For the Price of a Bottle of Port

Once I got to Teddy Brown's Louisburg neighborhood, tt took me awhile to round up a parking place.  I finally had to park at the far end of  the Square.  But as luck would have it, Teddy was panhandling this end of the street.  I thought he might not recognize me, having only had that one encounter and then I don't think he was completely present at that moment.  But I sold him short, he did. 

"Why, Officer MacKenzie, you working bum patrol now?"

"Hey, Teddy.  I was wondering if I bought you a hot meal if you might mind telling me a little more about your brother's girlfriend?"

I think Teddy was having one of his drier days, but he could not resist his ofte used comeback, "To be honest, I'd rather have a bottle of good Port, but now that you mention it, some good food might just be the thing.  There's a sandwich shop over on Pickney."

"Show me the way, Teddy."  He emptied his hat of a few coins and a dollar bill.  "Doesn't look like you're having much of a day, Teddy."

"Ah, I've had worse, I've had better.  But you're still treatin', Flatfoot."

"Yes, it's on me."

As we walked, we talked.  And today, I found him to be far more lucid than during our last visit.  I could tell that this fella could've had a whole different life if the cards had been dealt in a little fairer way, and the cards he had been dealt, he hadn't played all that well. 

I pumped him for all he would tell me about his brother, of which he had plenty to say, not much of it good.  When I asked about Miss Yellow Roses, he knew a little, but not much.  He did let slip that every now and then he would meet his brother over in the Boston Common.  in those rare meeting, his brother would catch him up on the news of the family and would slip him some cash.  I got the impression that the cash was more to keep Teddy from bothering him at the law offices or calling him at home than any real concern over his brother's well-being.  I suppose you might call it 'stay-away' money.    But Teddy rationalized it all by saying that his big-time attorney brother owed him since took his share of the inheritance.  Some sort of trust that the boys' father had set up to take care of his prodigal son.  Apparently Dad in a moment of lesser judgment, appointed brother Benjamin to be the executor of Teddy's trust.

After testing the waters, I just point blank asked him, "Teddy, who do you think might have done in your brother's girlfriend?"

I thought he might give me something, but instead just clammed up. 

"Teddy, does that mean you have an idea but don't want to say or you just don't know." 

He gave me one of those paranoid look-arounds to see who might be watching or listening in.  He started, but then stopped himself. something was in the way.  He wanted to talk but just couldn't get around that something.   I'd try again after a good meal.

The sandwich shop was a rather upscale deli named A Taste of Italy, the proprietor of which, a rather rotund and bearded fellow, did not seem all that appreciative of our patronage at his eating establishment.  We both ordered the sliced turkey sandwich, some chips and two beers, Pabst Blue Ribbon.  I asked him to make him to make two more sandwiches to go, two bags.  One I would send into the night with Teddy, and one I would take home and share with Boo.  "Throw in two of those kosher pickles as well."

We ate, we drank, we talked.  And the more we did, the more I began to sympathize with old Teddy.  In a way, life had screwed him over pretty good, and what life hadn't messed with, he messed up himself.  "Before me sits a living testimony to what bitterness can do to a soul," I thought, over and over again.

It wasn't until the walk back that Teddy finally dropped the bombshell.  "You want to know who I think murdered Benji's other woman? I've always found that other women hate the other woman, more than anyone else, and the pretty ones know how to get men to do what they need to get done."

"I'm not sure I follow, Teddy."

"Oh, come on, Lieutenant.  Find the guy whose sleeping with the other women and you will find the guy who killed the other woman."  He then gave me a wink and a grin that told me that I had not been dealing with some drunken fool.  Teddy had inherited plenty of the family smarts and he was letting me know that I ought not take it for granted. 

"Enjoy your sandwich, Teddy.  You've more than earned it."




The End

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