“We do not have a confidentiality agreement, you and I,” he said.
“You’re still afraid that I’ll reveal your secrets,” I said.
He didn’t reply. Just stared.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Dahlin leaned back in his chair. I didn’t know if he liked my answer or not.
“There are still so many questions that remain unanswered,” he said. “Questions that I’ll never have the answer to.” To emphasize the point, he pulled out a photograph of Messer and a photocopy of a shot of Frank Nash he had downloaded from the Internet and carefully set them on the blotter in front of him.
“Whom do you think I resemble most?” he said.
I understood in that instant Dahlin’s dilemma, why he originally fired Heavenly and Whitlow, what kept him awake at night. Did Kathryn and James Dahlin conspire to hide his origins because they didn’t want people to know he was Brent Messer’s son, or because they didn’t want them to suspect he was Frank Nash’s son?
I reached for a framed photograph on his desk, a shot of Kathryn and James taken when they were both young and happy and full of life. I set it in front of Dahlin.
“I think you look like this couple,” I said.
Dahlin picked up the frame in both hands and studied the photograph. Without looking up, he said, “People have always told me that I have my father’s strong chin.”
“Good luck to you, Mr. Dahlin,” I said. A few moments later, I left his office, his house, and Sunfish Lake.
I was on Highway 110 heading for 35E and St. Paul when my cell rang. I wasn’t going to answer it until I saw the name on the display. Genevieve Antonello.
“Hello,” I said.
“It’s Genevieve Antonello,” she said.
“Yes, I know.”
“Oh. Umm, Uncle Mike would like to talk to you. He asked me to give you a call.”
“Sure, put him on.”
“He’s wondering if you would drop by the nursing home.” “Now?”
“No time like the present, that’s what Mike said.”
“I take it you’re not there.”
“I’m at Bethel, but I’ll be going over soon.”
“If it’s about Jelly’s gold, I’m afraid there’s not much to talk about.”
“I don’t know. Mike said—if you’re too busy to visit him …”
“Not at all. I can drive right over.”
I asked, “How are you?”
“Fine,” she said.
“You seem upset.”
“Are you still upset with me?”
“Why would I be?”
Because I ratted you out to the cops, my inner voice said. “I’m sorry about the police,” I said.
“I’m sorry, too, Mr. McKenzie. I’m sorry about the things I said before.”
“You have every right to say them and more.”
“Maybe I’ll see you at the nursing home.”
I checked in at the office on the left side of the nursing home entrance, stepping up to the counter and announcing that I was expected. The woman informed me that my name wasn’t on her list. I asked her what it took to get on the list, and she stared at me as if she didn’t know. After a few moments, she announced that she would make some calls. I said I’d wait and moved across the hallway to the chapel. The carpet was a deep red, and it matched the cushions on all the chairs set in neat rows before the lectern. There was a crucifix in a stand on one side of the lectern and an American flag on the other, and I wondered what religion they preached here. Maybe it was just the gospel according to the AARP.
Before long, the woman informed me that I was allowed to go to the commons to meet Mike. I told her I knew where it was, but she accompanied me nonetheless. Mike was waiting for us when the elevator doors opened.
“There he is,” he said. “How you doin’, copper?”
I stepped off the elevator. “Not bad, convict. How are you?”
Michael was grinning broadly. I hurried to his side and shook his fragile hand. He was standing; there was no wheelchair in sight.
“Where are your wheels?” I said.
Mike looked around me at the woman in the elevator; he watched until the doors closed. His smile dimmed as the elevator took the woman down. That should have told me something, but it didn’t.
“Gotta exercise the old legs,” he said. “Use ’em or lose ’em, the docs say. Let’s go inside.”
Mike led me into the commons. I would have taken his arm, given him something to lean on, but he seemed to be moving all right, if a tad slow, and I didn’t want to embarrass him. A pretty young thing like Genevieve could get away with doting on Mike; I doubted he would take it from me.