“Fuck you. Bobby. You’re gonna—”

Bobby hung up the phone. We all stood motionless, watching him. No one spoke. I couldn’t testify that any of us were even breathing. I had never heard silence so loud. A few moments passed. It could have been hours. Finally the phone rang again. Bobby waited until the third ring before answering. “Yes?”

“Who the fuck do you—?”

Bobby hung up again.

Honsa winced and turned his back so no one could see his expression. I don’t think he and Bobby had rehearsed this part.

Bobby sank slowly into a chair. He gripped the arms tightly and lowered his head until his chin was touching his chest. “Oh God, oh God,” he muttered. “What have I done?” Shelby knelt next to the chair. She wrapped one arm around Bobby’s legs and lowered her head into his lap. Bobby released the chair and draped his arms around her.

“He’ll call back,” I said to no one in par tic u lar. Maybe I was talking to myself.

“Of course he will,” Honsa said.

Einstein once said that an hour spent holding a pretty girl’s hand at a party might seem like only a moment, while a moment spent touching a hot stove might seem like an hour—that’s relativity. For the next ten minutes, we were all sitting on a stove. It was very hot and it was very painful and I, for one, wondered how we got there and how we would get off.

And then the phone rang.

And Bobby answered it.

And Victoria Dunston’s voice said, “Daddy?”

Bobby lost it for the first time. “Oh, Vic, Vic,” he said, his voice choking on the words.

“I’m not afraid,” Victoria said. “I told them I’m not afraid. I told them that they’re the ones should be afraid when you come for them.”

We could hear the kidnapper wresting the phone from Victoria’s hand. “Yada yada, yada. Is McKenzie there?”

“No,” Bobby said.

“Get ’im.”


“Cuz we don’t want no fuckin’ irate father playin’ Superman for his kid, that’s why. You got ten minutes.”

Honsa turned to the tech agent. “Anything?” he asked.

“We only have a general location. It looks like the Badlands again.”

Honsa nodded, and the tech agent was quickly on his feet. “What should I do?” he asked.

“McKenzie,” Honsa said. “Do you have an onboard navigation system in your car?”

“Yes, but I never use it.”

“Give me your keys,” the tech agent said.

“My keys?”


I tossed him my car keys and asked, “What’s going on?” as he hurried out the front door.

“The navigation system has a GPS component,” Honsa said. “If it’s sensitive enough, we can use it to track your whereabouts to within fifteen to twenty meters.”

“My whereabouts?”

“It looks like you’ll be delivering the ransom.”

“I’ll deliver the ransom,” Bobby declared.

“You heard him on the phone. There’s a good possibility that the kidnapper won’t allow it,” Honsa told him. “He’s afraid of you.”

“He should be.”

“We don’t want him afraid, Lieutenant. We want him as calm as he can be. If he asks for McKenzie, we’re going to give him McKenzie.”

“It’s my daughter.”

“It’s not our decision to make,” Honsa said. “It’s Thomforde’s.”

“It’s my daughter.”

“I know.”

I knew, too. This was Bobby’s job, Bobby’s place. He must have thought I was usurping his position in his own family. Only it wasn’t my idea. None of this was my idea.

“It’s all right with me if you deliver the money,” I said. “You can use my car.”

“Your car,” said Honsa. “That’s another thing. Your navigation system has a dashboard microphone that allows you to talk to your computer, that allows you to contact emergency personnel in case of an accident. It works like a cell phone.”


“We’re going to activate the microphone and reroute the signal to our own receivers so we can hear everything that’s said in the car.”

“Talk to us, McKenzie,” Harry said. “You won’t hear us, but we’ll hear you.”

“It’s my daughter,” Bobby repeated. “It’s my job.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Lieutenant,” Honsa said. “Thomforde is calling the tune now.”

“And we’re all going to dance to it?”

“Yes.” Honsa nodded his head emphatically. “Yes, we are. Until it’s time for us to call the tune. Then we’ll make him dance.”

A moment later, the tech agent returned. He was carrying a softsided toolbox. “The car’s ready,” he said. He hefted the box onto the dining room table. He was looking at Honsa when he asked, “Who gets it?”

Honsa was staring directly into Bobby’s eyes when he said, “McKenzie,” and then, “I’m sorry.”

Bobby nodded.

“Take off your shirt,” the tech agent told me.