I could hear the ambulance screaming down Columbus, honking its way through the stubborn traffic. I thought about pulling in to some driveway and running ahead to see if I could help, but I was quite sure my colleagues on Traffic had it all well in hand.
The sirens and the smell of all the exhaust pulled me back to that afternoon nearly eight years ago. Not far from here, twelve blocks ahead on Columbus, a good part of my life ended.
Margo, my ex-wife, had gone over to Harvard to attend an art lecture, something about Monet or one of those French-named guys. It was my day to be Dad, one-on-one with my little strawberry blond gal, my little blue-eyed, curly headed Colleen. We were crossing the street in front of Christ Church, seeking a Cherry Ice from the vendor on the other side. I hadn't noticed - I was too busy keeping an eye on some street tough who was about to make a purse snatch - but Colleen had lost her doll's cap while we were running across the street. She dashed back into traffic to retrieve that cap and in an instant, my Colleen was gone. And it was my fault.
I can still see her lying there in the street. I can see her doll with its sky-blue dress. And I can still see that little blue-knit cap in Colleen's hand resting on the pavement. I can smell the exhaust, I can hear the wail of the ambulance, I can hear the murmurs of the crowd and the weeping of the driver of the car. And can remember all that but I can never make out her face.
Oh, I still have photographs of her hidden in the closet tucked away in an old shoe box, but I never pull them out anymore. I can't handle the pain. And the guilt, it never goes away. If anything, guilt grows, like a cancer eating away your soul.
I know Margo could never handle my guilt; she never spoke to me after that trip home from the cemetery. She left that night and I haven't heard from her since, only her attorneys, Myron & Morgan of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The honk from the Yellow Cab behind me brought me back to the present moment. One of our traffic volunteers was routing us in a detour through an alley.
I finally made it to Saint Elizabeth's and Doc was waiting for me on street level. He waved me down, jumped in and suggested that I just circle the block.
He pulled out the yellow sheet, the carbon copy of his medical examiner's report that he always had to file with B.P.D., and started giving me a recap.
"MacKenzie, why must you always be late! Well, anyway. As we already know, three bullets in the head. But get this. Remember I told you that I had three bodies that night we met your Miss Yellow Roses. Well, the gun used on that big time accountant that was murdered at that night club not far from the Ambassador, you know Lucky G's ..." - ah what the h*ll what was the name of that vic.. ... ah..."
I interjected, "Billington, used to work for ... d*mn, that's right, He used to work way back then for O'Hara, but then he landed some government job with the State..."
Doc continued, "Yea, that 's him. Forgot about that O'Hara connection, jeez, well anyway the same gun that did him in, killed the cabbie."
I continued my right hand turns. "What else, Doc? You're doing great."
"Well, no surprise, his liver was pickled. And he had been sneaking a few nips from his flask just before he drank his last. But the kicker is what the the technicians found. A black bag with some heroin works under the back seat of his cab, pretty well-hidden in a little custom made space.'
"You mean he was using too," I added.
"MacKenzie, that's what is rather strange. Flanagan was clean as a whistle. Not a track on him anywhere I could find and his blood had plenty of alcohol, aspirin and caffeine. But no heroin, no nothing of anything of that kind."
"Time of death. 10:14 p.m."
Now that caught my attention for Doc Brewster did have a tendency to not want to get too specific. "How in the world could you figure it to be 10:14 p.m.?"
I was expecting some exotic forensic explanation but he instead caught me loafing. "Because he called in on his radio at 10:13. Dispatch called back at 10:15 and he never answered."
I wanted to say, "I knew that," but I hadn't even begun thinking about Flanagan's case. All Flanagan was to me was one less source of information concerning Miss Yellow Roses. "Doc, it sure looks like Mr. O'Hara is showing up all over this thing."
"And, MacKenzie, I'd just as soon have him not knowing what I know."
"Don't worry, Doc. You're off limits with these guys.' I pulled over and let the good Doctor out. "I hope you score well today, Ben Hogan.'
"Mac, you ought to come with me some day and give it a try."
"No thanks, Doc. I've got enough frustrations with adding one more."