“Yeah?” asked the bartender.
“Sure. I know this guy who knows this guy who was paired up with Teachwell on a golf course couple years ago when Teachwell was getting a divorce and the guy said that Teachwell told him that the only thing he regretted about his divorce was that he couldn’t visit his brother-in-law’s cabin in northern Minnesota anymore. The guy said that Teachwell said that he enjoyed it up there because it was so isolated, because you could go for weeks at a time without seeing another human being.”
“Hey, Bobby,” I said. “Hear that? Isn’t that what you plainclothes guys call a clue?”
“Leave me alone, McKenzie.”
“Seriously, Bobby. You should go to northern Minnesota and catch this guy. Think how happy you’ll make the feds. They might even give you a new tie to wear.”
“One, there’s no way this guy’s holed up in his ex-brother-in-law’s cabin. He’s probably skipped the country by now. Two, it’s not my case and not my jurisdiction. Three, screw the FBI. And four, I believe this constant reference to my attire is merely a manifestation of your resentment over the inescapable fact that I have been elevated to the dizzying heights of detective while you continue to languish in the lowly ranks of patrolman.”
I chose to ignore the last remark, mostly because it was true.
“It’s your own fault, you know,” Bobby added. “You should never have used a shotgun on that guy.”
I chose to ignore that remark, too.
“I’m just saying, you’re missing a golden opportunity,” I said.
“Think so? Then you go. Catch Teachwell, maybe they’ll promote you to sergeant. They might even give you a nice suit and tie to wear.”
I put two fingers in my mouth, pretending I was going to force myself to vomit. Still, the idea of showing up Bobby was just too delicious to ignore. The next day I did a little research. I discovered that Teachwell had married and divorced a woman named Yvonne Martinson. Yvonne had a brother named Anthony Martinson, a middle manager for 3M. I conducted a property search on the PC and discovered that Anthony had a cabin on Lower Red Lake in the Red Lake Indian Reservation, a dozen miles west of Ponemah and about an hour’s drive from the Canadian border. I had some ATO coming, so I took a day. The sarge asked me what I was going to do and I told him lay on the beach. Since the wind chill was minus 67 degrees at the time, he thought that was pretty funny.
I watched the cabin for what seemed like a long time. Nothing moved except for the white smoke drawing out of the chimney and disappearing in the stiff wind. I began to think that it must be toasty warm inside the cabin and I wanted so much to be warm again. I worked my way to the left, staying low behind the tree line, wishing that I wasn’t dressed in red, until I found what I thought was a blind spot, an angle on the cabin where I wouldn’t be seen from either a side or front window.
I stopped and studied the cabin some more. To my left was Lower Red Lake, a body of water so large that I was unable to see the opposite shore. There were a half dozen such lakes in Minnesota. Plus about fifteen thousand more where you could see the other side and almost nine thousand miles of rivers and streams. In summer it’s glorious. In winter, well …
I counted slowly—“One, two, three”—and dashed forward. I used to have good speed. In high school I ran the hundred meters in 12.4 seconds. Only the snow was too deep for speed. I didn’t run so much as I plowed. I tried to keep my feet up, tried to rise above the snow and mostly failed. Floundering, once falling, I pushed myself forward—I must have made a terrific target, a slow-moving red blob against pure white. The vague fear of freezing was suddenly replaced by something far more tangible—the fear of being shot. It was a fear I had known before.
Finally, I was there. The cabin had been raised on a hill. The rows of cinder blocks supporting the back of it were only one deep, but in front the gray blocks were stacked six high. I slipped under the cabin and fell to my knees on frozen dirt. I took one deep breath. The noise of it distressed me. I quickly covered my mouth with a chopper, hoping my breathing wouldn’t be heard through the floor above.