"MacKenzie! Telephone. Line 3." So bellowed the desk sergeant.
"Lieutenant MacKenzie. How can I help you?"
The other end of the line was a voice quite familiar, but I didn’t need to try too long figuring out its owner. "Lieutenant, Bill O’Hara here."
"Yes, Mr. O’Hara."
"One of my workers found some of your stuff down at one of the construction sites. Small world, my knowing you and one of my men finding your stuff."
"Yea, small world, isn’t O’Hara," I said, resolving last night’s assault without even trying. "Any chance my getting my stuff back."
"Of course. That’s why I called. How about some coffee?"
"My treat, Mr. O’Hara. How about Shirley’s Diner?"
I could hear O’Hara checking it out with someone on his end, but then he finally said, "That’d be fine. Ten o’clock. That give you enough time?"
"That’ll be plenty, Mr. O’Hara."
We exchanged cordials as would be expected. I found most big money hoodlums tend to get polite when they know they have the upper hand.
I finished up a report about the crime scene and the first few leads. Didn’t include everything but did include what I had learned about who Miss Yellow Roses was hooked up to without much explanation, knowing that I’d be out of there before Galloway could start asking follow up questions. I asked the Desk Sergeant, "O’Toole, give this to Captain Galloway." And I was out the door. There would be questions down the road to answer, but I had learned some good stalling techniques through the years and they served me well.
My half-reliable Ford got me down to Shirley’s but on the way the stupid radio went on the fritz. I hadn’t noticed that someone had snatched off my antennae at some point between last night and this morning. Add to it, the radio knob broke off when I try to give the poor thing a little piece of my mind. When I got out of my car I then stepped in some dog’s morning ritual resulting in a recitation of my most well-practiced cuss words, upsetting a couple of nuns who happened to be walking by. "Boy, it just keeps getting better and better."
I had time for a cigarette before walking in to wait for O’Hara’s arrival. I thought it best to try to pull my soul together a little bit before I really messed up with that goon.
I got the Lucy Strike down to the last few puffs, when up walks O’Hara. "Lieutenant, I hope I’m not late." He knew he wasn’t. He was a good I’ve minutes early.
Though I was always a counter man, but Mary understood that when I was talking business that I would take a booth and she would keep her talk to the barest minimum. As we sat, Blue-Eyed Mary offered one word, "Coffee?" We both nodded and somehow Mary knew that she’d deliver the coffee and nothing more, not even a bill. I’d make good on it later.
Without much foreplay and without much warm-up chit chat, O’Hara pulled from his big pockets of his over-sized jacket, some folded envelopes that looked might familiar. "Yep, one of the fellas found these in a trash pile down by the docks. And he has enough sense to bring them to the office."
I took them without saying much.
But then O’Hara added, "I suppose you’d like to know what I might know. I suppose that’s only fair."
That would be as close to a confession as I was going to get.
"Yes, Mr. O’Hara, I’ve got a splitting headache that says that might make us square."
Sorry about that headache, Lieutenant. Would you like me to get you some aspirin?" He grinned and that grin told me that he was ready to work with me to get the killer of his Molly.
"Lieutenant. You have probably figured out that Molly been seeing this over-priced shyster, Brown. God, his old man was a class act, but that apple rolled along way from the tree. But Molly has always been headstrong. I told her that she was only asking for heartbreak, but she always liked doing what I didn’t like her doing."
"Yea, I hear kids are like that."
"Well, you’re probably thinking, MacKenzie that weasel had something to do with it. Well, if did he didn’t do it with his own hands."
I had to ask, "How’s that."
"Because Mr. Benjamin Brown was with me all weekend over at my place on the Cape. I took him fishing to see if I might persuade him to leave Molly alone. And I had him persuaded, persuaded good, Five thousand dollars persuaded and promise of good health for a long time to come. He was still with me when we got the call Monday morning."
"Where’s Mr. Brown now?" Oh, I sent him to work on some legal work for me in Chicago."
"I’ll need to talk to him."
"Oh, I know. But I’m thinking he’s not going to say much. In fact, I’m pretty sure he won’t. But if you ask me the questions, I am guessing I can get you the answers."
All through this I kept thinking, "This guy has biggest set of brass I think I’ve ever come across."
But out loud I instead asked, "Any ideas where I need to start?"
"Well, Mr. MacKenzie, excuse me, Lieutenant, I think you might want to take cab ride this morning."
"A cab ride, Lieutenant. It just might let you in on some of the local sites of interest.’ He motioned for a bill but Mary waved it off. Still he pulled out a five dollar bill and stuffed it beneath the ash tray. And with that O’Hara departed, the bear of man barely fitting through the narrow aisle. Out the window, I could see a Checker Cab pull up, Cab 46. He flipped up his Off Duty sign and waited.
I took a moment to update my plans with Mary for our Friday date and to give Shirley a razz or two. Mary poured me a coffee to go and I gave her some coins to keep my old Ford secure in his parking place.
"Lieutenant." The old cabbie tipped his cap. As he reached over and opened the back door of his cab, "I bet you would like to have me take you to the zoo."
"Alright. I like the zoo." Granted I was not expecting that would be our first stop on this murder mystery tour. But I was just along for the ride and this old cabbie was somehow going to be my guide. But I like the zoo. I often go there and spend afternoon watching the big cats and monkeys. People are more like the monkeys, but I myself, I'd like to be a tiger. No one messes with tigers and thus they have no need to mess with others.
No matter how hard I try to keep it tidy, my world keeps getting messy.