“Not at all. How are you, sweetie?”
“I’d rather you didn’t call me that.” Yet another thing for me to apologize for. Before I could, she said, “Uncle Mike would like to speak to you.”
There was a pause while the phone was passed from hand to hand.
“Hey, copper,” Mike said.
“What do you say, convict?” I replied, playing along.
“The reason I had Sugar give you a call, if you’re still interested, I remember something else about Jelly Nash. Don’t know why I didn’t remember before.”
“You were asking who might have the connections to dispose of Jelly’s gold. Coulda been a sharper named John Dahlin, guy I heard was big in the construction trades. He used to run with Brent Messer. They were partners or something. Only this Dahlin, he was older and had more balls, I think. Sorry, Sugar.”
There was a muffled sound before Mike continued.
“Yeah, this Dahlin, he was into things. I seen him chinning with Gleckman and Jack Peifer and Chief Brown at different times. Could be he’s the guy you’re lookin’ for. He could have moved Jelly’s gold.”
“Could be,” I said.
Brent and Kathryn Messer, John and James Dahlin, my inner voice said. What a world.
“The reason I remember him was cuz of my trial,” Mike said. “I got to thinkin’ about them days after talkin’ with you. My trial—you knew I got twenty-five years. I ain’t sayin’ I didn’t deserve ’em. ’Cept Dahlin, I was out there takin’ my chances while he was hidin’ in his office makin’ dough offa other people’s hard work, he doesn’t draw so much as a fine. Doesn’t even get indicted. You tellin’ me the fix wasn’t in?”
“No,” I said. “Knowing what I know about St. Paul back then, I would never tell you that.”
“All I can say, if it weren’t for guys like Dahlin, guys like me wouldn’ta been in business very long. Anyway, you should look into it.”
“I will, Mike. I will look into it. Thanks for the heads-up.”
“Don’t forget, me and Sugar each get ten percent of your end.”
“I won’t forget.”
I drove home and fired up my PC. I told myself that if John Dahlin had been Jelly’s fence the gold was a long time gone, which made a search seem more like a wilder goose chase than ever. Besides, so far nothing good had come of it. Ivy was probably in jail by now, and Josh Berglund was dead, and my interest was waning rapidly. Still, I checked the market. I was surprised to learn that the price of gold had jumped in the past few days to $721.37 an ounce. Which meant that Jelly’s gold was now worth $9,233,536.
Well, my inner voice said, it’s not like you have anything better to do.
I started searching Web sites. I learned a lot about James Dahlin, how his company had been a preeminent builder of single-family dwellings and how he personally was instrumental in developing many Twin Cities suburbs following the war. There wasn’t much on his father. That slowed me down. I was contemplating another trip to the Minnesota History Center when I wondered out loud, “If this was 1936 and I was investigating Dahlin and Brent Messer, who would I talk to?”
Family, friends, neighbors, business associates, the cops, of course—and, oh yeah, Ramsey County Attorney Michael F. Kinkead, the man whose grand jury investigation was blown to hell and gone along with Messer. I googled his name. Again I came up empty except for a small entry on the Hamline University Web site. It mentioned that Kinkead’s family had donated his legal papers to Hamline’s law school in 1972, the year the school was founded.
I didn’t relish the idea of spending the rest of what had already been a long day sitting in a library and considered putting off the search until I was rested—say, next week sometime. On the other hand, I reminded myself that what goes up always comes down, and that included the price of gold.