“Why would I do a foolish thing like that?”
“Your quarrel is with me, not the young man.”
“Allen broke into my house. He carried a gun into my home. I take that personally.”
“He was acting at my behest.”
“Isn’t it enough that you have given my name to the police, that you have implicated me in a murder investigation? Isn’t it enough that you have plagued me with discourteous TV reporters?”
I began to laugh. I’m sure Dahlin found my behavior rude, yet the image of Bobby Dunston and Kelly Bressandes asking questions and demanding Dahlin answer them filled me with glee.
“McKenzie, must Allen be made to pay for my sins?” Dahlin said.
“He broke my back door.”
“Of course you will allow me to pay for its repair.”
“Mr. Dahlin, I read Kathryn’s letters.”
“You have them?”
“Had. I gave them to the police.”
“They are evidence in a murder investigation, after all. However, I made copies.”
“I want to see them.”
“You’re welcome to them. Just so you know, though, I’ve read the letters. I’ve done other research as well.” I thought about Warren’s letter to Kinkead and decided to keep it to myself. “I understand why you’re so angry, why you’re desperate to keep your family history a secret. I guess I don’t blame you. Probably I would do the same. The thing is, you have nothing to fear from me. I have no desire to embarrass you or anyone else. I keep telling you that, but you don’t want to believe me.”
Dahlin paused a few moments before he said, “I believe you.”
“What about Allen?”
“What about him?”
“He’s a good boy.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he is. All right. I’ll take care of it.”
St. Anthony became a township in 1861 and a village in 1945. In 1974, the state legislature decided that all of the “villages” in Minnesota would henceforth be designated as “cities.” Most of the townspeople refused to accept the state’s edict, insisting instead on retaining its original name. That is why it is now known to most people as “the City of St. Anthony Village.”
If that wasn’t enough, St. Anthony is divided between two distinct counties. About fifty-five hundred residents live in Hennepin County, and about twenty-five hundred more live in Ramsey County. They pay different property taxes and receive different services. And you thought your hometown was quirky.
I know this stuff because I almost went to work for the St. Anthony Police Department. It was a couple of years ago, and I was still missing my job with the St. Paul cops—missing the action, missing the camaraderie. Bart Casey was in charge, and he was having the same problem as a lot of small suburban departments, retaining his veteran officers. There are only so many slots in a small department, and unless someone retires or gets fired, it’s hard to move up. So a lot of Casey’s officers, once they learned their trade, took better-paying jobs with St. Paul, Minneapolis, or the counties. I met Casey during a murder investigation, and he liked me, liked that I had eleven years and eight months on the job. He offered me a gig as chief of detectives, which sounded much grander than it actually was—the investigative unit numbered only four. Still, I was very impressed with those three words, chief of detectives. I came this close to taking the job. To this day I don’t know why I didn’t.
I met Sergeant Martin Sigford just inside the secured door of the ultramodern, energy-efficient building that housed the police department, city hall, finance department, community center, parks and recreation department, municipal liquor operations, and water treatment plant.
“I’ve been waiting on you,” he said. “Where the hell have you been?”
“Sorry,” I said. “I’ve been busy.”
“Not me. I have nothing better to do than wait on you all day. Anyway, we discovered that the suspect’s name is Allen Frans. Beyond that, he’s not talking. I’m told his big-ticket lawyer is on his way.”
“You still have him?”
“Yeah, I got him in a holding cell. I called your Lieutenant Dunston in St. Paul. The gun we secured isn’t the same caliber as the one that shot Berglund, but Dunston wanted to talk to Frans anyway. Only he isn’t talking.”
“Yeah, about that.”
“Sarge, there’s been a terrible, terrible mistake.”
“You sonuvabitch,” he said.
It occurred to me then why I turned down Casey’s job offer. Independence. I wanted the freedom to use my own judgment. If I had been a cop, I never would have helped Ivy, or messed with Bobby, or made a deal with Dahlin. I never, ever would have considered letting Allen walk. Maybe Bobby’s description to Kelly Bressandes was correct. Maybe I had become an unscrupulous miscreant with morally questionable judgment.
On the way home I called G. K. Bonalay.