Secrecy surrounds an Irish police organization
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One of my clients, who has superb taste in these things (he's gay), gives me a bottle of Bushmills for Christmas every year, and every year I hoard it until the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day.
At six o'clock on the afternoon of the appointed day, I took the bottle down from its hiding place in the cupboard over the refrigerator. I set two Waterford tumblers square in the middle of the scarred oak kitchen table. I poured a fingerful of whiskey for Edna, my mother, who drinks hers neat, and one for myself, on the rocks with a little water. Solemnly, we clinked glasses.
“Selah!” said Edna.
“Back at ya,” I said.
She dealt herself a hand of solitaire. I went to the kitchen counter and fiddled with the radio until I found WABE, the local National Public Radio affiliate. Usually, we listen to the news this time of day, but today I was hunting for the station's annual all-Irish program.
As soon as I sat down I had to jump back up and turn off the radio. They were playing “Danny Boy.”
Edna gave me a quizzical look.
“Not that one,” I said. “It's too early in the day. It always makes you cry.”
She nodded thoughtfully. “You could be right. It's better to work up to all these things.” She slapped a row of cards facedown on the table. “Although,” she added, “all those lousy songs get to me.”
“They remind you of Daddy?”
She sighed. “He sure loved St. Patrick's Day. Remember?”
“How could I forget? He used to make us dress all in green, head to toe. Then drag us over to Christ the King for Mass with the archbishop.”
“You kids marched in that parade every year from the time you were babies,” Edna said. “One year one of the Meehans brought a goat cart into town. You remember that? We piled all you kids in a damn goat cart and your daddy walked on one side of you and Billy Meehan walked on the other side, both of them grinning like idiots, and that goat prancing down Pharr Road like some kind of fine Arabian stallion.”
“I remember being in a cart,” I said. “The goat had a little straw hat with an Irish flag sticking out of the top. And Daddy bought us hot chocolate because it was so cold that day. And Maureen threw up all over my green plaid skirt, the little snot.”
“She always did have a weak stomach,” Edna said, smiling. “Go ahead and turn the radio back on. Maybe they'll play ‘McNamara's Band.'”
But they were playing “Rose of Tralee,” and Edna's eyes got suspiciously moist, so that she had to duck into the bathroom because, she claimed, she'd dribbled something down the front of her blouse. But she didn't come back for another five minutes, and when she did, she hadn't bothered to change her blouse, so I knew it was a ruse.
It started raining around six-thirty, softly at first. But soon rain started coming down in slashing gusts. I was standing at the back door, looking out at the lightning flashing and dancing on the horizon, when somebody banged at the front door.
Edna looked up from her cards. “Get that, would you?”
I almost didn't recognize our visitor, he was so changed from the last time I'd seen him.
Six-four, with dark hair slicked back from his forehead and a pair of stylish horned-rim glasses, he looked like a mutual-fund banker, not the slapdash cop I'd known for fifteen years or more.
Bucky Deavers pushed past me into the hallway. “Christ! It's coming down in buckets out there.”
He stood there, dripping rain onto the floor, until I came to my senses and took his coat. Under the raincoat he wore a forest green blazer, pleated khaki slacks, a crisp white shirt, and a shamrock-print necktie. He had a sprig of heather pinned to his jacket lapel.
“Very nice,” I said, motioning for him to turn around, which he did, ending with a little mock curtsy. “Is this another of your phases?”
“We're going to a party,” he said, grinning.
“We? Who we?”
“We, as in you and me,” he said.
The last party we'd been to together was a Halloween frolic at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club, where he'd gone as Jackie Kennedy in drag.
“Where's your pink pillbox hat?” I asked.
“At the dry cleaner's,” he said. “Blood spatters are hell to get out of pink. Come on, Garrity. Get going. We're late already.”
“What kind of party?” I wanted to know.
“Whaddya mean, what kind of party? Did you just resign from the Irish race, Garrity? It's St. Patrick's Day.”
“I know what day it is,” I said. “And that's why I'm staying home, where it's safe. You know my policy about this, Bucky.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “St. Patrick's Day is amateur night. You wouldn't be caught dead in Buckhead, yada, yada, yada. But that's okay. We're not going anywhere near Buckhead. So get dressed, would you?”
I looked down at my blue jeans and my blue work shirt. “Supposing I were to go to this party with you. What's wrong with what I've got on?”
He shook his head sadly. “It's a party, for Christ's sake. You look like a refugee from a hippie commune. Come on, Garrity. You've got a pair of world-class gams under those jeans. Throw on
I narrowed my eyes. “What's the deal here, Bucky? Since when do you care how I dress?”
He pushed me down the hall toward the kitchen. . .
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