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A mystery novel by Larry Tyler
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JAGGED COAST I'm very interested in your comments, critiques… Also, you may want to check out The Silent Treatment by Larry Tyler on Scribd
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CHAPTER ONE Frank Rupert got lost twice on his way from his state office building in Augusta to Adeline Carr's office in Bar Harbor. The first time was in Ellsworth where everyone gets lost, by the car dealership. He simply zigged when he should have zagged, so he turned around the first chance he got and corrected his mistake. The second time he got lost was in Bar Harbor itself, where he drove around the block twice, crawling down the clogged main street for a full half-hour, inching past the T-shirt shops and souvenir stores. His secretary wrote the address down, but her handwriting was notoriously dreadful. The seven could have been a one or maybe even a two and the eight could have been a six or a nine. Virtually any building on the street could have been the one he was looking for. He spent ten minutes driving up and down Farrington Avenue, searching for the Carr Institute, but he couldn't even find so much as a small window sign to guide him. He spent another ten minutes hunting for a knowledgeable pedestrian, and finally flagged down a letter carrier. It was ten-thirty instead of ten by the time Frank knocked at the door of the Carr Institute, which was actually a house. He listened to the dull, floppy sound of footsteps shuffling to the door and could tell the person was barefoot. The door flung open and a woman stood there. Her hair was bright red—red out of a strawberry Kool-Aid box, Frank figured—and was swept back from her face, held in place by sparkling blue barrettes, flaring away from her face in an unruly tangle. She looked like her head was on fire. The T-shirt she wore was several sizes too big and Frank caught himself wondering—in spite of himself—whether she was wearing shorts under it. Her fingernails alternated between red-and-white stripes and a white star on a blue background. Frank centered the knot on his tie, gave her a brave smile and said, "Good morning. I’m Frank Rupert, Maine State Office of Licensing for Treatment Facilities. I'm looking for Ms. Adeline Carr." "And found her," Adeline said. She shoved her hand toward him and he politely shook it. "Yes, Ms. Carr. Well, I'm very sorry I'm late," Frank said. "I suppose you gave up on me." "No. Not yet," Adeline said. "Come on in." "Well, actually, Ms. Carr, this visit should be conducted at your office." Adeline swept her hand broadly toward the room behind her. "Right here." "This is your counseling office?" Frank asked. "My home, my counseling office, my sanctuary, my mortgage burden, all wrapped up into one." She put her hand behind his shoulder and pulled him in. For a parlor, the room was unusual; for a counseling office, it was surreal. In her thirty some odd years, it seemed quite likely that Adeline Carr had never thrown anything away that she owned. But while the room was undoubtedly cluttered—and crammed with eclectic clutter—the clutter was not cheap. It was clutter an antique dealer would kill for. Frank sank into the overstuffed chair Adeline directed him to and his five-foot-seven frame seemed even smaller. "Did they explain to you the purpose of my visit?" he asked. "They?" "My office." "Oh, you mean to say 'we' don't you? Someone from your office called last week and said a mistake had been made when they issued my counseling agency license, and they said you would have to come here to inspect the program." "Yes, that was my supervisor who called, Bob Enfield." "And who is it exactly you represent?" Adeline asked. "The state." "Well yes, I understand that, but what portion of the state? You said you were from the office
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of…?" "Maine State Office of Licensing for Treatment Facilities." "Yes, that's it. Now, if I understand my bureaucracies correctly, you would be a subdivision of something else. Is that right?" "It certainly is. We are part of the Division of Business Licensing and Contracting." "Which is?" "Oh. Which is part of the Bureau of Social Service Providers." He sat back in his chair, then foresaw her next question and sat forward again. "Which is part of the Department of Social Services, which is part of the, hm, I'm not sure, I think it's part of the executive branch of state government." "Thank you," Adeline said. "Oh yes, and I'm actually with the Psychotherapy and Behavioral Health Outpatient Unit." "Very nice." "Now, in regard to your license," Frank said, "An administrative error was made and your license renewal was granted despite some significant changes in your agency. These changes, in turn, may have a significant impact on your renewal." Adeline leaned back and looked up at the ceiling. "Translation: We screwed up and rubber stamped your license renewal, but now that your brother is dead and obviously not running the agency anymore, we may have to shut you down." Frank chewed on that for a second. "Yep. That's it." "So, what do I have to do to stay open?" Adeline asked. "Well, you have to comply with state regulations. You can't continue to operate a counseling agency without a state license." "I see. And in what way am I out of compliance?" "That's what I'm here to find out. I can do an inspection and let you know whether you have to make any changes." "You can do that now?" "Right now." "Well, good. Let's do it. What do you need?" "First, I need to see the office where you actually do your counseling." "Right before your very eyes. Four walls, a ceiling to keep out the elements, and it even has a floor." "You talk to your clients in here?" Adeline shook her head yes. "Do you suppose people would be more inclined to talk to me if I had a little white room with modern art on the walls and a desk to rest my elbows on?" "The modern art is optional, but generally clinicians prefer some boundaries separating their private and personal lives." "Not this clinician," Adeline said. "But maybe back when you were a clinician—?" Frank caught the insinuation. "As a matter of fact I was a clinician for fifteen years." Adeline lifted her eyebrows. "Oh yes, it's true. I'm not just an ivory tower bureaucrat." "No, I guess not," Adeline said. "You're also a former clinician." She studied Frank a moment and gave him a wide toothy smile. Frank had kind of an ageless quality. When he was in elementary school he must have looked and acted like a fifty-year-old man. Now he was only a decade or so away from fifty, and seemed to be nearly in his element chronologically, but Adeline puzzled over the question of what would possess a person to want to look and act so staid and bland. Eighty degrees outside, and Frank Rupert saw a need to wear his dark brown blazer, keep his gig line straight, and wear his polished
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dress shoes. "I don't mean to be rude," Adeline said, "But it's difficult for me to picture people coming to your office and telling you their life story." "That's because I never wanted to hear their life story in the first place," Frank said. "That wasn't my style of therapy. I was a behaviorist. People would tell me about the specific problem they were experiencing, and I would prescribe a remedy. I didn't care to know how they got along with their mother or whether they were ever allowed to have a kitten when they were young." "That's not the way I do therapy," Adeline said. "I want to hear the whole story." "I can appreciate that. Now, I need to look at your case records. Maybe we could start with that." Adeline gave him a sly smile and wagged her finger. "Ah no. I know better than that. Files are confidential." "But I'm a representative from the state, Ms. Carr. I'm here to audit your records. I'm legally permitted to see your files." Adeline seemed surprised. "Is that right? You can really do that?" Frank was surprised that Adeline was surprised. "That's right." "Well, I guess, if you're not just yanking my chain." Adeline went to a shelf, grabbed a thin spiral notebook and handed it to Frank. "What's this?" he asked. "Those are my records." Frank was at a loss for words for several seconds. "You keep all your client records in a spiral notebook on your shelf?" "Sometimes on the shelf; sometimes on the coffee table." "But these are confidential records, Ms. Carr. They have to be kept secure." "Okay, I'll lock them in my desk drawer from now on." She grinned. "If it'll make you happy." "And it's just a little spiral notebook," Frank said. Adeline nodded toward the notebook Frank carried with him. "Regulations insist on them being leather bound like yours? I suppose your records don't have to be confidential like mine do." "They certainly do," Frank said. "And I keep the notebook in my possession at all times." "Is that right? I take it it's waterproof then?" "No, it isn't. When I leave my office at night I lock it in a file cabinet. It doesn't follow me into the shower, if that's what you're suggesting. But when I'm at work, my records stay with me." He emitted a long preparatory sigh and opened Adeline's spiral notebook. He studied the scribbles and doodles and random notes about various people Adeline had met with. Page four had what looked like a shopping list on it. "These," Frank said, searching for the right word, "These are dreadful. A licensed agency has to maintain comprehensive and professional records on its clients. These aren't even up to the standards of notations that a clinician might jot down during a session, and you're calling these progress notes. You've got one full page here of, what are these? Daisies?" "I don't need to write all that therapy stuff down. I remember things." "But if someone needs to see your records…" "Well, you can't have it both ways, Frank. Can I call you Frank? You can't have it both ways. First you tell me to lock up my notes so no one can see them, then you tell me I have to write them down so other people can take a look at them. Now, I don't mind following regulations, but they ought to make a little bit of sense, don't you think?" Frank scribbled a note down in his notebook. "Another issue is staffing," Frank said, choosing not to debate. "Staffing?" "Yes. To be a licensed outpatient agency you must have at least one and a half full time staff
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equivalencies." "And in English that is?" "One full time person working as a counselor for the agency and one half time person, at a minimum." "Ah! No problem. Since my brother and his wife died, I've been putting in at least sixty hours a week, sometimes eighty." "No, it doesn't work that way. You need to have more than one individual working for the agency as a counselor, otherwise it's not an agency; it's a private practice. Do you have anyone else working here?" "No." Frank closed his notebook and shook his head. "You can't keep your license if you only have one person working here." He shrugged. "Another issue that I noticed is you are a registered psychotherapist, is that right?" Adeline smiled proudly. "An agency must have at least one licensed professional working for it. Registration and licensing are different, Ms. Carr." "They are?" "Yes, they are. Registration is simply a list of people who are working, under supervision, to provide services. To be licensed, you have to pass tests and demonstrate certain skills." "Can you give me that test now?" "No." "Well, where can I go to take it?" "It's rather a long process, actually." "Somehow I thought it would be." Frank sat forward and studied her a moment. "Ms. Carr, your brother was a well-respected therapist in the state. And so was his wife." "Yes they were." "Did you work here with them when they ran the program?" "Certainly. I took calls, did some paperwork—I think they called them intakes—and I talked with the patients before they went in to see my brother or sister-in-law. I got paid for all that work, too." "Did Dr. Carr ever say he would hire you as a therapist?" "Not in so many words." "Did he ever explain to you the process involved in being licensed as a clinician or in licensing a facility?" Adeline shook her head no. "You just simply took over when your brother died?" Adeline shook her head yes. Frank could see her eyes filling with tears. She brushed at them nervously. "Three months ago I took everything over for Sam and Yvonne. What else could I do?" She tapped the cover of the spiral notebook with her finger. "All these people would have been left alone, without help. How could I let that happen to them?" "I see," Frank said quietly. "Well, regardless…" Adeline took a breath and bolstered her strength. "I would like to add, in my own defense Mr. Rupert, that I believe I have a true gift. I am a natural helper, just like my brother was. I wouldn't have taken his business over if I didn't think I could do some good. For what it's worth, I'm good at talking with people. I know I am." "I'm sure you are, but, well, do you have any particular school of therapy you ascribe to?"
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"Lots of them." "For example?" "Well, it depends, um, depends on a lot of things. If a person's a Libra for instance, they aren't going to just want to dump out their problems, they're going to want me to give them advice on what to do so they can weigh it out. And I give good advice. Or you take people who are having trouble with their boss at work, like Rita Perry for instance, the woman up the street, the best thing for her is a good herbal cleansing, but you have to know just what to suggest when you do that. You don't want her taking any old weed or going to Shop N' Save and getting store-bought herbs. And last week I read a book online about holistic focusing, have you heard of it? No? Don't feel bad, I hadn't either until last week. I haven't actually tried the technique on anyone yet, but it seems very interesting." "Ms. Carr, I've got to say, what you're describing sounds more like fortune-telling than therapy. I can't authorize a license for your agency. I hate to be so blunt, but you have to stop practicing immediately. I'm really sorry, but nothing I've seen here comes even close to the regulations. Most of it in fact is the antithesis of our regulations." There was a long silence. "Maybe you could start taking some courses, get some good formal training. Maybe in time, who knows? You could eventually get a license." Another silence. "Well anyway, I'm very sorry." "I have to quit?" Frank shook his head yes. He truly felt bad for her. A knock at the door interrupted the silence that followed. Adeline got up slowly and answered the door. She came back into the parlor with a woman in tow. "Frank, this is Rita Perry, the woman I was talking about, the one who lives five doors up the street. The one who has a boss that sucks." Rita smiled at Frank uncertainly and sat across the room. She was about Adeline's age, in fact a couple years older, but had a childlike quality beyond Adeline's simple playfulness. She was short, slim and wide-eyed. All of her movements seemed eager and impulsive. She started to get out of her seat after she settled into it, then sat back down and giggled quietly to herself. She cleared her throat and smiled. Frank stood up and asked Adeline to step outside the room. They walked to the front door and Frank said, "Do you see what I'm talking about, Mr. Carr? It's unethical to introduce your clients by name to strangers in that manner. I know you don't do these things deliberately, but you need to learn all these things, and it will take time." In the back of his head, Frank was thinking centuries. Adeline scowled at him. "Okay, now you see? That's another one of those silly discrepancies in your regulations," she said. "First you tell me you have a right to read everything that I write about my patients, every little secret they tell me, then you tell me I can't even introduce any of them to you. Now, does that really make sense to you?" "Actually, it does, Ms. Carr. But I'm sure it doesn't to you." Adeline sighed and looked toward the parlor. "Maybe this stuff does make sense somehow, but I don't see it. I'll go talk to Rita alone for a few minutes, can I do that? I need to talk to her and tell her I can't see her anymore." "Yes," Frank said. "That would be the proper thing to do." "At last we seem to agree on something," Adeline said. "So I suppose that's it, huh? Your work is done here?" "I guess so." Adeline shrugged. "Okay. But look, while you're here anyway, could you at least tell me some of the things I need to do to get started on this counseling license thing? I'm not sure I'm ready to give up on
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this altogether just yet." Frank glanced at his watch. "Yes," he said. "I can do that. I think it may take a few minutes to explain it all to you though. Let me come back in, what, a half-hour, an hour? We can talk after you've met with your client." "A half-hour would be fine, thank you." Frank turned to leave. "And by the way, Frank," Adeline said. "I'm not mad at you. I know you're just doing your job, and you're trying to do what's right." "Thank you," Frank said. "I appreciate that. I'll be back in a half-hour and explain some of the licensing procedures to you." "In a way I can understand." "Yes," he said. "In a way you can understand." He walked out the door and headed for his car. It was across the street from Adeline's house. As he approached the car, he saw a strange shadow inside it. Frank couldn't make out what it was and couldn't even imagine what it might possibly be. He got halfway across the street and saw a person sitting in the driver's seat. Frank felt a cold chill. He realized he'd forgotten to lock the car door; so now what kind of trouble had he invited? Frank continued toward the car and saw the person more clearly. It was a man. He wore a green sports shirt, and looked to be in his sixties. He was facing straight ahead. Frank walked to the window of the driver's side and leaned over to look in. The man continued to look straight ahead. The man didn't blink. He didn't move. The man had a funny oops sort of look on his face and a broad wet smear of blood running from his chest to his lap.
