Roger Stelljes. Smashwords Edition




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10


Where’s Ellsworth?”


Smith and Monica left the safe house in a minivan. Ten blocks away, they pulled into an empty school parking lot and affixed an Airport Ride sign to the side window. Five minutes later they were at the Airport Park & Ride lot. Smith was now wearing stylish rimless glasses, dressed business casual in a navy blue sport coat, a blue-and-white striped, button-down collar shirt, tan cuffed slacks, and sharp, burgundy-tasseled loafers. He dropped out of the van, then reached back to hoist a travel bag over his left shoulder and a nylon laptop case over his right. He pulled out the keys, popped the trunk, and put both items inside, looking like one of the mass of business travelers doing the same thing. He gave the van, and Monica, a quick wave and then ducked into the Impala.

The kidnapper exited the lot and quickly mixed in with the Monday rush-hour traffic, driving east out of St. Paul along Interstate 94, listening to the 5:00 PM top-of-the-hour local newscast on the FM talk radio station. A reporter named Tanya Morgan was currently making a live report from the St. Paul Police Department.

Although the FBI and St. Paul police won’t go on the record, confidential sources have indicated that the two kidnappings appear to be connected. The abductions were conducted in similar matters, and the descriptions of the perpetrators are also similar.”

The program next cut to a statement from the Local FBI Agent-in-Charge Ed Duffy.

We are working closely with the St. Paul Police and other jurisdictions to bring these girls home and the kidnappers to justice.

Smith particularly liked the next question from a reporter.

We’re hearing reports of family members of the police and the county attorney’s office being assigned police escorts. Is this true?”

It was a no-win for Duffy, and his answer spoke volumes.

I have no comment at this time.”

Smith liked the response. The police were most assuredly escorting people around town for safety, which meant fewer people looking for him. A pleasant development indeed. But if Smith liked that question, he loved the last one.

Are the kidnappings over, or do you expect there may be another attempt?”

It was a tough question to answer, but to Duffy’s credit, he didn’t duck it.

We can’t be certain. Everyone needs to be careful until we apprehend the kidnappers. People, particularly women, need to walk in groups. We need citizens to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity. One thing we do know is that the kidnappers tend to lay in wait at places where they know their targets will be. So people should vary their routines. And, if anyone notices any suspicious activity, they should immediately call….”

The FBI man gave the phone numbers, and then the show cut back to the two hosts, who began discussing the kidnappings as if they were experts. While they did, Smith motored south on State Highway 61 and into Hastings, a sleepy town on the far southeastern edge of the Twin Cities metro area. It is nestled into a curve of the Mississippi River as it ran east to join the St. Croix on the border with Wisconsin.

In Hastings, he stopped for a quick drive-through bite to eat, a double cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate milkshake. He enjoyed the warm humid evening. A light southerly breeze moved the tops of the tall oak and maple trees as he drove south into a green sea of southern Minnesota farm country. The cornfields would definitely be knee-high by the Fourth of July. The radio predicted a continuing heat wave, with highs in the nineties and matching humidity. A heavy thunderstorm was forecast for later in the evening, which would be fine with him as long as they got their work done in time.

As he devoured the burger and fries, Smith drove further south on 61 to the tiny town of Miesville. The town was only four or five blocks long and appeared to be deserted. In reality, all of the town’s citizens appeared to be at or heading to the baseball field to see the Miesville Mudhens, the town’s legendary Minnesota townball team. Smith passed the park on his left, a throwback to a bygone era, with a large wooden grandstand and an outfield fence made of signs for every business and in every color of the rainbow. At the last block, he turned right and then left behind two enormous silver silos and stopped. He jumped out and put on magnetized temporary license plates. Back in the car, he turned around, pulled back onto 61 and continued south. Just outside of town, the highway expanded to two lanes in each direction, running parallel to the Mississippi River. He reached the quiet town of Red Wing just after 6:30 PM, and he fell in with the local traffic.

