When I arrived at Brown and Keller, she was at her station, behind that mahogany desk, behind that gold leaf nameplate which read L. Devonshire, behind that well-bred smile and that honey voice. "Mr. MacKenzie. How are you this morning? Can I help you?"
"Miss Devonshire. I was wondering if I might have a few moments with Mr. Blake."
"I'm sorry, sir. Mr. Blake is out-of-town today." I thought more words might follow but that seemed to be the extent of the script for the day.
"When might Mr. Blake be expected back in?" I asked.
"Mr. MacKenzie, I really don't know but I wouldn't expect him back until the first of the week. Maybe, Monday."
I pawed a little bit at that suggestion, thinking through where I might go from there, when out-of-the-blue, lightning struck.
Miss Prim and Proper added, "Lieutenant MacKenzie, possibly I might help be able to help." She then slipped my way one of their firm's tri-fold brochure. Opening it, I found a note. I take the 5:15 L-Bus home to Jackson. Would love some company."
"Hmm." I wasn't sure what I had here, but I assumed this chosen method of communication was for either purposes of security or propriety. either way, I figured it was worth my cooperation.
"Well, Miss Devonshire. I'll call back on Monday." I gave her a tip of my imaginary fedora and headed off to other places. I wasn't sure where, but I went. All the time trying to get a handle on what had just happened and what might happen after 5:15. And then just when my imagination was getting good, I began thinking of blue-eyed Mary.
As I stood outside the doors of Brown and Keller, taking in the rising rush of the financial district traffic, my eyes spotted an old acquaintance staring at me from across the street. Sitting on the low gray stone windows that cover the front of the Old City Hall was the younger Flanagan, the defrocked cop turned private investigator. He gave me a smirk, then stood to his feet, flicked away his cigarette, bundled his coat and gave me one of he subtle gestures that send an invitation, "Meet me over there."
I figured he meant the coffee shop on the far corner, a well-known spot known as The Black Cat. And yes, they even had a black cat that prowled among the tables.