“We were pretty tight for a while,” said Bobby. “Except he quit playing sports in high school to take up music.”

“He was a madman on the drums,” I said. “Used to carry sticks with him and beat out a riff on anything, sidewalk, hood of a car, the tables at Burger Chef—drove the manager crazy. We used to call him ‘Sticks’ for a while. Scottie got a kick out of that, but the nickname never took.”

“After a while, he just drifted away,” Bobby said. “Without the game, we had nothing to keep us together, nothing to share, nothing to keep the friendship alive. We’d see him around; we were still friendly, only Scottie began spending most of his time with his musician friends. Some of them formed a band and played small gigs. High school dances. Played across the street once at Merriam Park. They were pretty good. Covered the Stones, Bob Seger, Journey, Elvis Costello.”

“Drugs?” Honsa asked. I nearly laughed. Despite everything, he was still the Man. ’Course, I had been the Man once, too.

“Some grass, some hash, plenty of beer,” I said. “No more than the rest of us.”

“Hey, hey,” said Bobby. “Watch it with that ‘rest of us’ stuff. I have a reputation to protect.”

“If you can call it that,” I said, and we both smiled.

For a moment he had forgotten about Victoria. For a moment he was the old Bobby. Only for a moment. His heart wrenched him back into the present, and he turned away from us, a pained expression on his face. The family photograph I had nudged off the wall earlier was still resting against the baseboard. He bent to retrieve it. “Tell him the rest,” he said and returned the photograph to its hook, making sure it was perfectly straight.

I told Honsa and the other agents that we used to hang out at the Burger Chef on Marshall and Cleveland when we were kids. After we all started driving, it became less of a hangout than a gathering place. One day, during the summer before we started college, Bobby walked to Burger Chef to meet me—it was only a few blocks from here. Along the way he met Scottie and an older guy that Scottie played music with named Dale Fulbright. They were sitting on the curb on Marshall Avenue directly across the street from a mom-and-pop convenience store—it’s not even there anymore. Bobby said, “Hi, guys. What’s going on?” Scottie said, “Nothing.” Fulbright said, “Leave us alone.” So Bobby continued on to Burger Chef, bought a cherry cola, and sat in a corner booth waiting for me. I drove up a few minutes later in my father’s car. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” That was pretty much how we began all of our conversations back then. I saw Scottie and Fulbright on the curb, and I asked what that was all about. Bobby said, “Who knows?” We drove off. I don’t remember where we went. It must not have been much fun, though, because we returned about an hour later to find cops all over the place, especially in front of the store. We wandered over, asked what was going on. We were told that a couple of guys armed with a .45 just robbed the place. A plainclothes cop asked, “Did you see anyone hanging around the store?” Bobby answered, “I saw Scottie Thomforde and Dale Fulbright sitting on the curb about an hour ago.” The cops drove to Scottie’s house and knocked on the door. Mrs. Thomforde answered. The cops said, “We would like to speak with your son.” That was all it took. Scottie broke down, started crying, said he was sorry, said he had never done anything like that before, said it was all Fulbright’s fault and asked to be forgiven. Fulbright, on the other hand—no one ever confused him with a scholar—answered his door with the .45 in his hand. He shot a cop. The cops shot him. They killed him. The cop he shot had only a flesh wound, but now everyone was angry and they couldn’t take it out on Fulbright. So even though Scottie was two months shy of his eighteenth birthday, had no previous record, and had nothing to do with the shooting, the county attorney went for the max, aggravated robbery in the first, forty-eight months. Scottie served thirty-two. Ruined his life. Scottie blamed—

“Lieutenant Dunston,” Honsa said.

“It never occurred to me that I was ratting out a friend,” Bobby said. “Never entered my mind.”

“It’s what got us thinking about becoming cops,” I said.

“You said Thomforde served thirty-two months,” Honsa reminded me. “Yes. Except that was just the beginning. He’s been in and out of prison ever since.”

“Why now? Why wait all these years to get revenge on Lieutenant Dunston?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why is he angry at you?”

“Up until now, I didn’t know he was.”

“McKenzie did him a favor once,” Bobby said. “Before that first jolt in Stillwater, Scottie got into trouble and McKenzie helped him out.”

“Something changed,” Honsa said.

“Something,” I said.