“Here’s your welcome package,” CJ said, handing me a manila envelope, her eyes inscrutable over her mask, which had a pattern of raised stylized fists on it.

I spilled the contents onto the table, poking at each in turn.

“Press pass from the local paper, dues statement from the Mississippi Private Investigators Association, receipt for a small business license in town, union card, and an employee ID.” CJ lingered over the latter. “If anyone asks, you’re helping Dr. Wander with forensics work, drilling Mayan teeth he imported from the Yucatan to see what kind of corn they ate.”

I gathered all the cards into a little stack in my hands and spread them out like playing cards. “Very useful,” I said. “But I have to ask: of all the strings you pulled to get this, how many were less-legal?”

“As far as you need to know, this is all above-board,” said CJ. “We don’t have many allies here in town, but those we do have are a resourceful bunch.”

I nodded, and folded with my hand of miscellaneous cards, setting them back down. “What kind of support can I expect from the union?”

“We’re more of an aspirational union, Mr. Plummer,” CJ said. “We have no collective bargaining rights in this state, the university administration refuses to acknowledge us, and the townies see us as a bunch of communist agitators from Berkley. Union folks will talk to you or they’ll answer to me, but don’t expect a strike on your behalf or hired goons at your back and call.”

“Clearly not,” I said. “If you had goons, your guy might still be alive.”

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