He was standing on the sidewalk directly in front of Riley Brodin’s building and staring upward as if he were trying to figure out which windows were hers.
He was wearing the same black leather jacket. The same white T-shirt and jeans. His hair didn’t look as if it had grown at all.
Probably I should have called the police. Probably I should have parked somewhere out of sight and watched him until they arrived. The memory of Mrs. R’s naked and abused body was too vivid, though. It drowned all reason.
I accelerated hard and maneuvered the Audi past a fire hydrant and onto the sidewalk. I drove straight toward him.
He saw me at the last possible moment and dove between two parked cars.
I foolishly—and I mean foolishly—cranked the wheel to the left and tried to follow him. There was no way the Audi could fit through the space. I smashed the back bumper of one car and sheared off the front end of the other. The alarm systems of both vehicles pierced the air. The Audi came to an abrupt halt. The engine stalled. Why the air bags didn’t deploy I couldn’t say.
I opened the car door and slipped out. The SIG was in my hands.
The killer was in the middle of the street. He had a gun in his hands, too. He held it like he knew exactly what it was for.
He fired at me.
I ducked. Bullets peppered the Audi like hail. Most of them were stopped by the engine block. A couple pierced the body as if it were made of tissue paper and flattened against the sidewalk and the brick building behind me.
I counted one-two-three and came up shooting.
The killer sprinted across the street and hid behind a parked SUV.
The SUV offered no more protection than my Audi, yet I couldn’t see my target, so I waited.
When his head came up, I shot at him again.
He took off running.
I tried to follow. The cars smashed together like that blocked my path. I had to dodge around them. By the time I did, the killer was out of sight.
I stood in a Weaver stance in the middle of the street and waited for movement. I heard a car start down the block. It drove off quickly in the opposite direction, too far away to read the license plate. I set my sights on the rear window. The shoot/don’t shoot scenarios I studied while practicing with FATS, the police academy’s firearms training system, kicked in and I removed my finger from the trigger and lowered the gun.
When the vehicle disappeared from view, I returned to the cars. The alarm of one died away, followed almost immediately by the other.
You are in so much trouble, my inner voice told me.
Movement to my right caused me to bring the SIG back up.
Riley Brodin emerged through the front door of her building. She halted at the top step and looked down at me. I put the SIG back in its holster.
“What the hell happened?” she wanted to know.
“Believe it or not, I think I just saved your life.”
“I never thought of you as a braggart, McKenzie.”
She raised her eyebrows up and down when she said it. Clearly the young woman was underestimating the situation.
I took my cell phone from my pocket.
“What are you doing?” Riley asked.
“Calling the police.”
“Should we do that?”
“They’ll resent it if we don’t.”
’Course, they’re going to be pretty damn miffed anyway, I told myself.
“I don’t want to get involved,” Riley said.
“Sorry, sweetie,” I told her.
Riley fished her own cell out of her handbag. She dialed as I dialed. The 9-1-1 operator asked, “What is your emergency?” at the same time that Riley said, “Grandfather?”
The first thing I did when the Minneapolis cops arrived was surrender the SIG Sauer. The second thing was to inform them that I would answer no questions until Lieutenant Pelzer of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department arrived. That caught the officers by surprise. Often they hear suspects screaming for their lawyers. But another cop? Still, they weren’t so impressed that they neglected to slap the handcuffs on me.
They didn’t cuff Riley, although they threatened to. Riley claimed she was late for an appointment, that she had nothing to do with the crashed cars and gunfight, that she had nothing to say anyway, and if they didn’t like it they could take up the matter with her attorney. The cops weren’t impressed with her, either.
I motioned for her to sit on the building steps next to me. When she did I told her to stop being so belligerent.
“It won’t do you any good,” I said. “Just go with the flow and everything will work out.”
“I should never have contacted you, McKenzie.”
“Too late now.”
More officers arrived, and a lot of things started happening all at once. Techs and investigators, impressed by the bullet holes in my car, the sidewalk, and the wall of Riley’s building, started shooting photographs, making measurements, collecting bullet fragments, and taking notes. A sergeant from the Violent Crimes Investigations Division was asking questions. I explained to him that this was all connected to yesterday’s killing on Lake Minnetonka.