I needed to get Shirley the news about Mary so I thought I'd catch the Blue Plate Special at the diner. It was always either fried chicken or meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, drink and cobbler, usually peach but once in awhile, blueberry. For 99 cents, it was a fairly popular stop for those folks that might have to work into the evening. And Shirley caught a few old bachelors and cast-offs with that offer. "Shirley, shouldn't the Blue Plate Special be served on blue plates?"
"Wow, MacKenzie, never been asked that question before ... eat the meat loaf and I expect an extra tip for having to put up with that stupid question."
"Shirley. Mary's fine. She'll need to be away for few days, if that's okay."
"Aw, some stalker was scaring her. I'm taking care of it."
"MacKenzie, a girl alone is a sitting duck nowadays. Tell her we'll manage until she gets back.'
"Thanks, Shirley. Hey, the meat loaf is pretty good."
"Of course, it is."
Shirley made a "kitty" bag for Boo and boxed what remained of today's Dutch apple pie for me. She then sent me off with the first bit of honest affection I ever heard in the big girl's voice. "Thanks, Mac. I was worried about her."
"I was too, Shirley. But she's okay now, I'll see to that."
She smiled and then said "Hey, Boys" to a couple of beat cops who just walked in for dinner break. They slapped me on my back and I left toting my goodies.
I pulled into my space at Big Al's. his placed had just closed for the night and already a new crew of street bums were making camp for the night at the back of the lot. Across the street, some young punks spotted me and decided to make the trek over to try their hand at a little strong arm begging. "Yes, fellas. Can I help you/"
The tallest of the three, a pimply faced skinny guy with greased back hair, did the talking, "How about some help with dinner, old man? I haven't eaten in days. What do think guys, don't you think twenty dollars might get us through the night?"
I did my act. Looking nervous, I fumbled for my wallet, but retrieved my badge. "Look you, idiots, this is my neighborhood. Get a job or let the cook at the jail feed you for awhile.'
They thought about taking it further, but somehow rallied the smarts to move on.
As the street lights began to flicker on, I could feel the city change shifts. That always intrigued me how a big city is really two worlds, the day world and the night world, and they really don't like mixing the two together all that much.
I was greeted by the doorman on his own way home and by an empty lobby and an empty hallway. The d*mn dog nearly missed me, but started barking after I already passed his door.
"Hey, Boo. You've struck gold tonight, boy. With Boo, shrimp is good, but meatloaf, well that's five-star eating."