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Mary had gone when I checked out back. She’d left the Moore Ford shining in the yard though and I got the notion to take it home to them that evening. Mary lived on that side of town so I figured I’d just call in on her as I walked back. She rented a room on the west side from an old Irish couple whose son had died on the railroads. She called the woman Mama Doyle.

Old Tom Moore got up from his porch when I pulled his car into the yard and his wife had a steaming coffee for me in no time. We got to talking then, about Betty mostly, and I started to feel bad about letting her down. I’d planned to take her out that night, but the picture in my pocket had spooked me something good, so I called to say I wouldn’t be picking her up. Besides, me and Betty had been seeing each other for years now, so it wasn’t like we were proper any more. If she’d have looked in my pants and seen a picture of Mary – no matter how strange or unlikely – she’d have sent me on my way and told her papa. And then the colonel would have been after me with his Old Reliable. And it didn’t help much that I was ten years older than his daughter.

Tom took me back to the edge of town, running the Ford over all manner of dirt and upsetting the good we’d just done to it. I set off walking for Mary’s when he set me down and found Mama Doyle’s place no bother. Except Mary wasn’t there and I didn’t know her well enough to start guessing where she’d got to. So, I went back to my garage instead, looking up ‘Hart’ in the phone book.

There were a few entries– even saw the fella who’d given me the picture, but it was his daddy I was looking for. That first time that boy had come in asking after Mary, he’d said his papa sent him and I wanted to know why. I figured if I knew that, maybe the picture would explain itself.

It was nine o’clock when I started ringing round all the men in town named ‘Hart’ and it was a stroke of luck that the third one I called was the right one. He seemed pleasant enough and agreed to meet me at the drug store the next day, at noon. It was a Saturday, so we only worked until twelve anyhow, but to get there on time I’d either have to close up early or leave Big Steve with the keys – ’cause something told me Mary wouldn’t be around.

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