7244SPrairieAve, Chicago
7244SPrairieAve, Chicago

7244 South Prairie Avenue. We were finally there. The Capone house was for sale, and to keep the curiosity seekers at bay, the only way to get a tour was to show proof that you could afford to buy it. Of course.

But Yolanda and I got a favor. Was it my French accent that got our foot in the door? Or was it Yolanda’s uncanny resemblance to Teresina, Al Capone’s mother, that convinced the real estate agent to grant our request?

A few minutes ago, we were standing at attention in front of the agent’s desk. The address had barely escaped my lips when he glanced at Yolanda and went pale. I don’t know what made me look up the pictures of the Capone family on my phone, but I couldn’t deny the obvious: we wouldn’t have a shot at getting in the door if it weren’t for my “Mama.”

The Capone family had owned the house for thirty years. It had seen Al’s rise, sheltered an entire crime family, and hosted the funeral of Frank, Al’s younger brother. It was not until Teresina’s death that the house left the hands of the Capones to become the stuff of legend.

When I saw Yolanda’s eyes fill with tears in the kitchen, I grudgingly determined to curb my obsession with my idol.

I drove a flustered Yolanda back to my apartment.

A bottle of champagne later, once we were both nice and tipsy, I announced to Yolanda, in a solemn voice tinged with a touch of sadness, that we would take a break from our quest:

“Mama, we’re not going to visit his grave…”

And my Mama, devastated, let out a cry of dismay. She was obviously very upset. And one thing was clear: Our next two historical tours of the Capone legacy, one to Cicero and the other to Miami, were off as well.

Finally, Mama rose unsteadily to her feet and went to the balcony. She regained her composure and asked me to take her to the Green Mill, claiming that the ambience and the music would make her feel much better. I promised we would go that evening.

Yolanda was much more at ease as we approached the Green Mill. I, on the other hand, was less than delighted. My smile had vanished when I spotted Steely Eyes. And Steely Eyes apparently had some sort of influence, because he got us in without a wait.

And there we were, at a table, seated across from two characters straight out of a gangster movie.

To be continued …

Translated from french by Kenneth Barger 🙂