"MacKenzie," Flanagan called out as he reached his big right hand out for mine. There had always been something likable about this brutish, bear of a man, you taking a risk to trust him, but he was good-natured.
"Flanagan," I said as I approached him, "sorry about our father. I suppose you heard that I was the detective they assigned to his case.'
He nodded, "Yea, Ian. I just came from the morgue where I had to identify the body and make arrangements. Galloway was there and he told me the goings on. by the way, Doc says you need to call him."
Flanagan and Galloway went way back. They were in the Academy together and spent two years walking the same beat. When Flanagan got caught with his hand in the till, Galloway did his best to save him, but to no avail. There was talk that the two of them had more in common than just friendship, but if it were so, Flanagan never said a thing. Either Flanagan was a one helluva loyal son of a gun, or Galloway was clean. Neither one of those options seemed all that believable, but it had to be one or the other.
The door to The Black Cat was an old-fashioned, cut-glass beauty, a double door with brass handles that opened smooth as silk. Inside, The Black Cat had a long newsstand along one wall specializing in out-of-town papers, along the other, big windows that looked out on the commerce of old Boston. Oh, they also carried a number of pulp novels in spinner racks at each end, one filled with romances for the ladies and the other, with the latest mysteries and westerns for the gents. Twelve small tables covered the black and white tile floor, each table had sitting in its center their famous black cat done in fancy ceramic. Leaning beside that cat was one of their classic Black Cat menus done in that flowery noveau art. The tourists were always walking in off with them. If you were somebody of clout in old Boston you always paid a visit to The Black Cat and caught up on the news.
We sat near the back. The patrons were rather scarce at this particular time of day. A young gal named Amy took our order, two coffees, black. Nothing else.
"Ian, I've got to think that Bill O'Hara caught wind that i was working for his missus. And then he took it out on my old man."
"I was thinking the same thing. Any idea who the trigger man was? Looked my professional to me."
Flanagan took a couple of sips of coffee and as he felt the cup in his hands, he gave up the name. "Bill O'Hara. Rumor has it that Big Bill sometimes does his own work. But if not, I am guessing he asked a favor from the Torio family out of New York."
I wasn't sure how much I could trust Flanagan, but this bear of a man felt a little different to me now. Maybe years of trying to live down his shame had actually done the man some good. Of course, having your old man gunned down because of something you were up to, ought to do something to your soul.
"Who was your father working for?"
"I thought you'd know by now, MacKenzie." He gave me an unbelieving stare with those heavy-lidded dark brown eyes that always gave Flanagan a half-asleep look about him. "He was getting paid by Brown and Keller and he was getting paid by Wild Bill, but he was really working for Senator Watters."
"Yea, that was my old man. He was everybody's keep-an-eye-on-the-other-guy guy. Made not a bad living at being everybody's friend. He and the Senator go way back. Dad was his chauffeur back in the days when Watters was mayor."
"Are you sure that this was a revenge thing about you?"
Flanagan gave me a shrug and beckoned Amy for a refill.
I took a gamble and pulled out the note that Doc found in the cabbie's pocket. "We found this on your father last night."
Flanagan gave it a read. "J.E.B.. It must be that goon Blair that does Benji Brown's necessary work. 2:00 Friday? it's gotta be the track. My old man lost most of his money every Friday when the ponies were running."
"I just was told that Blair was out-of-town."
Flanagan shook his head. 'He's not. I saw him park in the back lot and go into the firm about a half-hour before you arrived. And Mr. Brown was with him."
"Well, I'll be d*mned. She lied to me."
"Who?" Flanagan asked.
'Ah, no matter,'
"Hey, MacKenzie. You always gave me a break back then. I'd like to do a little something for m old man. Let me know how I can help. And by the way, Mickey says you owe him five dollars."
"D*mn. Is everybody on the take from everybody else?"
"Looks like it might be closer to that than you think, Mackenzie. Coffee's on me. And you best not be late tonight for your date with Miss Devonshire."
"Jeez, Flanagan, what else am I doing today?"
He laughed, then left. "Call me, MacKenzie. You really do need me on this one."
I chose to nurse one more refill from pretty Miss Amy, learning that she was working her way through drama school. And I thought, "I think she just might make it."