Waiting for the Limited

I leaned over to soften my holler, "Shirley ... I need the phone." 

And out came the phone.  I spun the dial according to the number on the note.  Three rings.  A lady's voice answered, "Good afternoon, Mrs. O'Hara's office."

I was rather surprised that the Mrs. O'Hara had her own secretary, but I figured that is the way the well-to-do going about doing things.

"Might I speak with Mrs. O'Hara.?"

"Who's calling, please?"

Now this was a little awkward, so I tried, "Mr. MacKenzie."

"Is she expecting your call/"

i could tell this secretary was in the protective services division.  "Yes, I am returning her call."

"And what is your call in regards to?" 

"Some city business."  it was the best I could come up with on the fly.

I heard a click, then a long silence, then another click.  "Officer MacKenzie, this is Mary O'Hara.  Thank you for returning my call."

"Yes, ma'am.  And my sincerest condolences on your loss."

'I would like to have a chance to ask you some questions, Officer MacKenzie.  And you may then have some questions of me.  I was wondering if you could meet me at the South Station around four o'clock.  I'm seeing friend off at three or so, and I thought we could meet."

I was not all that clear why she needed this cloak and dagger approach but I suppose she had her reasons and I sensed it had something to do with Mr. O'Hara.  "That would be fine."

"I'll be sitting in one of those benches by the big clock, across from the shoe shine stand.  I'll be wearing a yellow dress."

"Of course, you would," I thought.  But instead I said, "I'll see you then.  I'll be wearing a brown tweed jacket."

"Oh, I know who you are Mr. MacKenzie.  And I suspect when you see me you might remember me."


"Thank you, Officer."  And with those words there was a quick hang-up.

I had a little time to do some legwork on one of the other Sunday homicides.  A couple of checks with my street snitches and I could see that it was looking like the work of the mob's debt collection service.  I called Doc to check on the coroner's report.  Yep, the stiff had at least three broken fingers.  I was guessing that he simply ran out of extensions.  Two 38 slugs, one to the back of the head, a kill shot to the heart.  It certainly had the look of the Macready's muscle.  He like thinks quick and clean.

The South Station is quite a place.  And in its early days, it was one of the Queens of train stations.  Since the war, the trains were switching over more and more to commuter rail business, but four times a day, the big trains came in.  The Limited leaving in the morning, arriving in the afternoon, the Alouette to Montreal and the Congressional to Washington.

The Station is one of those places that feels like another world, a world unto itself.  You suddenly have the sense that you are but a figure in some giant's doll house.  It is a beautiful place, especially when that unseen announcer lets his baritone voice echo all around the walls.  "PROVIDENCE, KINGSTON, WESTERLY, MYSTIC, AND ALL POINTS SOUTH."

The famous clock stood about twelve feet tall, made of black cast iron.  It had four giant faces all marked with Roman numerals and a rather prominent WESTCLOX sign.  Around the clock, possibly twenty park benches of a similar black cast iron legs and varnished wood seats. 

The clock told me it was only 3:25.  And I thought, I might as well get a shoe shine.  There was a four seat shoeshine stand, but most of the time only one shoe shine boy, the world famous Shoe Shine Jack.  He had been here since before the war.  Not WW II, WW I.  The shoe shine boy was now a gray haired man with a smile and a whistle that made his over-priced shines well worth the money. 

And for me and other BPD detectives, but especially for me, Jack was a very valuable man to know.

The End

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