I was afraid that a life of drinking too much whiskey and the bad living that brought about the whiskey had finally brought me into a world of madness. I was at a loss of what to say next. Surely I could see the family resemblance and now that I was staring into the young lady's features, I could see traces of Miss Yellow Roses in the shape of her face, especially her nose. And if I remembered her photograph any measure of accuracy, the eyes should have given it away. They were dead on identical to Mother O'Hara's.
I had to start somewhere, "Mrs. O'Hara, I am not sure I understand."
"I am sure you don't, Mr. MacKenzie."
Mary O'Hara took a moment to get the unspoken permission of her daughter before continuing. "Lieutenant, this is my older daughter."
I was slowly getting my wits back, so I thought I ought to be cordial, "My pleasure, Miss Kennedy." There was no answer, just a smile from the attractive young lady. I turned a questioning eye back to Mrs. O'Hara.
"She is deaf and mute, Lieutenant."
"Oh." I was going to follow up with the words "I'm sorry," but something told me that such a sentiment would not be appropriate.
"Lieutenant MacKenzie. My husband, once we discovered her deafness, my husband never accepted it, in fact, just totally rejected her, started to abuse her and me. That's why early on, I decided to have her adopted by my brother who lives in Washington. Every so often we visit each other on a train ride, the Limited."
I took stock of whether I should mention my tour of Mount Auburn Cemetery, but I calculated that it couldn't get much crazier than it already was. "Mrs. O'Hara, but your family grave marker. It indicates that Molly died?"
She did give me a puzzled glance, but still went on. "When Molly was born, Bill got rather family sentimental in that morbid way the Irish sometimes do. And when he was in the depths of that darkness he had that dreadful monument built. But when Molly left, he felt he had to somehow make her gracefully go away. To be fair, I think he was trying to find away to allow Molly to have her own life. But believe you me, Bill may ne day end up in one of those graves, but not me."
Throughout the telling of this dark tale, the daughter or ex-daughter, or whatever this relationship now was, would move her attention back and forth between her mother's lips and my eyes.
Out the window I could see that the driver was biding time by following what the tourist bureau refers to as the Freedom Trail, all those historical spots the tourists just must see but we Bostonians don't really notice all that much in our day to day effort to make a living.
Mrs. O'Hara got to a lull in her story. I imagined she was getting to the "why" of this introduction and she wanted to be sure she got it right.
"Yes, Mrs. O'Hara."
"I don't want Molly here to be caught up in this and I know if my husband is caught up in this, it's going to be all over the press. So I am coming to you with an offer."
"Alright, Mrs. O'Hara. I'm not all that sure I know where this is going, but I'll listen."
"Lieutenant MacKenzie." There was one last check with deaf Molly. They seemed to agree to move forward. "Lieutenant MacKenzie. Last Sunday, I had my daughters meet for the first time over at Harvard Commons. Mason drove me and Molly, this Molly; my other daughter came in a cab. It was an emotional meeting, Mr. MacKenzie. I was not sure what would come of it, but young Molly was deeply moved by it all and wanted to find a way to establish a relationship with her sister. I told her that might not be possible considering how her father felt. But she was insistent, even if it meant losing the relationship with her father. Molly's relationship was not all that good as it was, Lieutenant. When I walked young Molly back to her cab, we sat in that cab and just wept for the longest time.'
"I don't know if my getting my daughters together had anything to do with this, but somehow I am afraid it might have."
I tried to comfort her but her daughter was doing a much better job that I ever could. "I doubt it, Mrs. O'Hara." But, in truth, I didn't know.
I gathered some details as to times to see if I could put together some semblance of a timeline and again expressed my sorrow and offered her a promise to keep her deaf daughter out of this, though i had not I how I could ever fulfill that promise. But as is my pattern, I promised anyway.
All through this, I was becoming more and more impressed with Silent Molly. I was sensing that there was a something special hiding within that silence, something very special.
We were back in front of Shirley's when we had little more to ask and little more to answer. the mother and daughter drove off behind dark, smoky glass windows, leaving me behind standing in the street. Then it began to rain.