“Look to your right. There’s a green metal trash container that looks like a mailbox with the words ‘waste paper’ stamped in gold on the side. See it? Over.”

“I see it. Over.”


“There’s an envelope taped to the bottom. Why don’t you get it, then come back to home plate. Over.”

Harry disappeared from view as he moved toward the trash container. He returned a few moments later. He had already opened the envelope and was holding two black cassette tapes in his hand.

“I got ’em. Over,” he said into the walkie-talkie.

“The tapes contain conversations between Sykora and Russo and Sykora and his wife that substantiate everything I’ve told you. Over.”

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“Why do I have a feeling these were obtained illegally and are therefore inadmissible in a court of law? Over.”

“If things go badly for me, Brian, I won’t be playing the tapes in a court of law. Over.”

“McKenzie, what have you done? Over.”

“Tomorrow or the next day, the New York Times will be printing a story that says the FBI has Frank Russo in custody, that Russo is helping the bureau build a case against Granata, that the operation is similar to the one you guys ran in Boston against the Patriarca family a few years ago, and that Special Agent Steven Sykora is in charge. Over.”

“Sonuvabitch, McKenzie—”

I broke in on him before he could finish.

“The FBI will deny everything, of course. Over.”

“You can count on it. Over.”

“And because the bureau will then quietly discipline Sykora and arrest Russo and his thugs and make sure they’re tried for the murder of Mr. Mosley, nothing more will come of it. Over.”

Harry let that sink in for a moment. Finally he said, “Let me guess. If these things happen, then the copies that you made of these tapes”—he was examining the cassettes as he spoke—“will be destroyed. Over.”

“That’s exactly what will happen. Over.”

“That’s my boy. Over.”

“If not …”

“You’ll be happy to share with CNN, Fox, National Public Radio, Time magazine,” Harry said over my transmission. “I get the picture. Over.”

“There’s nothing like the threat of bad publicity to get people to do the right thing. Over.”

“And there’s nothing like the threat of bad publicity to get people to do the absolutely wrong thing, either. Have you thought of that? Over.”

“I have. Over.”

“I bet. Over.”

“Something else, Brian. I want the Seeking Information Alert lifted. Over.”

“I can do that. Over.”

“I’d appreciate it. Over.”

“This whole thing pisses me off. Sykora pisses me off. Russo. You piss me off, McKenzie. Over.”

“Yeah? Look at it from my point of view. Besides,” I added before he could speak, “they’re both dirty, Brian—Sykora and Russo. I can’t believe you don’t want them, too. Over.”

“If they’re dirty, I do want them. But I haven’t heard the tapes yet. Over.”

“They’re exactly what I say they are. Over.”

“I’ll listen to them when I get home. Then I’ll talk to my boss. In the meantime, please, please, please, McKenzie, don’t do anything rash, not until we get this thing figured out. Okay? Over.”

“Brian, I promise you, on my word of honor, all I want to do is make this go away. All I want is to go home. Over.”

“Just don’t do anything foolish. Last thing we need is some amateur running around out of control. Over.”

“Who are you calling an amateur, Brian? Over.”

“It’s all right, McKenzie. You can call me Harry.”

The Mall of America took traffic flow seriously. I was able to get out of the ramp and onto the freeway in only a couple of minutes. I hated the idea of returning to the Hilltop Motel. But I didn’t have much choice. I was still a wanted man.

Maybe in a couple of days, I told myself. Yeah, maybe.

Victor was watering his parking lot again when I reached the motel, using his hose to push dirt onto the narrow boulevard. I always thought that was a peculiar thing to do, wash sidewalks and driveways with a hose, but a lot of Minnesotans do it. I was tempted to ask Victor why, but what was the point? Some things will never make sense. Like the scoring system used in tennis.

I settled into my room with ESPN. It had been a good day. Minnesota won and Seattle beat Chicago. I’m not a big fan of the Mariners, although I like Ichiro. When it comes to baseball, I always root for the Twins and whoever’s playing the White Sox.

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