“Ain’t that a kick in the head,” she said.
Shelly Seidel watched me walk to my car, fold my arms over the roof, rest my chin on my wrists, and stare at nothing in particular until she became bored with it and closed the front door of her house, leaving me alone. I wasn’t depressed exactly. Dejected, discouraged, disappointed, certainly, yet not depressed. At least no more depressed than I had been many times before when I left the Metrodome or the X or the Target Center after one of my teams lost the big game. If there was a difference, it was in knowing that the season was over, that there wouldn’t be another game tomorrow.
I had really wanted to find Jelly’s gold, and it stung to learn that it had been lost to me decades earlier, that I had been drawing dead, as the poker players say. Everything I had been through with Ivy and Berglund and Genevieve and Heavenly and Whitlow and Dahlin and Allen and Ted and Wally had been a monumental waste of time and effort and emotional upheaval. You know what—I was depressed. I had the feeling that somewhere Frank Nash was laughing hysterically.
Him and Brent Messer.
I turned my head to the left.
Ahh, c’mon, my inner voice said. Parked about a half block down the street was a beige Toyota Corolla. I had no doubt Allen Frans was behind the wheel. Give me a break, wouldja?
I turned my head to the right. Parked about a half block up the street—and facing the wrong direction—was a red Chevy Aveo with two figures in the front seat. Ted and Wally, my inner voice said. You gotta be kidding me. I admire perseverance as much as the next guy, but now it’s just getting silly.
I stayed there, draped over the roof of my Audi, resting my chin against my arms, and contemplated the many ways I could mess with these guys. There were a few neighborhoods on the East Side of St. Paul and the North Side of Minneapolis where I could strand them—that would be fun. Or I could lead them north to my lake home, get them lost in the woods near the Canadian border. It seemed like more effort than it was worth.
I backed away from the Audi and went into my pocket for my cell phone. I found Timothy Dahlin’s number in my cell’s memory and hit Send.
“It’s over,” I said when he answered.
“What are you—”
“Call off your dog,” I said. “In fact, call off everybody.”
“I have the one letter, the original, that you’re most afraid will fall into someone’s hands. I have copies of all the other letters Kathryn wrote. I have information that reveals who killed Brent Messer. I know what happened to Jelly’s gold. I’m willing to share. Call off Allen. While you’re at it, contact your ghostwriters. I’ll tell everybody everything, and then we can all go back to our humdrum lives. Whaddaya say?”
Dahlin didn’t say anything.
“Seriously,” I said. “Let’s put a period to all of this.”
A few more moments passed. I was getting ready to hang up when Dahlin said, “Yes. I will arrange a meeting of all interested parties. I will call you back.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Dahlin hung up. I returned my cell to my pocket and rounded the Audi to the driver’s side door. First I waved at Allen Frans, then I turned and waved at Ted and Wally. I entered my car, shut the door, and sat there listening to KBEM-FM, the local jazz station, until Dahlin called.