Smith drove through the town and past Red Wing’s historic St. James Hotel. Past the hotel, he took a left, crossing the bridge over the Mississippi River and into the Wisconsin countryside. In another forty-five minutes he meandered into the small town of Ellsworth, where he arrived at 7:30.

In Ellsworth, he drove down the main drag, getting a feel for the rhythm and pulse of the slow and easy small town. The storefronts were mostly closed, except for a few a small restaurants and retail shops, with the odd pedestrian strolling along. Further down, he motored past a set of playfields where kids played baseball and adults relived their youth on the softball fields. He chuckled as he saw a forty-something adult slide into second base, get called out, and jump up and start berating an umpire as if he were playing in the seventh game of the World Series.

Four blocks past the athletic fields, he turned left on a quiet country road heading north out of town. He went three more blocks and found the pay phone in front of the abandoned gas station, across the street from a small, sparsely populated and neglected city park. Smith had found the spot a few weeks earlier on a scouting trip. He pulled up to the phone, which was set at the height of his car window. He then scanned the park across the street, saw what he wanted and smiled. Taking his time, the kidnapper casually pulled on rubber gloves, fitting them tightly. The car idled as he dug into the duffel bag, pulling out the portable voice changer, the Dictaphone and a roll of quarters, which he spent a minute opening. Checking his watch, he noted the time was 7:42 PM.


* * * * *


After working Fat Charlie, Mac and Lich stopped in at police headquarters and picked up a packet of information on the connections between the chief and Hisle. As Mac drove the Explorer over to the chief’s home, Lich scanned the report, fifteen pages long, consisting of the possible suspects, details about the cases and their outcomes, and transcripts of the preliminary interviews.

As the car idled at a stoplight, Lich closed the file. Mac broke the silence. “Anyone on the list fit the mold?”

Lich sighed and shook his head.

Not in an ideal sense.”

Nobody worth a look at all?”

Worth a look? Maybe a few. But this is off-the-top-of their-heads kind of stuff. Hisle’s had hundreds, maybe thousands of criminal clients over the years, as we saw with all those files this morning, so we’ve just started to dig in to all of that. And now we have the chief’s history to work through. So this is only the most partial of lists at this point.”

One thing we probably do know, however,” Mac answered. “The answer lies somewhere in the files. Lyman’s and the chief’s.

True enough. But between those two, we’re going to have a huge shit-pile of people to work through. Chief’s been a cop for thirty years and Lyman’s practiced law for damn near the same amount of time. Their paths have crossed many a time.”

True that is. But somewhere in all of those cases is our connection.”

I’m sure you’re right,” Lich answered, but his voice took on a skeptical tone. “But I look at this list here,” he held up the three-ring binder, “and there are guys in here that may be worth a look but….”

Not exactly blowin’ your drawers off?”

Uh huh.”

Is the list just known connections between Lyman and the chief?”

At this point, yes, just the connections. Cases they both touched or remember touching.”

Mac pondered that approach as he pulled up to another stoplight.

Anything come of the interviews with Hisle’s family and friends?” he asked.

Not that I’ve heard. The FBI and our guys, Double Frank and your cousin Paddy did the interviews. Nobody noticed anything odd or weird. Shannon Hisle hadn’t mentioned anything to her family or roommate. Her roommate, who Hisle’s lived with for two years, reported no strange phone calls, men, vehicles, or anything odd. The roommate says Hisle is paranoid. She was mugged last year walking home from school and is particularly sensitive to people following or watching her. So, according to Paddy, and I quote, ‘Nobody’s seen shit, heard shit, wondered about shit, or noticed shit,’ end quote.”

Well, that’s the same story with Carrie Flanagan.”

Yeah?” Lich asked.

Yeah. Riley said a couple of Duffy’s boys interviewed her roommate, coworkers, and family. Nobody was aware of any problems or noticed anyone odd hanging around. If Carrie was worried about someone, something, anything like what we’re looking for, she hadn’t confided in anyone about it.” Mac shook his head. “We’ve got nothing.”

