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I hung up after the call with Maggie, a smile on my face. I asked for my check, then went back to watching the Italian men. Many wore tailored jackets. Nearly all wore beautiful Italian shoes. And those shoes reminded me of Michael and Dez.

I called Mayburn. He answered with a groan.

Whats up with you? I asked.

Time change, he growled. Think about it before you call.

Oh, please. Get up, you lazy ass.

This ass was up late last night. You know how you wanted info about the people who killed your grandfather?

I pulled my notebook closer to me and put a star by item number three. Yeah. Find something?

I thought you were stretching to look that far back, but theres something interesting.

Dont tell me my grandfather isnt dead, either.

No. Sorry to say, two guys did kill him at that gas station. Their names were Dante Dragonetti and Luigi Battista. The cops arrested them, but both escaped from jail before they could come to trial.

Escaped? How did they do that?

I tried to find that out, but the details are sketchy. It looks like they were kept in a simple holding cell in a small town out East, but these guys werent simple criminals. And they probably had help. The authorities think they returned to Naples, where they were from. Tried to extradite them, but they apparently went deep into hiding, maybe changed their names, because the U.S. authorities couldnt prove exactly where they were. So no extradition was ever granted.

And no one was ever tried for my grandfathers murder?


Sad. I drew a line through item number three, thinking about how that must have made my father feel-and Elena and my grandma Oriana-to have those men living free somewhere, the same men who had stopped the life of Kelvin McNeil. Then I looked at number four on my list. Have you ever heard of Louie and Joe Rizzato?

The Brothers Rizzato? Sure. I saw a documentary on PBS about them. Disappeared. Never found the bodies.

Thats the case my dad was consulting on when he died. He was a police profiler for the Detroit police force, but he worked some federal cases, too, and that was one of them.

Mayburn was silent.

What are you thinking? I asked.

Im thinking I better educate myself a bit about the Rizzato Brothers. Call you back.

I left the piazza and walked up a steep street to Palazzo Barberini, where the salone took my breath away. The three-story stone walls were mostly unadorned. The true draw was the fresco on the domed ceiling.

Only one other person was in the salon when I entered, a man lying on his back on one of the four gray chaises in the middle of the room. I sat on another chaise, then feeling a little cautious, I lay back, too. The fresco, called Divine Providence, depicted historic figures frolicking across a luminous, heavenly blue sky. I thought about my father, who always resided in a similar place in my mind-in a beautiful, warmly lit other-universe where he floated about, with no worries, but always able to see Charlie and me, always watching us.

When I left the palazzo, I kept calling Aunt Elena, and eventually I was able to translate the message. It wasnt Elenas voice, I realized, but a standard greeting from the phone company inviting callers to leave their own mes-saggi. Because Elena had seemed skittish when Id spoken to and e-mailed with her from Chicago, I simply left a message, asking her to please call me back. In the meantime, I kept walking around the city, stopping at places I hadnt paid enough attention to before-the Capitoline museum (reached by climbing stairs next to Vittorio Emanuele), the Jewish ghetto, the Napoleon museum by the Tiber river.

On via del Banchi Vecchi, a medieval-looking street, I found a wine bar with a sign out front that only said Vino Olio. It was a tiny place where people spilled onto the sidewalk to smoke. I lucked out and found a single seat at the bar. I sat there and kept checking my cell phone, in vain, for a sign that Elena had called. I didnt want to be rude. I didnt want to just drop in on her, in her city, when she clearly didnt want to see the niece she barely knew, but finally, sitting at the rough wooden bar, I decided to text her this time. I wrote, Hi Aunt Elena its Izzy. Im in Rome.

Fifteen minutes later, as I was making my way through my second glass of Falanghini wine, she called. Oh, cara, she said. Why are you here? She didnt say it in a rude way, but rather in a manner that was both fond and weary.

I swirled my wine, watching the smooth yellow-gold liquid swish against the clear glass. I thought about what to say, decided that there was nothing to say but the truth. To talk about my dad.

A pause. Where are you?

I told her.

I am just leaving work. Do you know this hotel? She mentioned an address.

Id seen it in my strolls. Its a few streets from here, right?

Yes. Mio amico, my friend, runs the hotel. It has a rooftop terrace bar. It is closed for remodeling, but he will let us use it. Meet me there at half past.

I looked at my watch. In twenty minutes? I wanted to make sure I understood.


I said goodbye. I didnt ask why we had to meet on a roof deck that wasnt open to the public. I took another swallow of the wine, but it had gone a little warm and tasted slightly sour instead of refreshing.

I pushed it away, left Euros on the bar and then left to see my aunt for the first time in eight years.

PART II 14 | Red, White & Dead | c