“You told my wife not to.”

“Yeah, your wife. We almost went for her but decided not to. Thought the temptation would be too much, know what I’m saying?”

“We.” He said “we.”

“No, I don’t,” Bobby said.

The caller chuckled. There was something about it. Despite the metallic sound, I knew I had heard the laugh before, only I couldn’t place it.

“Want me to spell it out?” he asked.

“Go ’head.”

More laughter.

“You ain’t tryin’ to draw this out, are you, Bobby? Tryin’ to keep me on the phone longer than I need to be? Maybe you got some people workin’ a trace. Feds maybe.”

“I didn’t call—”

“Yeah, sure. It don’t matter none. If ’n you’re tryin’ for a trace, know that I’m callin’ on a stolen cell phone and I’m drivin’ on the freeway in a stolen car and as soon as I’m done talkin’ I’m throwin’ the cell out the window and ditchin’ the car.”

“What do you want?”

“Just so you know you ain’t dealin’ with no fool, okay?”


“First, you gotta know anything bad happens it’s your kid tha’s gonna get hurt, okay?”

“I understand.”

“Okay, then. Let’s make it simple. You want your kid back, not a scratch on her, it’s gonna cost one million dollars. Simple.”

“A million—I don’t have a million dollars. I have no way of getting a million dollars.”

“Sure you do.”




“Rushmore fuckin’ McKenzie.”


“You ask ’im. Tight the way you guys are, I bet he gives it to you without even battin’ an eyelash.”

“McKenzie isn’t going to—”

“Ask ’im. I’ll call back later.”

The connection was broken. The agent sitting at the table flicked off the tape machine.

“He’s right about the cell phone,” the agent said. “It belonged to a woman who lives in Inver Grove Heights. She thought she had lost the phone a week and a half ago, she doesn’t know where. We were able to triangulate the suspect’s position using the cell provider’s communications towers, but he was moving. He stopped moving the moment the conversation ended. We found the cell in a ditch off Interstate 694 near the intersection with Highway 65.”

My hand went to my own cell phone attached to my belt. I un-clipped it and activated it and searched for the number I wanted using the cell’s memory. I found it easily and hit the call button. My financial adviser was named H. B. Sutton. She lived on a house boat on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River. Only she didn’t answer. I glanced at my watch. It was nearly five. The markets had been closed for two hours. I left a message on her voice mail.

“This is McKenzie. I need cash right away. Call me. Call me right now. I don’t care what time it is.”

I recited my cell number and collapsed the phone. I wasn’t trying to be Joe Cool; wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I just didn’t want Bobby to have to ask for the money. I wanted him to know that he didn’t need to ask.

I slipped the cell into my pocket. Everyone in the room was watching me. I looked at Harry. “What do we do now?” I asked.

“We wait,” Honsa said. “Time is on our side.” He looked Bobby in the eye. His smile was reassuring. “It’s about money.”

Bobby nodded.

We were all thinking about Victoria. “We’re not sexual deviants,” the man had said, and we took him at his word. We had to. The alternative was too terrifying—a freak with a digital camera and a mailing list of pedophiles. We wanted Victoria to be scared when we found her. We wanted her to be angry. We’d even be happy if she was screaming bloody murder. Our greatest fear was that instead she’d have the quiet, vacant-eyed, used-up look of a child who had been drained of her humanity, who was irretrievably lost. I had seen that look in children before. So had Bobby Dunston.

I pointed at the tape machine. “He knows us,” I said.

“Which means we know him,” Bobby said.

“From where?”

“I don’t know. The voice…”

“You can get a decent voice changer off the Internet for forty-nine ninety-nine,” said the agent sitting at the table. I never did learn his name. “This sounds like an ST-JC-007, but that’s just a guess.” I was told later that he was a “tech agent.” It was he who brought all the additional phone lines into Bobby’s dining room. He was also the agent who dealt with the phone companies, setting up traps and traces.

“Even disguised there’s something about it,” Bobby said.

“The patterns, the way he uses words,” I said.

“And the laugh.”

“I know that laugh.”

“We have people at the St. Paul PD pulling files,” Harry said. “We’re in the process of reviewing every case you two ever worked on.”

“Don’t bother,” I said.

“We never worked together,” Bobby said.



“Not once?”