“I said you made your point.”
“This doesn’t need to be an adversarial relationship, Mr. Dahlin. We can help each other if only you get past the idea that this is personal. It’s not. This is about who killed Berglund and about Jelly’s gold. That’s it. I know your monumental ego can’t deal with the reality of it, but I’ll tell you just the same. Nobody gives a crap about you. You could live or die or move to Wisconsin, no one gives a shit. No one cares who your parents were or who they weren’t. No one is trying to embarrass you. You threaten people to protect your name. What name? I could shout it at the top of my lungs and all the people wandering around Peavey Plaza will go, ‘Who?’ Honestly, I don’t get it, why you’re so bent out of shape over this. You’re the one writing a book, another rich white guy screaming, ‘Look at me, look at me.’ If you really want to get noticed, put it in. Tell the world about your parents, about Brent Messer. That’s what’ll get you on Oprah.”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about, McKenzie,” he said.
“Then enlighten me.”
“Are we done here?”
Dahlin was standing now and looking up at Allen and Schroeder. I gestured at Schroeder to lower the Glock. He did, concealing it under his jacket but holding on, ready to draw it again. Why the dozens of pedestrians streaming by didn’t notice that he had been pointing it at Allen and go screaming for the cops I couldn’t say.
Dahlin began walking across the plaza. Allen quickly joined him. I heard him say, “I apologize, Mr. Dahlin. I didn’t see him coming.”
Schroeder and I stood silently until Dahlin and Allen disappeared into the traffic.
“What do you think?” I said.
“This guy, what’s-his-name, Dahlin—he doesn’t strike me as a quitter.”
“No, I don’t suppose he is.”
Schroeder and I lingered in the plaza together for a few minutes, talking it over. When he left I pulled out my cell phone and called Bobby Dunston. He said I’d saved him the trouble of contacting me.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“The log book Ivy Flynn gave us. Turns out Josh Berglund wrote with a nice, strong hand. Forensics was able to raise the letters on the page beneath the one that was torn out. Know what it says?”
“Milk, eggs, bread—”
“It says that he passed the letters on to you.” That’s almost exactly what Dahlin said, my inner voice reminded me. “Berglund wrote that he met SS as scheduled and secured Kathryn’s letters. Then he wrote, and I quote, ‘Passed letters on to McKenzie.’ Do I need to get a search warrant for your house?”
“Honest to God, Bobby, I don’t have the letters. Berglund didn’t pass anything on to me. I only met him the day before he died. Hell, I didn’t even know for sure that Berglund found any letters until this morning.”
I explained what I had learned, pointing out that SS must have been Shelly Seidel. “You should contact her,” I added. “Do you want her address and phone number?”
He did. “If you don’t have the letters, who does?” Bobby said.
“I have no idea—but I do have another suspect for you. Timothy Dahlin. He’s desperate to find the letters, too. He all but admitted that he’d kill for them.”
I told him about my meeting with Dahlin, leaving out only nonessential details, like the presence of Greg Schroeder and his Glock.
Bobby took a deep breath before he replied. “What the hell, McKenzie. Suddenly I’m Inspector Lestrade and you’re Holmes telling me how to do my job?”
“What are you talking about?”
“All these suspects you keep sending my way. Whitlow, the Antonello girl, now Dahlin. Is there something going on I should know about?”
“Bobby, you have a very suspicious nature.”
“Yes, I do. I also know bullshit when I hear it. What are you up to, McKenzie?”
“I’m just trying to help out.”
“Uh-huh. Sure. In the meantime, if you find those letters, you had better call me. I’m not kidding.”
“If I find the letters, I’ll think about it.”
“Don’t go there, McKenzie. It’s deep, it’s dark, it’s cold.”
I didn’t have anything to say to that, so I folded up my flip phone and went on my way.
It was a pretty good crowd for a Thursday night. All the tables on the bottom floor at Rickie’s were filled, and I was willing to bet that the dining room on the second floor was SRO as well. Local chanteuse Connie Evingson was singing jazz up there, and she always drew a crowd.
I found an empty stool at the stick. The bartender knew that Summit Ale was my usual beverage of choice. He also knew not to pour one without asking first. Sometimes I preferred something harder. Like black Jack with water back. The bartender poured the Jack Daniel’s Black Label sour mash whiskey into a shot glass and slid a stein of water next to it. “So it’s been one of those days,” he said.