“Give them back.”
“No. You keep carrying guns”—I gestured toward Heavenly—“to impress the girls and sooner or later someone like me will come along and shove them up your ass. I’m going to do you a favor and hang on to them. Keep you out of trouble.”
I patted Ted’s shoulder twice very hard and stood up. I glanced at him and Wally and back at Heavenly, who was now holding her shirt closed with one hand while pressing the ice pack to her face with the other.
“Kids,” I said.
I returned to my car, this time using the sidewalk to round the block instead of cutting through backyards. On the way, my cell phone rang. At first I thought it might be Heavenly trying a new scam on me. The display told me otherwise.
“Hello, Genevieve,” I said. “How are you?”
“I’m—McKenzie, why did … did you tell the police about Josh and me? Did you tell them that we … that we were … McKenzie?”
The pain in her voice tore at my heart.
“Yes,” I said. My voice was just above a whisper.
“McKenzie, did you?”
“Yes.” I raised my voice and regretted it—it sounded like I was proud of what I had done.
“Why, McKenzie? Why? Do you know how embarrassing, how humiliating … they made me tell it, about Josh and me, made me repeat … oh, McKenzie! They came to the dorm. To Nelson Hall. The police. People saw them. My friends. What if my parents find out? What if … McKenzie, how could you?”
“I’m sorry, Genevieve,” I said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“To help a friend.”
“Someone I’ve known a long time.”
“I thought we were friends.”
“Someone I’ve known longer than you.”
“I am so, so sorry, Genevieve.”
“Sorry.” She spoke the word as if she had never heard it before. “We are taught the power of forgiveness, not only for those who have wronged us, but for ourselves—but McKenzie, I guess I’m just not a very good student.”
I wanted to apologize, whether she forgave me or not. I didn’t get the chance.
“Good-bye, McKenzie,” she said.
Genevieve broke the connection, leaving me standing alone on the street, speaking into a silent phone. I didn’t blame her for refusing to forgive me. I had deliberately hurt one person in order to help another. There was no greater good in it. No wonder God doesn’t kibitz.
Back in my car, I found a number I had stored in my cell phone’s memory and called it. I had to dance with a receptionist and a paralegal before I reached my party.
“G. K. Bonalay,” a pleasant voice said.
“Hi G. K., it’s McKenzie.”
“Hey, McKenzie. How are you? Please tell me you’re not in trouble again.”
“I’m not in trouble again.”
G. K. sighed as if she had been holding her breath. “I’m delighted to hear it,” she said. “So, McKenzie, not that I’m unhappy to hear from you, because I’m always happy to hear from you, but why am I hearing from you?”
“I need the services of a top-notch criminal defense attorney.”
“Not for me, for a friend.”
“Like I haven’t heard that before.”
“I have a hypothetical situation I’d like to discuss with you.”
“Hang on a sec.” I heard the shuffling of paper and the phone being switched from one ear to the other. “Okay, shoot.”
I explained the circumstances as accurately as I could. G. K. asked a few questions and I answered them without embellishment—I had learned a long time ago, when you’re talking to an attorney, be precise. When I finished, I asked, “What do you think?”
“You’re cutting it awfully thin, McKenzie.”
“I know. Can you help me?”
“You mean, can I help your friend,” G. K. said.
“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”
That was all I needed to hear.
True to his word, Bobby Dunston refused to admit me to the offices of the St. Paul Police Department homicide unit. We met outside instead. The James S. Griffin Building was on the east side of the sprawling police campus. The Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center anchored the west side. Between them were the Adult Detention Center and the East Metro Firearms Range. Bobby found me waiting for him next to the tall poles flying the American and Minnesotan flags.
Instead of saying hello, I gave Bobby the carton filled with Kathryn’s letters along with the envelopes they came in complete with post office markings so he wouldn’t think I had been holding out on him. What I didn’t tell him was that I had just spent an hour at Kinko’s making copies of each letter and stashed them in a manila envelope in my trunk.
“So this is what the fuss is all about,” Bobby said.
“The stuff dreams are made of,” I said.
“You read them?”
“Do any of the letters indicate where the gold was hidden?”
“A lot of trouble for nothing.”