I took Marshall Avenue west toward Minneapolis, turned off at Mississippi River Boulevard on the St. Paul side of the river, and drove south. With no particular place to go, I reverted back to the time just after I first earned my license and drove simply for the sake of driving. The boulevard was a popular track in those days, especially when we managed to lure girls into the car. Somehow we got it into our heads that following the meandering Mississippi was a romantic drive. Toward the end of the road we’d hit a series of sharp curves. My friends and I used to call them the SOBs—the Slide Over Babies. The idea was that if you took the curves fast enough, the girl would be compelled to slide across the seat and end up next to you, which we always assumed was where she wanted to be anyway. I can’t honestly remember a single instance when this maneuver was successful, but I had friends who swore that it had worked for them. At least that’s how I explained it to the FBI agents who I assumed were hanging on my every word. I could see Bobby in my mind’s eye turning to Shelby and saying, “I would never do anything so crass,” and Shelby giving him her famous I-can’t-believe-I-married-this-guy smile and telling him, “No, of course not.”
I was coming out of the SOBs when my cell rang. I picked it off the seat next to me. The digital display said the call was coming from someone called Gazelle. I could only assume that Gazelle was a woman and Scottie had stolen her phone, but what did I know—Gazelle could have been a bartender at the Gay Nineties.
“Where are you?” his mechanically altered voice said.
“Mississippi Boulevard, near the Ford Bridge.”
“You got a ways to go, then. You know where Parade Stadium is?”
“Parade Stadium,” I said for the benefit of all those listening. “Yeah, I know where it is.”
“Park in the lot.”
After he hung up I said, “Gentlemen, we’re going to Minneapolis.” I spoke loudly, hoping both the body wire and the microphone on my altered navigational system picked it up. I remembered that Honsa cautioned me not to look for his agents. They’ll be around, he said. It didn’t fill me with confidence. After a few anxious moments I added, “If you can hear me, someone beep a horn.” No one did. “God, I hope this works,” I said to no one in par tic u lar.
Parade Stadium was little more than a few bleachers wrapped around a baseball diamond. It had been considered state-of-the-art when it was built in the 1950s. Not so much now. Still, from the parking lot I had a spectacular skyline view of downtown Minneapolis and was within strolling distance of both the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. There were three cars in the lot—two near the entrance and a pale blue Toyota Corolla hatchback near the center. I parked between them, turned off my Audi, and waited.
And waited some more.
I kept twisting in my seat, looking for someone, anyone. There were no pedestrians, not even a neighbor walking a dog, and the only vehicles I spied were zooming along I-394 just north of the stadium. At first I kept a running commentary for the agents I dearly hoped were listening on the other end of the wire. As the minutes ticked by and I became more apprehensive, I stopped talking altogether. I knew Scottie was out there somewhere watching, and I slowly became convinced that he had spotted the tails.
At least twenty minutes had passed by my watch before my cell phone rang. The sound of it startled me. I spoke into it too quickly.
“Yeah,” I said.
“What’s the matter, McKenzie? Nervous?”
“I thought it was Cities 97 and I had just won tickets to see Prince.”
“Talkin’ like that, what, do you think this is a game?” Scottie said. It occurred to me then that he was as nervous as I was.
“You do what I tell you to do and keep your mouth shut.”
Yeah, why don’t you? my inner voice agreed.
“Yes,” I said.
“See the Toyota?” Scottie asked.
“I see it.”
“Park behind it.”
I set the cell on the seat without shutting it down, started the Audi, and drove to the rear of the Corolla. I retrieved the cell and said, “Now what?” My head swiveled from the elegant homes on Kenwood Parkway to the Walker to the Sculpture Garden to I-394. I saw no one.
“Get out of your car.”
I shut off the Audi, opened the door, and slid out. “Now what?” I repeated.
“Take the money out of your car and put it in the backseat of the Toyota. The door is unlocked. Do not get back into your car. I’m watching you, McKenzie.”
I did what I was told. The kidnapper must have been close, because he saw me handling the aluminum cases. “Why three cases, McKenzie?” he said.
“It wouldn’t fit into just one,” I said. “The money weighs seventy-seven pounds.”