I took a moment just outside the restaurant to take stock of that night. "Where’d the cabbie go? Did he just leave her here? He must have picked her up. But if her boyfriend didn’t show, why did she end up at the Ambassador?"
I decided to check for myself what we were talking about if she did decide to walk from Mario’s to the Ambassador. It took a good twenty minutes and you had to walk through an alley to do that. I just don’t think she walked over.
I checked with the doorman, dressed in his over worn, almost threadbare maroon doorman’s jacket, one of the duster length coats that had some gold curly-q decoration on the sleeves and down the sides. His Hotel Ambassador name tag designated this still sturdy but obviously past his prime bouncer as Colin.
His tipped his hat while he gave me the once over. "Can I help you, sir?"
I brought out my badge which in turn brought an irritated sigh out of the doorman. "Colin ... it is Colin?"
"Yes, sir. And I don’t know anything about that girl that was murdered Sunday."
"Were you working the door that night?"
‘Yea. And I opened the door for her as I did on most Sunday nights."
"She come by cab?"
"No, Officer. She usually is dropped by old Flanagan, but that night some limo dropped her off. Strange though, the driver didn’t get out to open the door for her. That was a bit strange.’
"Did she say anything?"
"No, just her usual smile and nod."
"When did Mr. Brown show up?" I asked.
The doorman stopped in his verbal tracks with that question. I could tell he was trying to figure the best course to take. He opted for the play dumb approach. "What Mr. Brown?"
"Well, Colin, let me ask it this way. When did her usual gentleman caller arrive?"
"That night. He didn’t. For all I know she came all by herself."
Then did you open the door for any strangers?"
"Officer, folks come and go. You fellows already checked the register and I gave the officers as many names as I could remember. There were some fellas that came for the standing Sunday poker game in Room 111. A masseuse came to give somebody a massage. There are always girls coming over to give guys a half hour massage. Two guys delivering some crates for the management. And oh, yea. Some guy from a florist walked up with a delivery. Damn, I forgot about that florist. Usually they double park and make me take the flowers up. This guy walked up. I figured since it was Sunday night, he must have parked in the side lot. Some new guy or a Sunday sub or something. "
With that he asked me to follow him inside so that he could check back in his delivery log. "There it is, I didn’t finish writing it out, must have been distracted by something. I think I was starting to write ‘Any Occasion Florists.’ "
"Are you sure it wasn’t, Miss Prudence?"
"No. Any Occasion."
"Do you recall what he delivered?"
"Are you kidding me, detective? I barely remembered the d*mn florist. I suppose he brought some flowers."
"How long was in the building?" With that, the doorman face lost its color. He couldn’t remember when the florist left, if he did at all.
The doorman could come up with nothing more than, "Oh God. That must have been the guy.’
I followed up, "Colin, do you recall what he looked like?"
"Oh, not a real big fella. Kind of young. Wore a yellow vest from the florist. He had one of those delivery driver caps ... sort like a police officers cap. Deep voice. Mustache. Yea, he had a mustache, real bushy. And had a good size honker too cause I remember thinking he looked a little like Groucho."
"Well, the mustache and nose, that’s all. Carrying a box, one of those long flower boxes. Wait a sec ... he had two of them, exactly the same."
I pulled out one of may cards and as I tucked into his jacket along with a twenty, I said, "Colin, you done good, my friend. Real good." With that I left, regretting that I had done my little walking experiment. But I made it back, grabbing a copy of the Times from the trash can that some three-piece suit had tossed. By then it was time to check in at Shirley’s.
"And calls for me, Mary?"
"Well, MacKenzie. You’re early today. Got bad news by the ton. Three phone calls from Galloway and we’re out of apple pie."
"Got some fresh peach pie.’
I sulked a little which brought a little snicker out of Mary and a mailman sitting near the cash register. "Alright. Coffee, pie, and my messages."
"Ah, MacKenzie. Stop your moping and like the pie."
The pie wasn’t bad. The messages were. The first said, "Call Galloway." Second read, "Still waiting. Call Galloway." The third message had the sound of surrender to it, "D*mn it, MacKenzie, call Mrs. O’Hara. EVE-4454."