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CHAPTER TWO Frank pounded on Adeline's door. She heard the urgency in the knock and came quickly to answer it. When she saw Frank she said, "Is this a half-hour by your watch?" "I need to use your phone, Ms. Carr," Frank said. "You don't have a cell phone?" Adeline asked. "Please," Frank said. Adeline pointed to a phone in the hallway and Frank rushed over to it. "I can't imagine a state worker traveling around the state without a cell phone." "It's not safe to drive and talk on those things at the same time," Frank explained. His voice was adrenaline-charged, loud and shaky. "Are you okay?" Adeline asked. Rita came in from the parlor and looked at Frank. "Is he okay?" she asked. "I don't know," Adeline answered. "Are you okay?" Frank dialed 911 and said, "I need to report a person in my car who is dead." "Oh my goodness," Rita said. She threw her knuckle up to her mouth and looked furtively back and forth at Frank and Adeline. "Did you hear that? Is he joking?" she asked Adeline. "No, I don't think his sense of humor runs in that vein," Adeline said. Rita's mouth was frozen in an "Ooo" position, and her eyes began blinking rapidly. She was what Frank would characterize as a ditz. "Was he there when you drove in?" Rita asked Frank. Frank explained to her that the man in fact wasn't. Rita looked over at Adeline and seemed to be searching for guidance. Frank suddenly understood how Rita might find Adeline sagely. "Yes, I'm sure he's dead. It looks like he's been shot or stabbed or something," Frank said into the receiver. "What's that? Where am I? I'm in Bar Harbor, on Farrington Avenue. What number? Um, just a moment." He looked over at Adeline. "Where are we?" Adeline walked over and took the phone. "Hello, who is this?" she asked. "Hi there, how are you? I'm at the Carr Institute, do you know where that is? It's at 26 Farrington Avenue. The man who came to visit me from the state just came in and said he has a dead person sitting in his car." Rita walked over to Frank. "How did he get there?" she asked. Frank told her he didn't know. "Don't you think that's rather strange?" she asked. Frank said he thought it was strange. Adeline said to Frank, "They'll have an officer over here in just a couple minutes. They want us to stay here." "I hope it's not anyone I know," Rita said. "Wouldn't that be awful?" "I think perhaps it's awful, Ms. Perry, even if we don't know the person," Frank said. "Come on, let's go see who it is before the police get here," Rita said. "We shouldn't be going over there," Frank said. "It's a crime scene. We should stay here and wait for the police, just like they told us to do." Those words came out of his mouth as Adeline and Rita were leaving the house. He followed them out the door. The three of them crossed the street and clustered around the car. Rita peered in at the body from the driver's side, then walked around to the front of the car and said, "I don't think I know him, do you?" Adeline said no. "How about you?" she asked Frank. He said he didn't know him either. Rita pressed her hands on the hood of the car and leaned forward to get a better look through the windshield. "Oh my God, I think maybe I do know him," she said. "Really?" Adeline asked. She came around to the front of the car. Rita shook her head. "Yes. Yes, of course I do. Look. It's the Moose Man," she said. Frank scowled. He shook his head, to let Rita know he didn't understand what she was talking
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about; also to clear his head a bit. "The Moose Man." "You're kidding," Adeline said. "No I'm not. I'm sure of it. Look at him. That's the Moose Man alright." "Tell me who the Moose Man is," Frank said. "You never heard of the Moose Man?" Adeline asked. "No, I haven't," Frank said. "Don't you watch TV?" Adeline asked. "Not much." "I think you're right," Adeline said to Rita. "I think that's him." "If I could hear him speak I would know for sure," Rita said. "I don't think that's going to happen," Adeline told her. "The Moose Man is some kind of local celebrity I assume," Frank said. "Oh no," Rita told him. "He's a nationally known celebrity. Everyone knows the Moose Man. Gee, I wish I could have gotten his autograph. Too late now I guess." She went to the passenger side and opened the door to get a closer look. "Oh, don't do that, Rita," Adeline said. "Now you've got your fingerprints on the door handle." Rita looked horrified and bit down on her knuckle again. "Oh no. I'm a suspect now. I didn't have anything to do with it. I swear I didn't." Rita's histrionics were more than just slightly irritating to Frank. "I think we should move away from the car and let the police conduct their investigation," he said. He heard a siren and looked up the road for the police car. It couldn't come soon enough to suit him. He wanted them to take the body of the Moose Man out of his car so he could drive back to Augusta and never see Bar Harbor again. It wasn't even noon yet and he'd already visited the worst clinic on the planet, committed his very first breach of Department regulations by not locking the door to the state car, and found a corpse bleeding all over the driver's seat. He began calculating the months to his retirement. "I'm going to need several sessions with you to deal with this," Rita told Adeline. "Well, we've got to talk about that," Adeline said. "I need to explain some things to you about your sessions, but not right now." Rita grabbed Adeline's arm and looked horrified. "What are you trying to tell me, Adeline? You're not going on vacation are you? Your brother used to do that and I just about died every time he did. You know how I am about abandonment. Are you leaving? You've got to tell me now if it's true." Adeline glanced over at Frank, then back to Rita. "No, I'm not leaving." The police car turned the corner and came to a stop beside Frank's car. Sergeant Everett Lester, fifty-seven and looking every day of it, stepped out of the car and introduced himself to Frank. He looked at the two women and said, "Hello, Adeline. Hello, Rita. I'm going to have to ask the three of you to step away from the car." He looked over at the two women. "Did you witness this?" he asked. They said no. He looked at Frank. "Did you?" "Mr. Rupert works for the state," Adeline said. "He came to inspect my clinic and he was inside with me when this happened." "Your name, sir?" Everett asked. "His name is Frank," Adeline said. "Please, Adeline. Let me handle this," Everett said. He guided her and Rita back with a gesture of his hands. They retreated compliantly. Everett had a calm, fatherly demeanor that Frank appreciated. "Is the car locked?" he asked. Bad question to ask. Frank felt a fresh wave of embarrassment. "No, I forgot to lock it." He was
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going to get written up for this when he got back to the office, he was sure of it. His first black mark in fifteen years. Everett asked for the keys. Frank dug them out of his pocket and handed them to Everett. "Oh, my goodness, look at this," Rita said, standing at the back of the car. "What is it?" Everett asked. "Why, it's blood," Rita said. "Look how far back it goes." She walked several paces behind the car, along the sidewalk. "Please keep away from there," Everett said. He shot a look at Adeline that meant help me out here. Adeline took the hint and led Rita away from the evidence. About then the neighbors caught sight of the police car and came out of their houses to see what was going on. Everett went to the patrol car and called for some back-up, some of it for crowd control, and some to help with the investigation. When the officers showed up, Everett said to Frank, "I'll need to ask you and the ladies to come to the police station so I can get your statement." Rita pawed at Everett's arm. "Am I under arrest, Everett?" she asked. "No," Everett said. "I didn't do anything. I didn't mean to touch the door handle," she said, apparently dissatisfied with his answer. Everett seemed to know how to calm Rita down; you do it by cranking her up another notch. "I need to hear what you've got to say before I know for sure whether charges will be filed, Rita" he said. Rita's eyes bugged out and she crawled into the patrol car eagerly. Adeline and Frank followed into the back seat, and Everett closed the door. On the way to the police station, Frank said to Adeline, "Tell me who the Moose Man is." "Have you ever heard of Moose Juice?" she asked. "Yes, of course," Frank said. Moose Juice was the most popular export ever to come out of the state of Maine, with the possible exception of lobsters, although nobody has ever known for sure what Moose Juice really is. Sort of a cola, but with a little bit of a berry flavor and a slight aftertaste that some people describe as apple and some as carrot, and a few detractors describe as vinegar, Moose Juice had been legendary for nearly a century. "Moose Man is the man who sells Moose Juice on TV," Rita said. "He's the owner of the company," Adeline added. Frank turned to Everett for confirmation. "So, do you think that was the Moose Man in the car?" he asked. "I wouldn't know, sir," Everett said. He wasn't going to commit, and his answer seemed to put a lid on the conversation. Frank sat back and enjoyed the silence for the rest of the trip, but it was a short-lived silence. The police station was less than five minutes away. As police stations go, the Bar Harbor station was quite pleasant. Ideally suited to the town, it sat across from the park in the town square and seemed to be almost an afterthought to the fire station attached to it. The architects certainly knew what they were doing. It had a relaxed look to it that put the tourists at ease, but at the same time, looked like it had enough money behind it to keep the wealthy locals confident about feeling protected. They built it in brick, not factory brick but the brick of upscale Federal style houses. Apparently, they didn't want a building that would either detract from or upstage the rustic quality of Acadia National Park right next door. Everett parked the patrol car in front of the station, crawled out and opened the back door to let Frank out. Rita and Adeline followed. They walked into the building and went to Everett's office, where he spent the next forty-five minutes talking to them.
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He was polite, and extremely patient with Rita, and let Frank call the office in Augusta to explain to his boss what happened. Frank told his boss he'd be getting back late and then turned to Everett to find out when he could have the state car back. "You can't take the car," Everett said. "It's been impounded as evidence." "It's been what?" Frank asked. "The state police need to go through the car thoroughly, Mr. Rupert. That's going to take some time." "How much time?" Everett shook his head thoughtfully. "Hard to say. Today's Friday. Maybe by Monday you can have it back." "Monday!" Frank hollered, then spoke into the receiver. "They say I won't be able to get the car back until Monday." "Maybe Monday. Sorry," Everett said quietly. "I'll have to get a rental car to drive back," Frank said to his supervisor. His supervisor had more bad news for him. "We can't authorize a rental car, Frank. It isn't in the budget." "Well, what will you have me do then, walk back to Augusta?" Adeline spoke up. "There is a very nice bed-and-breakfast across the street from me, Frank. I'm sure they can make room for you. They're real good friends of mine. I'll just explain to them what happened to you." "If the state can't afford a rental car, they certainly can't afford to pay my lodging for the weekend at an inn," Frank said. "Well, actually we could do that," his supervisor said over the phone. "Lodging comes from an entirely different budget line. If the price is within reason, and you don't spend more than fifteen dollars a day on meals, I can authorize the lodging without a problem. Besides, it will save us the expense of driving someone all the way to Bar Harbor on Monday to pick the car up for you." "Different budget line?" Frank asked. "Yes, an entirely different cost center. A rental car requires you to fill out a justification form in advance, and of course you can't do that because, well, the forms are here and you're there. On the other hand, your lodging can be split into at least two cost centers, the emergency travel cost center and the standard travel expense cost center, both of which have been slightly over budgeted for this fiscal year." "What did he say?" Adeline asked. Frank held the phone away from his ear, and stared into space. He didn't want to tell her. A slow smile crossed Adeline's face. "You'll love the inn," she said to Frank. Everett wrapped up his interview and gave Frank and the two women a ride back to Farrington Avenue. The state car was gone when they got back, but Frank momentarily had his hopes up when they turned the corner and he saw a dark blue car parked on the street that looked like the state car. "Maybe they're not going to impound it after all," he thought. But it wasn't his car; it was parked just up the road from where he had parked, and where Frank's car had been parked there was now an empty space. A few local and state police officers were standing in that spot, giving the appearance that they were getting set to finish things up. Frank was feeling quite dejected by this time. The site visit to the Carr Institute had been a complete disaster, and yet it had been just about the best thing about the trip. Well, that's not true. Getting lost on the way might have been better, but the thought of spending a weekend across the street from the worst treatment center in the state without a toothbrush or change of clothes, without a good book to read, and in all probability with a crazed killer running through the neighborhood was more than he thought he
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could bear. Maybe he should just pay for the rental car out of his own pocket. It might be worth it. Everett got out of the police car and opened the back door. As Frank got out, Everett could see the expression on Frank's face and he gave Frank a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. "Rest up a bit today, and try to relax, Mr. Rupert. See if you can enjoy the weekend. Monday will roll around soon enough, and meanwhile, try to look at it this way: people come here from all over the world to spend their vacation. What you've got here is an opportunity to relax and get away from things for a while. Think of it that way and it'll go easier for you. It's a free vacation and the state's picking up the tab." Frank nodded his head and worked up a brave smile. Rita got out of the car and scampered home to tell the neighbors about her ordeal. Adeline walked up to Frank, slid her arm around his arm and escorted him to the front steps of the bed and breakfast. "You'll just love this place," she said.
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CHAPTER THREE Adeline gave a light playful tap on the door and waited. She knocked a second time and when there was still no answer she opened the door, poked her head in and called out, "Hello? Peggy? Jonathan?" She walked into the parlor and Frank followed. Frank could see immediately he was in big trouble. This was the high-priced spread. There was a piano in the far corner with a dark wooden veneer that glistened like moonglow. A book of classical sheet music, bound in leather, was opened on the piano's shelf. On the walls, old and somewhat faded oil paintings had lamps attached to the frames. Frank looked at an antique couch facing the fireplace. The legs had probably been whittled by Michelangelo. Beside it a round table had some tourist brochures on it, but not so many as to cover up the hand-painted flowers on the tabletop. Frank's first thought when he entered the room—in fact his only thought—was that he didn't have a prayer of getting reimbursed by the state for his stay here. Through the stereo speakers, placed discretely behind the antique furniture, Frank could hear Mozart playing faintly. Frank was already irritated before he walked into the room, but he became freshly irritated by the music. Why would anyone play classical music at a barely audible level unless they wanted to present a subliminal message of extravagance to jack up the price of the rooms? "The MacLeods are wonderful people," Adeline said. "I know you'll love them. They’re from Scotland and have absolutely fascinating stories to tell. Hello!" she called out. They heard a clumping of footsteps coming up from the basement. A moment later, Jonathan MacLeod appeared in the parlor, carrying a basket of warm towels from the dryer. He had a beard that was so flawlessly trimmed it looked painted on. He wore a white apron over his shirt and slacks. Adeline introduced Frank to Jonathan, referring to Frank as "my colleague." Frank struggled not to wince. When he looked over at Adeline he was struck by the contrast between her appearance and the ritzy surroundings she was standing in. Still barefoot, and grinning under her shock of red hair, Frank thought she looked like a clown at a coronation. "Mr. Rupert came all the way from Augusta to discuss therapy with me, and now he's stranded for the weekend and in desperate need of a place to stay," Adeline explained. Peggy MacLeod was on her way downstairs and overheard Adeline's explanation. "Your timing happens to be excellent, Mr. Rupert," Peggy said. "I was just upstairs fixing a room. It's not quite ready yet, but if you'd like you can see it." Peggy didn't wait for Frank's response. She turned and headed back upstairs. Frank and Adeline followed, but Jonathan stayed behind, folding towels. Peggy was quite tall, standing nearly six feet, and thin enough to be teased all her life about being "Olive Oyl." There were gray streaks in her hair, in contrast to her husband whose bright auburn hair— Frank correctly assumed—came from a dye kit, probably a pricier dye kit than Adeline's. Peggy produced a warm and ready smile as she reached the top of the stairs. She apologized for the mess the room was in before they entered. When she opened the door, a large elegant chamber was revealed, filled with rich but muted colors. The view through the bedroom window was the ocean, rimmed with lush green trees and just a hint of the rocky coast in the distance. Beside the brass bed was a walnut dresser with a decorative ceramic pitcher and bowl. The bed was unmade, but beyond that blemish, if there was even a single speck of dust in the room it had found a good hiding place. Frank wanted to cry. He couldn't hold off asking the obvious question. "How much does this cost?" he said in a quiet voice. "The room is four-hundred and forty-five dollars a night," Peggy told him. Frank experienced a strange impulse to giggle, or maybe vomit. He recalled the sad experience of a co-worker a few years back who presented a lodging bill for $175 to Central Accounting. It was a legendary moment in the office, and quite instructive to the other workers. Ever since that day, everyone at work knew it was madness to submit a bill any higher than $80 for hotel reimbursement.
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Peggy picked up on Frank's reaction quickly, and she said, "But under the circumstances, and since you are a friend of Adeline's we can take a hundred dollars a night off of that." She gave him another warm smile, and Frank quietly said thank you to her. His career was in the toilet. "Oh, isn't this a lovely quilt?" Adeline said, picking up a corner of the bedspread. As she did, a piece of paper flew out from under the blanket, over to Frank's shoe. He bent down to pick it up. There was a brief note on the paper. It read, "I need to talk to you. I'll be over tomorrow at ten." It was signed, "Tim." Frank handed the note to Adeline who glanced at it and gave it to Peggy. Peggy also glanced at it, then refolded it and dropped it into a trash bag with a half-used bar of soap and the wrapper from a drinking cup. "I can have all this fixed up for you in twenty minutes," Peggy said. "That's no problem," Adeline told her. "Frank and I have more talking to do anyway." "We do?" Frank said. "Certainly. You were going to fill me in on some educational opportunities you thought I should consider, don't you remember?" Frank shook his head. "The training that I need to prepare for my licensure, Frank?" Frank nodded his head slowly. Adeline turned toward Peggy. "We'll be back in a half-hour or so," she said. She and Frank went downstairs and reached the bottom of the staircase just as Jonathan was opening the front door. A state police officer stood at the door in a wide brimmed hat. Everett Lester was standing behind him. "Good afternoon," the officer said. "This is the Farrington Inn?" "The Inn at Farrington," Jonathan corrected him stiffly. The officer nodded. "Do you have a guest who checked in here recently named Gerald Joslyn?" Peggy, on her way downstairs, said, "We had a gentleman by that name here, yes. He checked out this morning." "Do you mind if we come in?" the officer asked. Jonathan swung the door wide to let them in. They walked into the parlor. Everett nodded cordially to Frank and Adeline, and introduced himself to Peggy and Jonathan. "There has been an apparent homicide this morning just outside your residence," the officer said. "The victim has been identified as Gerald Joslyn." "Oh my heavens," Peggy said. She shook her head slightly and said, "My heavens," softer the second time. Jonathan didn't register any particular reaction. "You didn't notice the police officers and crowd of people out in front of your inn for the past hour?" the officer asked. Peggy shook her head no. "I truly didn’t," she said. "I was upstairs fixing the rooms. I didn't notice any crowds. Did you notice them?" she asked Jonathan. He shook his head no with a nearly imperceptible gesture. "Would you have any objections to us looking around? In particular we'd like to see the room where Mr. Joslyn stayed," the officer said. "Objections? Oh, none at all," Peggy said. "Certainly. Come right this way." They went upstairs to the room she had been cleaning. "I was just fixing it up for that gentleman," she said, nodding toward Frank. Everett looked down at Frank. "Very nice accommodations, Mr. Rupert," he said. "Could we ask you to put off doing anything else to the room until our men get a chance to check it out?" the officer asked.
