“Don’t even think about it,” I told him.
They insisted I spend the night on their sofa. I didn’t think that was necessary, and I gave them an argument. But the thing is, while I’ve debated successfully with each of them separately, I’ve never been able to stand up to both at the same time.
“McKenzie. Wake up.”
Shelby was leaning over the sofa, shaking my arm. She was wearing a pink off-the-shoulder sleep shirt, and for a brief moment I thought one of my most fervent fantasies was about to come true.
I followed Shelby into the kitchen. The clock on her wall read 6:15. She handed me the receiver of her wall phone.
“It’s Bobby,” she repeated.
“Bobby?” I said into the receiver.
“McKenzie. Are you awake?”
“I am now.”
“You’re in trouble.”
“So what else is new? Where are you?”
“I’m at my desk. Listen. The FBI has just issued paper on you.”
“What do you mean, paper?”
“A Seeking Information Alert.”
“You know what a Seeking Information Alert is. It’s just this side of Wanted, Dead or Alive.”
“I don’t get it.”
“The FBI’s looking for you. Are you sure you’re awake?”
“I am awake. What are you talking about?”
Bobby sighed deeply. Here he was trying to help me, at no small risk to himself, and I was being dense.
“We just received it—a flash e-mail. The FBI has issued a Seeking Information Alert on McKenzie, Rushmore James.”
“What’s it say?”
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is requesting the assistance of all city, county, and state law enforcement agencies in determining the where-abouts of Rushmore McKenzie, a United States citizen last seen in St. Paul, Minnesota. Although the FBI has no specific information that this individ- ual is connected to any potential terrorist activities, based upon information developed in the course of ongoing investigations, the FBI would like to lo- cate and question this person. It comes with a photograph. The photo was taken when you were younger. I hardly recognized you.”
“Why? Why is the FBI doing this?”
“You tell me.”
“I’m not a terrorist.”
“You expect us to take your word for that?”
“That’s not funny, Dunston.”
“Did I say something funny?”
“It’s like when Joe McCarthy was calling people reds. Once he dropped the label on a guy, you were pretty much colored for life.”
I mixed a half dozen obscenities, profanities, and vulgarities into a long, complicated sentence.
“My words exactly,” Bobby said.
“But it doesn’t make sense.”
“Doesn’t it? Think about it.”
I did, for about seven seconds. Finally I said, “The Carver County deputy who caught Mr. Mosley’s murder—before he was taken off the case, he told me that not only had Crosetti disappeared, there was no record that he had ever existed. I asked him who had the resources to make someone vanish like that, and he said, ‘Who do you think?’ I guessed at the time it was the government. Now I know which branch.”
“That’s why Dyke blew me off earlier. The FBI got to him—I bet the guy driving the yellow Mustang was FBI. They’re protecting the man who killed Mr. Mosley. Now they want to pick me up because I’m trying to find him.”
“That’s what I’m thinking.”
“But why? Why would they do this?”
“What do you mean, ask them?”
“How long have we known each other?”
“Several lifetimes. We were legionnaires together under Marcus Aurelius.”
“I need you to listen to me, McKenzie. Are you listening to me?”
“I want you to come in.”
“I am serious. Come in. Now. Before things get out of hand.”
“So the FBI can label me an enemy combatant? Drop me in a hole in Guantánamo Bay—no charge, no lawyer, no rights? I don’t think so.”
“That won’t happen.”
“Why not? What’s going to stop them? The Constitution? C’mon. Bobby, a man was murdered and a woman was raped and the FBI is protecting the guys who did it. Suddenly I’m in the way. What do you think is going to happen if I walk into the Federal Building with my hands up? Hey, guys. I hear you’re looking for me.”
“What’s the alternative?”
“I keep doing what I’m doing now.”
“Or”—Bobby’s voice became softer, more cautious—“you could promise them you’ll be a good little citizen and do exactly what they tell you.”
“Someone has to pay for Susan and Mr. Mosley.”
“I figured you’d say that. Only, Mac, you’re trying to catch someone whose throat you can get your hands around. But it’s not one person. It’s a committee, an organization, a government.”
“One man. You go high enough, you always find one man giving the orders.”