Mary Kate’s Christmas – part 6

Mary Kate’s Christmas © part 6
By: Wayne Engle

Black Mike went out on the night after his lecture from Mary Kate, got very drunk and morose, and arose feeling terrible the next morning. He also did some deep thinking.

He didn’t change abruptly after that. He was still grouchy and touchy — still Black Mike. But he tried to watch his conduct a little more closely when he had occasion to discipline a waitress.

Twice, when he forgot himself and stepped over the line again, he suddenly felt the hair standing up on the back of his neck, and he knew that somewhere behind him, Mary Kate was staring ominously. He’d have to restrain himself from glancing fearfully over his shoulder.

So he concluded his tirade quickly with, “Well, but most of your work’s fine, lass, so get back to it now, there’s a good girl!”

Then he made himself scarce for a few hours. Black Mike was no stranger to tavern brawls, and would back up for no man. But he had no desire to face Mary Kate again in such a temper as had been on her when she defended Teresa Quinn.

Let us return to the night where we started — one week ’til Christmas. Almost no customers entered the portals of Dinty’s restaurant. No one to feast on the corned beef and cabbage, the Irish stew (Dinty’s special recipe, mind you), the New England clam chowder. Black Mike’s visage grew even blacker than usual. He swore to himself, “Well, and soon I’ll just lose my situation, I will, and have to go to the St. Vincent DePaul! Me! That’s always had a job! I shouldn’t have left the construction trades.”

It was 10 minutes to 9, closing time, when suddenly the door opened and an elderly couple entered, just as if it was the height of the dinner hour and where’s the maitre ‘d, if you please? They were well dressed and prosperous looking, and they eyed the place as if it was not really up to their usual standard.

Black Mike growled to Mary Kate, “Walking in at 10 minutes to closing, is it, and expecting the royal treatment? I’ll tell ’em they’re too late.”

“Wait, Michael,” said Mary Kate, her hand on his arm and her eyes on the couple. “They’re old, and it’s late. They may be travelers. They won’t find a meal anywhere else in South Boston at this hour.”

“Traveling to South Boston? Who’d be that daft?” asked Black Mike, giving them another once-over. Then he finally turned away, saying, “All right. But let’s hope they don’t keep us half the blooming night.”

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