'Then I'd like to speak with Dr. Kee.'

'I'm sorry, sir,' Mrs. Pfatt said indignantly, her chins quivering. 'Dr. Kee will not see you either.'

'How do you know unless you ask?'

'I know my job, sir,' she said, and resumed typing.

Taking my leave of the charming Mrs. Pfatt, I walked down a long corridor lined on both sides with classrooms. The rooms were all empty, except for one where a makeup examination for a summer course was in progress. A few students recognized me and waved; I grinned and waved back. From what I could see, everything in Marten Hall was distressingly in order.

The building had four floors, and I started to work my way up them as casually as possible. The second floor consisted of empty classrooms, while the third was a combination of offices and laboratories, sparsely populated on a summer Friday with a few graduate researchers. I headed toward the stairway at the end of the corridor, stopped and stared. A heavy steel door had been installed across the entrance to the stairs. A warning had been stenciled in red paint on the cold gray metal.



There was no reason why I couldn't come back to Marten Hall after my meeting with Janet Monroe; I simply didn't care to. To judge by Mrs. Pfatt's behavior, I could spend all summer playing hide-and-seek with Smathers and Kee without ever coming up a winner. I was impatient to get on with the job; as a result, I did something I might not otherwise have done: used a lockpick.

Smathers should have spent less money on steel and more on the lock: I had it open in about five minutes. A narrow flight of stairs snaked up and twisted to the left. The inside of the door as well as the walls and ceiling of the stairwell had been soundproofed. It seemed a curious expense for a psychology department; mental processes just don't make that much noise.

I climbed the stairs and found myself at the end of a long corridor which had been expensively remodeled with glassed-in offices on one side and locked steel doors on the other. I decided to jimmy my way into one of the locked rooms, but first wanted to make sure that the offices on the left were empty. They were-except for the last one.

The Chinese caught me out of the corner of his eye before I could duck down out of sight. He was the original Captain Flash, out of his chair and standing in front of me in a lot less time than it would have taken his rival to find an empty phone booth.

'Uh … Dr. Kee?'

The man simply stared at me, which probably made him Kee's assistant. It occurred to me that I should have paid closer attention to Barnum's mini-lecture on first impressions: the man in front of me looked like a battered refugee from a tong war. Somebody had tried to use his head as a whetstone; his right cheek was a sheet of white, rippled scar tissue. He looked blind in the right eye, but the left was perfectly all right; he was glowering at me with it.

Smiling, I wished him a cheery good afternoon. He still said nothing.

'Is Dr. Smathers here?'

Still no response; he might have taken it as a Chinese insult, or maybe he just didn't care for dwarfs. I shrugged and turned around to walk away.

The Chinese was around in front of me like a cat, crouched and balanced on the balls of his feet like a prizefighter. His right hand came out and gripped my shoulder. 'No go!' he yelped in lumpy English.

My watch told me I had fifteen minutes before my meeting with Janet Monroe. 'Sorry,' I said, slapping his hand away. 'You're a brilliant conversationalist; I'd love to stay, but I've got business.'

I started to step around him. He moved with me, reaching out with snake speed to grip my shoulders with both hands. His fingers started to tighten on the nerves and muscles around my collarbone. I slapped his hands away again with more force, hitting the insides of his elbows sharply with the sides of my hands. He didn't like that; he sputtered something in Chinese and took a swing at my head. I ducked under the blow and stepped into him, spinning clockwise to gain momentum, snapping my elbow into his solar plexus. I hit him a lot harder than I would have if I hadn't been slightly perturbed. He arched on his toes, the air exploding from his lungs, then crumpled to the floor, where he gasped and heaved for air like a beached fish.

'Tell Dr. Smathers that Bob Frederickson was here to see him,' I said, squatting next to the man's head. Pain, surprise and hate swam in the good eye, filming it like a second skin. 'Tell him I'd like to buy him a beer one of these days, when he's got the time.'

Janet Monroe was waiting for me in her main laboratory. The woman was the pride of her religious order and a leading researcher in microbiology; more important to me, she was a valued friend. We'd drained a good many pots of coffee with arcane philosophical chitchat about God, gods, men's needs and deeds. Janet was a handsome woman in her early fifties. As usual, her shiny gray hair was drawn back into a flowing ponytail, which served to highlight her violet eyes and the finely sculpted, aquiline features of her face. Now she looked troubled.

'How's my favorite nun?' I asked, kissing her hand.

'Hello, Mongo,' Janet said, taking my hand in both of hers and squeezing my fingers hard. She looked at me, frowned. 'Are you all right? You look pale.'

'Indigestion,' I said, resisting the impulse to add something about Chinese food. Putting Kee's assistant on the floor hadn't really involved that much exercise, but the residual tension from the confrontation obviously still showed. 'What did you want to see me about?'

She nodded toward a small office just off the laboratory. 'The man I want you to meet is in there.'

The man waiting for me looked like a movie star who didn't want to be recognized. When he took off his dark glasses, he still looked like a movie star; he also looked like a certain famous Southern senator who was very close to wrapping up his party's presidential nomination.

'Dr. Frederickson,' he said in deep, stentorian tones that echoed faintly in the small office. 'I've been doing so much reading about you in the past few days that I feel I already know you. I must say, it's a distinct pleasure. I'm Bill Younger.'

'I know. Nice to meet you, Senator.' I shook his large, sinewy hand. With his boyish, middle-aged face and full head of brown, razor-cut hair, Younger looked good. Except for the anxiety in his eyes, he might have been waiting

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