Trooper Perkins’ body was never found, only his burned-out cruiser. Nothing was recoverable from the dash-cam. A memorial for Trooper Randall Perkins, Jr. was held at the Rainey Funeral Home. The ballroom was filled with mourners. Leading the procession was Trooper Perkins’ wife and two small daughters, followed by his father, J.P.’s childhood friend, and the minister from the Lutheran Church in Bedford.

J.P. Rainey, so skilled in comforting the bereaved, gave a touching eulogy of a fine young man taken to soon from his family, church, and community by unknown criminals. As always, he pulled it off with style. Outside waited police officers and state troopers from all over Iowa. A 21-gun salute was performed and an American flag was given to the widow.


A week later, a middle-aged man and old woman pulled into the mortuary parking lot. The man helped the old woman from the front seat. She walked, slowly and with the assistance of a cane, into the reception area of the funeral home. She asked the receptionist to see Mr. Rainey.

When J.P. came out of his office, he said, “Good afternoon, welcome to Rainey’s and Gravity. How may I assist you?”

The old woman smiled and said, “Can we meet in your office? My son will wait here. This won’t take long.” Just before heading toward J.P.’s office, her son handed the woman her bag.

She slowly walked down the hall and into the office. J.P. closed the door. When she sat down, she crossed her legs, reached into her coat pocket, and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Pulling one out, she lit up and exhaled a large cloud of smoke.

Then, reaching into her bag, she removed a large envelope containing $100,000 and handed it to J. P. “This is for you. My employer is sorry for the confusion but happy with how you handled this matter. You kept your head. He likes that.”

J.P. looked inside, saying, “Good. Those mutts were the worst I’ve ever seen, real meatheads. Problem’s solved now. They’re disappeared. Killing that trooper was a shame, but nobody knows anything. We’re okay.”

The old woman nodded and rose quickly from the chair. Her part was done. Stooping over, moving like an old woman again, she headed out the office door, where she was met by her son. Both walked slowly through the reception area and into the parking lot. Her son opened her door; after helping her in, he went around to the driver-side door, got in, and they drove away.

For now, a problem in Gravity was solved. For J.P., all this upset was a means to an end: keeping his son alive. There was no sympathy, guilt, or remorse for the victims; there was no time. His son needed to get back to treatments in Omaha. J.P. had doctor’s bills to pay; that’s all that mattered. In the meantime, to the folks in Gravity, he was the kindly, empathetic man who was skilled at comforting grieving families, a pillar of their small community and, secretly, a mob cleaner.

Thinking about his son, J.P. hoped that soon, there would be more deliveries from Chicago.


For all installments of “A Problem in Gravity,” click here.

Previous installments

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4