Hell, we’ve got less than that,” was Lich’s apt reply.

Mac slowed for another stoplight.

All of this makes me raise my question again, do you think Hisle or Flanagan have anything to do with…” Lich started.

No fucking way,” Mac replied. “No way, no how.”

How about a family member who has a grudge? You know, families can have their own weird politics, grievances, hidden hatreds. Maybe one of the girls is in the way of some money, inheritance, whatever. Someone should at least look at it is all I’m saying.”

Carrie’s the youngest child of the chief, and her brothers absolutely adore her. As for Shannon Hisle, I don’t know her well, but I know Hisle has good relationships with his kids. He was something of a single parent since his wife died years ago so he’s close with Shannon and the rest of them. I’ve never hear of any problems.” Mac was quiet for thirty seconds. “I know what you’re saying Dick. Nobody notices anything. These guys take the girls at vulnerable spots and obviously were aware of their habits, schedule, and so forth. So you get to thinking that maybe someone from the family tips them off or gives them the place. But I just don’t buy the family angle. Maybe if it was just Flanagan or just Hisle, I’d be more inclined to think that way, but together? I don’t see it coming from the families, conspiring in this way. I suppose it’s possible, but it just doesn’t feel right.”

You’re probably right partner,” was Lich’s reply. “But somebody should be at least thinking about that angle.”

Mac sighed, “We just thought about it and I talked about it with Riley an hour ago.”

You did?” Lich responded, turning in his car seat.

Yup. You said you like my bullshit detector, and I do too – I trust my gut. But I trust Riles as well, and we walked through it for about ten minutes. We both came to the same conclusion.”

Which is?”

It’s not family. It’s personal. It’s someone or a group of people the chief and Lyman pissed off somewhere along the way.”

So we just have to find the connection then,” Lich replied.

Only one problem with that.”

Which is?”

I don’t think it will be that easy. The connection is going to be complicated, hard to make, and….”

And what?”

I’m not sure we’ll be able to make it in time. If it’s just Shannon and Carrie and nobody else, we’re going to be talking ransom soon and delivery not long after. We don’t have a lot of time. I’d guess twenty-four hours, forty-eight at the most.”

Mac pulled up to the Flanagan house. The chief lived in the Highland Park neighborhood, an affluent section in the southwest corner of St. Paul. A generally tranquil upper-middle-class area filled with professionals of all kinds, it seemed unaccustomed to the mass of police cars and media trucks parked in front of one of its houses.

The chief’s home was a stately two story revival with a red brick exterior, white trim, black shutters and a white portico entrance. It was a classic beauty in a neighborhood of Victorian, Georgian, Colonial, and Cape Cod-style houses built at the turn of the twentieth century. The house was larger and finer that what you would expect for a career cop, even for a chief. However, Charlie Flanagan married well, his wife’s family having earned a significant fortune in logging in northern Minnesota. In addition to the Highland Park home, the chief had a sprawling cabin on Cross Lake on the Whitefish Chain, prime lake real estate two hours north of the Twin Cities.

As they walked in the front door, Mac immediately noted the massive number of cops, active and retired, ready to help at a moment’s notice. The mere number of people present spoke volumes about Charlie Flanagan. In many big cities, there’s separation between the chief and the force, but not in St. Paul. The chief started as a beat cop in the city, moved up to detective, chief of detectives, and, ultimately, chief, where he’d been for the last nine years. He was one of them. Charlie Flanagan never morphed into a police politician. He wasn’t the police chief; he was the chief of the police. He was a cop and always thought of himself that way. Charlie Flanagan always had the force’s back and supported his men without fail, even when it wasn’t the most politically prudent thing to do. The most recent example of the chief’s support was the recent cop shooting and resulting manhunt. The chief never once wavered in his support of his men, Mac and Rock in particular, despite the media and political pressure. However, the support of his men didn’t come without a price – it meant strained relations with the mayor, a politician tiring of trying to keep his chief of police in line.

