The What If

Shirley followed me out to the booth.  As I sat down, she called out, "Three BLT specials, right guys.  And what do you want to drink?  MacKenzie, you get an Orange Nehi, what about you, Doc?"

"Just water, please."

"Gotta charge you for it."

"That'll be fine."

"Then giving a sassy smile to Tony's three-piece suit, "And you good-looking?"

"Tea would be fine."

Shirley started to leave, but then made a quick turn, "Who's paying for the two lovebirds down there?"  Tony raised his hand.

"Okay, Diamond Jim."  Shirley then did her sexy saunter down the counter, pinching a butt or two of the regulars and then a howdy do to the rest.

Calabrese got the serious talk rolling.  "Mac, those files of Brown's are filled with dynamite about O'Hara, Checker Cab, and I think I spotted your Captain Galloway and the former officer Flanagan in there a few times.  Why would Brown all of a sudden decide to sell them down the river?"

I really didn't know, but I went ahead with the reasons I was thinking. "I think he was about to go down and he didn't want to go down alone.  I think he really did love Molly, but the whole thing started to unravel.  Everybody was finding out and everybody had a reason to use that info against him.  First, the wife, then the partners, surely the press was not far behind and he didn't want to go down as the patsy for those who did murder Molly and old Mick."

Tony continued on and Doc was soaking it all in.  "And you're sure that Brown said it was Blake who killed Mick Flanagan?"


Tony continued with the logical next question, "Why?"

"I think Blake got wind that there was an informant in the law firm, spilling the beans on the Billington affair, and that Mick was running that information to Wild Bill O'Hara."

Tony asked, "Well, was he?"

I continued.  "No, the inside  informant was funneling the files to me.  Mick Flanagan was but the wrong victim of Buster Blake's half-*ssed detective work."

The DA was starting to get the picture, but it was coming slow to him.  "Oh, you mean the files that Scarborough found.  How then did Scarborough get a hold of ...?"  Tony then answered his own question. 

"I know, where did I get them?" Tony, let me keep that with me for the time being.  I'll tell you later, but I want to be sure we have her protected."

Tony couldn't help playing detective.  "It must have been his secretary, Delores whatever her name.'

"Delores Sheppard.  No.  Not her.  Speaking of which, I guess I don't need these directions to find Mr. Brown, now do I, Doc?"

Doc smirked, "No, I reckon he can be found for a time at locker number 6 at the Rue de Morgue."

I took from my pocket the directions Delores had written for me.  I gave the note a quick glance.   I began to fold it up to place in the evidence bag, but then ... "What a sec."  I unfolded the note.

Doc caught the look on my face.  "What's the matter, Mac?"

"Well, I'll be.  Fellas, I just think we found Mr. Blake's partner in crime.  It has nothing to do with O'Hara, at all, at least, not Molly's death.  It has to do loyalty to the reputation of a dead old man."

Tony was getting a bit perturbed about not seeing all the pieces.  "What in the H are you talking about?"

Just then Shirley returned with lunch.  As she slid my plate in place she said, "And you, MacKenzie, are treating everyone to apple pie and coffee."

"Shirl, I don't think ..."

"Shut up, MacKenzie.  Yes, you are treating and its going on your tab."

Doc and Tony on cue gave me a thank you for my generosity.

Again, men eat before they talk or, at least, they start eating before they start talking.  So we got to work on the sandwiches.

"Well, Mac," Doc jumped in to assist Calabrese in his cross-examination.  "What's the big insight of yours?"

Lifting the note, "Delores Sheppard's handwriting is the same handwriting that was on the note supposedly written by Miss Yellow Roses ..."

Calabrese jumped in, "Who?"

"Ah, Miss Yellow Roses is the nickname I gave Molly O'Hara.  Delores' handwriting was the same as the note Molly supposedly wrote to Benjamin Brown saying that she was walking away from the relationship.  And that same handwriting wrote the signature on an order form for those yellow roses, signing it, Lily Devonshire."

"Who's Lily Devonshire," Tony asked.

