“Then how do you expect to find him?”
“Do you have a couple of flashlights?”
Sykora glanced toward his mobile home.
I told Sykora we were driving back to the quarry in Elk River. He asked why, and I told him he’d see when we got there.
For most of the drive north Sykora stared out the passenger window of my rented Neon. He felt like talking—maybe it was nerves—and I let him.
“These wiseguys, you stay after them long enough they come to know your name. They start to think of you as an associate, a playmate, a friend—like guys on competing basketball teams who play each other often. They send you gifts on your birthday. Frank, he once sent me a food dehydrator for making beef jerky and dried fruit. Do you believe that?
“When his power play with Granata went south, he sought me out, tracked me down to Minnesota. He offered me a deal—no witness protection, this was supposed to be between just him and me. He said he would help me get Little Al Granata and then he would return to New York and impose his will on the Bonanno family and we could go back to the way it was, me chasing him, like it was a game, cops and robbers. I took the deal.
“My mistake, one of many, I tried to do it on my own. I didn’t want to bring the bureau in until I was ready. I was afraid they would queer the arrangement I had with Frank. I was under strict orders to ignore organized crime and concentrate solely on terrorists, you know. But I had a plan …”
“I know your plan,” I told him.
“Think so? Tell me.”
“The cigarette bazaar this morning. All those immigrants and foreign-born citizens. You bust them all for selling illegal cigarettes, sort them out. Maybe there’s a Somali or a Palestinian who’s using the profits to help fund some group with ties to al-Qaeda, whatever. Then you connect the cigarettes to Granata and accuse him of being in cahoots with terrorists. To hell with due process, you use the Patriot Act and other terrorist legislation to swoop down on him, punch his ticket to Guantánamo Bay. No charges, no lawyers, no rights, who cares? He’s a gangster. The others, they’re foreigners. No one’s going shed tears over them. And you—you’re a hero. Saving the world for democracy. They might even make a TV movie out of it.”
Sykora turned in his seat and looked at me as if I were suddenly interesting.
“Oh, you don’t approve? Well, too bad. We’re trying to make the United States safe. And that means safe from the Mafia as well as terrorist groups.”
“Safe for whom? Mr. Mosley? Susan Tillman?”
I was glad that he didn’t answer, that he turned his head and stared out the window some more. If Sykora had said something about collateral damage, about breaking eggs to make omelets or sacrificing a few to save the many, we probably never would have reached Elk River. At least not in one piece.
Sykora was on my right, sweeping the tall grass and shrubs with his flashlight. We had been at it for five minutes before he asked, “What am I looking for?”
“You’ll know it when you see it.”
“Give me a hint.”
“It’s bigger than a bread box.”
We had driven to the top of the bluff following the same ancient road Frank had used earlier. I parked many yards back from where he had because of an irrational fear that I would accidentally drive the Neon over the edge of the quarry. I blamed it on the acrophobia.
It was slow going. Clouds hid the night sky, and the only illumination came from our flashlights and the headlamps of the Neon. After ten minutes of searching I found my binoculars. I hung them over my shoulder by the strap and pivoted to my right, trying to remember where I had moved after I dropped them that morning. Toward that tree, I told myself, and a little that way, and …
I trained my light on Sykora. He was standing still, his flashlight holding steady on an object in front of him. I moved to his side.
“This is what we were looking for?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Ahh, Jesus …”
Danny seemed smaller now, more like a child than a man, curled into a ball, his limbs locked by rigor. His pale skin reminded me of cold mashed potatoes—not an appetizing sight. The blood on his body had dried, and the blood that pooled beneath it had soaked into the ground and turned a muddy color. Its odor was faint and slightly sweet, like a bad perfume. I set the binoculars on the ground and reached into my pocket for a handkerchief. I unfolded it over my hand and used it to pull Danny’s leather wallet from his pocket.
“Did you do this?” Sykora wanted to know.
I ignored him.
“Jake Greene shot him,” I said.
“Who’s Jake Greene?”
“Some guy from South Dakota.”
I opened Danny’s wallet. His driver’s license was easily readable in a clear plastic sheath.
“Frank said you were here this morning,” Sykora told me.