Mary Kate’s Christmas – part 4

Mary Kate’s Christmas © part 4
By: Wayne Engle

Black Mike came back in from the snowy night, and Mary Kate said, “Well, Michael, do you think business will pick up, with Christmas coming and all?”

“Aye, and it’ll rain silver dollars, too,” said Black Mike sourly. “Fine business we’re in, with Himself down the way stewed to the gills as usual.”

He was referring to Dinty, of course. Mary Kate held her tongue, for she didn’t like to speak ill of people, even when they deserved it.

Black Mike’s bullying of the waitresses in his charge misfired when it came to Mary Kate. The others were intimidated by him. Occasionally, though, one would flare up and answer him back, then quit or be fired as a result.

But on the few occasions when he had spoken sharply to Mary Kate, she had merely given him her dazzling smile and a joking retort, and gone about her business. Back in County Cork it was said that Mary Kate Mulligan was very slow to anger. BUT … if you ever DID push her over the line, the result was memorable, like the San Francisco Earthquake or the Chicago Fire.

Black Mike’s memorable occasion had come one day when he was upbraiding a young, petite waitress about some trifling mistake she had made in her duties. Mary Kate was like a big sister to all the other waitresses, but Teresa Quinn was her special friend.

When she saw Black Mike towering over the tiny, quavering Teresa, roaring at her, Mary’s Kate’s cheeks suddenly flamed, her cornflower eyes turned cobalt, and she was across the dining room in a flash. She stepped deliberately between Black Mike and Teresa as if to shield her friend with her own body, then shouted in a voice like the Wrath of God: “So it’s a big brave man you are, are ye, Michael Kelker? Shouting at this young girl who’s a third your size and who’s only been on this job a fortnight, and is the sky going to fall on your sanctified head if she makes a mistake a two while learning it? Perhaps if you acted just a little bit like a gentlemen toward these poor girls, instead of like Cromwell himself, they wouldn’t be leaving two a week as they do! And if you want to yell in someone’s face, why don’t you try mine, and by the Saints I’ll show ya what we do to bullies in County Cork!”

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