Shirley's was empty when I finally got there. Only Blue-Eyed Mary and Shirley were there, talking away through that pass-through window that separated Shirley's world from this world. Big Shirley leaning on the window, Mary sitting on the table, they welcomed me on cue, "Hey MacKenzie, you're late!"
"I know. Suppose I'm getting slow in my old age. Looks like things are slow today."
"A bit, I reckon," Shirley said,. "The lunch crowd wasn't too bad, a little slow, but not bad."
Mary hopped down to fetch my coffee. Black. No cream, No sugar. That came from my days in the Navy. "Pie, Mac?"
"Of course. How about a big slice?"
"You'll get what you get. And be happy about it."
Shirley retreated deeper into the kitchen and sounded as if she decided to catch up on some dish washing.
Empty diner, Shirley's preoccupied, I'm here, Mary's in a good mood. In a fit of courage, I decided now or never. "Hey Mary, how about you and me take in dinner and a movie on Saturday?"
As expected my proposition stopped her still. I agonized as I watched her figuring what this sudden romantic move on my part was all about. Then she leaned toward me and said, "Well, MacKenzie, you go play me number 4H on the jukebox and I'll think about it."
I found some comfort in that response, "There's hope."
The jukebox was a low end Wurlitzer, modest size so as to not take up much room in the tight quarters of the diner. "Okay, let's see, 4H. The little card read Unforgettable, Nat King Cole. I loved these jukeboxes, especially how that little arm grabs the correct record, gives it a quarter turn, and sets it to spinning.
Unforgettable, that's what you are
Unforgettable though near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you does things to me
Never before has someone been more
Unforgettable in every way
I listened for awhile to Nat Cole's smooth voice, keeping my eyes off of Mary so as to give her some thinking time. But I had no choice, I had to return and face Mary's music.
Nothing. Not a word.
"Well," I asked.
She teased me for a few seconds more with some silence.
"Okay, Mac. What time you picking me up?"
"How about 7:00?"
"I'll be there."
"Mac, do you need to ask me something else?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you know where I live?"
She pulled the pen from behind her ear, grabbed a napkin, and wrote down her address. 876 Marlboro Street Room 410. I was guessing one of the many rooming houses in Back Bay run by widows of soldiers who never came home from WW II.
"It'll be great, Mary."
"Yea, yea. You best get back to work, MacKenzie, before I change my mind. And don't be going around telling everybody we're going out, you understand?"
"Yes, ma'am. Bye Shirley, Good pie."