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"I don't object," Peggy said. "But I did promise Mr. Rupert the room would be ready in twenty minutes for him." The officer looked down at Frank and shook his head no. "Not quite that soon, sir," he said. "But we should have it ready for you by the time you need it tonight, barring any complications." Barring any complications, Frank thought. Now what are the chances of any complications happening on a day that was running as smoothly as this? Frank and Adeline walked outside onto the porch, and Frank looked over at the vacant spot where his car once was. "You must be pretty hungry by now," Adeline said to him. "Come across the street with me and I'll fix you some lunch." "Thank you for the offer," Frank said, "But it's against Department policy to accept food from any of the agencies we serve. We can't accept any food or beverage." "You're joking." "I am not." "They think you can be bought off with a ham sandwich do they?" "It's an ethical issue. It has to do with our public image. We have to eliminate any appearance of impropriety." Adeline put her hand to her forehead and shook her head slowly and deliberately. "A ham sandwich. Isn't that amazing." She took a couple steps away from the porch. "I think we come from entirely different planets, Frank. Okay, we can go to a café for lunch. You're allowed to go to a café with me, aren't you? For that matter, you're allowed to eat?" Frank weighed the first question and ignored the second. "That would be all right." "Well hooray for that. I have to stop over at my house first and put on a pair of shoes though. They won't let me in any of the restaurants without shoes. I imagine it has something to do with state licensing regulations, don't you think?" A green Mercedes convertible pulled up in front of the inn. The driver leaned over and spoke to the officers who were still standing in the empty parking space. Frank and Adeline couldn't hear what the man was saying, but one of the officers turned around, pointed at the inn, and moved back onto the sidewalk so the Mercedes could park. The driver got out of the car and walked toward Frank and Adeline. He was trim and tanned. He was fifty-five years old, and he had just heard an hour before that his brother was killed. The man's eyes shifted from Frank to Adeline and back to Frank. "Are you the owner of the inn?" he asked. Frank shook his head no and Adeline said. "The owners are inside. Jonathan and Peggy MacLeod are their names. Dear friends of mine, and Scottish. This is an absolutely beautiful inn. Wait 'till you get a look inside, it'll knock your socks off." The man walked past Frank and Adeline and stepped up to the front door. Through the ornate window in the door he saw Jonathan and Peggy in the parlor. He twisted his head around and saw they were talking with two police officers. "You can go right in," Adeline said. The man continued to look through the window. "No," he said. "They look like they're busy right now." Adeline walked over and looked through the window. "Oh, the police. Don't let that bother you. They're asking some questions about a man who was staying at the inn. Absolutely horrible accident. Well, I guess it wasn't really an accident really. He was killed right in front of the inn about an hour ago. This is Frank Rupert, my colleague, by the way. He was the person who discovered the body and called the police. We were both questioned about it. I heard they don't have any idea yet who the murderer is.
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The poor man was stabbed. We found him sitting in the driver's seat of Frank's car, absolutely dead. Turns out the man was a little bit of a celebrity. You watch much TV?" "Some." "You know the Moose Man from the Moose Juice commercials?" The man regarded Adeline for a moment. "Yes, I do. He was my brother." It took a second for that to sink in. "Oh, you poor man," Adeline said. "I'm so terribly sorry." "It's okay." "What a horrible way to find out—" "I already knew about his death," the man said flatly. "I've come to get his things." It occurred to Frank that there were no things to get, nothing that Frank saw anyway. "I'll come back later when the police have left," the man said, his voice as dry as sand. He headed back toward his car. "I know exactly what you're going through," Adeline said, trotting behind him. "I've experienced the very same psychic turmoil that comes from a tragedy of this sort. My brother was also killed, just three months ago. It was very sudden just like this, and very violent. I know how that feels" The man stopped and turned slowly toward Adeline. "Your brother died too?" "Oh yes," Adeline said. "And it was sudden and violent, just like this. He was on his way to Quebec with his wife and they were hit by a drunk driver. I guess you could say they were murdered too, in a manner of speaking. My experience was very similar to what you're going through right now." The man nodded his head slowly. "Yes, I suppose it was." Adeline took a step toward him. She reached out and touched his shoulder. "Yes," she said. "I can feel the troubled psychic energy your body is emitting. Ah." She cringed, then took a deep breath. "Oh yes, that is ever so familiar to me." The man looked over at Frank. Frank looked away, he wanted to disassociate himself from Adeline's performance. The man looked back at Adeline. "You were close to your brother?" he asked. "Very close." "What did you do when he died? If you don't mind my asking, how did you act?" "It was very difficult," Adeline said. "People came up and wanted to comfort me. At first I didn't want to talk to anyone, but of course you have to deal with people at times like that. Lots of people." "Yes," the man said. "Lots of people." Adeline released her grip on his shoulder. "I wonder, miss…excuse me, my name is Timothy Joslyn. I was just wondering, would it be possible for me to talk with you some more about this?" "Well, I don't know." She glanced at Frank. "I can't do it in any professional capacity." "How do you mean?" the man asked. "I'm a professional counselor," Adeline said. "But I'm taking a brief leave of absence." "If we could just talk, maybe ten minutes or so, I think it would be extremely helpful to me." Adeline nodded. "I could find the time, in a non-professional capacity that is." "Wonderful," the man said. "Could we do it now?" "Now?" "Yes, if possible." "Well, I'm going to lunch just now, but, maybe in a half-hour?" "That would be fine," the man said. "Where can I meet you?" Adeline pointed to her house across the street. "That's my office right over there," she said. "I'll be there in a half-hour." "Okay, Mister Joslyn. I'm Adeline Carr, by the way. Um, very nice to meet you."
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They shook hands and Timothy Joslyn walked back to his car. Frank and Adeline watched him drive off, then Adeline said, "Come on, Frank. Let's go to lunch." Adeline led Frank to Main Street. They walked a couple blocks, past the clusters of tourists and shops and restaurants, then onto Cottage Street, which was lined with still more shops and restaurants, and still more tourists. Frank noticed right off there was no shortage of places to eat in town. Adeline walked past several places where they could have stopped to eat. She paused briefly at each, but didn't pause to look at the menus in the window or the décor inside. She studied Frank quickly each time, then walked on. "What are you doing?" he asked after she studied him for the fourth or fifth time. She shook her head "no" decidedly but cryptically, and continued to walk along Cottage Street. When they got in front of Minnie's Restaurant she stopped and smiled. "Here we are," she said. She walked into the restaurant and seated herself in a booth by the front window. Frank sat down across from her and studied the place. It was pretty much your basic hamburger joint, a place where you could get a lobster roll or clam basket, but there was nothing very interesting about the restaurant. "I'm curious," Frank said. "Why did you choose this over all the other places we passed?" "It chose us," Adeline answered. Frank gave her a suspicious squint. "I knew it would be right for you." "You thought I would prefer this place over every other restaurant we walked by?" "No, my guess is you probably wouldn't, although it's pretty bland and cheap. I don't know, do you like this place better than the others?" "No." "Yeah, I thought so. But as we stood out in front I knew this was the right place for your psychic energy." "Mm-hm. My psychic energy. You figure I need something bland and cheap in my life?" "I don't know what you need, Frank. I just felt this was the right place for you. I know you don't believe in this, but all things have cosmic attractions and cosmic resistance. This place was calling to you." "Well okay, you know something? I'm too hungry to argue, so let's just go in and get some food," Frank said. He sighed. "This may possibly have been the weirdest day of my life. It certainly feels like the longest." "Really?" "I would just like to get some lunch and go take a nice long nap." "If you'd like to postpone our talk about educational opportunities, we could wait until tomorrow." Frank shook his head no. "I think we can cover it all during lunch." A young woman came over with glasses of water and menus. She set them down on the table and promised to return in a few minutes. "I'm glad you had a weird day, Frank," Adeline said. "Thank you." "No, I mean it. I'm sorry someone got killed during it, and I'm sorry you closed down my counseling practice, but I'm glad you were able to have a weird day. You need more weirdness in your life. My guess is, everything around you is ordinary and predictable." "As a matter of fact, I like ordinary and predictable. In fact I love it. I've worked hard to keep my life structured that way." "But your soul lacks variety, Frank. You've got too much of the same stuff going on in your life all the time. It's become excessive, and any excess can poison your soul." Frank started to say something and stifled it, along with a smile.
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"What were you about to say?" Adeline asked. "Nothing," Frank said. "Come on." "It was just a rude comment." "So be rude, I don't mind. A little rudeness would probably be good for your soul too." Frank fumbled with the salt shaker. "I was just thinking it was strange hearing you make a speech against excess." As Adeline processed Frank's comment, she saw a young man walk past the restaurant and into the bar next door. A moment later, she heard someone hollering from up the street, "Hey! Hey!" "Look at that," Adeline said, nudging Frank. "Look out the window." Frank turned around and saw Timothy Joslyn running toward the bar next door. "Doesn't he look upset?" Adeline said. She slid to the edge of the bench and stood up. "I'm going to see what's going on. Come on." "Whatever it is, let's stay out of it," Frank said. "Please, let's stay out of it." Timothy Joslyn went into the bar. He was there no more than ten seconds when he came out, along with the young man. Frank and Adeline couldn't hear their conversation, but they watched it. It was heated and animated. Timothy Joslyn reached over and shook the young man by the shoulder at one point. The young man pulled away defiantly. At the end of the dispute they could hear Timothy Joslyn say, "…if you know what's good for you." He marched off in one direction, the young man in another. "Let's go next door," Adeline said to Frank. She tugged at Frank's sleeve. "No, I'm staying here," he said. Adeline went outside, and Frank saw her enter the bar next door. The waitress showed up and asked, "So, you need a few more minutes to decide?" Frank glanced at his menu, then stood up. "No," he said. "I guess we're not going to order anything." He put two quarters down for a tip and went next door.
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CHAPTER FOUR The bar next door was called The Laughing Gull. If Minnie's was a place Frank never would have chosen to go to for lunch, The Laughing Gull was the kind of place he would have avoided at gunpoint under any circumstances, to the point of quickening his pace as he walked by. And, to go there during working hours—to actually walk inside the place—was unimaginable to him. On this particular day though, his well-ordered world was blown all to hell and he was capable of anything. Anything included walking into a bar during working hours. He began talking to himself, as he often did when he found himself in chaotic situations, and as he stepped up to the door of the bar he said, "Please don't let anyone see me go in here." He decided he definitely needed to write a detailed report as soon as he got back to the inn to explain his activities. Or maybe he should write absolutely nothing. No, that was a bad idea, very unethical. He recalled the old nursing adage, "Chart everything. If it isn't charted, it didn't happen." "Oh, if only that was true," he thought. "If I could just chart nothing and it would all go away." He took a breath to bolster his courage, opened the door to the bar, and went in. The interior of the place was laid out in a corny seafarer motif. Rough-hewn wooden table tops were nailed to lobster trap bases, and fishing nets were strung on the walls, decorated with lobster buoys. The bartender had gold hoops dangling from his ear and eyebrow, and tattoos adorning both arms. His green hair came from the same palette as Adeline's red hair, and he wore a black T-shirt that said, "The Laughing Gull" over his heart with a picture of a scrawny bird with teeth. He was talking with Adeline. Frank overheard him say, "…nothing unusual for those two." Adeline turned to Frank and said, "I guess we might as well have lunch here." Frank looked around. While he was looking, the bartender was studying him, trying to take in the fact that he and Adeline were together. "I'm not sure they serve lunch here," Frank said. "Actually, we do," the bartender told him. "Every place in Maine that serves drinks has to serve food. State law." "More state regulations," Adeline said. "We've got sandwiches, corn chowder, nachos, red hotdogs, and probably some coleslaw. What would you like?" "Oh, I suppose I'll have chowder and a ginger ale," Frank said. "I'll have exactly the same," Adeline told the bartender. She walked over to a table and sat down. Frank followed her and checked his seat carefully before he sat in it. Adeline leaned forward and spoke in a hushed voice. "Well, according to Mark, they're father and son." "What are you talking about?" Frank asked. "Who's Mark?" "The bartender. He said the young man Timothy Joslyn was arguing with was his son. Sounds like they've brought their fights in here before. Joslyn's son works here part time on weekends, and when he's not working he likes to hang out here." She sat back in her seat. "They were arguing over something that was missing, something Joslyn said his son took, but the bartender wasn't sure exactly what it was. Joslyn found it, whatever it was, and came here to tell his son to leave his things alone." "That's a lot of information you got in a short amount of time," Frank said. "People like to talk to me," Adeline said. "I have a gift." "Well anyway, this guy Joslyn seems like a dangerous guy." "Dangerous? No, that's silly. He isn't dangerous at all. I can tell he's a very gentle soul." "I hope you don't really believe that." "Of course I do."
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"I don't understand how anyone with eyes and ears could say a thing like that. Did you notice how he acted at the inn when he saw the police were inside? He couldn't get away from there fast enough. And did you see the look on his face when he was fighting with his son? His face was bright red and the veins were popping out on his neck. This is a man who has no impulse control at all, a sociopath. You need to keep away from him." "Nonsense." "I happen to think my powers of observation are quite good, Ms. Carr. I'm telling you, in a day or two you're going to see Timothy Joslyn's name in the paper. He's perfectly capable of killing someone, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if, in fact, he killed his brother." Why was he saying this stuff to Adeline? He'd lost all sense of decorum. Adeline smiled. "You surprise me, Frank. That's a pretty bold statement coming out of your restrained and conservative mouth." Frank reflected further on what he said. "I guess it is, but …" He tried to backtrack. "I'm not actually saying he's a killer, you understand." "I think that's pretty much what you said." "No, I just said I thought he might be capable of violence." "I heard what you said. I still think you're wrong." "This guy Joslyn knows where you live and wants to come over to your place to talk. Doesn't that concern you? You need to be careful around him, Ms. Carr. I'm very serious." Adeline patted his arm. "I know you're serious about this, and that's very sweet. But I'm able to take care of myself." "I'm not so sure you are if you don't realize how explosive this guy is." "You're just full of surprises, Frank. In one breath you tell me how ridiculous I am for believing in the metaphysical, and in the next breath you come up with this gut reaction to Timothy Joslyn." "It’s not a gut reaction." "Well, it's not exactly grounded in your precious cold, rational facts either. You jump to the conclusion that a man's a sociopath, and what's that based on? Based solely on his behavior in the hour after he learns his brother was murdered. Does that seem logical to you?" Frank squirmed in his seat. "It isn't just based on that. There's something else." "Something else?" "The note." "What note?" "You saw the note that flew out of the quilt at the inn?" Adeline searched her memory. "I glanced at it. What did it say? Something about needing to have a meeting, wasn't it?" "It was a note that was signed, 'Tim'. It said he needed to talk to his brother; that he'd be over at ten." "Oh well, yes now I see. Certainly this guy must be a crazed killer if he would write a note like that. What on earth do you think that proves, Frank?" "It isn't what the note said that's important, it was how it was written." "In ink?" "No, the handwriting. Did you see the handwriting?" Adeline shrugged. "Briefly." "Do you remember the heavy strokes, the large letters and the sharp angles, like little triangles when he formed his letters?" "Yes," Adeline said with some uncertainty, trying to recall. "I remember it looked something like
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that. So?" "So, those are characteristics of antisocial behavior." Adeline laughed out loud and slapped Frank on the shoulder. "Why, Frank! You have your own little world of hocus-pocus and fortune-telling, just like the rest of us, don't you. That's wonderful." "This isn't hocus-pocus," Frank said, scowling. "Handwriting analysis is a science." "So is astrology." "No, it isn't. And they shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath. Handwriting is an unconscious behavior that reveals character traits. There's nothing magic about it, and this man's handwriting revealed a personality as antisocial as any I've ever seen. Don't make light of this—and wipe that silly smile off your face—I'm telling you this because I'm concerned about you meeting with this man. I don't know whether he killed his brother or not, but I don't think he's capable of controlling his impulses, and he's obviously under a lot of stress." "That's sweet of you Frank. You're worried about me." "Stop telling me I'm sweet." The bartender showed up with the food. "Oh look, sweetie," Adeline said in a loud voice. "Our lunch is here." The bartender put the food down and left. Frank sat glowering at Adeline. "I'll be careful," Adeline assured him. "But the man just wants to commiserate. He's trying to cope with the shock of losing his brother." Frank looked troubled and shook his head. "I don't get it," he said. "I don't know why he wants to talk to you, but there's something peculiar about it." He sampled the chowder and liked it. He tried a second spoonful. "Either I'm starving to death or this is pretty good." Adeline tried it and agreed. "You should take Sergeant Lester's advice," she said. "Treat this as a free vacation. Enjoy your chowder, enjoy your room at the inn, enjoy the coast. You work too hard, Frank. A rest will nourish your soul. Do you ever do anything fun?" Frank decided not to answer the question. "This guy's got some plan in mind, and it isn't good." "Frank, relax and enjoy your chowder. You're all wound up." "Oh yes, excuse me for being a little cranked up but you see, this is the first time I've found a corpse in my car in several days." That won a broad smile from Adeline. "One surprise right after another, Frank. You are capable of a sense of humor after all, and a sarcastic one too. You should use it more often." "I'm just trying to give you some indication of the potential danger you're in." "Don't worry about me," Adeline said. "I'm an astute judge of character." Frank sighed a sigh of defeat. He directed his attention to his food and finished his chowder within two minutes. As he slid the bowl back he said, "If you're determined to meet with this guy, maybe I should be there." "That would be okay," Adeline said. "If nothing else, it might change your mind about him being a crazed killer." Frank shook his head slowly. "I don't think it will. But maybe, after this fight with his son, he won't even show up at your place." "Maybe," Adeline said. Frank watched Adeline finish her chowder then they walked back to her house. Any doubts they had about whether Joslyn would appear were settled when they turned the corner on Farrington Avenue ten minutes later and saw him waiting in front of Adeline's porch. He was pacing and searching up and down the street impatiently. Frank didn't feel good about that.
