Delphia’s first gift

Delphia gave her order ticket to the kitchen. The dinner rush hadn’t started yet, but the tourist season had already started at the Libellule Supper club. It was going to be a long night. She went to the bar and had the bartender mix another round of cocktails for her table. Delphia was mentally going over her tables for the evening. A voice startled her.

“Is this where I redeem my rain check?”

Delphia turned abruptly to come face to face with the man that had accosted her in the lounge in front of Mr. Sicero and his guests.

“Mr. O’Kinney!” she said surprised and struggled with a loss for words. “This is unexpected…”

“It’s hard to call and say I’m coming to town, when you didn’t even give me your name.” Micky held his hand up to his ear, “Hello, Operator, can you connect me with the waitress from Libellule. Yeah, the beautiful one.”

Delphia tried to stifle her laugh as the bartender set her glasses on the counter. She started to transfer them to her tray.

“What? It’s true. The operator thought I was crazy.” Micky laughed.

“Perhaps you are, Mr. O’Kinney,” Delphia replied.

“Maybe, so what do you say?”

“About what?” Delphia lifted her tray.

“How late do you work? We could get that drink I promised you.”

“Um…” Delphia paused. There was what she wanted and then her duty that needed to come first. Her mother. “Sorry, I work until one. Then I need to get home to my mother.”

“She’s still sick, huh?” Micky was mulling over ideas in his mind.

“Yes, I’m afraid that’s not something that’s going to change.” Her mood darkened at the prospect. “I should get back to my customers.”

“Wait a second, don’t run off so fast,” Micky almost grabbed her arm, but thought better of it. She turned smoothly back to him and the glasses sat steadily on her tray. “How about I stay right here at the bar and you come by to get your orders. It’ll be like standing here having a drink. Only abbreviated.” Delphia narrowed her eyes. This was the most unusual scheme she had ever heard of. Was it supposed to count as a date?

“Alright, you wait right there.” She went to her table and Micky stayed put. She met with a newly seated table and returned to the bar. After giving the bartender her order, she turned to Micky.

“Now how does this go?” she asked.

“First, I need your name so the operator knows who I’m talking about next time.”

Delphia chuckled. “It’s Delphia Fitzgerald.”

“Irish?” Micky picked up his drink.

“Mostly, my dad came over, but my mother was born here. Well, not here. We’re from Iowa.”

“Iowa, might as well be from Egypt!”

“No, Egypt is interesting. Trust me, Iowa is just as dull as it sounds.” Her drinks were ready and she headed back to the table. The evening continued on like this for an hour or two. Delphia learned that Micky was originally from outside Boston, but had moved around a lot looking for work. He failed to mention exactly what type of work that was. It became too busy in Libellule and the bar was crowded. Delphia could barely squeeze in to take her orders and had to rush between all her tables. She lost sight of Micky, until she looked up at the balcony. He still held a drink in his hand and he toasted her silently before she disappeared into the kitchen. Now that she knew he was not waiting at the bar, her mind was able to focus solely on work. By the time the crowd began to ebb, Delphia was exhausted. The bulk of the night had turned to a blur. She couldn’t even remember the order of the acts on stage, she had been so focused on her tables.

She gathered the dishes from her remaining tables and started to sweep up fallen crumbs. Her feet and her back ached terribly. She looked around to see if Mort, the manager, was in sight. In his absence, she pulled out a chair from an empty table and sat down. She rested her head in her hands for a moment. She thought about her bed at home and how much she wished she was there right now. Even though it was lumpy and the frame creaked with every movement, it at least represented a quiet reprieve from looking after everyone else. She welcomed the blackness of her mind and the errant dreams of another life.

“Delphia!”

Her head jerked up and she looked behind her. Mort stood there with a disapproving look on his face.

“Were you sleeping just now?”

“No, no, I was just resting my eyes,” she blurted. Delphia wasn’t sure if she was telling the truth or not. Mort clearly didn’t believe her.

“Why don’t you head home?” he said.

“Really?” Delphia shot to her feet.

“Yeah, go on now, before I change my mind.”

Delphia hurried through the tables and went to the coat room for her things. She emerged to find Micky standing by the entrance waiting.

“Mort is letting me go home.”

“I still owe you a drink,” he said.

“I know, but I have to get home…” Delphia’s voice died as he held something out for her. She took the paper sack and peered inside. It was a small bottle of whiskey.

“Oh…Mr. O’Kinney,” she was speechless. It had been a long time since anyone had given her anything.

“Now you can go home and have that drink,” he said. He took out a cigarette from his case. Outside the restaurant entrance, Spots pulled up in a car. He got out and waved at Micky to hurry up from the door.

“See ya around, Dollface.” Micky turned and walked out of the restaurant. He got in the car with Spots. Delphia slipped the bottle into her pocket and took a few steps to the door. Micky looked back as she stood in the doorway. Their eyes met as the car pulled away from the curb.

Delphia left Libellule and walked in the other direction. She only had gone a couple of blocks before a car pulled up and shined a spotlight on her. Delphia held up a hand to block the light and squinted at the car. A policeman got out.

“Put your hands up!” he ordered. Delphia froze.

The cop was next to her in moments. He grabbed her arm and shoved her into the wall. He immediately searched her pockets and pulled out the bottle of whiskey.

“Oh-ho! What do we have here? Where did you get this?”

“The drug store. Where else?” Delphia snapped. She just wanted to get home and crawl into bed.

“Well, we’ll look into that, but right now you have to come with me.” The policeman slapped cuffs on her wrists.

“What?” Delphia exclaimed, “I have to get home to my sick mother!” The man didn’t listen. He nearly lifted her off her feet and tossed her in the car.  She couldn’t believe it. She always considered herself a good person. She wouldn’t break the law. Ms. Palmero would have left her mother alone around ten o’clock. Delphia needed to get home as soon as possible.

 

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