Mr. Tweed opened the passenger door for Hester, walked her to the Audi, borrowed her keys to unlock it, then held the door open as she slid inside. He leaned in and kissed her. She smiled at him. He closed the door, waved as he went back to his car. He started up, but didn’t leave the lot until Hester was under way. Chivalry lives, I told myself.
They both drove west on Selby Avenue but at Dale Hester went north toward the freeway while Mr. Tweed turned south. I followed Hester. A few blocks later she caught I-94 and headed west toward Minneapolis. I replaced the Man in Black with the Brian Setzer Orchestra on the CD player and cranked the volume—a little traveling music.
I stayed five car lengths behind her as she sped past the downtown exits, drove through the Lowry Hill Tunnel, crossed over to I-394, and left the city behind. We stayed on the freeway for over twenty miles, cruising through Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and Minnetonka, passing such landmarks as Theodore Wirth Park, General Mills, Ridgedale Shopping Mall, and the Carlson Companies’ twin office towers, as well as a dozen strip malls featuring generic restaurants and shoe box theaters. The farther west we traveled, the more exclusive the neighborhoods became until we crossed over into Wayzata. Hester left the highway and led me through a maze of twisting streets with barely enough room for two cars to pass, streets with names that ended in Pointe, Wood, View, and Dale. I lost track of the names. It was all I could do to keep up with her. She drove like she had just stolen the car.
We were circling Lake Minnetonka now. The lake is the semi-exclusive province of bankers, corporate raiders, department store owners, and professional athletes with guaranteed contracts. I say semi-exclusive because on any given day the public landings are choked with all manner of pleasure craft brought in by less than well-to-do boat owners who, for an afternoon at least, can get a taste of the good life, their Lund Americans bobbing in the wake of yachts and cigarettes. The swells who actually reside on the lake once demanded an ordinance that would limit access. They wanted to restrict the number of “nonresident” boats allowed, citing noise pollution among other things. The result was a flood of letters to newspapers and local politicians, protest marches, signs that read, “Lake Minnetonka—Please Wipe Your Feet,” and even more boats. Personally, I didn’t see the attraction. There’s no fish in the damn thing.
Finally, we reached a stand of ten mailboxes at the mouth of a gravel road. Hester turned onto the road. A sign just inside warned, DEAD END.
I took a chance and kept following. We passed nine driveways. A brick and metal arch spanned the entrance to the tenth. There was a name written in the metalwork across the top of the arch that I couldn’t read in the dark. Hester swung the Audi under it, setting off a succession of motion detectors as she went—spotlights flicked on one by one, following her all the way to a four-car garage about seventy-five yards from the gravel. I went straight, stopping my car at a black-and-white striped traffic barrier. Real inconspicuous. A concerned citizen probably had started dialing 911 before I turned the engine off. “Officer, there’s a strange vehicle on my private road and I’m sure it’s more than two years old.” I ran back up the road, gravel crunching under my Nikes. The moon was hidden behind a bank of slow-moving clouds but with all the lights, it could have been Yankee Stadium. I watched Hester move to the front door. More lights went on. She unlocked the door and went quickly inside, leaving the door open. It took a few seconds before she returned to close it. Must’ve punched a code into an alarm system, I reasoned. An inside light went on. And off. I waited a few moments and ran across the lawn toward the house. I gambled that anyone alerted by the lights would have stopped watching once they had identified Hester.