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"I thought maybe you weren't going to keep our appointment," Joslyn said as they approached. "That's so weird. You know, Frank and I were saying the exact same thing about you," Adeline said. She walked to the front door and opened it. It wasn't locked. "You thought I wouldn't come?" Joslyn asked. "Well, we weren't sure. We saw the fight you had with your son in front of the Laughing Gull, and you seemed pretty weirded out. Frank said you acted strange when you saw the police across the street at the inn, so I didn't know whether you'd be here or not." Frank winced. If this was Adeline's version of being careful around Joslyn, what would she do if she wanted to provoke him? Adeline led Joslyn into the parlor and he looked around at the clutter before he sat down, as everyone always did. Frank walked in behind them. "I won't keep you very long," Joslyn said to Adeline. "I just want to ask you something." "Okay," Adeline said tentatively. "I wanted to find out what it has been like for you, coping with the death of your brother." "My brother's death?" "Yes. What was it like?" "Well, let's see." Adeline gave it some thought. "I'm not sure I can describe it." "Please try," Joslyn said. "Well, okay. I'll give it a try. At first it was like a black pool. My aura changed color, and it began leaking all this negative energy out. I could feel it right here." She tapped her upper chest, just below her throat. "And then all my psychic energy went flat, just like a slow leak in a tire, you know? I was empty. I couldn't have done a decent tarot reading if my life depended on it for the first week or two after my brother died. My breathing was out of alignment too, and all the lavender in the world wouldn't have relaxed me because of the negative energy leak, you know?" Joslyn looked lost. "Yes," he said faintly. "But as far as what you said to people, what you did…" "What I said and did?" "Yes," Joslyn said. "You said you loved your brother very much. What did you tell people when they offered their condolences?" Adeline shrugged. "Thank you, mostly." "That seems like a strange question, Mr. Joslyn," Frank said. "What makes it important to you to know how Ms. Carr reacted to her brother's death?" "Because," Joslyn said, "I have no idea at all how to react to my own brother's death." "It isn't something a person rehearses," Frank said. "It's something I need to rehearse," Joslyn said. "I'm going to have to put on a performance and I don't have the slightest idea how to do it. People will be offering me their sympathy and I will have to act like my brother's death was a great loss to me, like I'm in mourning over it. I never had a feeling like that to draw upon my whole life." "You never lost any loved ones?" Adeline asked. "In your entire life, you never felt that kind of grief?" Joslyn shook his head no. "Your brother was the first person close to you who died?" Adeline asked. "I never said that. I've never been close to my brother at all. I've hated him my whole life, and I don't feel at all bad that he's dead." Frank felt a cold chill run down his spine. This was the sociopathic nerve he didn't want to tap into. Next stop: total flip out. He wanted to signal Adeline to back off, to let her know that Joslyn was incapable of empathy. She seemed to be missing the obvious, not that that surprised Frank.
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"People will be asking me about my brother, people from the company, from the press, people who have seen him on TV. They all thought of him as a funny and loveable fellow because they saw him on commercials and thought they knew him, but he wasn't like that at all. What do I say to people when they ask me about him, when they ask me how I feel about his death? I can't very well tell them I'm glad he's dead. I can't tell them he was a perfect jerk to me and everyone around him because they don't want to hear that. And imagine what it would do to our company if I started saying something like that. The stockholders would lynch me. Anyway, that's why I wanted to talk to you. You know what it's like to miss someone you really love. You've been through it. You could tell me how to describe the painful loss of brotherly love." Adeline leaned forward and patted his hand. "You poor man," she said. "What you don't realize is that people will not expect to hear much from you at a time like this. All you need to do is nod your head from time to time and say things like, 'I know,' or 'That's very helpful' when people give you advice. And nobody will judge you harshly if you excuse yourself while they're talking to you. I think they kind of expect that kind of behavior." Joslyn listened intently. "But the deeper issue is the battle that's going on in your soul right now. What a terrible conflict. You know, Timothy…can I call you Timothy? I've been studying a new technique called holistic focusing that was developed just for situations like this." Frank decided to jump in before Adeline prescribed an exorcism or high colonic for the man. He spoke to Adeline. "I think Mr. Joslyn has gotten the information he came for. Let's not overload him with too many things at a time like this." Joslyn agreed. "I think I got exactly the advice I needed," he said. "I will certainly give it a try." He stood up. "Thank you very much, both of you." Adeline stood up and pressed his hand tightly. "When you feel ready to try out holistic focusing, let me know," she said. "I'll loan you the printouts I downloaded from the internet." Joslyn nodded, pulled his hand free, and left. "You see?" Adeline said. "He isn't a sociopath at all. He's just a very troubled man." Before Frank could respond, there was a knock at the front door. Adeline went to see who it was. It was Joslyn, back at the door with an envelope in his hand that he took from the glove compartment of his car. "I would like you to have this," he told her. Adeline looked at it. It was a business size envelope and it appeared to be stuffed with paper, paper the size of money. "I can't accept anything for my services," she said. "I'm on kind of a professional leave of absence I guess you'd call it." "Consider this just a gift then, not a payment. This is what the argument with my son was about that you overheard. I thought he stole this money from me, but he didn't. It was in the family safe and I want you to have it." Adeline mulled it over a moment, but she shook her head no. "It would be improper for me to take anything," she said. Joslyn nodded his head obligingly. He took the envelope back. Adeline closed the door and turned to face Frank. "How did I do with that?" she asked. "You did the right thing," Frank said. "But did you see that envelope? There might have been a billion dollars stuffed in there." "Doesn't matter." "I guess not," Adeline said. She sighed. "There probably wasn't a billion dollars in the envelope anyway. I'm good, but I'm not that good." She looked out the window and saw Joslyn drive off in his car. "Maybe a couple hundred thousand though."
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CHAPTER FIVE The police were gone from the inn when Frank returned. His room was made up for him, and he was ready for a nap. He let Jonathan MacLeod see his credit card and copy down the numbers. Jonathan gave him a key and a sheet of paper with instructions about when breakfast was served—seven until nine o'clock— when checkout time was—eleven o'clock—and where to park his car (if he had one)—next to the garden, behind the inn. Peggy was obviously the more personable of the two, and probably the one who typically did all the customer interactions. Jonathan, by contrast, seemed awkward and even a bit gruff as he talked with Frank. He struggled through the process, and finally wanted to know if there was anything else Frank needed. Frank was tempted to say, "Yes, you can turn off that ridiculous classical music; it isn't loud enough for anyone to actually hear anyway." But he would never be rude enough to say anything like that out loud, not even as tired as he was. Besides, Jonathan wasn't sincere when he asked the question. It was just his way of saying, "There, we're all done. Now, get out of my face and leave me alone." Of course, he would never be rude enough to say something like that out loud either. In some ways Frank and Jonathan were kindred spirits. Frank walked upstairs to his room and sat at a writing desk. He took out his notebook and pen and began writing his site visit report. He always preferred to write his reports promptly. He began listing the deficiencies he found at the Carr Institute, jotting down notes about the lack of confidentiality, staffing inadequacies, poor record-keeping, insufficient training and counseling credentials, and disregard for standard practices of care. Should he say anything about Adeline coming to the door barefoot? No, leave that detail out of it. There were enough other violations to cite, and as he contemplated some of them, he considered writing, "This place should be left open as a model for others to see exactly what not to do if they want to run a decent clinic." In fact, he wrote half that sentence on paper before he realized what he was writing and put the pen down. "I must be exhausted," he said to himself. "I never in my entire life would have written anything so crude and sarcastic as this, no matter how awful a program is." He pulled his chair back from the desk. "What's gotten into me?" He turned the page to a fresh sheet of paper and started writing the explanation for his delay in getting back to Augusta. His first attempt read, "Through no fault of my own, I was late arriving at my destination, so I failed to lock the driver's side door when I got out of the vehicle." He rejected that draft because it sounded like an excuse. Well actually, it was an excuse. He tried a different angle, simple and direct. "I forgot to lock the car when I got out." No. Too simple and too direct. It gave the impression that he made careless mistakes all the time. He had to let them know that he was not a careless person by nature. He only got as far as one word into his next attempt. "Uncharacteristically…" No. Again he put the pen down. Maybe his mind would be clearer after a nap. The idea sounded pretty good to him, if for no other reason than to escape from the world for an hour or two. He pulled the quilt down and fluffed his pillow. In the middle of that ritual he heard a noise in the back yard, a woman's voice , sharp and angry, hollering, "Stop lying to me!" Frank straightened up and listened intently, but he didn't want to look out the window. He wanted to mind his own business and take a nap. The voice shouted out again though, louder and angrier the second time. "How could you have done something like that?" Frank looked out the window. Peggy MacLeod was hollering at her husband. "Keep your voice down," Jonathan MacLeod said in a low menacing voice.
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Peggy swung around and faced the house. Frank backed away from the window but he thought for sure she'd seen him. How humiliating to be caught eavesdropping. Not humiliating enough to keep Frank from peeking out the window again though a moment later, more subtly this time. "Oh, Jonathan, how could you?" Peggy said. She burst into tears and ran into the house. Jonathan shook his head in disgust and went back to the edge of the vegetable garden where he had been working. He kneeled down and huddled over the soil. Frank watched him dig into the dirt with a spade. A tree limb blocked most of Frank's view so he went into the bathroom and looked out that window. He had a better view from there and could see Jonathan digging a shallow hole at the rim of the garden, about three feet long and a few inches deep. When he finished digging the shallow trench, he reached over and picked up a plastic garbage bag, a small one, like the one Peggy used in the bedroom when she cleaned the room. He rolled the bag lengthwise, put it in the trench and covered it over with dirt. He pounded the dirt down, then smoothed the soil over carefully with his hands. Whatever he had in the bag—if anything at all—it wasn't very full, like the bag Peggy had used in the bedroom. When Jonathan stood up, he turned to face the house and he walked toward the back porch. Frank ducked away quickly again. He stood with his back against the bathroom wall, wondering why Jonathan was burying something in the garden. He listened quietly and heard the back door to the house shut. In another moment, he heard footsteps at the bottom of the stairs. The footsteps paused briefly, then began climbing to the second floor. They seemed unhurried and determined, and then they stopped outside his door. Did Jonathan see him looking out the window? There was a pause, a long pause, then there was a loud rap on the door that startled Frank and made him cry out, a thin little squeak. He walked over to the door and opened it a crack. "What are you doing here?" Frank said, flinging the door open. "I brought you these," Adeline said. She held up an armload of clothes and walked past him, into the room. She plopped the clothes onto the bed. Frank checked to see if anyone else was outside the room before he closed the door. "What's this?" Frank asked, nodding toward the pile on the bed. "Clothes." "Yes, I can see that, but what are they for?" "Well Frank, I realized you're going to be stuck here all weekend without a change of clothes, so I brought you some stuff that belonged to my brother. He was a lot taller than you, but not as fat, so they might fit. Let's see now, we've got a couple T-shirts." She held them up. "We have a pair of walking shorts, very conservative colors, don't you think? My brother shared your taste for the bland. And we also have a couple pairs of socks. The socks still have the little store loops in them, they've never been worn." "Ms Carr, that's very kind and thoughtful of you, but you know I can't accept these don't you?" She scowled in thought. "Is this part of that bribery thing again? Did someone try to buy you off once with a pair of socks?" "I can't accept any gifts from agencies. It's a rule, one that I take very seriously." "Then, how about if you just treat this as a loan? You can return everything to me on Monday if you like. I was just going to drop the stuff off at the Salvation Army anyway, along with a lot of other things that belonged to Sam and Yvonne. You certainly don't want to be wearing that coat and tie all weekend, do you? By Monday, we'll have to bury them out in the back yard." Frank gave her a curious look. Adeline picked up the shorts and held them up in front of Frank. "They might be a little tight on you." She pressed them up against his stomach. Frank took the shorts and put them back on the bed. "I suppose I am going to need a change of clothes to get through this weekend," he said. Adeline grinned, but Frank abruptly held up his index
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finger. "However! The fact remains I can't accept these, not even on loan. I could use some help from you though, if you could direct me to a good clothing store." "Okay," Adeline said. "Suit yourself. Ha! Get it? Suit yourself? Okay, never mind. We can walk downtown and I'll give you a fashion consult. Main Street is just two blocks away." "What kind of clothing stores do they have downtown?" Frank asked. "Um, well pretty casual, actually." "Where would I go to get something like this?" Frank asked, pointing toward his coat and tie. "Probably a funeral parlor," Adeline said. "You won't find that kind of thing locally." "Could we drive to someplace where I can get some clothes I'd be willing to wear after the weekend is over?" "Not in my car we can't because I don't have a car, and not in your car because they took it away from you. I think, Frank, you're stuck with the casual look. But look around you, you're in Bar Harbor. Even the bankers don't dress up like you do when it's eighty degrees out. There are only two styles of dress here, really casual, and really dressy. You don't fit into either category, so you're just going to have to branch out in one of those two directions. I can show you where you can rent a tux if you want to run around like a lounge singer all weekend." "No, thank you. Let's go see what they've got downtown for casual clothes. I suppose I can at least check it out." He rubbed his hand over his face. So much for his nap. "But let me go clean up quickly first," he said. He went into the bathroom and closed the door. When he did, Adeline started wandering around the room, checking out the dresser drawers to see if a Gideon Bible was in one of them, sniffing at the cut flowers on the nightstand. She walked over to the writing desk and saw Frank's notebook. Flipping back a page, she saw what he had written about his visit to her office. She winced as she read all the deficiencies, but then read, "This place should be left open as a model for others to see" and she read the line several times over. "He does appreciate my skills after all," she said. "Isn't that something." She moved away from the writing desk before he came out of the bathroom. Frank flipped the notebook closed as he walked by it, and they walked out of the room. Frank tried to lock the door with the key Jonathan had given him but the key didn't fit. He studied it. "What's wrong?" Adeline asked. "This key doesn't work on the door," Frank said. "They gave me the wrong key. I'll have to get another one downstairs." He started to close the door, then remembered to get his notebook. "I better take this with me if I can't lock the room up," he said. "Yes, I know. It follows you everywhere you go, every waking moment until you can lock it in your file cabinet at work," Adeline said. Frank ignored her snide remark. He went downstairs and found Jonathan and Peggy in the kitchen. He noticed there seemed to be some tension between the two of them as he approached, but he pretended not to notice and he held up the key Jonathan had given him. "The key you gave me doesn't work," he said. "It does," Jonathan said coolly. "No, I just tried it. It doesn't even fit in the keyhole." "It doesn't lock your room," Peggy explained with a polite smile. "The rooms don't actually lock from the outside. That key is for the front door, in case you're out late. The front door is locked at ten." Frank looked at the key and at his notebook. "We've never had any thefts here, but we do have a safe, and I'd be happy to lock any of your belongings in it if you'd like." "My notebook, I suppose," Frank said. "I shouldn't leave it in my room if the room can't be
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locked." "Certainly," Peggy said. She took the notebook and walked into a small office beside the kitchen. She opened the safe and put Frank's notebook in it. Frank noticed the safe was empty except for his notebook. Adeline came downstairs, and stood beside Frank. She rummaged around in her crocheted hemp purse and eventually pulled out an envelope, the envelope Timothy Joslyn tried to give her. Frank recognized it. "How did you get that?" he asked. "Mr. Joslyn left it outside my door," Adeline said. "I guess he wasn't going to take no for an answer." "Something else for the safe?" Peggy asked. "No, something to return to its owner," Frank said. "I didn't plan to keep it," Adeline said defensively. "You saw me, I told him to keep it, but he brought it back and set it outside my door. I guess he has a stubborn streak." Jonathan MacLeod stepped out of the kitchen and stood behind Frank. "Anything else we can help you with?" he asked Frank. Again, it had the quality of insincerity, a thinly veiled version of "scram." Frank told him he was all set. To Adeline he said, "Let's go do that shopping." Adeline dropped the envelope back in her purse and said, "I don't dare open it because I don't want to know what I'm giving away, but I'm dying to know what's in it. How are we going to get it back to him? We don't know where he lives." "We'll have to figure that out somehow," Frank said. "While you're deciding what to do with it, maybe you should leave it in the safe," Peggy suggested. Adeline thought it over. "No, I'll take it to the police station right after we finish buying Frank some clothes." "It's no trouble, the safe's open, we can toss it right in," Peggy said, but by then the letter was in the bottom of Adeline's purse again so she politely declined and led Frank out the door and down the block toward Main Street. It didn't take Frank long to see what he was up against in his quest for a change of clothes. There was no shortage of clothing stores in town, but they all sold T-shirts and bathing suits. He could have bought a sweatshirt with a simple "Bar Harbor" or "Acadia National Park" emblazoned on it if he wanted to go with the conservative look, and in doing so, roast to death in the heat, or he could have opted for a variety of T-shirts. They all had cartoons on them and slogans like, "Lobstahs Make Me Hot," and "I'm A Maniac For Maine." He rejected every one that Adeline held up to him, but by the fifth store, he was beginning to capitulate. Adeline finally had him talked into a T-shirt with a subdued picture of a loon on a lake, and they were looking at walking shorts. "I'm not sure these will fit," he said. Adeline held them up to his belly. "They're the same size as the pair I brought to you," she said. "Don't they have a changing room here where I could try them on?" "I'm afraid not. They've got one on the other side of the store, but it's for women." "Well, that's annoying," Frank said. "They've got a changing room for women, but not men?" "I guess women are fussier," Adeline said. "They want to try on their bathing suits before they make a public spectacle of themselves. Tell you what though. Come with me." She grabbed Frank by the arm and led him over to a cashier in the women's section. "My friend here would like to try on these shorts," she said. "Do you suppose it would be okay if he tried them on in the changing room? I'll stay right outside the door and guard him." "Um, no, that's all right," Frank said. "I don't need to try them on."
