“Was that taken here?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” Rosemary said. “It could have been taken—you know, it could have been taken in the booth where you’re sitting now.” For some reason I glanced around as if looking for proof of it. “Most of the photos we have were taken somewhere else by somebody else and we just put them up, but my father says this one was taken right here. He was only a kid when it was taken, but he says he remembers. He says Frank Nash was a very nice man, very polite to him and Grandpa Joe and especially to my grandmother. That’s why they took the picture, because he was such a nice man. They didn’t take pictures of the others. I guess they weren’t so nice.”
“You display the photos,” I said.
“Oh, yes,” Rosemary said. “I was telling you that story. Remember when Geraldo Rivera did that TV special where they opened Al Capone’s vault and there was nothing in it? It was over twenty years ago.”
“I remember,” I said.
“Because of it, some local newspapers and TV stations did stories about the haunts of the old-time gangsters. We were interviewed a couple of times because most of the other businesses from back then, like the old Plantation nightclub on the other side of the lake, had been demolished. Somehow, people got it into their heads that we had stolen money, we had jewelry, we had dead bodies buried in our cellar—”
“Gold?” Nina said.
“Sure, why not? The cellar—it was a dirt floor. A hard-packed dirt floor. Back when Guardino’s was built—that was over a hundred years ago, and they didn’t always lay concrete in the basements. We’d say it was nonsense, but the rumors, they persisted, and while they persisted, we noticed that business increased. So we started to play up the fact that gangsters used to come in—you knew Guardino’s was a great restaurant because Baby Face Nelson ate here, that sort of thing. Later, when we put in a new furnace, we decided to put concrete down, but first we dug up the basement floor. I’ll be darned if we didn’t find a dozen cases of Jim Beam bourbon.”
“No gold,” Nina said.
“No gold, but what publicity. The newspapers came back out, and so did the TV people. My father and I had our pictures taken with the whiskey. People offered us a lot of money for it, too, including the Jim Beam people. Instead, my dad put it on the menu—sixty-five-year-old bourbon—we sold it by the glass, made a fortune. Dad advertised it as Al Capone’s Bourbon; I doubt Al Capone was ever here, but then, you never know, he could have been. Oh, yes. We’ve been promoting the fact that Guardino’s had been a gangster hangout ever since. Bring in customers with the gangsters, keep them with the food—that’s been pretty much our business model.”
“Where did the bourbon come from?” I asked.
“Grandpa Joe buried it in the basement when they passed Prohibition and simply forgot about it.”
Amazing, we all decided. We chatted some more, but nothing much came of it. I ordered the mostaccioli and it was excellent; Nina had grilled chicken cappellini and had to admit it was pretty good as well. Only her heart wasn’t in it.
“We still don’t know where the gold is,” she said.
“We know where it isn’t,” I said. “For example, we know it’s not in the basement of Guardino’s Italian Restaurant.”
“Something else we know.”
“The woman in the photo with Frank Nash that Rosemary showed us—that is not Frank’s wife.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve seen two photos of Frances. She had shortish dark hair and a round face, and she wore glasses.”
“Do you think Frank was cheating?”
“Not necessarily. It could have been anybody—”
“If we find out who his mistress was—”
“Back in those days, people had photos taken with gangsters—”
“Maybe he stashed the loot with her—”
“The way they have photos taken with actors and ballplayers today—”
“She could lead us to the gold—”
“Nina, you’re not listening.”
“What? Yes, I am. We’re talking about Frank Nash’s mistress.”
“We don’t know he had a mistress. Nina, you are taking this way too seriously.”
“I am?” She thought about it, then grinned. “I guess I am, but you know what, it’s fun. Anyway, it’s a lot more fun than most of the stuff you’ve been involved in. No one has been kidnapped or assaulted or killed.”
“I’ll drink to that,” I said.
We clinked glasses and sipped our Chianti, and Nina suggested that we buy a bottle and take it home with us, and I said I thought that was a good idea, and then, as often happens when you’re sitting and smiling and thinking life has been pretty good lately, the phone rang.
“McKenzie,” Ivy said. “Oh God, McKenzie—”
“Ivy, what is it?”
“He’s dead, he’s dead.”
“Who’s dead? Ivy—”
“Josh. They killed him. I was, I was … we came down the corridor … they killed him. They shot him in the face.”