Peters spotted Mac and Lich’s arrival and quickly pulled them aside into a small side room. The update finished with their trip to north Minneapolis.

So Boone was a washout?”

Waste of time,” Lich answered.

Okay, I need to tell you boys something, and you’re not going to like it,” Peters said. “With the chief indisposed at the moment, the mayor’s put the FBI, and Burton in particular, in charge of this thing.”

What the fuck?” Mac railed.

Political hack,” Lich raged.

I agree with you both,” Peters answered, holding his hands up. “I agree with you, believe me. The mayor’s issue is that he doesn’t want us getting out of control. He’s falling back on the cop shooting and the involvement of you, Rock and Riles. You’re the chief’s boys and he figures you’ll tear the city up to find Carrie.”

Goddamn right,” Mac growled.

Well, that’s what the mayor’s worried about Mac. He wants you corralled.”

How so?”

If you don’t follow Burton’s lead on this, you’ll be off the case. Frankly, if the mayor had his way, you boys would be off it completely already.”

I’m half surprised we’re not,” Lich muttered.

You’re not because the chief raised holy fuckin’ hell,” Peters answered. “And Burton told the mayor he wants you working it, that you guys are too good to waste on the sidelines. He told the mayor you’d work it anyway, so he’d just as soon have you on his side. So the chief has your back and Burton wants you on it. So play nice and we’re good here.”

Nice of Burton to do that,” Lich said. “Maybe he’s not too bad a guy after all.”

So far, so good with him. He’s killing all my FBI stereotypes,” Mac said in agreement and then changed directions. “How’s the chief doing?”

Let’s go see him,” Peters answered, waving them to follow. He led them up the open staircase to the second floor and then the chief’s home office at the back corner of the house. Formerly a bedroom for one of the Flanagan kids, now grown, the room was converted into a well appointed home office with a large mahogany desk and high-backed leather chairs. The chief stood behind the desk, hands in his pockets, slumped shoulders, staring out the window and Mac felt a lump in his throat and his chest tighten.

Charlie Flanagan was like a father to Mac, and Mac like a son to the chief. The chief was with Mac when Mac’s father was killed in a freak hunting accident. Mac was close to his mother and three sisters. But after his father’s death, Mac became part of the Flanagan family and the chief was his father figure. He spoke with the chief about things a young man sought guidance from a father about. It was the chief who was at Mac’s college and law-school graduations, leading the cheers at college hockey games, providing advice on getting married, buying homes or investing money. Mac was close to the chief’s sons and his daughter, his baby girl Carrie. She was twelve years younger than him, but he looked upon her like a little sister. Mac went to her high school events, attended her graduation, and checked out her boyfriends, making sure they were worthy of his adopted little sister. While Mac liked Lyman and had met Shannon a few times, with Carrie and the chief now involved, it had become all too personal. Mac exhaled, steadied himself, and put on his stone game face. He didn’t want the chief to see him as anything other than ready to go.

The office was full. Burton, Duffy, and the mayor quietly chatted in one group, while Riley, Rock, and a few others talked in another. All were waiting for the phone to ring, for the inevitable call to come. Hearing new people entering, the chief turned around. Mac sucked in a breath as the chief slowly approached and gave him a hug, pulled him close and whispered in his ear.

You do whatever it takes, you understand? Whatever it takes.”

Yes, sir,” was Mac’s quiet reply. There was nothing else to be said. The chief pulled back and looked Mac in the eye, and that was that. Mac felt a cool, analytical wave wash over his body. It was time to go to work, and there would be no stopping until Carrie came home.

When the chief walked back to his desk, the mayor eased over next to McRyan.

I assume you know who’s running this investigation,” he said.

Mac stared straight ahead and nodded.

Good. I don’t want any problems,” the mayor added and then walked away. Mac glanced to his right and caught Burton’s eye. The FBI man approached.