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"Of course you do," Adeline said. The cashier nodded her approval, and Adeline dragged Frank over to the room. "Coast is clear," she told him. "Go see if they fit." Frank realized there would be a bigger commotion if he argued than if he ducked into the room and tried the pants on, so he did what he was told. He noticed the smile on one young woman who was standing near the changing room, but he tried to stay focused on the task at hand. The woman wandered off and Frank snuck inside the tiny room. He closed the louvered door and looked for a latch but there was none. "When you get your shorts on, let me take a look and see how they fit," Adeline said. "If I can get them on at all, I'm buying them," Frank said. "I don't plan to drag this experience out any longer than is absolutely necessary." "What experience is that, Frank?" Frank pulled up the shorts and snapped them. It was hard to tell whether they fit properly. Around his stomach they fit, but he never owned a pair of shorts his entire adult life, so he didn't know what length they should be, and he certainly didn't want to fling the changing room door open and expose himself to derisive laughter. He decided to simply ask Adeline rather than show her what they looked like on him. "How far above the knee should these shorts be?" he asked. Adeline stood facing the changing room door, four or five feet from it. When she heard Frank's question, she took a step forward and smiled. She didn't notice the person walking up behind her. She didn't see the cane that was raised above her head and didn't hear the crack as it came down on her skull. Adeline crumpled to the quietly to the floor. No one in the far corner of the store noticed, and her assailant strolled to the exit, replanting the cane in the display of walking sticks on the way out. "I said, how far above the knee should these be? Ms. Carr?…Ms. Carr?"
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CHAPTER SIX The room looked kind of amber, hazy and dimly lit. The blinds were closed to keep the room dark, and the door was shut. A little sunlight leaked in around the rim of the window, enough to keep the room from being pitch dark, but not enough to read by. Adeline didn't care to read anyway, so it didn't matter. Her head was aching. A woman wearing a white dress stepped forward with a brass-colored pan. Adeline leaned forward and vomited into it. Another woman rubbed Adeline's back and told her she had done a good job. Adeline was proud of herself and decided to celebrate by drifting off. The second time she came to she heard the word, "concussion." Her head still hurt, but not quite as bad. She heard the word, "stitches" in the next sentence and saw Everett Lester standing across the room beside Frank. "What happened?" Adeline asked. Everett stepped forward. "That's a real good question," he said. "The clerk at the store said you just passed out." "I passed out?" Adeline said. "Well, actually no, I don't think you really did pass out. You've got a crack on your head, right on the top of your head, and there was nothing around that your head could have struck when you fell. So, unless you did a flip into the air and landed on the top of your head, which I doubt, something struck you before you hit the floor." "Oh?" Adeline said faintly. "I think somebody bopped you on the head," Everett said. "Who?" Adeline asked. "We've got no idea who did it. The store clerk never heard you hit the ground. She happened to look over when she heard Mr. Rupert hollering for you, but she doesn't remember seeing anyone around you. She just came over to see what happened and that's when she saw you lying there all by yourself in a clump on the floor. Mr. Rupert, of course, was in the lady's room at the time trying on a pair of pants, so he didn't see what happened either." Adeline looked over at Frank. He was wearing the shorts he tried on in the lady's room. He was also wearing a scowl. "They look good on you," Adeline said, "But they really don't go with your shirt and tie." "I didn't have time to change before the ambulance came," Frank said. "And I still have to go back and pay for the shorts." He had the T-shirt bundled in his hands. "And I also need to pay for this," he said, holding the shirt up. "We need to buy you some sandals too," Adeline said. "You've got kind of a bizarre half-grunge, half-wall street thing going on there." Frank looked down at his shoes and dress socks. Adeline started to reach up to the top of her head but the nurse cautioned her not to. "You've got a few stitches," the nurse said. Adeline patted gingerly around the wound. "My hair feels like needles," she said. "There's a little dried blood around the wound," the nurse said. "Blends in nicely with your hair," Everett told her. Adeline swung over to the side of the bed and sat up. "I don't feel too woozy," she said. "My head aches a little, from the stitches I think." "The doctor would like you to stay overnight for observation," the nurse told her. Adeline searched around her bed. "Where's my purse?" "Right here," Frank said. He reached over to the chair by the window and held it up. "I want to see what I look like," Adeline said. Frank brought the purse over to her. She pawed
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around for her mirror, and found it, but then kept pawing through the purse. "Wait a minute," she said. "Where is it?" "Where's what?" Frank asked. "The envelope. The envelope I got from Timothy Joslyn. It's missing." Everett stepped forward and looked into her purse. "What are you talking about?" he asked. "What envelope from Timothy Joslyn?" "He came to talk with me this afternoon, and gave me an envelope." "What was in the envelope?" Everett asked. Adeline dumped the contents of her purse onto the bed. "I don't know," she said. "I never opened it, and now it's gone. Somebody took it." "Why would Timothy Joslyn give you an envelope?" Everett asked. "Well, I'm not really sure. He tried to give it to me after I talked with him, and I thought it was money. I told him I couldn't take it." "I still don't understand," Everett said. "Why would he try to give you money?" "For the counseling session," Adeline said. "Frank and I talked with him this afternoon about his brother's death, and he seemed grateful for the information. He handed me an envelope, but I couldn't take it because I'm on leave of absence." "This isn't making any sense to me," Everett admitted. "I think maybe I need to go back and visit Mr. Joslyn." He looked at Frank. "You talked to Mr. Joslyn and he handed you an envelope?" Frank nodded. "Actually, he handed it to Ms. Carr but she gave it back to him. When she left the house a few minutes later, apparently she saw the envelope lying beside the front door. He left it behind for her and drove away." "But you saw the envelope, and you saw him hand it to Adeline?" "I saw him offer it to Ms. Carrr and she refused it, but yes, I saw the envelope." "Well then, how about if you come along with me to talk with Mr. Joslyn?" Everett said to Frank. "I'd like to find out what the story is about this missing envelope, and what was in it. Maybe we can also find out why someone took the envelope out of Adeline's purse." He looked at Adeline. "It would be interesting to find out why someone bopped you on the head and took Joslyn's envelope, and took only that." "I'd like to know that myself," Adeline said. "I'm coming too." "No, you rest up here like the doctor wants you to." "It was my head that got bopped, I want to come along and find out why it got bopped." Everett ignored her. He looked at Frank. "You'll come along?" "Certainly," Frank said. "I'm coming too," Adeline said. She scooped her belongings back into her purse and stood up. She felt a bit wobbly but made an effort not to show it. "The doctor wants you to stay here," the nurse said. Adeline was not going to be deterred. She looked at Everett. "I'm going to come with you." "You'd better listen to the doctor," Everett said. "I'm the one Mr. Joslyn gave the envelope to, and I'm the one who got bopped," she said. "I'm coming along to find out what this is all about." The nurse started to say something else, starting with "the doctor," but Adeline halted her in midsentence by plugging her ears. She reached down for her shoes and walked to the door with her shoes in hand. As she stood there, she made a mental note not to reach down quickly for anything again for the next day or two until her head healed up a bit. Everett looked over at Frank. "Another thing, Mr. Rupert. You might want to change into your
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regular pants before we head back out into public." Frank's face registered a look of horror. "I left my pants in the changing room," he said. "In all the commotion, I just…" A fresh look of horror replaced the old look of horror. "And my coat too. My coat and my wallet. I left them in the store." "All right," Everett said. "We'll swing by the store on our way to Joslyn's house so you can change clothes." "I'm never like this," Frank said on his way out the door. "I never forget things. I don't know what's wrong with me." As they walked past the waiting room, Adeline and Frank noticed the television was on. The volume was low, but loud enough to for them to hear the news report that was being broadcast. It was about Gerald Joslyn's death. The news item showed a shot of the inn, then a shot of the Moose Juice label, a file photo of Joslyn, and a clip from a commercial with Joslyn apparently swimming in a pool of Moose Juice. How this would inspire people to drink more of the stuff, Frank didn't know. Joslyn was sitting in an oversized inner-tube, wearing a brown and green baseball cap with moose ears coming out of it, carrying on a conversation with a cartoon moose sitting in an inner-tube beside him. Adeline and Frank both paused to watch the report, then they walked off together. Everett watched them walk down the hall. He was used to seeing eccentric people in his line of work, but these two, he decided, were in a class by themselves. Everett got them into the back seat of the police car and drove to the store where Frank left his clothes. Everett double-parked in front of the store. Frank got out and trotted into the store, attracting considerable attention from the tourists on the sidewalk. He emerged from the store a minute later with his coat and pants in his arms. The crowd around him was a bit larger when he came out and a couple of the people applauded for some strange reason. When Frank got back into the police car Everett said to him, "I thought the whole point of this detour was so you could change your clothes." Frank gave him a look of confusion. "I forgot," he said meekly. He started to get out of the car but Everett told him to stay put. "Let's leave well enough alone and get this visit over with," he said. "I would like to be able to get off duty in the next hour or so if I can." Everett pulled off Main Street and headed toward the outskirts of town. "You should ask Mr. Joslyn about the note when we get there," Adeline said. "What note?" Everett asked. "The note he wrote to his brother. The one we found at the inn." Everett shot her a blank look. "You didn't find it at the inn when you looked around?" Adeline asked. "We gave it to Peggy MacLeod and she threw it in the trash. She must have shown it to you." "I didn't see any trash," Everett said. "There was a bag, a white trash bag, the size they call a kitchen bag. You didn't see it? I'm surprised at your detective work, Everett. That note could be important evidence." Frank leaned forward in his seat. "And I suppose I should tell you this too: I saw Jonathan MacLeod out in the garden this afternoon burying a trash bag just like it in his garden. Obviously the same bag." "Obviously," Everett said. "What did this note say?" "Timothy Joslyn wrote it to his brother" Adeline said. "He said he wanted to meet with him at ten o'clock. And you know what, he told me he hated his brother. That's motive and opportunity, isn't it? We saw him outside The Laughing Gull this morning too, fighting with his son. He gave his son a shove and stormed off. I would say he has some real anger management problems. At first I didn't see it, but Frank explained it to me. And what's more, Frank says the note we found proves Mr. Joslyn is a psychopath
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because the note was written funny." Everett shot a look at Frank in the rearview mirror. Frank was sitting forward in the seat in his shorts and dress shirt. He fiddled with his tie. "Written funny," Everett said. "Not funny like ha-ha," Frank said. "His handwriting had characteristics that are indicative of people with an antisocial personality disorder." Frank looked down at his wardrobe and decided maybe he should just keep quiet. There's a time and place for everything, and this was neither the time nor the place to try and convince Everett of his professional competence. "Well, I'll tell you what," Everett said. "Let's just take one thing at a time. First, we'll go have a talk with Mr. Joslyn and find out what was in that envelope he gave you. Then if we have time we'll hang around and see if he's a sociopath, and on the way home, if we have even more time, we can stop off at a store and buy you some flip-flops to go with the clothes you bought. I'd like to talk with Jonathan MacLeod too about that plastic bag you said he was burying. But like I say, let's deal with first things first. Our top priorities are visiting Timothy Joslyn and giving you a fashion makeover." Frank sat back in the seat and looked out the window. He recalled that he actually liked Everett when he first met him.
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CHAPTER SEVEN Mount Desert Island, where Bar Harbor is located, is shaped sort of like a fat shrimp. It takes in a lot of real estate, including a national park and a few towns. The real estate is generally expensive by Maine standards, and some of it is expensive by any standards. Everett was driving into the ritziest section of the island. The summer sun was a half hour away from setting when they headed out, but the shadows were long and the air was beginning to cool. Gradually, Frank noticed that the houses were getting larger, were spread farther apart, and were sitting farther back from the road. The long tree-lined driveways were in much better shape than most public roads in Maine are. This was the land of the pampered, an area of the state Frank hadn't seen before. "I suppose you know, we got a positive identification on the man you found in your car this morning," Everett said by way of conversation. "The Moose Man," Adeline said. "His brother told us he had to identify him for the police." "Yes, it was Gerald Joslyn. The Moose Man." "I knew it was him as soon as I saw him in the car. Do you think his brother killed him?" "If I thought that, I wouldn't be bringing you two to his house right now. For that matter, I wouldn't be going there myself." "If it wasn't Timothy, who killed him?" "That's the part we don't know yet, but it wasn't his brother. Timothy Joslyn was at a Rotary Club function this morning when it happened. Unless the chief of police and a few other local dignitaries are in on the plot, Joslyn is off the hook. We also pieced together the reason Gerald Joslyn was sitting in your car when you found him." "Why was that?" Frank asked. "Well, it's conjecture of course, but it sounds reasonable. When he was stabbed, he was stabbed in the lung. That kept him from crying out for help, but it also gave him time to walk away from his killer. There was a trail of blood behind your car several feet long. He was obviously shocked and disoriented. It turns out, the car he drove from the airport to the inn was a rental car, a dark blue car like yours. He staggered off and sat in your car, thinking it was his car and hoping to drive off. He had his car keys in his hand when we found him. I don't know if he lived long enough to realize he was in the wrong car or not. That's our theory anyway." At that point, the police car slowed up, turned onto a narrow winding road, and traveled nearly a quarter mile before a house came into view. It was a modern-looking house, more modern than the others they had passed. A green Mercedes convertible was parked in front. "That's his car," Adeline said. "He's home." "Good thing," Everett said. "I didn't want to make the long drive out here for nothing." As they pulled in front of the house and came to a stop, they gazed through the windshield. All three of them were fascinated by the architecture of Joslyn's home. The bottom floor consisted mostly of windows. One large window in the center of the house covered two stories and revealed an equally large window on the other side of the house. Through the windows, anyone approaching the house could see a spectacular view of the ocean. The sky had turned from rich blue to warm peach over the last half-hour, and to the right, where the sun was beginning to set, it had turned deep red. Standing outside the house, the view of the developing sunset and the rolling waves twenty yards away was blocked by the house and trees that framed the house on both sides. "Money creates magic," Adeline said. Frank could feel the rumble of waves under his feet, rhythmic and low.
