“I can’t afford it.”
Matt kept his attention on Dane, who was shuffling through the picture book, like he was searching for a rare diamond. Squinting at every other face.
“I know it’s tough,” Nick said. “Just pick out the ones that you’re sure of.”
Dane stopped on one page and stared at an image with great intensity. He moved his head to the side, then farther away from the book to get different perspectives. Finally he pointed to a picture and said, “Yeah, that’s one of them. He banged on the hood of my car and waved me through the opening in the fence.”
Nick and Matt looked at each other with disgust on their faces.
Nick sighed, then stood up and ran a hand through his hair.
Dane looked at Matt with a confused expression. “What’s the matter? I did what you wanted me to do. Can’t I go now? You can find this guy on your own.”
Nick glanced at Matt and saw the revulsion running through his bloodstream. Matt slammed the book shut so hard it startled Dane. The kid jumped back in his seat, looking as innocent as possible.
“So the problem is,” Matt said, tapping the closed binder. “The guy you just indentified is FBI Agent Michael Ortiz. He works out of our Minnesota branch.”
Nick watched Dane’s shoulders slump with disappointment. He looked like a kid caught stealing money from his dad’s wallet.
There was a prolonged silence while Dane seemed to come to terms with his situation.
“See,” Matt said, “now we have to go straight back to the beginning with everything. The trust. The motive. Your entire story is now up for interpretation. I know you think you’re going to get over on us but we do this for a living. We hear people lying to us every single day of our lives. And you know how I can tell when you’re lying to us?’
Dane meagerly attempted a shrug.
“You open your mouth.”
Dane’s expression told Nick he was looking for a way out of the door so he could run and hide and live another day.
“Look,” Nick said, taking over for Matt just to give the kid a different perspective. “Those guys out front might’ve left our facility, but they’ll be waiting for you at your house.”
Dane’s mouth opened. “How would they know where I live?”
“I told them.”
Dane sat upright and looked at Matt. “Can he do that?”
“I don’t know,” Matt said. “Let me look into it and get back to you.”
Dan glanced at the security camera showing the empty street where the two supposed Mexicans had been waiting for him. “If I show you where I crossed into the country, will you let me go?”
“You’re much denser than I first suspected you were,” Matt said.
Then a thought occurred to Nick. He placed his hands on the table and leaned over Dane. “You’re lying about the amount of money aren’t you?”
“N-n-o,” Dane stuttered. “I was supposed to get ten thousand dollars at the theatre.”
“You said car wash.”
“Yeah, that’s what I meant. The car wash.”
“Oh boy,” Matt said, shaking his head. “We’re in a world of hurt partner.”
Nick walked over to the door and shoved it so hard it bounced off the door stop and slammed back shut, then opened again. He gestured toward the opening. “Go!” he shouted. “Get out.”
Dane appeared dumbfounded. Unsure of his newly acquired freedom. Then he did the smartest thing he’d done all day. He lowered his head and said, “I’ll tell you the truth.”