How you doing?” Burton asked. “I know you and the chief are close.”

I’m fine, ready to go.”

Listen, don’t worry about your mayor. I want. No wait. Make that, I need you guys working this. They’re coming after cops and the people most important to them,” Burton said and then added darkly. “These bastards are going down for that.”

Mac nodded his approval.

The phone rang.

The chief went to the phone and exhaled, letting it ring twice before answering.

Flanagan.”

We have your daughter,” a now-familiar disguised voice on the other end replied. Everyone was huddled around a speaker phone, the chief on the regular line. Burton motioned with his hands to try to string out the call.

The chief knew how this would play.

How do I know you have her? I want to speak with her.”

There was a click, and then a nervous and slightly muffled voice played on a recording.

Daddy. I… I… I’m okay. I haven’t… been hurt. Please do as these men say and I won’t be harmed. I love you.” The tape cut off. There was no question that it was Carrie Flanagan’s voice.

The mechanical-sounding voice came back.

I trust that answers your question.”

Do you have Shannon Hisle as well? Is she still alive?”

She is. Hisle was the appetizer and your daughter is the main course.”

You son of a bitch, you harm her and I’ll…” the chief growled into the phone, but the look on his face was calm, almost placid. He was doing what he could to keep the call going.

Do as we say, and that won’t be a problem.”

What is it that you want? You want money? You want me? You want Hisle? What is it you want, you mother fucker?”

Money,” the voice answered flatly.

How much? What’s it gonna take to get my little girl back? How much to buy you off you goddamn son of a bitch?”

We’ll be in touch.” The line went dead.

The chief slammed the receiver into the cradle and violently swept the phone off his desk into the wall, turning his back to everyone. Hisle, the only man in the room who truly knew what he was going through, immediately went to him and put an arm around his shoulder.

Mac turned to the agent working the laptop.

It’s a landline from a payphone in Ellsworth. Ellsworth, Wisconsin.”

Call the Ellsworth cops. Call them now!” Burton ordered. The FBI tech did as instructed. “Where’s Ellsworth?”

It’s about forty-five minutes, maybe an hour southeast of here,” Mac answered, knowing generally where the town was. He walked over to the desk where double Frank started unfolding a Minnesota-Wisconsin roadmap, looking for the exact location. Another FBI man was calling the Ellsworth police department. Problem was, they had no idea who they were looking for, what they were driving, anything.

As everyone tried to contact Ellsworth, Mac didn’t feel like waiting. He grabbed Lich by the arm.

We’re going down to Ellsworth.”


* * * * *


Smith drove north out of Ellsworth and worked his way up to River Falls, where he pulled into an empty elementary school parking lot and removed the false license plates. A half-hour later he returned to the Park & Ride, where Monica was waiting. Ten minutes later the two were back at the safe house.

Are things ready to go?” Smith asked Dean.

The girls are ready. They’ll be out for eighteen to twenty hours, so we have plenty of time.”

Equipment and materials?”

Dean opened the back door of the van, and Smith inspected the contents.

As you can see, we’re good to go,” Dean noted confidently.

Good,” Smith replied. “Let’s bring them up and get going out to the farm then. I want to be sure to finish before the storms roll in.”


* * * * *


Unlike Clearwater, which was right off the highway, Ellsworth could only be reached by a circuitous route east on Interstate 94 into Wisconsin and then south on State Highway 63. Mac and Lich worked their way to the abandoned gas station, where a patrol car and sedan were parked with two cops casually sitting on the hood, one in uniform, one with a tie, both smoking. They’d kept it low-key, no lights or crime tape. There was no reason to wake everyone up and draw a crowd.

Mac pulled up and he and Lich jumped out. A forensics team pulled in behind them and started unloading, pulling on rubber gloves, and assembling their gear. The cop with the tie and a sweat-soaked shirt jumped off the hood.