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Everett broke the spell by walking to the front door and ringing the bell. Two or three more waves crashed before Timothy Joslyn got to the door and opened it. "Good evening, Mr. Joslyn," Everett said. "I'm Sergeant Lester. I spoke with you earlier today." "Yes, of course," Joslyn said. He looked over at Frank and Adeline. "I believe you know Adeline Carr and Frank Rupert also," Everett said. Joslyn's eyes stayed on Frank an extra moment. "I should have put my pants on over these stupid shorts before I walked to the door," Frank thought to himself. "What's happened to my common sense in the last ten hours?" "How are you?" Joslyn said to Adeline and Frank. "Please come in." He stood back from the doorway and let them enter the house, then closed the door behind them and led them to the large room in the center of the house and invited them to have a seat. "I got in just a few minutes ago," he said. "Please excuse me. It's been a very long day and I'm quite tired. You've got some more questions for me, I take it?" "Yes we do," Everett said. "I'll try to be quick." Joslyn nodded. "You visited with Mr. Rupert and Ms. Carr earlier today at Ms. Carr's residence, is that correct?" "Yes it is." "What was the purpose of that visit?" Joslyn smiled faintly. "I needed some advice," he said. "I believe I was quite candid with them about my feelings toward my brother. My brother and I never got along and I've carried an animosity toward him for years. I was looking for some advice on how to behave around people who are trying to offer me their sympathy." "You mean so you could hide the fact that you hated your brother?" Everett asked. "Well yes, in a manner of speaking. Not really to deceive people so much as to keep up appearances in public, for the sake of our company. My brother had a popular public image and people watched him for years on TV. I'm sure the public wouldn't want me to destroy that image, certainly not at a time like this. So, when Ms. Carr told me her brother died recently, I thought she might be able to give me some advice on how to act, and in fact she did." "I'm glad I was helpful," Adeline said. "I think I have a gift." "I'm sure you do," Joslyn said courteously. "I heard you also had a quarrel with your son today," Everett said. "I did." "Could you tell me what that was about?" "Unfortunately, our quarrels aren't rare. My son and I live together. We've lived alone here for twelve years since his mother left us and I'm afraid I'm far from a perfect parent. I don't show affection very well. The simple truth is, I really don't care very much for human contact, and I'm sure my personality has had an adverse effect on my son. He's been abandoned by his mother and virtually neglected by me all his life. My ex-wife left him and me rather abruptly, and she remained completely out of reach. She left the country in fact, and I wasn't equipped in any way to be a parent. It's just not in my nature. Between my wife physically disappearing and reappearing from time to time, and me emotionally disappearing from him, well, the end result has been that my son has a wild streak, one that's gotten worse as he's gotten older. I'd say in fact it's more than a wild streak, it's a mean streak. I hate to say it, but most of the time he reminds me of Jerry." "Your brother." "Yes. Gerald. It's been a trait of our family for generations that the Joslyn men are wild and careless. The one exception in the family evidently is me. That's why my grandfather wrote his will the
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way he did. I wish to God he hadn't written it that way but that's what he did and he created all the upheaval in our family that we're dealing with right up to this day." "How do you mean?" Everett asked. "My grandfather invented a unique soft drink, of course you know all about that. People seemed to like it and he was clever enough to figure out how to make a business out of it. Moose Juice, he called it, and he made a lot of money off it. When he died, he left his money to his two grandchildren, Gerald and me. He left nothing to my father, because he and my father never got along, and because my father was wild and reckless when he was young, just like my grandfather was before him. So my grandfather decided to keep us from inheriting any of his money until we turned fifty-five years old. My grandfather figured that if we lived that long, we would calm down like he did and be mature enough to handle the money." "But it didn't work out that way?" "There was a flaw in his plan. My brother Gerald was twelve years older than me. That meant he came into his part of the inheritance twelve years before I did, and that also meant he had enough money to tempt me out of my part of the fortune. When my brother turned fifty-five, I was forty-three, my wife had just left me, and I'd spent my whole adult life working menial jobs with the company. I came to Maine when I was twenty-one and I ended up doing warehouse work, driving delivery routes, packing crates, doing menial jobs with the company that I expected to run someday. Suddenly my brother offered me five million dollars and all I had to do was sign away my half of the inheritance when I turned fiftyfive." "What did you do?" Everett asked. "Well, let's put it this way. My birthday was last Wednesday and Gerald was here to collect the other half of the inheritance." "You know," Everett said, "You just provided us with a pretty good reason for you to want to kill your brother." "I know." "Or to have someone else kill your brother while you set up an alibi for yourself." "Yes. And believe me, those thoughts crossed my mind. But I no longer had any reason to kill him this morning. If I was going to kill him I would have done it two days ago. Today was too late. You see, I'm going to get nothing out of my brother's death now except the satisfaction of knowing he won't be around to browbeat me anymore. I signed my inheritance over to him Wednesday, and I'm quite certain I'm not in his will, you can be sure of that. He has a string of girlfriends who will probably get the money, unless he's decided not to leave the money to them either. It wouldn't surprise me. He might just have someone dump it all in the ocean." "We're going to need to check up on all that information, you know," Everett said. "I know." "Now, there's one other thing, Mr. Joslyn. You gave Ms. Carr an envelope today." Joslyn shook his head. "I gave it to her because I knew I could trust her." "What was in the envelope?" Everett asked. "Something I needed to keep from Tim," he said. "Something I took from Jerry." "Tim?" Everett said. "Yes, Tim. My son." Adeline and Frank sat forward. "Your son's name is Tim?" Adeline asked. "Different middle name than mine so he's not a junior. I go by the name Timothy and he always goes by Tim so it's not as confusing as it seems." Frank spoke up. "Would you have anything around here that was written by Tim?"
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"What do you mean?" Joslyn asked. "Anything. It doesn't really matter what. Just something written in his handwriting." "I suppose so. There must be something around here. You mean like a letter or a shopping list or what?" "Just something with a few words on it that he's written." Joslyn searched his memory. "Okay. Yes, he must have something in his room. If you wait just a minute I'll go find something he's written and bring it to you." "Thank you," Frank said. Joslyn went back toward the front door, then across the house to Tim's room. While he was gone Everett said, "Okay, what's that all about?" "I want you to take a look at the handwriting when he comes back. You'll see what I was talking about, you know, the note we found at the inn that Tim signed. It had heavy, jagged letters, sharp angles. You'll see." He shook his hand up and down to illustrate what he was talking about. "Antisocial characteristics." He glanced over at Adeline and waited to be vindicated, but Joslyn didn't come right back. They sat in silence for nearly minute, waiting for him. Outside, the waves crashed a half-dozen times and the sky continued to darken slowly. Everett checked his watch impatiently. At last they heard footsteps returning from the far end of the house. They waited. The footsteps were brisk and stopped at the front door. The front door opened and they heard the same footsteps running outside, down the steps and down the driveway. "He's running away," Adeline said. She jumped to her feet and ran to the front door. Frank and Everett followed. From the entranceway they could see Tim's room at the end of a hallway. The room was dark, the door was open halfway and there were a pair of legs stretched out awkwardly across the floor just inside the room. Everett ran over to the room. He saw Timothy Joslyn's face in profile. Joslyn was lying on his stomach with a patch of blood spreading from his back. "Stand back," Everett said to Adeline and Frank, but Frank wasn't there anymore. "Where's Rupert?" he asked. Adeline shrugged. Frank had gone out the front door. He saw a faint image running toward the road. The path was dark, and the only thing he could make out was the movement of legs. He walked to the end of the porch and then trotted a few yards down the driveway. "Mr. Rupert," Everett said. "What are you doing?" Frank pointed toward the runner. "There he goes," he said. "He's getting away." The figure disappeared completely into the darkness. Everett headed toward the police car, but before he reached it, he heard a car start up near the end of the driveway. It pulled out from the brush and onto the driveway. By the shape of it, Everett knew it was an SUV, but he couldn't tell what kind. The vehicle didn't slow down when it hit the road. Its tires squealed as it spun around to center itself on the street. It corrected the skid and sped away. Somewhere down the road the driver turned the headlights on. "Did you see who it was?" Everett asked. Frank shook his head no. "He's dead, isn't he," Frank said, nodding toward Joslyn. "He certainly is," Everett replied. He went to his car and opened the door. "Don't go back in there until the investigators arrive." He made a call for backup, and for an ambulance, though he knew there was no rush for that. Then the three of them leaned against the car and listened to the pounding surf.
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CHAPTER EIGHT It was a little after eight-thirty when Everett got back to Farrington Avenue and dropped Adeline off at her house and Frank off at the inn across the street. Frank got out of the car and decided to put his pants on over his shorts before he entered the house. No particular reason really, except to try and salvage a little bit of dignity when he saw lights on in the parlor. As Everett's car disappeared around the corner, Frank stepped onto the porch and heard voices talking loudly inside the inn. There was no way to avoid meeting the people inside because the stairs to the second floor were just outside the parlor door, so he braced himself for the encounter and walked through the front door and over to the stairway. Five people were in the room, four adults and a girl Frank figured to be six or seven years old. The conversation stopped when Frank appeared, and all eyes turned his way. A red-headed man in his early thirties stood up and walked toward Frank, smiling and holding his hand out. "Ah, another hearty traveler," he said with a slick drawl. "My name is Tom Nestor. This is my wife, Jean, my daughter, Kim…" "Kimmy," the daughter interjected. "…And my parents, Ray and Evelyn from Ellsworth." "Ellsworth. That's just about a half hour from here," Evelyn explained. "Yes, I know," Frank said. "Tom and I are from Lexington," Jean said in a drawl that was twangier than her husband's. "Lexington, Kentucky. My husband is a meteorologist there, on the six and eleven o'clock news." "And my wife is a city counselor," Tom said. "Third term," Jean said proudly. "And I'm campaigning for a seat in the state legislature." "We just came by to visit Tom and Jean and Kimmy today," Ray added. "They spent the day with us touring Acadia. Absolutely beautiful day today, wasn't it? We tried to get them to stay with us at our house, but Tom likes his space. Guess we can't blame him for that, and Evelyn hasn't been feeling very well lately anyway. She's got emphysema, so probably it's for the best that they're staying here. Beautiful inn, don't you think? When things quiet down, you can hear music playing softly in the background." Frank nodded. "And you are?" Tom asked. "Frank Rupert." "Mr. Rupert, pleased to meet you." "Doesn't Mr. Rupert remind you of Terry?" Jean asked. "Who?" Tom asked. "Your cousin, Terry." Tom squinted at Frank. "A bit I suppose." "Terry is an accountant," Evelyn explained to Frank. "Was an accountant," Ray corrected her. "Yes, well he got into some legal trouble a couple years ago. He's no longer an accountant." "His wife divorced him over it," Ray said flatly. "We took in their three children until Ruth could get back on her feet," Jean told Frank. "You did a wonderful job with them too," Evelyn said. "It was pretty clear they had been through quite a lot." She looked at Frank. "Ruth had a drinking problem, you know. We don't hold that against her, but she never even tried to get help for herself." "I had a bit of a problem myself," Tom told Frank, "Back when I was younger, ten years ago. I had to tell myself to cut back and stick to it. You have to mean it."
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That was quite a bit more information than Frank cared to have about the Nestor family. Somehow, therapists seem to attract people who dump out their life stories. They don't encourage it, they don't want it, but they get it anyway, usually in a barrage. "You're staying here by yourself?" Tom asked. "On business," Frank said. "Business?" Tom asked. Frank nodded. There was a pause. He was expected to fill in the blanks. "I inspect counseling agencies for the state," he said. "I came up here to do a site visit." "Oo, how interesting," Jean said with inflated enthusiasm. "You must encounter a lot of fascinating people in your line of work." "Today I did," Frank said, mostly to himself. "So did we," Tom said slyly. "Right under this roof." Jean gave him a poke in the ribs. "Well, you'll have to excuse me. I really need to get to bed," Frank said. "It's been a long day." Tom leaned forward and lowered his voice. "I guess you heard about the excitement here today?" he asked. Frank nodded his head and gave the family a tired smile. "Lots of interesting dynamics going on here at the inn," Tom said. "For someone like yourself, a professional person who understands human psychology it must be really fascinating eh?" He leaned forward even more and lowered his voice another notch. "We were just talking about our host and hostess." "Son," Ray said. "Let's not engage in gossip." "This isn't gossip, it's observation. Mr. Rupert understands that. Maybe he can help us understand it better. Right, Mr. Rupert?" Frank shrugged. "You see in my line of work, radio news, I deal in personalities. Some news teams work and some don't, all because of personalities. Now, you must have heard some of the nasty little barbs between… what are their names?" "Peggy and Jonathan," Jean said. "Yes, Peggy and Jonathan. We were just trying to figure out whether they're having a rough day because of all the commotion around here or whether they act like this all the time. What's your take on this, Mr. Rupert, from the point of view of an expert?" "I actually haven't been around to observe what you're talking about," Frank said. "I've only been here a few minutes out of the whole day." "Busy with your inspections, eh?" Ray asked. "He's an inspector?" Kimmy asked, stepping into the center of the room and tilting her head to look at Frank. "Do you know what an inspector is?" Jean asked. "Like a police inspector?" Kimmy asked. "No, not exactly, dear. He goes to places that treat people with big problems, isn't that right, Mr. Rupert?" Frank smiled bravely. "Sort of," he said. "But anyway, I definitely need to get to bed now so, um, I guess I'll say goodnight." No one fought him any further. He went upstairs to his room, turned the light on and closed the door behind him. He could hear the others saying goodbye at the front door. He had broken up the party. There was a pile of clothes on his bed, the clothes Adeline had brought him. He scooped them up and dropped them onto a chair beside the bed. It was at that moment he realized he had no toothbrush or
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razor, and no immediate access to either without hiking up to Main Street with the hope of finding a store open until nine. That would have amounted to a crisis under normal circumstances, but these circumstances were abnormal, the most abnormal he had ever experienced, and he was simply too exhausted to care. He'd worry about it in the morning. For now, crawling under the covers and putting an eight-hour circuit-breaker between himself and the events of the day were the only things important to him. He opened the window to get some cool air into the room. Jean and Tom began climbing the stairs. Tom carried Kimmy in his arms and she was sound asleep until she got right outside Frank's door. "I wanna glass of water," she said. Jean and Tom continued walking down the hall. Frank was relieved to know they weren't staying in the room next to him. He listened to them open a door at the end of the hall, then close it and disappear into silence. He sighed a grateful sigh. Maybe he could at least retrieve a good night's sleep out of this miserable day. Within two minutes he was experiencing the blissful sinking feeling that comes with the arrival of sleep. He joyously welcomed it. As his body began to relax and his thoughts stopped swirling in his head, he heard a voice. It startled him, and he opened his eyes. Was it one of those tricks the mind plays when it's overtired? Was it a scrambled message in the brain, translated from a honking horn or a barking dog into a voice? He recognized the voice because he'd just heard it a few minutes age, and he thought he recognized the words. "I didn't want to kill them." The words were hushed, nearly whispered, and sounded like they came from right behind Frank's shoulder. He sat up and looked around. The room was empty. So, he was hallucinating? Were his shattered nerves going to keep him awake all night? He had himself convinced he'd been tricked by his imagination until he heard Jean's voice. "I know," she said. "But we've got to do this. We talked about it, and we're in it too far now to turn back." Where were they, under his bed? "I know," Tom said. "It makes sense, but sometimes it seems crazy to me, especially dragging Kimmy into this." "She's the one who will benefit most," Jean said. Frank's ear tracked the voices to the open window. He peered out the window and saw Jean and Tom on a porch outside their room. They were leaning against the banister, trying to keep from being overheard, but unwittingly directed every word into Frank's room. "It will be quite a price to pay if this doesn't work, if we get caught," Tom said. "In more ways than one." "It will work," Jean told him. Tom sighed. He rubbed the back of his neck and said something Frank couldn't quite make out. Frank leaned closer to the window. Tom started to walk back into the bedroom. "At least it'll all be over tomorrow," he said. Jean said, "Yes, it will," and followed him in. As she was closing the door, Frank heard Tom say something else. It could have been, "Kimmy's been jostled around a lot and she's hardly stirred," or it could have been "Timothy Joslyn has gotten just what he deserved." Or it could have been, "Give me just an apricot in hot syrup," but probably not. Frank got up and latched his bedroom door, then set a chair against it. He crawled back into bed and stared at the ceiling, with the blankets pulled up to his chin. His mind began calculating and ruminating again. Is it possible Timothy Joslyn's murderer didn't see him in the back of Everett's police car when they drove to Joslyn's house? That would be a good thing, a very good thing, but maybe too much to hope for, and probably not a good thing to count on. Is it possible the person who stabbed Joslyn didn't see Frank standing in the living room of Joslyn's house with Adeline and
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Everett before Joslyn was murdered? That would also be a good thing, and ditto to the part about not counting on it. Is it possible this wussy family from Kentucky was really a family of killers? That would not be a good thing. But, if in fact they were cold-blooded killers, did they have time to speed home in front of Everett's police car, meet Tom's parents, and start up a fairly elaborate—albeit inane— conversation before Frank arrived? Probably not, but would you want to stake your life on the certainty of that? Did…let's see, what was the other thing? Did…um…oh, what was that?…Did uh… Fatigue settled back in and lulled Frank away from his rumination. It calmed his anxieties with a numbing drowsiness, stirred his thoughts around until they dissolved, and drew him into a sound sleep.
