“Why do you say that?”
“The accident was such a long time ago and because—McKenzie, there is no ETA, anymore. A few years after the kidnapping, it declared a cease-fire. The year after that ETA announced—wait, I have the quote here—it announced a ‘definitive cessation of its armed activities.” A year after that it disbanded, so … I guess this means I don’t get my bonus.”
“The execution of the kidnappers—who did that? The Spanish government?”
“I don’t know. Want me to find out?”
“See if you can. Probably won’t amount to anything, but you never know. And don’t worry about your bonus. I’ll take care of you.”
“You’re the best, McKenzie.”
“How are things at home?”
“Better. The guy who cheated off my paper told the principal that I didn’t know he was doing it, so I’m off the hook. He took an F and a two-day suspension. It was kinda sweet, you know, him taking the bullet for me.”
“Honey, it’s sweet until he demands payment. Then it becomes something else.”
“What are you saying?”
“Just be careful. This kid could be all right, just a guy who took a step out of line, and don’t we all from time to time? Or he could be something else. You’ll know when…”
“I’ll know when he says he did something for me and now I should do something for him. I have a father, McKenzie. He talks to me all the time.”
“I appreciate that.”
“I appreciate that I also have a friend.”
“Yes, you do.”
“So when do I get my two hundred bucks?”
“One hundred. It’s two hundred if you get a photo. Do you have a photo?”
“I’m working on it.”
“That’s my girl.”
I mulled over what Victoria had to report until the security guys arrived. Nothing she told me supported Navarre’s story. Unfortunately, it didn’t entirely refute it, either. ’Course, Navarre could easily have learned everything Vic had discovered and shaped it to his advantage. She took all of a day and a half. Who knows how much time Navarre invested and what resources he employed besides the Internet to research his role? If it was a role.
“You sonuvabitch,” I said aloud. “Who are you? Where are you? What are you doing here? Why are you hiding?”
Because of the lack of furniture, my house always had a kind of echo. “What the fuck?” I shouted and then listened as the words bounced from wall to wall. That’s when the security guys chose to knock on my door. Talk about bad timing. I allowed my black mood to spill onto them. Probably it was unfair, although they discovered what the intruder had done to disable the alarm system quickly and with a minimum of chitchat. He was very clever, the intruder.
Don’t you forget it, my inner voice warned.
The techs repaired the system at no charge and then upgraded it at a discount so no one could bypass it again the way the intruder had. They thanked me for my business. I apologized for being rude. They left. I set the alarm, locked the house, and climbed into the Audi. I adjusted my holster and at the same time remembered the cell phone in my jacket pocket. I listened to the messages left on my voice mail.
“McKenzie,” Riley Brodin said, “the police want to talk to me about Juan Carlos. What should I do? Call me.”
“You sonuvabitch,” said Walter Muehlenhaus. “How dare you involve my family in a murder investigation? You and I are going to have a serious conversation and damn quick.”
“McKenzie, it’s Schroeder,” the third call began. “You just can’t help yourself, can you, pal? Give me a shout. We need to talk before Mr. Muehlenhaus has you whacked.”
“Oh, McKenzie,” said Riley. She was weeping as she spoke. “Is Juan Carlos responsible for all of this? Am I? Poor Reney…” She continued to cry until the voice mail cut her off.
I sat behind the wheel and waited for the courage to start the car and back it down the driveway. It was a long time in coming.
The Cities, or perhaps I should say “the Greater Twin Cities,” although residents rarely call it that, actually consists of 188 communities scattered across seven counties. My place in Falcon Heights is more or less in the center of them. As a result, I’m not awfully far from anywhere. It took less than fifteen minutes using freeways and side streets to reach the Warehouse District in Minneapolis, and by then my mood had cheered considerably. There was something about being “up and doing, with a heart for any fate,” as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life” would have it. I wasn’t even annoyed when I couldn’t find an empty space on the street near where Riley Brodin lived. I hung a U-turn at the intersection and came back from the opposite direction, thinking I’d have to park farther away. Oh, well.
That’s when I saw him.
Anne Rehmann’s attacker.
Mrs. Irene Rogers’s killer.