My name’s Kleist, chief here in Ellsworth,” he said. Kleist was a short, squat man with a nose far too large for his face. “Haven’t touched a thing,” he reported, wiping his brow with a red handkerchief. “Heck, there hasn’t hardly been anyone passing by since we got here.”

What did you find when you got here?” Lich asked.

Not much,” Kleist replied, rubbing a finger hard along the side of his nose. “Phone was on the hook. But,” he waved them away from the phone toward a back exit onto the street, which traversed through a patch of bare ground and dirt, “if you look close enough, there appears to be some fresh tire tracks, I’d say car width, maybe a sedan of some type that those guys,” the chief pointed to the forensics team, “might be able to do something with.”

Mac and Lich peered down to the tracks. They were narrow, fresh and definitely from a car. Lich waved forensics over.

Let’s get pictures, maybe even a mold,” he ordered. A forensics tech nodded and started snapping images.

So they’re using vans and cars, eh?” Mac asked.

Looks like it,” Lich answered. “Just another little wrinkle.”

Mac nodded.

He didn’t just drive here and stumble onto this place either. He scouted it.” Mac motioned to the station. “This isn’t a bad spot really. The park looks almost abandoned, just a few homes around with little traffic, foot or car. Make a quick call, hang up, leave, and nobody sees a thing.”

They walked back over to Kleist, who’d returned to the hood of his sedan. “Chief, has anyone gone door-knocking?” Lich asked.

The chief thumbed at the other cop.

He knocked on all the doors before you fellows got here. Only one person was home, and he didn’t see anything, said he was watching the Twins game. I’ve got another one of my men surveying the perimeter of the park and the nearby streets to see if a pedestrian saw anything.”

I know the answer to this question,” Mac said. “I don’t suppose there’s any surveillance cameras, anything like that around here is there?”

Kleist smiled apologetically and shook his head.

Nope. Don’t have the budget for it or the need really. Big night for us might be a fight at the bar, a little speeding or drunk driving, a domestic.”

So if a guy makes a call here,” Mac waved around the area, “and then wanted to leave town, how would he do it?”

Kleist rubbed his nose hard again, and Mac noticed it was redder along the right side. The rubbing must be a frequent nervous tic.

Oh, a guy would have a couple of ways to go I suppose.” The cop pointed northeast, “He could go back up 63 and get onto 94 and head back the way you boys came.”

Or?” Mac asked.

If a feller wanted a more scenic trip, he’d probably go southeast, out along 63 until it finds 10 over yonder, which would take him west to Prescott.” He rubbed the nose again, “or stay south on 63 until he got to Red Wing. In any event, he’d have plenty of….”

Options,” Mac replied, shaking his head. “We know.”

The chief was called away by one of his men.

Lich didn’t miss a beat. “He said, ‘yonder.’”

“‘Feller,’ too,” Mac added. “I love small-town folks.” He shut up as Kleist headed back.

I think I got something you boys might be interested in,” he said. An Ellsworth patrol car pulled up with an elderly man in the back seat, along with a golden retriever. The uniform cop got out and let the man and dog out. The dog came right up to Mac.

Hey there buddy,” Mac said, kneeling down to scratch the pooch behind the ears.

Explain,” Kleist said to the uniform cop.

Henry here,” the uniform said, pointing to the old man, dressed in a striped short-sleeved shirt, plaid shorts, and dark socks, “said he was sitting on a park bench across the street about an hour ago, and… well….” The uniform pointed to the old man. “Tell them, Henry.”

I was sitting on the bench over there.” The old man pointed kitty-corner from the gas station to an old bench with “Ellsworth Lions Club” painted on it in fading letters. “I was taking a rest with Reggie here.” The old man rubbed the dog’s head. “Anyways, I saw this blue sedan pull into that old gas station and park by the pay phone.”

When was this?”

Henry pulled out a tarnished gold pocket watch and flipped the top open.

Oh 7:30, 7:40 or so. Sometime around then.” Mac and Lich exchanged a look.

What kind of car, Henry?” Mac asked.