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CHAPTER NINE A glint of sunlight and a cool breeze danced in through Frank's window and woke him up a few minutes before seven. He could hear the faint thump-thump of footsteps from somewhere in the house, and the hiss of water pipes. He could also smell coffee. The shower he took felt good, but the prospect of putting the same clothes back on that he wore the day before made him shudder. He went to the chair where he'd tossed the clothes Adeline brought him, and looked through the shirts. A clean shirt would help perk him up a bit. He could borrow one to wear through breakfast and then go shopping right afterward. That would be okay, because it wasn't like he was accepting a gift from a clinic. In fact, it wasn't any different than borrowing, say, an umbrella to get to his car. The Department wouldn't have a problem with that. Of course not. He found a white knit shirt that appeared to fit, and he pulled it out of the pile. He tried it on and checked it out in the mirror. Not bad, especially with his new shorts. Problem was, his dress shoes and socks looked ridiculous with the shorts. He'd have to put his trousers back on. Or, maybe not. He saw a pair of jogging pants in the pile. They were long for him, but didn't look bad when he bunched them up around his ankles. In fact, they did a pretty good job of hiding his shoes. Casual wear was outside Frank's area of fashion expertise, but he knew enough to know this was the best combination he could hope for under the circumstances, so he went with it and walked downstairs to breakfast. The Nestors were seated at the dining room table. Tom stood up to greet Frank, and Jean gave Frank the smile that all politicians have to learn. "Did you sleep well, Mr. Rupert?" she asked. Frank said, "Yes I did. Did you?" Tom and Jean exchanged uneasy looks before the smile returned to Jean's face and she said, "Yes, thank you." Kimmy took a sip of milk and wiped her mouth with a napkin. She'd been trained to be a "little lady." Frank decided it would be okay to not treat the Nestor family as crazed killers at the breakfast table, even if he still had reservations. They were a bit tacky for Frank's taste, but all things considered, they were probably the most normal people he'd met in the last twenty-four hours. Besides, he was famished. He sat down across from them and poured himself a cup of coffee. In the middle of his first sip, Jean said to him, "You heard what Tom and I said last night, didn't you?" The coffee came to a halt midway down Frank's throat. He gave Jean a startled look and shook his head no. "Of course you did," Tom said. Frank forced the coffee down and said, "No. Honest." "Now, I know you heard every word," Jean said. "Don't be silly." Was there any point in continuing to deny it? One more feeble head shake maybe. "Tell us what you think," Tom said. "About?" "About what we talked about." "Well, I really don't know. It wasn't very clear what you were saying. I couldn't hear very well." Tom laughed. "You're being awfully diplomatic, Mr. Rupert. You can't hear them in there?" "Hear who in where?" Tom leaned forward. "The MacLeods, in the kitchen. It's just like we said last night, they're going at it again." Frank listened. He could hear the bickering between Jonathan and Peggy, though their voices were
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hushed. "The arguing," Frank said. "Well, I don't really know what to make of that." He heard Peggy's voice say, "I'm not doing it. You need to do it. I don't have time to run errands in Ellsworth. I've got all the rooms to make up here, unless of course you'd like to do that." The back door closed with a decisive bang and Frank could hear Jonathan's footsteps stomp down the back porch. A moment later Peggy emerged from the kitchen into the dining room. The smile on her face was forced. "Good morning, Mr. Rupert. I see you've poured yourself a cup of coffee. Very good. I'll be working on some poached eggs for you folks, but you'll have to be patient. Jonathan usually does the cooking but he had to take our vehicle into Ellsworth for some work." Frank heard the car start up in the parking lot out back. He looked out the window and saw an SUV drive by. "We have other guests, a couple who will be joining you for breakfast soon I imagine," Peggy said. She disappeared quickly back into the kitchen. "Doesn't she have just the most wonderful brogue?" Jean asked. Kimmy wanted to know what a brogue was and Tom explained it to her. Peggy re-emerged with a bowl of muffins and set them on the table. "I was just admiring your charming brogue," Jean said. "What part of Scotland do you come from?" "Actually, I was born in the U.S., but I picked the accent up quickly when I met my husband in Scotland. We lived in Edinburgh for several years." She changed the topic quickly. "Is there anything I can get for you before I start the eggs?" Everyone said no. "Very well then, I'll just be a few---" Her words choked off and she began to cry. It seemed to shock her. "Oh, I'm very sorry," she said. She covered her mouth with her hands and rushed back into the kitchen. "Maybe you should go talk with her," Tom told Jean. Jean got up and went into the kitchen. A moment later, Frank heard footsteps coming down the stairs and two more people entered the dining room. They sat together at the far end of the dining room table and introduced themselves by simply muttering hellos. Frank nodded at them, but Tom stood halfway up, smiled, and said, "Good morning to you both. We met yesterday at breakfast, I believe. I'm Tom Nestor from Lexington, Kentucky. This here's Kimmy, my cute as a button daughter, and my fabulous wife, Jean is in the kitchen." His gregarious introduction didn't win him much attention from the other couple. They simply repeated their low volume hellos. Frank glanced at them and made a quick assessment. They were in their late forties he guessed, and probably from New York, maybe Boston. They were married and, he gathered, had been married for close to a quarter of a century because they had that quality of shared mannerisms couples sometimes take on when they've been together their whole adulthood. For instance, their shared pinched facial expressions and huddled postures were matching sets. Obviously, they came to the dining room table to eat, not talk, and Frank was willing to accommodate that. Jean came out of the kitchen and sat back down. "She's okay," Jean said quietly to Tom, but loud enough for Frank to hear. She looked over at the couple seated at the end of the table and said "H'lo, y'all." This time their response was limited to a slight nod. The couple looked like they didn't even care to talk with each other, let alone anyone else. Jean shot a curious look at Tom who gave her a subtle shrug in return. When Peggy came out of the kitchen with a platter of eggs, she looked better composed. She saw the quiet couple at the end of the table and said, "Ah, the Burleighs are here now too. Very nice. Eat well everyone, and let me know if you'd like more." Frank decided to eat quickly and get away as soon as he could, but he had underestimated the detachment of the Burleighs. They ate, stood up, and left the room while he was still only halfway
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through his meal. Their plates were picked clean. Jean looked over at Frank as soon as the Burleighs made it to the top of the stairs and said, "That's exactly the way it went yesterday morning too." "Really weird," Tom said. Frank took a big gulp of coffee. He didn't enjoy being around eccentric people. He took larger bites of food and made his own flight from the dining room a couple minutes later. For the better part of an hour he stayed in his room, writing his site visit report to the Department. He continued to wrestle with the wording and finally figured out a way to say he had left the state car unlocked without sounding too whiny or too careless, and he did it without mentioning the two dead bodies, the assault on Adeline, and his fashion disasters. It wasn't a perfect report—he was sure to get a reprimand—but then again he deserved one. He'd learned his lesson though. He would never never never leave the state vehicle unlocked again. As he was finishing the report, he heard a knock at his door. It was a knock he recognized. He opened the door, and Adeline stood in the hall, but this time Rita was standing beside her. Adeline had her hair down and combed back this morning, and she had on a sundress patterned with moons and angels. No shoes. "Morning, Frank," Adeline said. "Hi, Frank," Rita chimed in. Frank imitated the Burleighs. "We've decided to kidnap you," Adeline told him. "Well, that's the only felony I haven't been involved in since I met you," Frank said. Adeline laughed and turned toward Rita. "See? I told you he had a sense of humor." "I get it," Rita said. "Kidnapping is a felony, right?" "We've got your day all planned out for you," Adeline said, entering the room. She walked over to his notebook. "Still writing your report?" He squinted at her. "How did you know that's what I was writing in there?" "I peeked at it the last time I was in here," she said. She went over to the window and looked out. "It’s a beautiful day, Frank, so we've decided to take you to see Acadia National Park. Ever been there?" "No," Frank said. "Oh, then you'll love it." "I mean, no, I really don't want to go with you to Acadia." Rita walked up close to Frank, a bit too close, and said with an injured frown, "You don't want to go with us?" "It's not that you aren't very nice people," Frank began. "I know," Adeline said, "It's that you can't socialize with us because of your job." "That's right," Frank said. "No it isn't," Adeline said. "See, that's where I got you, Frank. I knew you were going to use that as an excuse, but we no longer have a professional relationship because you put me out of business yesterday, remember? If I'm not a counselor anymore, you don't have to maintain professional boundaries with me, so come on, we want to show you Acadia." Rita squealed and clapped her hands. "Come on, Frank." Frank shook his head no. Adeline stepped forward and grabbed his hand. He thought she was going to drag him out the door, but she just held onto his hand and said, "Frank, there's no longer any conflict of interest with you coming along with us, just as there's no conflict of interest with you wearing my brother's clothes, as you apparently realized this morning when you put them on." Frank blushed and look down at his outfit.
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"It's a beautiful day, Frank. What do you plan to do, waste this whole beautiful day by sitting indoors?" It suddenly dawned on Frank that he was staying at an inn full of murder suspects. There wasn't anyone under the roof who was psychologically stable. A quick image flashed through his mind of him being knifed in the gut by a grinning cute as a button Kimmy. "Well, I don't know. Could we make just a quick tour of the park?" Frank asked. "If you like." "And, could I stop and get some different shoes to wear?" Frank asked. "An excellent suggestion, Frank. That will be our first stop, and this time you have two fashion consultants instead of just one." Frank nodded. Rita clapped her hands again, and bounced up and down. "That way," Adeline said on her way out the door, "If one of us gets knocked silly again, you'll still have a fashion consultant available to you. You need at least two." Frank followed them down the stairs, out the front door, and over to Rita's SUV. Before he got in, he excused himself and walked behind the vehicle to look at the taillights. He couldn't be absolutely certain, but they seemed a bit squarer than the taillights of the vehicle that sped away from Timothy Joslyn's house. Adeline didn't ask what he was doing, she knew. She gave him a smile when he walked back to the passenger door. "You get in front," she said. Adeline crawled into the back seat. When Frank opened the passenger door, he saw a wad of fur sitting on the seat. "What's this?" he asked. "That's Missy-Pooh, my little baby," Rita said. "Come here, Missy-Pooh, come-a momma." The dog leaped onto Rita's lap. "Oo such a sweetie," Rita told the dog. Frank put his seatbelt on as Rita started the vehicle up. "She just loves to ride," Rita said to Frank. He nodded his head very slightly. Missy-Pooh turned around on Rita's lap and sat facing Frank, watching his every move. Rita drove to Main Street and found a store that had a selection of casual shoes. She doubleparked in front of the store and put her emergency flashers on. A family from Connecticut had just pulled into the parking spot she was blocking and dad got out of the car complaining. "I'm just picking up a package," Rita told the man and gave him her sweet innocent grin, the one she got a lot of mileage off of. Missy-Pooh yipped when Rita got out of the vehicle, but Rita calmed her down with a couple quick pats. Frank and Adeline both got out and closed their doors. Missy-Pooh renewed her complaint as the doors shut. When they walked in the store, Frank said to Rita, "Aren't you worried about getting a ticket, Ms. Perry?" "Oh, I never do," Rita said. She scampered to the back of the store and immediately found a pair of Tevas to present to Frank, but he saw a pair of boat shoes he preferred and pulled them off the shelf. "Frank," Adeline said. "Boat shoes with the jogging pants isn't going to make it." "No?" "No." He frowned at the sandals Rita was holding. "I suggest a compromise," Adeline said. "Get a pair of plain white sneakers. Subtle, innocuous, and versatile." She pointed to a pair on a display table. Frank went over and looked at them. "They go with everything you're wearing and you'll blend right in with the tourists." She hit the right persuasive note. Frank found a box with his size on it and tried one of the sneakers on. "How does it fit?" Adeline asked. He nodded his head. "Tell me the truth, Frank. This is the first pair of sneakers you've ever bought, isn’t it."
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"It certainly is not," Frank said, offended. "I meant ever in your adult life, like since you were twelve." Frank didn't answer. He bought the shoes and made it out of the store without anyone getting stabbed or clubbed, which Frank regarded as a victory. They got in the car before the family from Connecticut showed up again, and Rita drove to the national park entrance. "I always get confused on these roads," Rita said. "Sometimes the roads are one-way and sometimes they're two-way." "We'll help you out," Adeline said. "You steer and we'll navigate." Frank spent forty years in Maine and never once went to Acadia. It just never occurred to him or his friends or family to take the trip there. It was a breathtaking park though, and a perfect day to see it, and he was reluctant to admit it but as they rolled through Acadia, he began to enjoy the trip, and also, gradually, the company of Rita and Adeline, whose enthusiasm for the scenery became infectious. Not far into the park, Rita stopped at a turnout and they got out to look at the ocean. The Atlantic was making the same deep rumbling noise Frank heard and felt the night before outside Joslyn's house. The waves slammed against rocks that were the color of pink lobster meat while gulls swung over the heads of the tourists, waiting for someone to throw them a snack. Sailboats glided by, just below the perfect blue horizon line. Frank could see tiny figures on the decks, lying on their backs gathering the sunshine and saltwater breeze. "Have you ever wanted to be rich like them?" Rita asked, nodding toward the people in the boats. Frank shook his head no dreamily. "No, Ms. Perry. I never did," he said. "I always thought it would be a hard life to be rich. It looks like an easy life to people who aren't rich, but I bet it's hard." "It was for Timothy Joslyn," Adeline said. "And for his brother too, I guess." "I bet it would be nice to be rich the way those people out there are," Rita said, nodding toward the sailboats. "Only, it might be better without all the money." Frank was struck by a troubling thought: Rita was starting to make sense to him.
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CHAPTER TEN Throughout the rest of the morning, Rita drove along the park loop and made two other stops. They went to Thunder Hole, where the ocean tide is forced into a narrow, high-walled inlet and then regurgitates with a loud belch and a towering spray of saltwater. Adeline led Frank out onto a walkway overlooking Thunder Hole where they stood beside a dozen other tourists and waited until a strong wave came crashing in. Everyone got drenched, and everyone enjoyed the privilege. They also stopped at Otter Point, where they viewed the panorama from a high ledge. To Frank this was a precarious vantage; too precarious, as it turned out. He stepped back a few yards from the edge to control his vertigo. "You doing okay?" Adeline asked. Frank nodded his head. "I just get a little light-headed when I'm up high looking down." "Sorry about that," Adeline said. "We didn't mean to scare you. We'll keep driving. There's some nice scenery up ahead, and you won't have to look at it from a high altitude." "That's good." "You know, Frank, I'm glad you came along," Adeline said. "Me too," Rita told him. Frank nodded and thought it over a moment. Would returning the compliment constitute an ethical breach? No, not really. "I am too," he said. "This is a nice change of pace for me. And, it's good to get out of that inn you sent me to. It's the strangest place I've seen in my whole life." "Strange?" Rita said. "I thought it looked really pretty." "The building's not strange," Frank said. "But the people in it are. The innkeepers fight in the back rooms all day. Peggy MacLeod puts on this appearance like everything is fine, then bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. Her husband, Jonathan walks around the house doing his imitation of Lurch out of the Addams Family. And they've got this mysterious couple staying there who refuse to speak to anyone, and a family from Kentucky that takes turns being obnoxiously folksy one minute and sinister the next." "Sinister? What constitutes sinister to you, Frank?" "Well, the mom and dad were outside my window last night talking about killing people and not getting caught. I'd call that sinister." "Killing people?" Adeline asked. "They said they killed people?" "Who did they kill?" Rita asked. "Did they kill the Moose Man?" "They didn't say, but I definitely heard them say something about killing people." "What exactly did they say?" Adeline asked. "I don't know. I don't remember the exact words, I was half asleep. Something like, 'I didn't really mean to kill them' and, 'It'll be bad for us if we get caught.'" Adeline leaned forward and peered at Frank. "Shouldn't you tell Sergeant Lester about this?" Frank shrugged sheepishly. "I suppose I need to, but…" His voice trailed off. "I don't know. I've presented myself as a lunatic to him so many times the past twenty-four hours I hate to subject myself to any more embarrassment." Rita spoke up. "You're not going to say anything because you're afraid of what people will think of you?" "I believe Frank's always afraid of what people will think of him," Adeline explained. Frank started to protest, but stopped himself. He knew Adeline was right. "I think you've been under massive stress, Frank," Rita told him. "You should think about seeing a good therapist to help you unwind. You know, Adeline does wonders for me when I get upset." "I'll think it over," Frank said quietly. He walked back to the car. Adeline and Rita followed. They drove past the woods and rest stops of Acadia, coming to a cove where the waves were
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relatively calm. Out on the rocks, near the shore, Frank saw a family of five standing around. He leaned forward and fixed his stare on them. "What is it?" Adeline asked. "That's one of the families from the inn," Frank said. "The ones from Kentucky, the Nestor Family." Rita applied the brakes. "Don't stop here," Frank said. "I'll pull over to the parking lot so we can go over and say hi," Rita said. "No, I don't want to say hi. They're the ones who were talking about killing people. Why on earth would you want to go shake hands with them? Let's keep going," Frank said. He continued to watch the family even though he'd asked Rita to drive on, fascinated by their activities. "What are they doing?" Adeline asked. "I'm not sure," Frank said cautiously as he squinted toward the family. Tom's parents stood back from the shore, setting up a video camera on a tripod. Tom went over to the SUV and pulled out a large styrofoam cooler. It looked heavy. He carted it over to the rocks where he had already brought five other coolers. Jean stood by the water with Kimmy, looking toward the camera. "What are they doing with all those coolers?" Rita asked. "They can't be filled with food; nobody could possibly eat that much." She opened the car door. "I'm going to go over and find out what's going on. You coming along?" Frank said no. Adeline said, "Yeah, let's go find out." Frank stayed in the car with Missy-Pooh, who put her paws on the dashboard and began whimpering incessantly as her master walked off. By the time Adeline and Rita got across the road, Tom had all the coolers stacked up. There were eight of them. Rita greeted the family with a cheery, "Hi, whatcha doing?" The family didn't seem pleased to have Rita and Adeline show up. They nodded toward them rather formally and each seemed to be waiting for someone else to explain what this was all about. Jean said something to the two women, but Frank couldn't hear what she said. He thought about leaving the car and going across the road to join Rita and Adeline, but the thought also occurred to him that if the Nestors took a notion to gun down Rita and Adeline, someone needed to survive to tell the tale. Someone other than Missy-Pooh. Tom's father finished setting up the video camera, then came over to explain what the family was doing. "We're filming a campaign video for Jean," he said simply. He gave Adeline and Rita a brief smile and started to walk back to the camera. "Mind if we watch?" Adeline said. Ray seemed awkward about that. He looked over at Tom and Jean. "You'll have to be very quiet," Tom said. Rita promised she would be quiet by zipping her thumb and index finger across her lips. Adeline nodded in agreement. With the camera set up, Jean and Kimmy walked over to a point of land where the rocks hovered about four feet above the ocean. Tom brought one of the coolers over. Jean reached in and pulled out a lobster. She held the lobster up and said to the camera, "And remember, your vote for Jean Nestor is a vote for humane treatment for all God's creatures." She swung the lobster past the edge of the rock and dropped it in the ocean. Kimmy jumped up and down, clapping her hands and shouting, "Free! Free!" "Oh, no!" Adeline yelled out. Everyone's head swung her way, frowning. Tom threw his hands up in the air. "Please!" he said. "You've got to keep quiet. You've ruined the shot."
