I parked down the street where I could watch the front and side of the building. There was a black man in the foyer leaning against a bank of mailboxes and watching out the glass door. A sentry. I took a pair of Bushnell 7 x 25 binoculars I keep in my glove compartment and gave him a hard look. He was cradling what seemed to be—“Geezus”—a Romanian AKM assault rifle. You could tell by the distinctive pistol grips, one behind the banana magazine and one forward. Where the hell did he get that? I asked myself. A moment later, he was joined by another brother who was also carrying an automatic rifle, this one an East German MPiKM. Warsaw Pact ordnance.
Chopper was right about the firepower. The Family Boyz were packed to the max, as the kids would say. I unholstered my last handgun, a Model 85 Beretta .380 with walnut grips and a single line eight-round magazine, and set it on the seat next to me. It didn’t make me feel any safer.
The brothers didn’t seem to have much to say to each other and a few minutes later the East German moved out of sight and the Romanian resumed his vigil. I turned on the AM/FM and tuned it to a classic rock and roll station. Joe Cocker was playing so I cranked it. He was followed by Bob Seger and I left the volume up. Next came a group called Tears for Fears. I turned the radio off. The noise was worse than the jet engines.
I watched the apartment building for another hour, only crime when it’s well run is boring and besides, the airplane noise was really starting to annoy me. “Why would anyone live in Richfield?” I asked myself as I fired up my Cherokee and headed home.
There were no messages on my voice mail so I got right to it, activating my PC and accessing my Internet provider. I have broadband so it didn’t take long.
Few government agencies in Minnesota post public records online. A notable exception is Hennepin County, which posts property information. I accessed its Web site. The home page offered several options. I clicked on Property Address (Quick Search). A new screen appeared, offering me a box in which I typed the Family Boyz’s Richfield address. Execute. The next screen provided me with the apartment building’s property identification number. Execute. I scrolled down the screen and discovered the building’s school, watershed, and sewer district numbers, construction year, tax parcel description, current market value, the date the building was last purchased and for how much, and an updated tax summary. I was also given the name of the building’s fee owner.
David C. Bruder.
My telephone rang.
“Yes?” I answered automatically, not taking my eyes from the computer screen.
“Are you deliberately trying to make this difficult?”
“This kid you killed, Cleave Benjamn.”
“I had no choice.”
“I appreciate that, McKenzie, but it makes you a hard sell. The mayor and city council, they’re pretty open-minded folks—they hired a black police chief for a white community, didn’t they? Only a cop with three killings to his name? I don’t know.”
“Don’t put yourself out, Chief,” I told him, sadly accepting my fate. “I know how it works. A cop gets so much political capital to work with and no more. Don’t waste it on me. You might need it some day.”
“I didn’t say it couldn’t be done.”
“Even I wouldn’t hire me now.”
“Don’t say that. We’ll see what happens. By the time this gets to the grand jury—Christ, two grand juries now—you might be hailed as a hero.”
“How could I not be?”
“Just do me a favor, will you? Stay home and play with your damn ducks.”
“I’ll try,” I told him and he hung up.
How did he know about the ducks?
Bobby Dunston sat on a bench in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul, eating the chili dog I bought for him from the vendor who worked the corner of 5th and Market. Unlike Yu, I didn’t know him by name.
“What’s so damned important?” Bobby wanted to know.
“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
“I’m really not in the mood, McKenzie.”
I told him what I had discovered. He stopped chewing and slowly dabbed the corners of his lips with a napkin—Bobby could be so dainty.
“Landlord to the Boyz,” he said at last.
“How ’bout that?”
“I don’t suppose you saw anyone matching Bruder’s description in or around the premises in question?”
“I’d be happy to say I did if it’ll help you get a warrant, but you won’t need my statement for that. Just surveil the joint for about ten minutes and you’ll see enough to satisfy any judge. It’s a stash pad if I’ve ever seen one and I’ve seen plenty.”
“What do the Family Boyz have to do with this?” he asked himself. He seemed surprised when I answered.
“I find Jamie. Jamie’s husband’s hooked up with the Family Boyz. The Family Boyz try to kill me—twice. Obvious progression.”
“So obvious I can’t see it. Why would Bruder send the Boyz after you?”
“Because I found Jamie,” I repeated.
“I don’t know.” I was just throwing spaghetti at the wall now, seeing if anything stuck.
“You’re making this more complicated than it needs to be. There’s no doubt that Katherine and Jamie were killed by the same man. I don’t have a formal protocol yet, but more and more it looks like Bruder.”