Mary Kate’s Christmas – part 5

Mary Kate’s Christmas © part 5
By: Wayne Engle

Old Hilda, the skinny, angular cook, told her sister the next evening over coffee that when Mary Kate flew into her rage, it was so intense she could actually FEEL the girl’s anger in the air, like a palpable substance. “Magnificent she was, like an avengin’ angel,” said Old Hilda in fond remembrance. “Made me downright proud to be a female.”

Old Hilda was the mother of 12 grown sons, and to her Mary Kate was like the daughter she never had.

Black Mike didn’t fire Mary Kate for the tongue-lashing she gave him. For one thing, he couldn’t afford to. She was by far his best waitress, and a favorite of all Dinty’s customers.

More importantly — and this was something he hadn’t hinted at to a soul, except his mother — he had fallen deeply in love with Mary Kate soon after he began working with her.

When he was talking about her to his mother at home one evening, the old lady said, “Well, sonny, if you feel that way about her you should make a move — ask her out for the evenin’ or something.”

“Ah, Ma, have you looked at me lately?” asked Black Mike with a sigh and a shake of the head. “What would a lovely girl like Mary Kate want with the likes of me? I’m 42 years old, I’m fat, I’ve got bags under me eyes, I don’t get along with people –”

“And you’ve a steady job, you’re decent to your mother, and you’re an honest man,” finished Mrs. Kelker, peering sagely at her son over her spectacles. “Seems to me if your Mary Kate is as sharp a girl as you say, she would have learned her lesson about pretty faces and beguilin’ tongues with that runaway Kerryman of hers.”

But Black Mike, in his hurt and disillusionment, had become adept at hiding his feelings — except his anger, of course. So Mary Kate didn’t have a clue about a secret admirer.

Everyone has a few failings, and one of Mary Kate’s was, she was obtuse about things like that. She spent most of her time thinking of other people: Little Paddy first, of course, for he was the light of her life; but also her friends, her customers, her neighbors, and the like.

Even Black Mike.

Once, when a young waitress was crying in the kitchen because Black Mike had given her a ration of his verbal abuse, Mary Kate hugged her and whispered, “Don’t you pay him no mind. Michael’s an unhappy man, is all. It’s himself he’s yelling at, mostly.”

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