Meanwhile, she discovered Old Blacksmith Shop Mercantile, an 1894 blacksmith shop where, under the guidance of the resident smithy, she fashioned an ornate fireplace poker. I mentioned that neither she nor I had a fireplace. She told me that our new home would have one—it was a prerequisite. Again, who was I to argue?
We found a former movie theater where they filmed scenes for Field of Dreams that was now an antique store, and a former firehouse that was now a theater that was supposed to be haunted. And then there was the bar where I was told that the recipe for Red Stripe beer was actually developed in Galena and sold to an Englishman, who turned it into one of Jamaica’s better-known exports. I drank a bottle; suddenly it didn’t taste quite the same.
Eventually we ended up at the Perry Street Brasserie for dinner. Throughout the meal—hell, throughout the day—I had the distinct impression that we were being watched. It whispered at me like a buzzing mosquito that I was unable to swat. Yet I couldn’t identify the watchers.
Either you’re being unduly paranoid, my inner voice warned me, or these guys are very, very good.
Chief Lori Hasselback was lovely in the way you’d expect a former high school homecoming queen to be lovely, with soft blue eyes and shoulder-length blond hair that she twirled around her finger as she spoke. She didn’t look like a police officer. She looked like an actress pretending to be a police officer—think Emily Procter in CSI: Miami. That she had somehow managed to rise from beat cop to chief of the Galena PD in seven years impressed the hell out of me—until I learned the entire department consisted of herself, two lieutenants, one investigator, six officers and two meter maids that only worked from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. The Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department answered calls after hours and on weekends and holidays. That’s why I had to wait until Monday to meet with her. I had never heard of a part-time police department before.
We met the chief Monday morning on the first floor of a gray brick building on Main Street that the cops shared with the other city departments. The only building in downtown that seemed to have been built in the past half century, it was located between Fritz and Frites, a German and French restaurant, and Little Tokyo, a restaurant serving Japanese cuisine. She suggested that we chat where it was more comfortable and led us across the street to Kaladi’s 925 Coffee Bar. After buying coffee, Nina and I sat on a black leather sofa beneath a colorful mural that I couldn’t describe if I wanted to. Hasselback sat in a matching chair to our left. She dragged a lock of hair across her mouth, then let it fall as she began speaking.
“I remember Collin Baird,” she said. “Didn’t need to review my notes, either. He was an asshole. Bully in a letterman’s jacket. You know the type. He had good grades, but I suspect that had more to do with his ability to throw a tight spiral than his study habits. Some women had accused him of peeping their windows, but we never caught him at it. The deputies did catch him the summer after he graduated from high school with a fourteen-year-old girl. They were drinking in the cemetery around midnight; the deputies came along before things went too far with the girl. Probably they should have busted ’em both for trespassing or at least given ’em minors, but it’s a small town and everybody knows everybody and the deputies didn’t want to ruin the girl’s rep, so they were let off with a warning.”
The way Hasselback spoke, especially the way she said “minor”—a citation for underage drinking that comes with a hundred-dollar fine and attaches to an eighteen-year-old’s permanent record—made me think she was more of a cop than I had given her credit for.
“I was a rookie when he went missing. Caught the case. Good riddance, some might say, good riddance to bad rubbish—you hear that a lot from the old folks around here. Only you can’t choose the vic, am I right? One of the first things you learn on the job. I worked the case with the county deputies. Interviewed the mother; the old man had taken off years earlier, and it was just her and the kid. She gave us diddly-squat. The college and the cops in St. Paul, they didn’t give us anything to work with, either. My first thought: like father, like son—the kid simply took off just like the old man had. The fact that we couldn’t get a handle on this David Maurell character was what made me think there was fuckery afoot.”
“Wait,” I said. “What did you say?”
Hasselback’s head jerked slightly as if she were surprised to be interrupted.
“I said … I apologize for my language,” she said.
“No, not at all. I had an old friend in St. Paul homicide named Anita who used to say that.”
“Was she pretty, too?” Nina asked.