We parked in Testen’s driveway. Mallinger stood for a few moments gazing across the street toward Jail Park. I wondered if she found it as forbidding as I had.

Without comment, Mallinger rubbed her gloveless hands together and headed for Testen’s front door. There wasn’t a single light showing in the house.


Mallinger rang the doorbell and knocked.

She rang the doorbell and knocked some more.

There was no response.

“He’s not home,” Mallinger said.

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“It only now occurred to me, he’s probably at the basketball game,” I told her.

“Just as well. Now that we’re here, we really shouldn’t be doing this.”

“Let’s go talk to the county attorney,” I said.

Behind us, we heard an unexpected voice.

“What would you tell him?”

We turned. The chrome and glass of the Crown Victoria police cruiser glistened under the bright night sky. Beyond that I could see nothing.

“Who’s there?” Mallinger asked.

“What are you going to talk to the county attorney about?” the voice asked.

“Coach? Coach Testen?”

A shadow moved near the corner of the garage.

“Coach, I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“I know. I know what questions you wish to ask.”

The shadow detached itself from the garage and drifted forward. Mallinger moved to meet it. Soon she was standing on one side of the cruiser and the shadow was on the other. I was standing behind Mallinger and to her right. The wind had picked up and was raking my face. Don’t you just love the weather in Minnesota?

“I’m surprised you’re not at the basketball game, Chief,” Testen said.

“I could say the same thing about you, Coach.”

“I’ve seen my share of big games.”

“You were at the biggest game.”

“That’s right.”

“Now that there are four classes, there’ll never be a game as big again.”

“I agree.”

Testen was smiling.

“Why are you here, Chief?” he asked.

“Coach, I’m almost too embarrassed to tell you,” Mallinger said.

“Please do. I won’t be offended.”

“There have been allegations, sir.”

“From whom?” Testen nodded at me. “This gentleman?”

“Among others.”

“Concerning what?”

“Josie Bloom’s murder. A drug called meth.”

“How can I ease your mind, Chief?”

“I like your permission—written permission, if you’ll give it—to search your property.”

“I’d be happy to grant you that permission,” Testen said. “I have nothing to hide.”

Nice touch asking for written permission, I thought. The way the Chief was playing Testen—very professional. Yet it wasn’t getting us anywhere. Coach was too smug, too sure of himself. He had been expecting us, which meant the lab equipment and everything else linking him to Josie—anything that would taint the shrine he had carefully built to himself—was gone, gone, gone. Still, I had a hunch and I played it.

“Chief Mallinger is looking for evidence of methamphetamine,” I said.

Coach smiled at me.

“That is my understanding,” he said.

“I’m searching for the silver locket you took off Elizabeth Roger’s body the night you killed her.”

The smile went away.

“You killed her,” I said. “Elizabeth didn’t find Jack Barrett that night. Instead, she found you. She told you what happened in Josie’s basement and what she had planned. You strangled her to death for it. Didn’t you?”

“There’s no proof to support these spurious allegations.”

“Yeah, there is. Add the locket and it’s a slam dunk.”

“Do you understand what is happening here?” Testen asked Mallinger, his voice climbing the ladder. “Do you fully appreciate what this . . . this gentleman is attempting? Do you, Chief?”


“He’s attempting to destroy the legend, the myth on which this town exists.”

My stomach suddenly had that express-elevator-going-down feeling. There was danger here. I felt it. Mallinger had not. She had been correct at the motel when she told me that no one had taught her how to behave. She stood with her hands deep in the pockets of her jacket, not even thinking about her gun. I couldn’t imagine a St. Paul police officer standing so casually before a suspect.

“Read him his rights,” I said, frantic to get Mallinger’s attention, trying to make her start thinking like a cop.

She glanced my way, but her attention was quickly drawn back to Testen.

“Rights?” Coach asked. “What about the rights of the people who live here? What about the rights of those people who were inspired by what was accomplished here? By what the Seven did, by what they represent? There is virtue here that the world does not often see. Sacrifice and commitment, perseverance and character, strength, and yes, integrity. It is what we teach our children. It is what all of us aspire to. Yet he would defecate on all that. And make us eat it.

“I cannot allow that to happen,” Testen added.

“Coach?” asked Mallinger. She was smart, but not experienced. When the shadow raised its hand and pointed it at her—the hand holding something made of dark metal—she did not move.

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