My plain, bottom-of-the-line, gray Ford coupe felt a little disappointing to me after riding in that classy woodie; then again it might be possible that Old Gray had always been disappointed with me. Some might say I was a rather plain and bottom-of-the- line kind of soul. So Old Gray and me will stick with each other. Oh, yes, we might both be a little slow, a little smoky and a little worn, but we'll keep cranking it up, one day at a time, once more.
Now Old Gray and I made our daily late lunch trek to Big Shirley's, my moment of family in my life of lonely. I went in with smiles, but it didn't take long before I had one more hassle in my life. Some overgrown jerk was making his affections known to my sweet Mary.
Mary was calling back to Shirley, "Hey Shirl, come get this guy off me."
"Come on, baby. You know you want a little piece of me."
"No, you *sshole, you want a little piece of me!" With that I had the guy by the collar. his face in the counter, ready to give him the bum's rush out the door. But first things first.
"Mary, what's the man's bill?"
"A dollar and five."
"I grabbed his wallet. Checked his license, "Well, Mr. Thomas Switzer of 420 2nd Street, you are feeling mighty generous. You've just given the little lady a five dollar bill and told her to keep the change. Right?"
There was a grunt of agreement. I returned his wallet to his pocket and returned him to the street.
"No problem, Mary. I'll have the BLT today, extra mayo, please. Hey, Shirley, how's it going, sweetie?"
"If I could keep bums like you outta this fine establishment I might be able to make a living. And thanks, MacKenzie. That guy's always a pain in the rear end."
I loved that brassy red-head. Toughest broad I've ever known, and in my line of work, tough broads cross your path all the time. But in Shirley's case, this tough broad, when it came to her friends, was loyal to the hilt. "No problem, Shirl. Call the precinct if he shows up again."
Mary gave my hand a touch and then in quieter tones, "Thanks, Mac. Why don't I swing by Chang's and we'll have late dinner tonight."
"Sounds good. Now Boo might be entertaining, so you best bring an extra side of shrimp."
"Ah, so Boo has a lady friend."
"Well, then a double date it is."
Mary shared with me all about a recent visit by her little brother, a career Navy man recently stationed in Norfolk. For the most part, I nodded as she told her story and ate my BLT plus my daily ration of Dutch apple pie. I also kept thinking, "I love this woman."