I didn’t realize the building had a name until the media arrived, until a long-legged TV reporter named Kelly Bressandes did her standup in front of a sign—the Villas of Club Versailles. I had no doubt she would lead the evening news. Millionaire socialite raped and murdered in an exclusive playground of the rich—of course she would lead.
Would Kelly mention that wonderful old broad once danced with Gene Kelly? my inner voice wondered.
Probably not, I told myself. Her name no longer identified a living, breathing woman with a rich and exciting biography. Mrs. Irene Rogers—Reney to her friends—was a victim now. That is how she’ll be catalogued in the big book. Her history, her accomplishments, her recipe for gin martinis, all of that would soon be replaced in the memories of the people who knew her. Instead, she would now and always be defined by one of the most terrible things that could happen to a woman. Worse, she would also be forever linked to her killer. People would say, “Remember poor Reney Rogers?” “Isn’t it awful what happened to her?” “Did they ever get the guy who did it?” Murder does that.
Inevitably, Mrs. R’s body was enclosed in a black vinyl body bag and hoisted onto a gurney. The gurney was rolled down the corridor from the door of her condo to the elevator, taken to the ground floor, rolled out into the parking lot, and loaded into an ambulance for transport to the Office of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner on Park Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. Right after the TV crews got the shot, they packed their equipment into sparkling vans with their logos painted on the doors and departed.
Bressandes was the last to leave. She had waited to get a comment from the major. When he declined, she turned to Chief John Rock of the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department, who took a moment to straighten his tie and wave Officer Tschida out of the shot before agreeing to be interviewed on camera. I knew Bressandes personally and liked her, yet I was glad she didn’t notice me locked in the back of the squad car, glad I didn’t have to speak to her.
I had spent enough time in harness to be leery of police department administrators. As I watched the major through the car window giving instructions to his deputies, though, it occurred to me that he didn’t seem to be your run-of-the-mill politician. I used to have season tickets for the St. Paul Saints minor league baseball team. You could always tell which of the players had game, which of them had a chance to make the Show, simply by the way they moved, the way they carried themselves on the field. The major carried himself like a cop.
Soon he was moving toward me; a tall man wearing a suit and tie and carrying a notebook was at his side. When they reached the car they both opened a door and slid inside, the major on the rear passenger side and the plainclothes in the front. They left the doors open, which I appreciated. It was a pleasant seventy-one degrees outside, yet with the windows closed the inside of the car was starting to heat up.
“Rushmore McKenzie?” the major said. “Is that right? I’m Major Kampa. I’m in charge of the Investigative Division in Hennepin County.” He pointed at the front seat. “Lieutenant Pelzer. He runs our detective unit.”
Nothing but the best for Mrs. R, my inner voice said.
“Gentlemen,” I said aloud. “Listen, can you do something about this?”
I leaned forward on the seat so they could get a good look at the cuffs that secured my hands behind my back.
“You punch a cop, you take your chances,” Kampa said. There was no compromise in his voice.
“He’s not a cop,” I said. “He’s a grade school hall monitor with delusions of grandeur.”
When I spoke, they both looked toward Officer Tschida, still standing at the door of the Villas, still smiling as if this was the most fun he’s ever had. I noticed that neither of them disagreed with me.
“Nothing we can do about it,” Kampa said.
“I used to be police myself.”
“We know who you are, McKenzie,” Pelzer said.
“At least…” I leaned forward again. “Can you at least take the gun? It’s kinda uncomfortable.”
Kampa reached behind me and removed the SIG Sauer from the holster beneath my jacket. He showed it to Pelzer.
“That dumb ass didn’t even…” The lieutenant never finished his thought. Instead, he closed his eyes and shook his head.
“Tell me you have a permit,” Kampa said.
“I have a permit,” I said.
Kampa balanced the gun on his thigh. “Nothing I can do.”
“Don’t worry about it, Major. My problem, not yours. Tell me how I can help.”
Kampa gestured at Pelzer, and the detective started asking questions. I liked that—the major deferring to his lieutenant.