“What emergency?” the student wanted to know.

“What’s going on?” Scottie said.

“I don’t see any emergency,” said the student.

“What do you want me to do?” I said into the phone.

“Get your car off the bridge,” said the student.

“Throw your cell phone into the river,” said Scottie.

“What?” I asked.

“You heard me,” the student said.

“You heard me,” Scottie said.

“I can’t do that,” I said.

“Do you think you’re something special?” the student asked.

“Throw it in,” Scottie said.

“How are we going to stay in touch?” I asked.

“I have it covered. Now throw the damn phone into the river. Let me see you do it.”

I glanced up and down the bridge. On the west side there were a number of fashionable homes. On the east I could see an auto repair shop and a store where you could get your furniture reupholstered. I didn’t see anyone speaking on a phone; I didn’t see anyone waving from a parked car.

“I’m waiting,” Scottie said.

I held the cell phone above my head for a few beats, then flung it as far as I could. It seemed to hover in the air for a moment, then arch down toward the river. I didn’t watch it fall.

“What are you doing?” the student said. “You can’t pollute the river with your junk.”

“Would you please shut the hell up?” I said. I pivoted away from the railing and moved toward the car. I took two steps before the student grabbed my arm again, taking hold of my elbow.

“I’m reporting you,” he said.

I pulled my elbow free and jabbed him in the face with it, catching him just below his nose. His head snapped back, and his hand quickly covered his mouth; blood trickled through his fingers. At the same time, I stepped toward him, swung my left leg around, hooking my foot behind his right knee, and swept upward. That, plus the weight of his backpack, was enough to put him down. The student hit the sidewalk with a dull thud, coming to rest on top of the backpack. He flailed his arms like a turtle on its back. His upper lip had been torn, and blood flowed down his chin. Some of it got into his mouth when he shouted at me.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m sorry.” I was shouting, too, and pointing my finger. “I’m sorry I hit you, but I haven’t got time to be a nice guy.” I retreated to the Toyota. The drivers queued up behind me seemed relieved when I put it into gear and drove off. I was off the bridge and going east on Franklin when I heard a cell phone ring. It took a few confusing moments before I found it in the glove compartment.

“Yes,” I said.

“I saw you hit the kid,” the voice said. “You must really be pissed off.”

“What now?”

“Getting a little frustrated, McKenzie?”

“What now?”

“Just drive. I’ll tell you where in a minute.”

Scottie rang off. I dropped the phone on the seat next to me and spoke into my chest.

“I don’t know where I’m going,” I said. “He just wants me to drive again. He’s probably setting up the next rendezvous.” I liked that word so much I repeated it. “Rendezvous.” What else would you call it?

“You probably heard what happened on the bridge. I’m sorry about that. I hope I didn’t hurt that guy too much. Some people just don’t know when to mind their own business. I’m concerned, though. Not about the guy on the bridge, the kidnappers. I think they have a plan. What I mean by plan, I think Scottie’s trying to strip me of all my wires. First we lose the GPS and microphone in my car. Now my cell phone. It makes me nervous about what we have left.”

Franklin Avenue continued east to the freeway. I hung a left and then a right and followed University Avenue into St. Paul. I began to feel the way I had on the bridge looking down—the escalating heartbeat, the shortness of breath, the anxiety.

“Driving around like this is starting to get on my nerves,” I said aloud. “Do I dare risk stopping? I don’t have a tail, I’m sure of that. Maybe I should stop. There’s Porky’s Drive-In up a ways on University. I could pull in, sit in the car, have a Cherry Coke, wait for Scottie to call. Do you think I could risk that?”

Porky’s loomed up on my right. I drove past it.

“Maybe not.”