“Then why are you here?”
“You followed Cook to Rickie’s last night,” Bobby reminded me. “You followed him when he left.”
Nina, I told myself. And after all we’ve meant to each other.
“We have video taken by a security camera of you checking Cook’s address in the foyer of his building,” Rask added. “Nice, crisp images.”
“Doesn’t mean I did it.”
“Doesn’t mean you didn’t,” Rask replied.
Bobby said, “You’ve been known to manufacture a little justice of your own from time to time, Mac.”
“Not like that.”
“So you say,” Rask told me.
“Now, Mac …”
“You too, Bobby. You guys come into my house accusing me of murder—I offered you sno-cones!”
Rask took a small, thin plastic bag from his suit pocket. Inside the bag was a business card. My business card. With my cell number written on back. He waved it under my nose and my first thought was that he shouldn’t be handling evidence that way—the bag should have been logged in at the cop shop.
“Talk to me, McKenzie. Talk fast.”
I told when and where I met Cook and I told him what he spoke about. I omitted the part about slamming his face into the wall.
“You followed him,” Bobby said sharply. “Why?”
“To see where he went and who he talked to, why’d you think?”
“Why would he go anywhere or talk to anyone that would interest you?”
I didn’t answer.
Rask crossed his arms and shook his head like he was disappointed in me. “Keep talking.”
“I can’t believe you guys are accusing me of murder.”
“No one’s accusing you,” Bobby assured me.
“Keep talking,” said Rask.
“The last time I saw Cook was around nine last night when he drove his car into the underground garage of his apartment building. Just before that, at exactly eight-thirty, he met with some people in a black van. It was the same van I saw parked outside David Bruder’s apartment building in Richfield. The one he’s renting to the Family Boyz.”
“Who are the Family Boyz?” Rask asked.
“Not that again,” said Bobby.
I told Rask everything I knew about the Boyz, then I spun around to face Bobby.
“Did you get a search warrant like I suggested?”
“Tommy Thompson killed the request.”
“Well, gee whiz!”
“Any other startling news you’d care to impart at this time?” Rask asked, sounding like a wise guy.
“Yeah. I never gave Cook my business card.” I pointed at the plastic bag he still held in his hand. “That’s the card I gave Jamie Bruder.”
There were many more questions. Most centered around the relationship between the Family Boyz, Bruder, and Cook, and their possible involvement in Jamie Carlson’s death. They were questions without answers. Rask wasn’t satisfied until I announced, “You now know everything I know.”
“Isn’t that a pity. We’ll be speaking, again.” He went for the door, reached it, spun toward me. “McKenzie, your fingerprints are on dead bodies all over the Twin Cities.” It was a statement of fact, yet sounded like a threat just the same.
After Rask left, Bobby relaxed his head against the back cushion of the soft leather chair and closed his eyes the way people do when they’re trying hard not to fall asleep. He looked tired and I told him so.
“I am tired.”
“Tired people make mistakes.”
He didn’t reply.
After a few moments, he opened his eyes and said, “I don’t think you killed Cook, just in case you’re wondering. When I learned he was dead I called Rask and told him Cook might be connected to my case and one thing led to another.”
“How did you know I followed Cook to Rickie’s Friday night?”
“The owner told us.”
“How did you know to ask?”
“Jeannie went there to check on Bruder—oh, you’ll love this. I said before that Bruder seemed to be having an affair. He was. With his wife.”
“They would meet at hotels and out-of-the-way restaurants. Meet like lovers instead of married people. Sometimes couples that have just had children do stuff like that. It’s kinda romantic when you think about it.”
“Did you and Shelby ever do anything like that?”
“Romantic love. Doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a serial killer, does it?”
“Maybe, maybe not. His absolute last credit card purchase was for dinner at Rickie’s on the evening Jamie was killed. He dined with a woman who was obviously not his wife.”
“The woman Nina Truhler calls Hester Prynne.”
“The same woman who met Napoleon Cook.”
“We’re going to have to find her.”
“Does the ME have a firm time of death?”
“Between eight and midnight. We know Bruder was at Rickie’s at seven forty-five. That’s the time that was recorded on his receipt. But we don’t know where he went after that. That’s why we would need to find the woman.”