CHAPTER 18: SOMETHING ABOUT MITZI
"Hey, where'd the pickpocket lady go? She didn't get a donut."
"She certainly left suddenly. What was all this about a pickpocket?"
Officer Jerry shares the curious tale Mitzi told him at the flower shop, all full of urchins and poor houses and Dodger fans.
"The Artful Dodger?"
"I thought everyone did. By reputation, anyway."
"Is there a warrant out for this guy?"
"I imagine it's expired by now, and so has he."
"How about Fagan? Do you know some guy named Fagan? She was also going on and on about this guy who she said was the ring leader of the pickpockets."
"Personally, I think the lady was greasin' the cogs a little too much, if you know what I mean. A strange one, for sure."
Officer Jerry would like to stay in the warm store debating the merits of Mitzi's character, but he must get back to his beat, as all good policemen must, leaving behind them full tummies and a sprinkling of donut crumbs.
Finnegan and the children finish their shopping and get in line.
The women ahead of them have fallen into conversation about, of course, their children.
"Isn't it funny how that happens?" replies the handsome woman in the matching fur coat and hat. "Heather doesn't look at all like her own sister, Gorse, although they're twins. Not identical, though. Definitely not identical."
"How old is she?"
"She'll be eight in February."
"Oh, isn't that wonderful. I have a daughter who will be eight in February, too.
Toots, in the meantime, finds a bag on the floor and investigates.
"Look, Daddy, it's the bag that belongs to the Lady with the sad smile, the one who said you were a beggar. Are you a beggar?"
"More often than I'd like to admit."
"Can we take this to the lady."
"I don't know where she lives, Toots. Anyway, she'll probably come back for it."
Not tonight she won't. I'm closing as soon as I check you out.""She might need it, Daddy."
"It's just a wreath, Toots."
"But maybe she won't know where it is."
"Okay, tell you what, after I drop you off at Grandma's, I'll run back by the flower shop and see if they can track her down."
Finnegan arrives at the Tiny Blooms Flower Shoppe just as Rita is clearing the till before she closes.
"A lady bought this wreath here. Do you know who she is?"
Rita peeks into the bag. "Oh, that would be Mitzi. Poor thing, I had to give it to her, she didn't have any money after some pickpockets took her wallet." And Rita launches into the whole long version of Mitzi's tragedy and the return of pickpockets to the modern world.
Finnegan listens patiently. "Do you know how to get ahold of her?"
"Oh, she works in the coffee shop next door. You might find her there."
So Finnegan goes next door to the coffee shop, but Mitzi has come and gone. While she was retrieving her wallet, she had filled Sharon in on the whole sad story, the mistake she made and the embarrassment at the toy shop. Sharon doesn't tell Finnegan this, but she is much better at putting 2 and 2 together than the women at the toy shop.
"Maybe I can just leave this here for her," Finnegan says.
"She has the next two days off, and then it's Christmas Eve," replies Sharon. "I'm sure she would appreciate it if you took it to her house."
"Where does she live?"
"Not far from here." And in no time, before he can protest, she has him on his way.
And that is how Finnegan shows up at Mitzi's house two days before Christmas with a wreath in hand.