Tuesday morning Biggy had to go downtown. He had two deliveries to make on Bourbon Street. As with most of the places in the quarter, they always wanted morning deliveries if they were open. As he rode the car downtown, Biggy thought about Polly. He no longer had to think of her as just the ‘pretty woman’. Now he knew her name. He was becoming obsessed with her.
He went over in his mind what he knew about her. When he had seen her at Jake’s on Monday night, she had been with a group of servers from a downtown restaurant. Jake knew that much, so she was probably a server, or bartender, herself. She lived on Burthe Street less than a mile from where Biggy lived. He was pretty sure she took the streetcar to and from work and that she left work fairly late, although he couldn’t remember what time it had been the night he had seen her. He continued to obsess about her all the way downtown. Where exactly did she work? How could he find out? What were her nights off? Jake said he recognized the rest of the group that she was with that night but not her. And he was pretty sure he would have remembered her. Was she off every Monday or was that just this week? He had heard her say she had to work Tuesday that week so perhaps she sometimes had Tuesday off also. Did she have a boyfriend? He hoped beyond hope that she wasn’t married.
Biggy got back from making his drops about noon. Later, about mid afternoon, he was expected at the Oak Pub and Sophronia’s on Freret. They were each less than a mile from Biggy’s apartment but in opposite directions. They were too close to mess with riding the streetcar and but Sophronia’s was not quite close enough to walk, so he drove his truck. He was expected at both places between three and four so he had time for a nap. He dreamt of Polly.
He decided to go by Sophronia’s first. Miss Sophronia had liked Biggy since that first Sunday morning when Jake had taken him by to introduce him. He had begun to chat her up every time he made a delivery there. It had even crossed his mind that he might not mind going upstairs to her apartment for a visit if she should invite him sometime. But today he was so obsessed with Polly that he made an excuse to leave as soon as he finished his first beer.
Max was right there with his Jax when he came in to the Oak Pub and Biggy made the delivery as usual. While Max was a nice enough fellow, he was an older black man and Biggy didn’t really have anything in common with him so he never lingered longer than the time it took to drink one Jax.
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Burthe Street was three blocks from the pub. When he came to it, he turned right and drove slowly along, studying the houses on the left side of the street. He wasn’t sure Polly lived on that side but that’s the side she had started walking down. An old three story apartment building fronted on Carrollton on the corner on his left when he turned. A narrow parking lot with an iron
gate was across the back of the apartment and an old wooden fence ran along the back of the property.
On the other side of the fence was a long driveway beside an old, two-story, Victorian. A porch extended across the entire front of the house. Two doors opened onto the porch, one in the center and the other at the right side. To the left of the center door, between it and the driveway was a row of four mailboxes. A privet hedge ran along the right side of the house. A man sat on the porch drinking a beer. He watched Biggy as he drove by.
Biggy speeded up a little and turned his head to look straight ahead as soon as he realized the man was watching him. Could that be where Polly lived. He had no way of knowing. There were three more houses on that side of the street before he got to the corner, but they all appeared to be single family dwellings. He was pretty sure he heard Polly say something about her apartment being close by when he was listening to the conversation in Jake’s parking lot.
Wednesday afternoon Biggy got a call from Jake. The bartender at Bobo’s on Canal had called him and asked if Biggy could make an unscheduled delivery around ten that night. He said Peggy would bring the ‘sandwich’ by Biggy’s between seven and eight.
Biggy took the streetcar downtown and walked the few blocks down Canal to Bobo’s. He got back to the car stop on St. Charles just off Canal about ten-forty-five. A car came along shortly after and he was on it, hoping that he would be lucky enough to find out where Polly got on after her work shift. By the time the car left the CBD and rounded Lee Circle, Biggy began to realize he had probably missed her. Either she had gotten on an earlier car or was somewhere behind him.
Just in case the latter was true, Biggy didn’t get off the car until it had turned onto Carrollton and stopped at Maple Street. Madigan’s bar was on the corner of Carrollton and Maple. Biggy had gone in one afternoon just to have a beer and remembered two tables right up in the front window. He was pleased to find both of them empty. After picking up a Jax at the bar he went back and sat down where he could clearly see the car stop. Four beers and three streetcars later Biggy decided Polly must have been on an earlier car after all. He walked the few blocks to his apartment.
As he lay in bed he once again tried to piece together just what he knew about Polly. The night he had seen her on the streetcar, he wasn’t sure about the time but guessed it might have been around eleven or maybe a little after. Tonight it had been ten-forty-five or thereabouts when he boarded it at Canal Street making it possible that it was the same car he had boarded on that other night. But tonight he had missed her and he had carefully checked his watch when he got off the car at Maple Street. It was 11:55. Putting all that together, if she boarded the car somewhere in the CBD between ten and ten thirty her car should get to the Maple Street stop between eleven-fifteen and midnight.
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Thursday night a few minutes before eleven Biggy parked his truck on Carrollton between Maple and Burthe. He was half-a-block past the Maple Street stop in a dark spot in the middle of the block under a big live oak tree. Foot traffic was extremely light and it was highly unlikely that cars passing him would notice that someone was in the truck. The first streetcar came along about ten minutes after Biggy parked. He heard the screech of steel-on-steel as it rounded the corner at Riverbend two blocks behind him and then the volume of the rumble increased as it came up Carrollton. Since it did not even slow down before passing him he knew it didn’t stop at Maple. The next stop was a block and a half ahead at Freret.
Biggy was guessing that Polly would get off at Maple but wasn’t sure. After the car had gotten past Burthe Street he pulled out onto Carrollton and drove slowly along. He didn’t want to pass it before it got to Freret Street. Sure enough it stopped there. He went on past until he came to the next street where he could make a U-turn across the neutral ground and drive back towards the car stop. He was almost back to Freret when the car started moving again. Two people, a man and a woman, were walking in the downtown direction on Freret Street. Clearly, Polly hadn’t gotten off that car.
It would be about another thirty minutes before another car came along. Biggy continued driving towards the river on Carrollton and turned back towards downtown on St. Charles. He kept driving until he could see the headlamp of the next car coming towards him and then turned and retraced his path along St. Charles, rounding the corner onto Carrolton and parking where he had been parked just a while before, knowing it would only be a few minutes before the car arrived.
When the car came along it stopped behind him momentarily at the Maple Street stop before coming on by. As soon as it passed, Biggy looked out at the other side of the street. Sure enough, Polly was walking up the opposite side of Carrollton. His heart began to beat faster with the excitement that he finally knew what time she got back home at night. At least the time she got back home on this particular night.
He waited until she had gotten to the corner of Burthe before getting out of his truck. As quickly as he could move his bulk, he crossed the neutral ground toward that same corner. When he reached it he slowed and looked down Burthe Street, staying as close to the building on the corner as he could. He was just in time to see Polly turn into the driveway of the first house that faced Burthe, the one Biggy had tentatively identified two days before. He slowed and walked along the street, turning his head as he approached the driveway. Polly was unlocking a door on the side of the house. It was almost to the back. An old Datsun pickup that had been in the driveway the day before was gone and the front of the house was completely dark. As he walked in front of the house he once again noted the privet hedge opposite the driveway, leaving a narrow space between the hedge and that side of the house. It was very dark in there.
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