Chevy I think, one of them new ones, what do they call them, Impalas? I’ve never owned one myself; I’m a Ford man….”

See a license plate number?” Mac interrupted.

I know the letters because they were odd. They spelled ‘cat,’ I think.”

Cat? You mean the letters were C-A-T?”

That’s right,” the old man replied, his glasses sliding down his nose as he nodded. “And it was a Minnesota plate, had the blue color and them pine trees.”

I’m going to call it in,” Lich said, pulling out his cell phone. Mac continued.

How about the driver, you get a look at him?”

Not a good one,” the old man said.

Black or white? Blonde hair or dark hair? McRyan pressed. “Anything like that?”

White, I think,” the old man answered. “I think he had a baseball cap on, but other than that, I didn’t really notice anything.”

And you were sitting on the park bench across the street?”

That’s right young man, right over there. We come through here just about every night at this time.”

Let’s walk over there, okay? You can bring Reggie along.”

Okey dokey,” Henry replied and with his slow gait he followed Mac across the street and away from the abandoned gas station. At the bench, Mac stopped.

Henry, right?”

The old man nodded, “Henry Finkey.”

My name’s McRyan, I’m a detective from St. Paul.”

You’re a Minnesota boy, eh?” Henry replied, mischief in his voice. “I can’t stand them Vikings. You a Vikings fan?”

I am Henry, I am. They’re going to kick the Pack’s tail this year,” Mac replied, sitting down next to the old man and petting Reggie’s snout.

We’ll see about that,” Henry answered. “So what’s this all about?”

I can’t really tell you why this is important, or least not yet sir,” Mac answered.

Does this have something to do with those girls being kidnapped? I figure that must be it. No other reason for a St. Paul cop to be here in little ol’ Ellsworth.”

Mac remained neutral.

Like I said, I can’t say. What I need though is for you to walk me through it again, what you saw. Take a minute if you need, close your eyes, whatever, but I need to know everything.

Henry set himself on the park bench, leaned back, and thought for a minute.

I was out taking my nightly walk with Reggie. We go for a good hour or two walk every night in the summer.”

Okay.”

We usually walk through the park each night, and I like to sit on this bench. This used to be a nice park when I was a kid. I like to just sit and remember good times here.”

So you’re on your walk and you come to the park and sit down?” Mac asked, moving him along.

That’s right, son. I let Reggie off his leash, and he was walking around, doing a little business on some trees, when I noticed the car pull in off the street and up to the phone.”

Then what?”

Well,” Henry stroked his chin and squinted. “Well nothing happened for a minute or two, maybe more. He just sat there idling, which I thought was little odd, I suppose. It caused me to look a little closer I guess. I noticed the car, the plate – you know C-A-T and Minnesota – and then I looked away and back to Reggie. He was getting a little far away, so I called to him. He didn’t come right away, so I had to yell after him a couple of times before he minded and came back to me.”

Then what?”

I put Reggie’s leash back on.”

How long did all that take?”

A minute or two I suppose.”

And the car was still there?”

Sure was, but now the guy in the car was using the phone. I could see the cord from the phone running into the car.”

How long was he on the phone?”

Not long. I didn’t time it or anything, but it wasn’t real long. Then he hung up and pulled on out and he was gone.”

Henry, did you notice anything about the driver? Anything about him?

Henry closed his eyes for thirty seconds but shook his head.

I’m sorry but I just didn’t get a look or notice anything, son. I just didn’t.” The old man look disappointed.

Mac patted him on the knee.

Good job, Henry. You’ve helped us out.”

Lich and Kleist came running across the street, Lich smiling.

We got a hit!” he called.

Stolen vehicle, right? Mac asked.

No,” Lich replied, pulling Mac away from Henry. “No report of it being stolen. There’s one navy blue Impala with the tag letters of CAT.”

And you’re telling me there’s a connection,” Mac said.

Yes.” Lich said. “Dead on the money.”


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