Considering the news of Mr. Benjamin Brown's new business venture, I thought I ought to give Mrs. Brown a visit. The Brown place was on the edge of Beacon Hill, not quite where the old money resided, but close enough to get invitations to the right social events.
A rather unique feature of this two story-brick mini-mansion was that the house was surrounded by a lush garden, isolated from the street with a taller than typical white, picket fence. It was there in that garden that I met the very pretty and charming Mrs. Brown.
Annie Brown had that All-American girl look that, though maturing, still turned the head of every man she met. She was one of those women that it was mighty easy to have an instant crush on. Chestnut brown hair, hazel eyes, delicate features, five foot three, cute figure. For a moment, I was on the verge of falling in love with her myself.
She was working in the midst of her rose garden, each bush a different prize winning variety, their romantic names placed on little metal medallions that hung from their lowest branch. She kept pruning as we talked, causing me to keep moving with her up and down each row.
She snipped off one powerfully deep, red rose and handed it to me. "Lieutenant, I cultivated that rose myself. I named it Pilgrim's Passion. Take a sniff. It's very fragrant for such a rich colored red."
I sniffed. It smelled like a rose. "Very nice, Ma'am." Not knowing what else to do with it, I held it behind my back.
She then took the lead in my questioning. "Lieutenant MacKenzie, you want to ask me about the O'Hara woman but feel awkward in bringing up the subject. Well, let me help you. I knew she and my husband were having an affair. It was not his first. In fact, I was once the other woman myself. But as long as it didn't interfere with business and our respectability in the community, I endured it."
I admit I was rather taken back by her rather cold-hearted way in which she was telling me all this.
"Well, I tell you all this Mr. MacKenzie, MacKenzie, right ...'
"I tell you all this, Mr. MacKenzie, because I know I do have motive of one kind, but I can assure you that murdering spoiled tramp had more a chance of souring my life than any affair might ever have."
I had to admit, the pretty face had a pretty sharp mind to go with it. And i had to think that that charming little smile sat on top of a mighty tough broad."
"Go on, Mrs. Brown."
"You would think that my husband had far more to worry about from his mistress's mob boss father than from a vengeful wife. But they were somehow okay with this little affair."
"Mrs. Brown, I have to admit that the relationship between your husband and Bill O'Hara was kinda unusual, to say the least. Did they work together?"
"I think the firm did handle some of Mr. O'Hara's offshore business arrangements, but I think they more likely had something on each other. Like a Mexican standoff ...that is the right term, isn't it, Lieutenant?"
"I believe so. And what might they have on each other?"
'I'd rather not say. I'm more afraid of O'Hara than I am of you, Mr. MacKenzie. And besides, I'd only be guessing."
I tried a shot in the dark. "Mrs. Brown. who do you think might have wanted Mollie O'Hara out of the way?"
She stopped her pruning for a moment. Then resumed, only to stop again.
She turned and In a cold, I mean, cold stare, she said, "That sonofab**ch Blair. Blair was owing somebody big time, and Blair knows the kind of people who can get things like this done."
I gave her a card and with it my usual sign-off, "Please. If you can think of anything else. Call me." But this time I added, "Especially if you can give me anything more about this Mr. Blair."
"Your rose, Mr. MacKenzie. Be sure you put in your rose in water when you get back to wherever you get back to."
"Oh, yea. I'll be sure to do that."