I sprinted to the diner, almost but not quit making it there before the rain really started coming down.
"Hey, MacKenzie! You're dripping on my clean floor," Shirley yelled. And wouldn't you know it, Shirley was still holding the mop. I was as busted as bused could be.
"Sorry, Shirl." I did that tiptoe thing that men do thinking that they are somehow making less of a mess by doing so.
"Quick, find a seat, MacKenzie. You're just like my ex, I'm always cleaning up after you. I guess that's why God made Eve second, so she could clean up after Adam." This brought an honest to goodness giggle out of Shirley's mother, the first sounds I believe I ever heard come out of the old lady.
She then took this new found freedom to express herself on step further, "Mr. MacKenzie, Pie and coffee? And don't mind her. Some old wino was just in here and spilled his lunch."
Shirley wheeled her mop bucket behind the counter, washed her hands, poured herself a glass of tea. Apparently she decided it was time for a break and she was going to spend it with me. "MacKenzie. Galloway called and left a message."
"Well? The message, Shirley. What was it?"
"He said they got an arrest on the Flanagan case. Call him if you're ever in town."
"That was quick," I thought, "especially in what appeared to be a professional job."
"Hey, Mac,. Mama was asking me how much longer she'd have to fill in for Mary."
"I'll call her this weekend. Maybe, Monday. Then again,maybe later," I offered.
Shirley gave me the look, "That doesn't help me much, does it, Mac?"
She drank her tea and snacked on some saltines, while I got my daily fix of pie. "Coffee's getting a bit strong, Shirley. You probably need to make a new pot."
"Really. Well thanks for the advice on running my business, Mac. If you're so d*mn savvy on the diner business, why don't you just join me in the kitchen and help me out?"
"Shirley, I've got a better offer, How about you coming over to my place and I'll show you all the tricks of keeping house." I don't why I said it. Maybe, I was feeling a little more lonely than I realized.
But Shirley gave it the Shirley treatment. "MacKenzie, you don't know anything about keeping house that I don't already know ten times better."
And I would have to admit, Shirley probably did.
"Hey, Shirley. The phone please."
When she pulled the phone over from the window, she snatched the check her mother had written. Apparently she was still thanking me for looking out for blue-eyed Mary.
"O'Toole. MacKenzie here. Captain Galloway, please. ... Captain. MacKenzie here. Shirley said you made an arrest on the Flanagan murder. Who'd you collar? ... Really. ... Well, I suppose that makes sense. I'll be right in to fill out whatever you... Oh, that's fine. Then I'll catch you in the morning."
They had arrested some local street thug named Butchy Norman. He was an ex-boxer turned heroin addict who was always being pulled in on one charge or another, but then bailed and plea bargained down by Macready's high-priced pack of lawyers.
"Thanks, Shirley. I'll see if I can get Mary back soon for you. Any chance she could spend a couple of weeks with you?"
"Sure, Mac. No problem. In fact, it might be kind of fun now that my daughter's left home."
"How's your girl doing, Shirl?"
Without even a momentary worry, "Ah, she's pregnant again and she's gone on off to Philly with some guy who says he's the father. Who knows?"
"Shirley. Do you know what time the Franklin Zoo closes?"
She shook her head, but her mother called out, "I think it closes at six this time of year."
"Sweet Cheeks, might I have a coffee to go?"
As she poured a cup for me, "Mac, I thought you said I needed to make a new pot."