Back at the office, I called and set up meetings with the two men who could be provide me the cover I needed, Bill O'Hara and Senator Watters. It would take the very same bait for each of them, -- news about the progress of investigation into sweet Molly's murder. Tomorrow morning would be one helluva morning, and considering the agenda for tomorrow, I thought I best get my share of heaven while I still had the chance.
A call to Mrs. Templeton and I had her hired give my apartment a quick cleaning. She would have done it for free, but I offered five dollars. I stopped in at Evers' Barbershop and bald Ernie gave me the trim that I asked for and also a shave he talked me into having, though I really didn't think I needed. Picked up a bottle of wine and a bundle of flowers, and made it home in time to clean up the old Ian MacKenzie the best I could. I even took some time to give Boo a brushing. All the time I was giving the old boy a rare grooming, Boo passed the time by sniffing at the Bay Rum cologne old Ernie had added to the shave, free of charge.
I hit the lobby about 6:30, pacing around like a nervous prom date. I must have checked that front door every ten seconds. A number of the Mallory Arms locals were asking with their glances, "What's going on with Mr. MacKenzie tonight." I had to smile at the delight Mrs. Templeton was taking with all of this. She kept coming up with one excuse after another to walk through the lobb in order to check on the progress of the big date. She was already making plans for the wedding.
Then at 7:02 according to my faithful Bulova, 6:55 according to the antique Grandfather clock that stood over in the corner, Mary arrived, a grocery bag that I figured held the wondrous little white boxes filled with Asian delights. I thought, "Lord, I should have told her that I am a sweet-sour kind of guy."
I acted as doorman and ushered her in, relieivng her the burden of her package. "Hey, Mary. Right on time."
"Hey, Mac. I got dinner. I hope you like sweet and sour pork."
I thought, "Lord, I'm in love."
Mrs. Templeton gave us a little finger wave as we walked by and I could tell Mary was becoming uncomfortably aware that the eyes of the Mallory Arms constituency were tracking our every step.
"Mac, what's everyone looking at?"
"A very pretty young lady walking with a cranky old bachelor, and wondering how in the world did those two ever get together?"
When we arrived at the elevator, she gave me a kick to the shin. "You shush."
We found the third floor hallway empty. On cue, Miss Sarah's poodle started his barking from behind the door , but on this night he shut himself up after only a couple of yips. I found myself amused by the picture of that stupid dog standing behind that closed door with his head cocked to one side and then the other trying to figure out why my footsteps didn't sound the same this time. "Mary, that's Pookey, the resident watchdog. Well, here we are. The MacKenzie Estate."
I dropped the keys, Mary picked them up and began unlocking the door in exchange for me handling dinner. "Mary, the lock is a little tricky, you have to ..." of course, the door unlocked for her like the key, the lock and her hand were old friends. "Never mind. Mary, that's Boo, my roommate."
Mary offered Boo her friendliest voice, "Hey, Boo." But Boo received it with a haughty look, a sniff of the air, and then returned to both of us a flick of the tail as he walked off.
"Mary, he can be a bit full of himself."
"A little like his roomy, I see."
"I suppose." I was becoming more and more aware of how long I had been living my half-civilized bachelor lifestyle. I was not quite sure where to go from here, what to do, how to act, so thank goodness Mary took charge of the situation.
"We better eat this dinner before its cold. You want to eat at the table or on the couch?"
I shrugged my shoulders with an "I really don't care and I'm too dim-witted to say".
So she answered for me, "I agree - the couch it is. You got something to drink, Mac?"
"I bought some wine."
"Well, you pour the wine and I'll get the food ready. Spoons and forks?'
"In the drawer by the toaster."