On Hangers, Medium Starch

I swung by the home place to get my shirts.  I suppose I could do them myself with the rest of the laundry, but it's a thing I have.  I simply love that feeling of that crisp, starched shirt. It is one of the rare luxuries that I allow myself.

Miss Ming's is nothing fancy, a store front with a huge plate glass window, with Miss Ming's painted in a rather amateur fashion, the hours of operation tucked into one corner.  The opening of the door flipped one of those annoying bells that called Miss Ming from the back work room, a room filled with hisses and wooshes, and the smell of something that cannot possibly be good to be breathing.  And when Miss Ming comes out to take care of business, then comes the surprise.  

First, Miss Ming is not even close to being Asian.  Rather she is a miniature Scottish lady, maybe four foot ten  at the most, with bonnie red hair and a Scottish brogue. 

Second, she's as married as married can be, five children already in tow and by the looks of her, one more in the making.  I always assumed that the cultural inconsistency was the result of a change of ownership sometime in the past when the original Miss Ming sold out and retired to Florida.

"Yes. Mr. MacKenzie.  Six shirts, on hangers, medium starch.  The same coming in?"

I plopped the shirts on the counter, handed her the sacred laundry ticket, and the seventy-eight cents. 

"You best be warned Mr. MacKenzie. The price is going up a nickel a shirt next week."

"What?  That's over a dollar for my shirts."

"Sorry, Mr. MacKenzie.  My labor costs are going up, everything is going up.  If you would find yourself a missus she could do them for you, but I am figuring that I will see you again next Friday."

I gave her a grin which she returned with one of those grins of the eyes that seemingly only the Scots know how to do.  I pulled the door open and that started that bell to ringing.  Out of my eye I caught sight of a black car, a big *ss car, and out of the window  a gun appeared.  I spun to the ground as three shots let loose,  the shattered glass of Miss Ming's window showered me. I heard screams of onlookers and the squeal of tires and the sound of my heart pounding away.

Two Hasidic Jews were the first to check on me with a remarkable kindness and compassion, even a measure of good courage, I felt.  But as they helped me to my feet, the older of the two bearded gentlemen let out a gasp in Hebrew.  I followed his eyes  through the broken window, to find what I didn't want to find, one tiny Scotch lady, draped over the counter, blood pooling out of her forehead.





The End

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