Denver Bar Association
January 2012
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The Case of the Law School Murders Part 5

by Greg Rawlings

The Case of the Law School Murders Part 5


ne thing I’ve learned after all these lurid years in blue is when the facts are screwy and the law is worse, turn to Sinatra—the only philosopher a drinking man with a gun ever really needs to consult. And Frank’s invariable advice is: Drink more. Late at night in a dive bar. "Set ’em up, Joe," indeed.

So, it being too early to hit a real bar, I hit the Campus Lounge. Saw the usual shiftless bookie, the slumming seven-figure shyster with his silk tie undone, some coeds drinking on a Senior Ten, 20-something guys with red DU hats on cockeyed. It was happy hour, of course, the one appointment Victim No. 1, Jeremy Collins, never missed.

I ordered a Coors to keep it real and stared up at the tube. Make that tubes. Many a television. All blaring ESPN. God do I hate ex-jocks, even worse than criminals. The TV ex-jocks are the worst: loud, vulgarly dressed, and invariably dumb as a box of rocks. I’d forgotten how sad this joint was: a dive bar in Bonnie Brae. It’s a contradiction in terms. It’s the simulacra of a dive bar. I lasted 12 ounces and hit the dusty road.

Real men drink at Don’s.

I cruised down to LoDo, the epitome of all that has gone to hell in this cow town. And Larimer Square, epicenter of the ersatz. Posers kill me, and I spent too much time chasing down the thugs who plaster the club kids’ faces across the pavement. But, the coroner had noticed an odd presence of mint around the bloody lips of Victim No. 2, Michael Berens, so I headed to where the hootsy-tootsy crowd drinks their mojitos.

First stop, La Bamba, where I double-parked my squad car, shot the guy at the valet stand a dirty look and strutted up to the entranceway. Oh boy, major change from the ’Pus. Statuesque women in black on black, men who obviously didn’t get their hair cut at Great Clips, and the telltale stink of crushed mint. No real man has ever suffered through the indignity of a mojito. But Nancy Dixon did. And so did Chief Judy. I brushed past the comely hostess and hid behind a tall fern that had somehow survived from the 1970s. Even through the vile haze of mint, I smelled the chief’s perfume.

I thought of Victim No. 3, Michelle Zarinsky, dead just a block away, her pretty throat sliced through like a stick of butter left on the dining room table an hour too long. Then, I saw a young man cut through the crowd near the bar, returning from the little boy’s room. Ah, Mr. 11 percent himself, Brian Harper. How tidy. He slid onto a stool between Nancy and the chief. I recalled that both the women were daughters of judges. I thought of Victims No. 4 and No. 5, Anne Warbly and Luke Maybis. They were just icing on the cake, posing as red herrings.

Back at Don’s, much later, a scream came across my police scanner. Dr. Jamf, the coroner, had just announced that all the 3Ls had something in common, beyond their backgrounds, their interests, and well, being dead. All the corpses contained trace amounts of Imipolex-G, an antidote to anthrax, developed jointly by the CDC and the CIA in the late-1990s. It had a peculiar quality to it—if you had been dosed with anthrax, it saved you; if you hadn’t, it killed you. Our local PD had been supplied a small supply just before the Democratic National Convention in 2008. That small supply had eventually disappeared. A desk sergeant in property lost his job for that, and now a bunch of smart, angry kids had lost their lives.

Fighting the system is seldom easy and never free. I asked the barkeep to turn up the jukebox and I ordered another Jack Daniels—Frank’s drink. I sat back and pondered the evil that men do, and women for that matter. "Set ’em up, Joe."

I’ll be getting a blood test first thing in the morning. You can’t be too careful in my line of work. D

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