I was getting a bit flustered with all these interruptions.  "The receptionist for Brown & Keller.  May I go on?"

With hands lifted in apology, "Please, Mr. Holmes, continue."

"You see I had been assuming Lily with behind that letter when all the time it was Delores and Buster Blake who were orchestrating this thing.  The silent partners under the influence of the law firm's pristine patriarch, Mr. Keller, were desperate to save the reputation not only of the firm but also the revered and departed old man Brown."  So they put the pressure on Buster Blake to take care of the problem of Miss Molly and the informant in the firm.  The partners and Mr. Keller  would take care of the young Mr. Brown."

Tony had to guide me in his lawyerly way of logic.  "And so who killed Molly?"

"Buster Blake, it has to be.  When Buster got Bill O'Hara to provide young Benji an alibi by flying him over to the Cape, Buster must have assured Benji that he would have Mick Flanagan explain the situation to Molly when he went to pick her up for their weekly dinner at Mario's Restaurant.  But Mick never told her because Mick was never told..  Instead he dropped Molly off at Mario's thinking that Benji Brown was still on his way for their Sunday rendezvous.  But when Molly arrived she found instead Delores Sheppard who came to tell her that Mick would meet her later at the usual place and that she was to get a limo for her.  She probably also planted the notion in her head that Benji was getting cold feet about the whole situation."

Doc jumped in to try his hand at this game of "What If."  "So Delores orders the limo.  Molly then takes the limo over to the Hotel Ambassador.  Then she goes to their room and then what?    Buster Blake is waiting for her in the closet?"

"That's my guess, Doc.  Strangled her and left the firm's card to make the connection to Mr. Brown.  That would lead me to discovering his iron-clad alibi.  Then once he found out who was covering the case ... then once Blake found out who had the case did he know that?  Blake must have sent me the Benji note and a little photographic help by way of old man Flanagan's cab service, to make sure that I believed the whole Cape Cod alibi thing."

Tony was lost, "What envelope? What note?  What photograph?"

"Just a minute."  I got up and motioned to Shirley to meet in the back room.  There I retrieved my files from Shirley's safe.  When I returned with them, Tony and Doc gave each other an unbelieving shrug about the weird ways of my having an auxiliary office in a local diner.

I pulled out the photo of Molly and Brown obviously taken to give evidence that they were in Cape Cod and the now well-known Benji note. 

Tony then asked, "Why the business card from Paddy Flanagan?"

"Hmm.  Don't know."

Doc asked the obvious question, "You didn't ask Pat Flanagan why the card was in the envelope he supposedly sent you?"

"Well, no.  I'm not sure why I didn't, but I didn't."

Tony rescued me, "Well, go on."

I exchanged a few more seconds of disbelieving glances with Doc then went on.  Well, at least, I tried to but I was knocked completely off the track with Doc's embarrassing question.

Doc then continued, "What about the eyeglasses?  Why were they in Mick's cab?"

"Doc, that's the kicker.  They weren't in Mick's cab until the night he was killed.   Blake planted them there for us to find."

Tony finished up the thought ..." ... hoping to pin the murder on the the now silent cab driver who was always seen hauling Miss Molly to the Hotel Ambassador.  Mick was going down anyway so he might as well serve two purposes for the price of one."

I was on a roll, so I went on.  "And Doc, that maid found dead over by the brewery?  She had the bad luck of entering the hallway when Blake left the room.  He waited at the back door, the door the help always use to leave a hotel.  He then snatched her and did her in."

Tony gave me a kiss on the forehead just as Shirley brought the pie and coffee.  And he kept saying, "D*mn, we've got em, MacKenzie.  We got the whole shooting match."  I had never seen Calabrese so happy. 

But inside my head,  I was worrying if I had enough pieces to pull this off.  Too many dead people to blame on this one.  Too many motives by too many suspects.  And if I could find all these motives and suspects so some high-priced lawyer and his hired dicks could surely find them too. 

I needed some cover, some big time cover.







The End

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