“I’ve been thinking—McKenzie, ever since you left the other day I’ve been thinking about Josh and me. You believe he was lying to me; you believe that he was just using me until he found the gold and then he and the gold would be gone and I wouldn’t have anything. It isn’t true.”
“I’ve learned a few things about Josh during the past couple of days,” I said. “He wasn’t always the most scrupulous guy.”
“You’re wrong about him, McKenzie.”
I came very close to telling her about Genevieve Antonello but quickly changed my mind. What was the point? Instead, I nodded my head as if I might agree with her.
I tossed a penny into the reflecting pool and made a wish. There were two preschool children wading in the water on the far side of the pool while holding the hems of their shorts up with their hands. Their young, well-dressed mother watched them vigilantly from one of the wide pebbled-concrete steps that led to the pool. I guessed that they were waiting for the children’s father, who probably worked in one of the steel and glass towers that loomed overhead, creating the skyline of downtown Minneapolis. The kids were laughing and hopping up and down in the cool water and their mother was smiling and I wished that they would always be as happy as they seemed. I guess I’m sentimental that way.
The mother and her children weren’t the only people seeking relief among the shade trees, angular waterfalls, and cascading fountains of Peavey Plaza. Others also sat on the steps leading to the rectangular pool. Some were catching an early dinner, eating the hot dogs and Polish sausages a street vendor sold from his cart. Others, by the way they craned their necks, were obviously waiting for companions. Still others sat quietly contemplating the water. Perhaps they were waiting for rush hour traffic to clear before heading home, or maybe they were waiting for their heads to clear.
Peavey Plaza is located on Eleventh Street and Nicollet Mall on the south side of downtown Minneapolis, and most people think it’s part and parcel of the acoustically magnificent Orchestra Hall that stands adjacent to it. Certainly the Minnesota Orchestra uses the plaza for many musical events, including its July Sommerfest concert series and Macy’s Twenty-Four Hours of Music, an all-day jam featuring just about every musical genre you could think of and a few you can’t. Actually Peavey Plaza is a Minneapolis-owned park, and most of the bands that play there are hired by the city. Unfortunately, the Tunes at Noon and Alive After Five concerts wouldn’t begin until June.
I wanted to make another wish, only I’d run out of pennies. Instead, I tossed a quarter into the reflecting pool and watched it settle to the bottom.
“You’re wasting your money,” a voice called out behind me. I turned to find Timothy Dahlin standing alone on a pebbled step, his arms flung wide, as if he were claiming the entire plaza for himself. He was short and round and revolved toward me as he eased off the step like the globe on a kid’s desk.
“Why’s that?” I said.
“Wishes don’t come true. I’d think a grown man would realize that. Besides, late at night homeless people, bag ladies, scoop the coins out of the pool and use the money to buy alcohol and drugs.”
He smirked as if I were just too dumb to comprehend what was being said to me and sat on the step. I proved he was correct by tossing the rest of my change into the pool, making half a dozen splashes. He smirked some more.
I moved to where he sat. Dahlin was wearing a suit that probably cost more than my car; his shoes were shiny and unscuffed. So was his face. Dahlin had spent a lot of money to disguise his age, yet you could tell he was fast approaching seventy-five years; you can always tell.
Allen Frans, the young man who had been following me in the Corolla, was sitting two steps up and about ten yards to the left of Dahlin. He was watching me intently. Greg Schroeder was sitting three steps up and about fifteen yards to the right. He was eating a chili dog and acting as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
“I believe you called this meeting, Mr. McKenzie,” Dahlin said. “What can I do for you?”
I gestured toward the young man. “I do not want Allen following me, for one thing.”
Dahlin glanced over his shoulder at the young man. “Does he make you nervous, Mr. McKenzie?”
“Not particularly. I’ve dealt with his sort before.”
“Surely you would not compare Allen to Ms. Petryk’s associates.”
He knows about them, my inner voice said. The man gets around.
“Allen appears a good deal smarter,” I said, “but no tougher. In any case, I find his presence disconcerting.”
“Why should that trouble me?”
“I was thinking of Allen’s welfare. If I catch him following me again, he’s going to get hurt.”