Harry grabbed the top of his head with both hands as if he were afraid it might fly off. “Yeah, I’d call that a mistake,” he said.
“I wasn’t thinking.”
Yes, you were, my inner voice told me. You were thinking how clever you were.
“I’m sorry,” I said, only I wasn’t sure whom I was apologizing to— Harry, Scottie, or Scottie’s mother.
“We all make mistakes,” Harry said, which I thought was very generous of him. “If there’s nothing else, you can go. In fact, I wish you would.”
I agreed and asked for a ride to my car. Harry nodded his head at the tech agent, and the agent fished in his pocket for his keys. We started down the sidewalk toward his vehicle. Harry called after me.
“Don’t ever point your finger at me again.”
The tech agent wanted to talk, but he seemed timid about it. I didn’t give him an opening because I was still upset about Scottie. I was thinking that my careless remark might have cost him his life. While we were crossing the Mississippi River, going west on I-94 into Minneapolis, the agent finally said, “Your friends, Bobby and Shelby. I like them.”
“So do I.”
“They were very cool through all of this. Bobby got a little excited about Thomforde, I know, but other than that—I’ve been in on double-oh-sevens before.”
“Double-oh-sevens?” I said.
“All of the FBI’s files relating to kidnappings begin with the numbers zero, zero, seven.”
You learn something new every day, my inner voice said.
“Anyway, I’ve been on some cases where the family, the husband and wife, they blame each other, accuse each other. You can’t imagine some of the things they say to each other. I appreciate that they’re under a great deal of stress and emotions are near the surface, but you would think, you would hope, that it would bring them closer together instead of tearing them apart. The way they behave—it always reminds me of something that my father used to say when I was playing football. ‘Sports doesn’t build character, it reveals character.’ ”
“My father used to say the same thing,” I told him.
“Families facing a tragedy like this, a missing child, you learn about them in a hurry. What we learned about Bobby and Shelby, they’re all right, they’re going to be all right. I can only hope my wife and I, if something should happen to us, that we’ll be”—he searched for a word, found one—“together.”
“How long have you been married?”
After that, he had plenty to say, mostly about his bride. He had fallen in love with her at first sight—apparently she was a combination of Joan of Arc, Madame Curie, and Scarlett Johansson. I didn’t mind him going on about her. I liked that he was in love with his wife. Going by the divorce rates these days, it seems so few men are.
We took the Lyndale Avenue exit off I-94, drove west on Vineland Place, and eased onto Kenwood Parkway. The tech agent entered the Parade Stadium parking lot, swung his car in a wide arc, and parked directly in front of my Audi. I thanked him for the ride and got out. He waited until I could prove that I was good to go, which I thought was nice of him. I was opening my door when a desperate squeal of tires made me look toward the street. A dark blue Chevy Impala was entering the parking lot at high speed. It accelerated straight toward us, then turned abruptly, moving parallel to where we were parked, like a man o’-war about to deliver a broadside. The cannon—a handgun I couldn’t identify—was held at arm’s length outside the driver’s side window.
“Down,” I shouted and crouched next to my Audi, the car between me and the Impala. Bullets were already flying. I heard two of them slam into the body of my car. Fortunately, they didn’t go all the way through. Anyone who thinks a car will protect you in a gunfight watches too much television—they’re mostly tin and fiberglass, after all. At least eight shots were fired before the Impala turned again and sped toward the parking lot exit, hit the street, and drove west at high speed.
I rose slowly from cover. My senses were supercharged with adrenaline—my eyes and ears were processing too much data, and I was having trouble sorting through it all. I continued to search for the car, to listen for its engine, but it was gone. Finally I pivoted toward the tech agent’s vehicle. “Did you see that?” I asked.
The tech agent was sitting behind the steering wheel and speaking calmly into his handheld radio. “Officer down,” he said, not excited at all—he could have been ordering takeout.