It was nearly 7:00 P.M. when we walked out of Shelby’s Place, but daylight savings promised us at least another half hour of sun.

“I’ll drive,” I said and led Karen Studder to my Audi 225 TT coupe parked on the far side of Wilder. She circled the light silver sports car, examining it carefully before speaking to me across the roof while shielding her eyes against the setting sun.

“You’re not a cop, are you?” she said.


“I didn’t think so. This car—if you’re a cop and you drive up to 367 Grove Street in this, Internal Affairs would be all over your ass.”

I let the comment slide, although she was right. You don’t see many luxury sports cars in the parking lot of the St. Paul Police Department. I thumbed my key chain to unlock the doors. When we were both safely inside the Audi, Karen said, “I wish I had a car like this. How much does a car like this cost?”

“Fifty thousand dollars.”

“Well, maybe someday.”

I snapped my seat belt into place, and Karen did the same.

“Where to?” I asked.

“You know, we could make this a lot easier on ourselves. Just make some phone calls, call the house, call Scottie’s employers, call his mom…”

“Where to?”

Karen sighed significantly. “His job first,” she said. “See if he’s been in today. Then the halfway house.”

I fired up the engine.

“Do you have a gun?” Karen asked.

“I can get one.”


“Are you sure?”

“No guns.”

“What if …?”

“No guns,” she repeated.

“You’re the boss,” I said.

“Since when?”

I pulled away from the curb. Bobby and Shelby were watching from the window as I drove off.

Karen directed me to I-94 and told me to take the Dale Street exit and hang a left. As I drove, she said, “If you’re not a cop, what are you doing here? Why are you doing this?”

“Call it a favor for a friend.”

“A favor?”


“You do a lot of favors like this, McKenzie?”

“Depends on how you define ‘a lot.’ ”

“Don’t go all Bill Clinton on me,” she said.

“Yes, I do a lot of favors for friends. Usually it’s no big deal. Sometimes it involves an element of, ahh…”




“Because they can’t do it for themselves and I can.”

“They can’t call the cops? They can’t call—”

“An officer of the court?”

Karen hesitated for a beat and said, “I guess I had that coming.”

“No, you didn’t,” I told her. “You’re just trying to do your job, and your job has rules.”

“I’m guessing that you’re the guy who bends them.”

“Something like that.”


“I told you.”

“You told me why people call you for favors. You didn’t tell me why you do them.”

“I used to be a cop. I quit when I became independently wealthy. Only the thing is, I liked being a cop. I liked helping people. I saw a lot of terrible things when I was in harness; I was forced to do some of those terrible things myself, yet I always slept well at night. When my head hit the pillow and I looked back on the day, no matter how crummy the day was, I could always say, ‘The world’s a little bit better place because of what I did.’ It made me feel good; made me feel useful. I used to tell people that I liked being a cop so much that I would have done it even if they didn’t pay me. Now they don’t have to.”

“So you help friends, even at the risk of your own life, because you think you’re making the world a better place?”

“Sounds pretentious as all hell, doesn’t it?”

“Depends on how you define ‘as all hell.’ ”