After dropping off the file to Assistant DA Williams, a crusty old veteran who had spent a lifetime of picking up paychecks for doing what was expected of him, I returned to the Old 23rd. A sudden attack of paranoia got me to thinking that I ought to find a more secure place for my file on Miss Yellow Roses. If Galloway was so intent on me keeping him up-to-date, what would keep him from getting little nosy around my desk? Who's going to question the Captain?
I puttered around the office for awhile, not doing much of anything except looking as meaningfully busy as I could. I gathered this and jotted down that, doing that casual act of convincing everyone that nothing all that significant was going on. Once everything was packed, I called my blue-eyed Mary to finalize the arrangements with her staying at Shirley's. Mary sounded reluctant to come back, but I sense she trusted my assurance that Flanagan would leave her be.
The next issue was where to stash this material. My place at the Mallory Arms was almost an open door and I didn't want Scarborough's family to be put at risk. So I decided to trust Big Shirley's wall safe.
"Hey, O'Toole. I'm taking early lunch. Then I've got some leads to follow up on. I'll call in."
Without looking up, the old Sarge gave me his standard sermon, "MacKenzie, get a radio like the rest of the guys. Jeez."
When I got to the diner, I couldn't resist entering with the words, "Hey, Shirley's Mom." The old girl and I were beginning to loosen up with each other.
"Good morning, Mr. MacKenzie. It's Blanche, my name is Blanche."
"Well, okay, Blanche. Where's that lovely daughter of yours?"
"I think she's in the ladies room. She'll be out soon. Lunch?"
I motioned thatI wanted to sit in one of the booths, the last one in the line, back by the fire exit. It was the closest thing to privacy you could hope to find in this glorified bus.
I set the file on the seat beside me and gave a quick glance over the plastic menu. "Blanche. I'll have a Seven-Up and a BLT."
She called back as if she were an old pro at this waitressing thing, "One BLT coming up."
I began pulling out of the file the odds and ends I had gahered, that Brown & Keller business card, that order slip from the florist, the Dear Benji note, that bundle of letters from the Senator, the JEB note from Mick Flanagan's body, photographs, my notes, and then ... "Oh, my God. It's been right before my eyes.'