Included in the mail was a solicitation for Twin Cities Public Television, a pledge envelope from the Nature Conservancy, and several opportunities for Pen and Sykora to enjoy preapproved, no-annual-fee, fixed-introductory-APR credit cards. There was also a detached portion of a mortgage statement listing Pen’s and Sykora’s account number, how much they owed on the mobile home, and the details of each monthly payment, a health care copay statement that included Steve’s Social Security number, a bill from a local music store—Pen was leasing an electronic piano—and two credit card statements, one in Pen’s name and one in Steve’s. You’d think that being a law enforcement officer, Sykora would have been more careful. I could easily steal his identity with this information, make his life a living hell. Probably Phu had stolen Jacob Greene’s in the same manner.
I studied the credit card statements. Each detailed Pen’s and Sykora’s purchases over the past month. Sykora had used his card mostly to pay for meals. Over half of the restaurants were within walking distance of the Federal Building in downtown Minneapolis. Pen had done a lot of shopping, primarily at Target and Marshall Field’s. Both statements were dated a week earlier and didn’t help. However, at the bottom of the pile of recyclables was a receipt from a motel in Chanhassen, a city in Carver County just down the road from Norwood Young America. The room had been charged to Pen’s credit card.
Why would she need a motel room? Was she cheating on her husband?
I checked the date. It was the same day that I had punched out Danny.
I had seen a lot of motels lately and had come to a conclusion: They’re all pretty much alike. The Chanhassen Inn might have been bigger and pricier than some; it had both a restaurant and a swimming pool. But the rooms were still stacked side by side and one atop the other. Half faced the parking lot and half faced the swimming pool, and I was willing to wager that everything in them was bolted down.
I parked across the street from the motel and went into the lobby. I asked for Frank Crosetti’s room and was informed that he hadn’t checked in and there was no reservation in his name.
“Hmm. He might have checked out already.” I asked the clerk if he had taken a room a few days earlier. She assured me that he had not.
I went to the restaurant next. I didn’t see anyone I knew. My stomach was grumbling—“Hey, remember me?”—and I was tempted to get something to eat. The special of the day—chicken fried steak and gravy—looked a little too iffy for my taste, though, so I told my stomach to quiet down.
I wandered to the pool. It was a large blue rectangle about six feet at its deepest point. Several signs warned NO DIVING just above several others that proclaimed NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY. USE POOL AT YOUR OWN RISK. About a dozen kids risked it, along with two adults who watched them like eagles protecting their young. A few more adults were sprawled out on lounge chairs getting a jump on their tans despite the spring chill in the air. From the look of their pale skin, they had plenty of work in front of them, but after all, it was May in Minnesota. I moved slowly among them, pausing to scrutinize a few of the women carefully. Nope, not Frank. Not Danny.
I returned to the parking lot and debated my options. They didn’t amount to much. All I knew was that Pen had rented a room here the same day I had pummeled Danny. What did that prove? Not a damn thing. But it was the only clue I had, so I decided to stick with it. Sit, watch, and wait. What else could I do?
I returned to the Neon and turned on the radio. I had a good view of the front lobby and the parking lot, and I watched both intently. After a while, the radio began to bore me. It was “drive time,” that period when working men and women were most likely to be driving home, and the DJs were all yukking it up. I’d like to have a short chat with the man who decided that people prefer talk and lame humor over music during morning and evening rush hours, but I didn’t know where he lived. Instead, I switched off the radio. I fantasized briefly about sneaking home to recover my CDs. I had enough that I could listen to music continuously for at least twenty-one days straight and not play the same CD twice. But why stop there? Why not grab my books—one a day for how many years? Three? Four? And movies—at least a month’s worth on videocassettes and DVDs. Better yet, I could just hang out there, eat sno-cones and mini-donuts, and watch Martin Scorsese films until the FBI dragged me away.
You think too much, McKenzie.
I pumped an additional half dozen quarters into the parking meter and waited some more. The chicken fried steak and gravy was just starting to look good to me when I saw him, Danny, walking with a pronounced limp, carrying a tan paper bag with the golden arches printed on it in one hand and a cardboard tray with two soft drinks in the other. He was just there, in the middle of the parking lot—I had no idea where he came from. I left the Neon and dodged several cars as I crossed the street. Danny was heading for a staircase that led to a dozen second-floor rooms. I ran toward him, even as my inner voice spoke to me.
Why would Pen rent a motel room for Danny?
She didn’t, you moron. It was her husband, Steve Sykora, using her credit card.
Why would he do that? The FBI has its own financial resources.
It’s not FBI. Sykora is running an illegal op.
Are you sure?