“Here,” I said and swung the tree branch. All my anger and frustration, all my fear was in the blow as I hit him at the point where his shoulder and neck merged.

I could feel his body give under the force of the blow.

I could hear the sickening snap as his collarbone splintered.

That’ll teach him, my inner voice said.

He staggered forward and dropped to his knees. He brought both hands up to the injured area. He didn’t start shrieking until his fingers felt the bloody tip of the bone protruding through the skin.

He had dropped his gun; I couldn’t see where it had fallen, and that worried me. I grabbed a fistful of the felon’s hair and yanked backward, pulling him well beyond reach of where the gun might be. He fell against his shattered shoulder and screamed even louder.

I was running short of time; surely the neighbors bordering the ravine would hear him and start debating over whether or not they wanted to get involved. The branch was still in my hand, and I jabbed the felon with it. “So you weren’t looking to collect, huh?” I said.

Something resembling words choked out of his mouth. I could recognize only one—“Please.”

I jabbed him again, and his groaning and moaning increased in volume. “What’s your name?” He answered, but I couldn’t understand what he said. I crouched next to him and tried again. “What’s your name?”

He managed to spit out, “Pat Beulke.”

“Who’s shopping the hit on me?”

He said, “I, I, I—can’t,” or something that sounded like that.

I pressed down on his shoulder with the flat of my hand, and he howled like a dying animal.

“Tell me.”

“Dog, Dog, Dog…”

“What?” I leaned closer so I could hear.


“Who’s Dogman-G?”

“Used to be… gang… North Side… Minneapolis.”

“Don’t ever let me see you again,” I said. “If I were you, I’d hide from Chopper, too.”

I tossed the branch away and followed the ravine to Cleveland Avenue. I climbed the hill to the sidewalk and followed it past the tennis courts, just a harmless homeowner taking a midnight stroll through the peaceful streets of Falcon Heights and St. Anthony Park, in case anyone stopped to ask. I probably should have felt guilty about what I had done to the felon, about leaving him unattended in the gully. I didn’t. I didn’t even feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I guess I’m becoming callous as I get older. People trying to kill you will do that.

I took the long way returning to my house, this time heading for the back door. The door was locked, and I took that to mean that the felon hadn’t been inside. Still, I switched on all my lights and went from room to room searching for damage. It didn’t take me long to find Tommy Thomforde. He was lying on his back in the middle of my empty living room. There was a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. I sat on the hardwood floor next to him. Going strictly by touch, it seemed to me that he had been dead for a long time.

“The neighbors aren’t going to like this at all,” I said.

“Don’t you believe in furniture?” Harry asked. I get that question a lot. My father and I moved into the house right after I came into my money, yet I had managed to furnish only a few of the rooms in all that time. No sense rushing into anything, I figured.

“I bought a dining room set last month,” I said.

Harry took a look at it: eight chairs, a table, and a matching buffet hand-carved from rich, dark wood in the 1930s. There was nothing else in the room, not even a painting on the wall. “Pathetic,” he said.

He had me there.

“Just so you know, we found the big white moving van on the East Side,” Harry said. “We found the small red Vibe station wagon inside the big white moving van on the East Side.”

“Did you happen to find my million dollars inside the trunk of the small red Vibe station wagon inside the big white moving van on the East Side?”

“We didn’t, but you know, McKenzie, money can’t buy happiness.”

“It sure hasn’t so far.”

The forensic pathologist announced that they were ready to move the body. “There is no question that he was killed somewhere else and dumped here,” he said, confirming what the rest of us had concluded an hour before he arrived.

“So I’ve got that going for me,” I said.

“Quiet, McKenzie,” Harry said. To the pathologist he said, “Any idea about time of death?”

“Between twelve and twenty-four hours.”

“Geez, Doc, I could have told you that.”

“Do you have a medical degree, Agent Wilson?”


“I see. So you’re just guessing.”

“When will you have something more definite?”

“Call me later today. Much later.”

When the pathologist moved away, I said, “I’ll be curious to learn if Tommy was alive when I was being shot at this afternoon,” I said.

“Did you think it was him at Joley’s?” Harry said.

“I will if you will.”