In the top of the fourth the door to Cook’s room swung open. He and Hester stepped out, looking no worse for wear. They wasted little time climbing into the Porsche. I glanced at my watch. Eight-oh-two? You’re kidding me? They had been in the room only twenty-nine minutes? I guess passion does burn fast.
The Porsche went south on Snelling. So did I. They made me almost immediately. Cook sped up and slowed down and sped up again. He watched his mirror. Hester turned around to look at me twice. At University Avenue they hung a left, Cook accelerating through the turn. I went straight, hoping he and Hester now felt silly over their unfounded suspicions. I caught I-94 again, exited at Dale and about a mile later parked on the street across from Rickie’s parking lot. I didn’t have to wait long. The Porsche, coming from the opposite direction, soon pulled into the lot and sat idling, its headlights on.
Hester’s door opened. By the interior light I could see her smile seductively at Cook as she slid her fingers across his cheek. She leaned toward him like she was going to kiss him, but didn’t, laughing in his face instead and swinging her legs up and out of the Porsche. She yanked down the hem of her short skirt, then extended her hands high above and behind her head, stretching like she had just awakened from an afternoon nap. The silhouette she created was inviting indeed. In fact, I found the entire performance quite exciting. I especially liked the part where she closed the car door with a bump of her hip—I gave it two thumbs up. Cook apparently disagreed, burning a couple of inches of rubber as he drove off, leaving Hester standing alone in the parking lot. He didn’t even bother to wait until she had unlocked the door to her silver Audi and was safely inside. Miss Manners would have been appalled.
I stayed with Cook. He must have assumed I was a figment of his guilty imagination because he was paying no attention now to what was behind him. He went north on Dale again and west on I-94, crossing the Mississippi River and driving toward downtown Minneapolis. He caught the Fifth Street exit, but stopped midway on the ramp, swinging off into an “accident reduction area,” a kind of wayside rest where accident victims can threaten each other with lawyers without blocking freeway traffic. I was forced to drive past him. Fortunately, there was a meter at the bottom of the ramp and I parked there. My first thought was that Cook had made me again. After a few minutes I realized he was waiting for someone. Perhaps that was why he had been in such a hurry at the motel—he was late for an appointment.
At exactly eight-thirty a black Chevy van pulled up next to Cook’s Porsche. It was identical to the pair parked next to the apartment building the Family Boyz were renting from David Bruder.
What was it Bobby told me? You’re making this more complicated than it needs to be. Right.
Neither driver got out. The vehicles stayed side by side for about five minutes and then the van departed, driving the rest of the way down the ramp. I ducked when the van sped past me. I was tempted to follow it. Instead, I stayed with Cook. He fired up the Porsche and followed 5th Street around the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. After a succession of rights and lefts, he pulled into the underground garage of a thirty-floor tower of apartments and condos overlooking the Mississippi River. I parked on the street and made my way into the well-lit foyer. According to the directory, Cook had a place on the twenty-seventh floor.
I thought of returning to Rickie’s, but decided against it. I’d had enough excitement for the day.
Wondering what Napoleon Cook and the Family Boyz had to discuss kept me up much of the night. However, the next morning the answer seemed clear. They were talking about me. I came to this conclusion because the black van Cook had met was now outside my house, parked across the street and one block down with an unobstructed view of my front door. I noticed it when I bopped outside to get my newspapers.
Bradley Young, Merci Cole, and now this. Why do so many people know where I live? Foolish question. In the computer age, nothing is private.