Detective work is a mix of luck, gut instinct, and a whole lot of keep on looking. This morning I would try to track down the restaurant where Miss Yellow Roses got her last meal of pasta and chianti. Lower left hand drawer, the old City of Boston phonebook. Restaurants-Italian. Merely thirty-four. I suppose I'd start with one of the lesser known places, fewer chances of the cheating husband being spotted by friends. I would guess nearer to the Hotel Ambassador than further away. Probably a small family place, more private. Narrowed it down to five.
"Hey, O'Toole. Did we ever get that photo of the O'Hara girl."
"Sure did, MacKenzie, late yesterday afternoon. It's in your box, but of course, you don't check your box."
Third row down, four boxes in, LT. MACKENZEE. That label had been misspelled from day one and never had been corrected. That's city government for you. A notice about the upcoming family picnic, a reminder note that quarterly reviews were coming up. Two tickets to the Red Sox game. Problem was, the game was yesterday. And a white envelope with O'Hara Construction, Inc. boldly printed down the left hand margin. I opened it to find the photo of a very pretty gal, one of those studio poses with her shoulders draped with black cloth.
"Sarge, I'll be out most of the day. you can leave any messages .."
"I know, at Shirley's. Mac, why won't you use a radio like everybody else."
"They make me feel like I'm wearing a dog leash and Galloway is holding the other end.'
"Aw, get out of here you stubborn Scot sot."
The Irish cops always acted as if they owned the place just because most of them had inherited their badges from their fathers and grandfathers before them. As far as they were concerned, Scotsmen needed to go back to England where they belonged. I suppose it is that Scotland Yard thing that Americans hear about.
I thoght it best to hit these places just before the lunch crowd. First stop was a place called Mario's. Now that's original. It was a small place, rather tidy, rather clean, about eight tables. From the looks of the two waitresses and the guy bussing tables, must be a family operation. And from the features they all shared, purebred Italian.
i accepted the invitation to have a table. Surely they'd have to talk with a paying customer.
"Wine, sir. We have a nice Merlot today." I was half-expecting some sort of Italian accent, but it was Boston-ese pure and solid.
I thought I might stay in tune with my mission, "Do you have some chianti?"
"The best, sir. I'll get that for you while you look over the menu."
"Ma'am. I'll just have the chianti and an order of bread today, maybe, a bowl of minestrone."
I could sense a bit of disappointment in her voice. Not much of a tip for Mr. Big-Spender here. But she complied and was charming and courteous.
Her third trip back to the table, I pulled out the photo and my badge, trying to catch both of the waitresses at one time. "Have you ever seen this girl in here?"
Without a pause, I struck gold. "Oh sure, that Benjamin Brown's lady friend.' The shorter of the two answered but then she looked over to the taller, prettier girl for a follow-up.
"Molly, i think he called her. Came in quite often with her, especially on Sunday evenings."
"Was she with Mr. Brown last Sunday?"
Apparently I caught them flat-footed on that question, but the taller one finally remembered, 'No. No she wasn't. She was with an older lady last Sunday. I thought she might be her mother or aunt."
"Did you catch a name?"
Both of them shook their head, "No."
"Do you remember in what kind of car they left in?"
"No, I think the lady was here waiting for her. Wait. Molly was dropped off by a cab."
"A yellow cab," I asked.
"No. I believe it was a Checker Cab. I remember the driver wore one of those goofy hats the Checker guys wear.'
"And the lady. Can you describe her?"
"Taller. Rather slim. Wore her hair up in one of those buns. Used glasses when she ordered. Kind of pretty for an older lady. Sounded like she was an educated woman."
"Well, thank you ladies. you've made my day."
My tip was twice the tab. I figured I owed her that much.