“Thank you. I was named after Mom. Which is odd, I know. You get a lot of sons named after fathers, but not many daughters named after mothers. I’m sure there’s a truly sexist reason for that.”
She thought that was funny and laughed heartily.
“First name and last name?” I asked.
“I kept my maiden name when I married,” she said. “I’m an emancipated woman, McKenzie. Besides, my husband’s name is Geretschlaeger. If you had a choice, would you call yourself Shelly Geretschlaeger? I should say not.”
“Call me Shelly. After all, we’ve been through so much together.”
She thought that was funny, too. I decided I liked her.
“Shelly. I was wondering if you know anything about some letters your aunt Kathryn Dahlin might have written to your grandmother?”
“Oh, goodness gracious, McKenzie. Don’t tell me you want Katie’s letters, too. You’re the third person I’ve spoken to about it in the past three days. What the heck is going on?”
“I’m not sure. Who were the other two—”
“I really can’t talk on the phone right now. I kinda have my hands full. I’m making donuts.”
“You like donuts?”
“I love donuts.”
“Why don’t you come over? We’ll talk.”
“I wouldn’t want to impose.”
“Homemade donuts straight from the deep fryer, McKenzie.”
“I’m on my way.”
I returned the phone book to the man behind the desk—he seemed relieved that I found what I was looking for—and I stepped into the comfortable corridor between the Ronald M. Hubbs Microfilm Room and the Weyerhaeuser Reference Room. My cell informed me that someone had left a voice mail message while I was chatting with Shelly, and I accessed it as I moved to the exit.
A calm voice said, “Mr. McKenzie, the young man delivered your message. I would very much like to speak with you. Call me at your convenience.”
The voice left a number, and I quickly punched it into the keypad. The phone rang twice before it was answered. “This is Timothy Dahlin,” the voice said. It was just as calm as before.
“Mr. Dahlin, this is McKenzie. I was hoping I’d hear from you.”
“It would seem that we have mutual interests, Mr. McKenzie. Would you care to discuss them?”
“I would indeed, Mr. Dahlin. Preferably face-to-face.”
“Would my office suffice?”
“I’d prefer a more public place.”
Dahlin chuckled at that. “Do I frighten you, Mr. McKenzie?”
“You must tell me why.”
“When we meet.”
“Peavey Plaza, just outside Orchestra Hall. It’s in downtown Minneapolis. Do you know it?”
“I’ve been there many times.”
“Excellent. Shall we say five o’clock? There’ll be plenty of foot traffic, people leaving their jobs, so you will feel secure.”
“Five it is.”
Dahlin hung up without saying good-bye.
By then I was stepping outside the History Center and making my way to the parking lot. I found Greg Schroeder’s number in my cell’s memory and hit Call. Sometimes Schroeder answered his own phone, sometimes a receptionist did—it depended entirely on how good business was. This time I had to go through a receptionist (“Schroeder Private Investigations, how may I help you?”) and a secretary (“Mr. Schroeder’s office”).
When I finally got through, I told Schroeder, “Keyhole peeping must be a lot more lucrative than I thought.”
“It’s the Internet,” Schroeder said. “You got your identity theft, illegal spamming, e-mail harassment, downloading of copyrighted material. Plus, you got a serious increase in employee background checks.”
“It’s all good, then.”
“It’s fucking boring is what it is. I spend most of my time looking over the shoulders of these whiz kid geeks working computers; I don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. Tell me you’re calling ’cause you got something good, McKenzie. Tell me you got something fun.”
“If you have anyone free, I could use some air cover.”
“Fuck, I’ll do it myself. What, when, where?”
I gave him the details.
“Do I get to shoot anyone?” Schroeder asked.
“God, I hope not.”
“There’s the possibility?”
You have to like a man who enjoys his work.
Shelly Seidel had already made six dozen cake donuts when I arrived and was intent on making at least six dozen more. Not to mention donut holes. I sat at a table in her bright, spacious kitchen and watched her work. If she had been a dancer, it was many years and about thirty pounds ago. Yet her moves were fluid and smooth as she waltzed from the counter where she was cutting out the donuts to her deep fryer to the table where she set the donuts to cool before slathering them with homemade chocolate frosting.