This may end up coming down shortly, as it’s quite a random bit of work, but we’ll see when I’ve got more time on my hands to think about it.
It was a public place, but a private booth. The old man had visited this McDonald’s every day for nearly three years. His heart was bad, so he rarely ate any of the grease that came over the counter, but he’d relatively acclimatised himself to the coffee, and he enjoyed the occasional muffin.
Well – in truth he hated the cheap food, the cheap coffee and the cheap seating, but in the mornings it was relatively quiet and he missed being around people.
The newspaper lay dead on the table, split open and forgotten, a few rogue caffeine causing inky blots amongst the paragraphs.
The day’s news had been left when the lanky youth in the black hoodie dropped himself onto the booth’s opposite bench, interrupting the old man’s two-sugar-two-milk dessert.
“Mr Tenetti?” the interloper said, unzipping his sweater.
“Who are you?” Tenetti replied, giving his thick gray moustache a quick rub to shake loose any bran crumbs that might remain.
“It’s funny, if you ask enough people if they are who they are, you start to notice patterns. People only respond with a question of their own if they are in fact that actual person, so, it’s nice to meet you Mr Tenetti, my name is Mulligan Smith.”
“Mulligan?” The old man’s eyes panned around the room while he talked. “Is that your actual name or a nickname? Isn’t a mulligan a do-over in golf?”
“My Dad’s name was John Smith, and he hated how generic it sounded. He also happened to love the PGA tour.”
“I see, I see.” The old man’s search came up empty, and he sank into the vinyl cushion. “How can I help you?”
“Well, first you can stop looking for a guy to hit me with a wrench. Most of the folks in here look like they’re just trying to have a quick Saturday breakfast, not watch a man beaten to death. Secondly, I thought you were supposed to be a clean man since your stroke?”
The old man coughed.
“Yes… well, I’ve heard many stories of the man I was supposed to be before my episode – occasionally from people who drop in on me unexpectedly, without invitation, and frankly, without the best of intentions.”
“Ahh, well, there’s where you’ve got me pegged wrong. It’s my job to show up unexpected and without invitation, but in this instance I have nothing but the best of intentions.” Mulligan reached into his sweater, pulled a thick envelope from an interior pocket.
“Just what is your job?”
“Private investigator mostly, although at the moment I’m moonlighting as a pediatrician.”
He slid the package across the table.
“Congratulations! It’s a girl! Hope you know a good lawyer.”
Mulligan stood, zipped his hoodie.
“Tenetti, you may conveniently not recall a couple of decades before your stroke, but in Miami there’s a single Mom who sure remembers you – and the amount of money you made.”