An excerpt from Too Quiet In Brooklyn: A Fina Fitzgibbons Mystery publishing this fall. Fina’s doing the telling in this scene.
As I say, things were good between Denny and me, nothing that a little dinner at the McDuffy’s could spoil. Or so I thought as I climbed the stoop and glanced at the nameplate, ominous-looking in the setting sun. I held my breath while Denny rang the bell and looked at me, a bottle of cabernet tucked underneath his arm.
Things were so good I wore my raw silk pantsuit, the one I stole from Mom’s closet after she died, the one Cookie said was too good to bury. Earlier I’d stopped at the florist in the Clark Street Station where Mary Ward Simon used to hang out and bought a bunch of cut lilacs.
The weather was even obliging, the tenth day in a row of perfect temperatures and clean light, and the evening air was the kind that blows in off the ocean and picks up that unique Brooklyn scent, a mix of oregano and malt, of fish and funeral parlors.
“Lilacs and wine,” Denny said, shaking hands with his father who smiled at him and nodded at me. He led us down the hall to the parlor. I sat, stiff as the furniture, staring at a painting of the Sacred Heart and wondering what to say to this man who understood life a certain way and no other, a man who came from a loving home, born and raised and rooted in one neighborhood. Truth to tell, he looked more nervous than I felt.
“Something smells delicious,” I lied. I glanced at Denny. “I think I’ll go into the kitchen and see if I can help your mom.”
My footfalls echoed down the long hall. As I entered the kitchen, Lorraine McDuffy turned from the pot, her glasses steamed, a few strands of greying hair falling into her face. She wiped her hands on her apron and gave me a wet kiss. “Denny’s girl. We’ve been waiting a long time to meet you. A long time.”
“These flowers are for you Mrs. McDuffy. I bought them at a stand that was frequented by a woman whose death I just investigated. She was a lovely woman, kind. She knew a lot about flowers and loved them. I thought you might like something of her legacy.” I waited, wondering what she’d do with that.
She took them from me. Her hands shook, but she told me she was honored to have something born of Mary Ward Simon’s imagination. Doubtless, Mr. McDuffy didn’t bring her posies.
Photo: F Train Coney Island. Credit: bihphotography (Flickr), Creative Commons.