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"I think we can splice in the part where she's dropping the lobster," Ray said, "But we have to refilm the rest." He turned to Adeline. "I think it would be best if you simply left. You don't really understand what we're doing here." "Maybe you're right," Adeline said. "But it doesn't seem very humane to drop lobsters into the ocean with elastics still on their claws." Ray's face went blank. "Hold on!" he shouted to Jean and Tom. He walked over and spoke to them. Tom looked over toward Adeline. Scowling with humiliation, he took another lobster out of the cooler, pulled the elastics off its claws and handed it to his wife. Then he backed out of the shot as Ray returned to the camera and hollered, "Okay!" Jean smiled at the camera and Kimmy gave a perky grin. "And remember, your vote for Jean Nestor is a vote for humane treatment for all God's creatures." As Jean opened her hand to release the lobster, Adeline shouted out again, "No!" Too late, Jean let go of the lobster, and swung her head around frowning with barely-contained fury toward Adeline. From a distance of twenty yards, Adeline could hear the loud crack as the lobster hit square upon a rock. She touched the top of her head gingerly and empathized with the lobster. "You have to wait until a wave comes in," she explained to Ray. A wave came in at that moment, as if to demonstrate. The water swelled over the rocks, lifting the tide by three or four feet, then the wave was sucked back where it gurgled and exposed the rocks to a long moment of air and sunlight. Ray produced a deep sigh. "Is there anything else you would like to recommend before we start filming again?" Adeline winced. "Well, come on. Let's get it all out at once." "Um, do you see those buoys out in the bay? There are dozens of them, and they're all lobster traps. It may occur to people watching your commercial that you're releasing these lobsters into a mine field, so to speak. Probably every one you drop will be on someone's table by suppertime tonight." Ray studied the water and looked at the cluster of brightly colored trap markers. "I'm sorry," Adeline said with a pained smile. After Adeline explained this to Ray, Rita walked over to Evelyn. She nodded her head toward Jean and Tom. "Why are they doing this?" Rita asked. "My daughter-in-law is running an animal rights campaign," Evelyn explained. "She's going to free twenty lobsters as a symbolic gesture." "Oh," Rita said. She frowned. "And people will vote for her because of that?" "Jean is quite sure they will," Evelyn said, then she shook her head sadly. "We lost four of the lobsters yesterday because they weren't packed right. Poor things. Tom took it very hard. He said it was all his fault, that he killed them because of his carelessness. He's so sensitive. But we're releasing the rest of the lobsters today and they're all still very healthy. "I didn't really mean to kill them," Adeline said to herself, recalling what Frank said he overheard the Nestors saying. "Huh?" Evelyn said. When Adeline didn't respond, Evelyn added, "Jean is very excited about the video. Her opponent owns a chicken ranch." "Mm-hm," Rita said tentatively. "It was recently cited because of its unhealthy conditions," Evelyn whispered, the way people do when they want gossip to spread. Rita smiled. She still didn't understand what Evelyn was getting at. "I guess people really like lobsters in Kentucky." Tom was ready to film again, and Adeline and Rita excused themselves. Frank stepped out of the
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car as they headed back toward him. "What is all that about?" he asked. "They're saving lobsters for people in Kentucky," Rita said. "I see," Frank said blandly. He didn't understand what Rita was getting at. "I think they'd be happier if we weren't around to criticize them," Adeline said. "That suits me," Frank agreed. They got back in the car and completed the Acadia loop, but the trip was ruined now. Frank felt strangely claustrophobic. He couldn't seem to escape craziness no matter where he went. He hated craziness. Discipline, consistency, dependability, these were things he liked and appreciated. Surprises, eccentricity, chaos, these were things he had worked hard to remove from his life. Back on the highway, five miles from the gate of the national park, he had one more surprise waiting for him. Rita saw the blue lights of a police car flashing in her rearview mirror. The car was approaching rapidly. She pulled onto the shoulder of the road to let the car pass, but it didn't pass. It pulled up behind Rita's car and came to a stop. Frank looked out the rearview mirror and wondered what new unpleasantness was about to invade his life.
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CHAPTER ELEVEN Sergeant Everett Lester stepped out of the police car and walked over to Rita's car, to the passenger side where Frank was sitting. "Where have you been?" he asked Frank. "I've spent the entire morning looking for you." "We kidnapped him," Rita said, wide-eyed and very serious. Everett kept his attention on Frank. "I've got a search warrant for that inn you're staying at," he said. "Tell me again what you saw take place in the garden yesterday. The thing about the plastic bag." Frank told him, and gave him more details this time about Peggy's comments to Jonathan in the back yard, although he couldn't remember word-for-word what she said. "It was something like, 'How could you?' or 'Why did you do it?' and her husband said, 'Keep quiet," or something like that." "How could you do what?'" Everett asked. "What was she referring to?" Frank shrugged. "I have no idea." "And then you saw him bury a plastic bag, a bag like the one his wife put the note into?" "That's right." "Okay," Everett said. "Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. Follow me to the inn and park out front. I'm going to meet Lieutenant Clarkson there and we're going to check out the garden. I want the three of you to stay in the vehicle, but I want you handy if I need you to identify the note. Only if I need you though, otherwise I want you to stay in this vehicle, understand?" All three shook their head yes. "I mean it, no poking around. Stay in the vehicle and behave." "Of course," Adeline said, with exaggerated emphasis. Everett scowled at her. "Look at me, I'm being haved." Adeline gave him a toothy smile. Everett walked back to his car without further comment and drove to the Inn at Farrington. Rita followed and parked out front as instructed. The state police car showed up within a couple minutes and Lieutenant Clarkson stepped out. Lieutenant Leon Clarkson was thirty-two and had just one burning career ambition. He didn't want to solve a big case, he didn't want to be involved in a dramatic shootout or get in a high-speed chase. He just wanted to be in a commercial someday, representing the state police force. All his years of being ridiculed in school for being too "straight-laced," all the complaints of ex-girlfriends about him being too boring could be ameliorated by that one single accomplishment. He looked quintessential enough after all to be in a commercial, and it didn't really matter whether it was a public service announcement on traffic safety or drug abuse, or even a PSA against spitting on the sidewalk, any commercial would do. Meanwhile, until his break came, he carried himself as though he was on film. He had a trim build and a handsome profile. Sooner or later, he believed, someone would take notice of him. But beyond that quirk in his nature, he was a thorough enough investigator. He was just a bit stilted, keeping his ambition a secret and, in doing so, leaving others to wonder whether he was arrogant or just dull witted. Clarkson shared a couple words with Everett as they stood beside the state police vehicle, then the two of them walked together to the front door of the inn. Everett tapped at the door. Jonathan came to the door, spoke briefly with them, and the three of them went around to the back yard. "Let's go see what they're doing," Rita said. "No," Frank said, quickly and harshly. This time Adeline agreed. "We'd better do what Sergeant Lester said." "Well, let's at least get out of the car," Rita said. She opened the door before anyone could object and walked to the back of the vehicle. Frank and Adeline both got out with the idea in mind of
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supervising Rita in case she wandered off toward the back yard. They watched Jonathan and the two police officers walk over to the garden, but Missy-Pooh's whining drowned out everything that was being said. Rita pulled Missy-Pooh out of the car and cradled her in her arms. That quieted her down, and encouraged the three of them to walk forward a few paces and eavesdrop. "You were planting something here yesterday afternoon," Everett said to Jonathan. "So?" Jonathan responded. "So, would you like to tell me what it was?" "I was planting radishes." "Radishes," Everett said. "That's right." "Pretty late in the season to be planting radishes isn't it? This is the middle of summer. All your other crops have been in the ground several weeks by the look of it." "This is the second crop of radishes. They grow faster than other crops." "Would you like to show me where you planted them?" Everett asked. Jonathan lifted his jaw and jutted it out toward the edge of the garden. Everett walked over to where Jonathan indicated and squatted down beside the garden. "Right here?" Jonathan didn't answer. "Would you mind if I dig in here just a bit?" "I'd rather you didn't," Jonathan said. Clarkson pulled out the search warrant and handed it to Jonathan. "I think we'd better look in there, sir." He spread his feet apart and posed with his hands on his hips. Too bad the cameras weren't rolling. Everett smoothed the topsoil carefully, then poked his fingers into the dirt and felt something smooth and pliant. He looked up at Jonathan. Jonathan was expressionless. "What do you have in here?" Everett asked. Jonathan didn't answer. Everett separated the dirt and pulled up a long white trash bag. "Why did you put this in your garden, Mr. MacLeod?" "I put plastic in between the rows to keep weeds from growing." "Keep weeds from growing," Everett said. He unrolled the plastic bag and opened it. A piece of paper fell out and dropped to the ground. Jonathan leaned forward to pick it up but Everett halted him by raising his hand. Clarkson stepped forward and picked up the piece of paper. He unfolded it and showed it to Everett. Everett nodded as he looked at it. "What do you know about this note?" he asked Jonathan. Jonathan looked flatly at the note but didn't respond right away. At last he said, "I've never seen it before." "You put this bag in the ground did you?" Everett asked. "Yes, but I never saw that note before," Jonathan said. His voice was tenser now. Clarkson dropped the note into a clear plastic bag that looked like a sandwich bag and sealed it. "I think it would be a good idea for you to be a little more forthcoming," Everett said. "Why don't you tell us what you know about this note?" "I've told you what I know about it. I've never seen it before." He paused a moment, then decided to provide a little more information. "I got the bag from inside the house. It seemed empty to me. I had no way of knowing there was a piece of paper in it." "Tell us about the argument you had with your wife, Mr. MacLeod." "Which argument? All we do is argue." "Out here in the garden yesterday, Mr. MacLeod." "There was no argument. She followed me out here hollering. She gets upset very easily, upset
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over nothing." "So, what was she upset about yesterday?" "I don't recall." "Take a moment to recall." Jonathan took a moment. "She thought I threw her mother's tea set away. That's what she came out here complaining about. It was absurd, I never touched it. We went back in the house and it was on the shelf in the pantry where it's always been." "And that was the whole argument?" "It was." Jonathan smoothed his beard with his hand. "So, this interrogation is all about the gentleman who died here yesterday, I assume? I had absolutely nothing to do with that, I can assure you." Everett didn't look assured. "And I have no idea what this garbage bag and the argument with my wife have to do with the gentleman's death." "Is your wife inside the house, Mr. MacLeod?" Everett asked. "I believe so." "Let's go in and have a word with her." The three men walked into the house through the back door and looked around. Peggy was not inside. "Do you know where she might be?" Everett asked. "No I don't." Peggy MacLeod was walking down the street at a fast pace at that moment, heading for Main Street, apparently setting out to do some shopping. Adeline and Rita and Frank saw her leave the house within a minute after Everett and Clarkson walked around back with Jonathan, and by the time they had completed their search of the house, Peggy had turned the corner and was out of view. "In my opinion," Clarkson said, "You're not being very forthcoming with us, Mr. MacLeod. In fact, your behavior is only raising my suspicions. I would advise you to be more cooperative with us. If you have any information, you would do well to tell us what you know." Jonathan let his eyes dull over. "I had nothing whatsoever to do with the gentleman's death." "Then how do you account for your suspicious behavior?" "I wasn't aware I was inciting your suspicions. I have nothing to hide, but I also have nothing further to tell you." Clarkson sighed. "Okay." He studied the note in the plastic bag and raised the bag up a few inches, toward Jonathan. "Do you suppose we'll find your fingerprints on this?" "You won't." Clarkson looked at Everett. "Well, let's go check it out anyway," he said. Everett nodded. Clarkson and Everett walked out the front door, down the porch, and toward Frank. Jonathan stood at the front door and watched them leave. His face remained impassive. Clarkson held the plastic bag up for Frank to see. "Does this look like the note you found at the inn?" he asked. Adeline leaned forward and said, "Yes, that's it." Frank nodded his head. Clarkson thanked them and headed toward his patrol car. He got in the car and started the engine, but he paused a moment before driving off to look through the side window. He nodded solemnly toward Everett and the others, the way he figured he would if he was in a commercial. Everett lingered behind an extra moment. "Jagged, triangular handwriting," he said. He smiled at Frank. "I see what you mean. So, that's how sociopaths write, eh? Interesting." He went to his car and drove off to the police station. Frank watched the police car disappear down the street and tried to decide what to do next. His
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innkeeper was the prime suspect in two murders, and was quite likely the guy who clubbed Adeline over the head. How could Frank imagine spending a restful night under the same roof with him, or for that matter, waking up the next morning and eating a stack of pancakes served up by him? He turned to Rita and said, "I wonder if you would give me a ride to another place to stay, maybe a nice quiet motel on the outskirts of town." "Sure," Rita said. "That guy is really creepy. I'm glad you're moving out of there." "I've still got all your brother's clothes in my room though," he said to Adeline. She shrugged. "Don't worry about it. Like I told you before, they were all on their way to the Salvation Army. But what about your notebook, the one that travels with you everywhere? You had it locked up in their safe, remember?" Frank winced. "Oh, I forgot about my notebook. That is a problem." "Let me talk to Everett about it," Adeline said. "Maybe he can come back here later with you so you can pick it up." "I suppose that's a good idea," Frank said. "Thank you." Rita and Adeline's gaze drifted past Frank's shoulder. He gave them a puzzled look and turned around. Jonathan MacLeod was walking toward them. "Mr. Rupert," he said. "I would like to have a word with you." Frank tried to give Jonathan a brave smile, but he wasn't very successful. "Well, uh perhaps a little later. Perhaps—" "It will only take a minute." "Well, yes. A minute. But, uh…" "In the parlor, please." Frank shook his head no. "I actually don't think that would be a very good idea. If you have something to say, I believe it would be best if you say it here." Jonathan looked up and down the street. "Please. It will only take a minute." Frank contemplated a grisly thought: How long would it take Jonathan to plunge a knife into his gut? He calculated that Jonathan could plunge a good sharp knife into his stomach, oh, about a hundred times per minute. He brushed the bizarre image aside and drew a breath. "What is it you would like to talk about?" he asked. Jonathan looked at Adeline and Rita. He realized he wasn't going to get the privacy he wanted so he nodded resignedly. "I only wanted to inform you that I am not a murderer, despite how things look to you at the moment. I did not kill Mr. Joslyn. But mostly, Mr. Rupert, I want to caution you about staying here. I'm not sure it is safe for you to be here at the inn." "What do you mean?" "I have reasons to believe it's not safe for you." Frank chewed on those words for a long moment. "So, it sounds like you know who the murderer is then?" he asked. Jonathan gave Frank an expressionless stare. "Why would the murderer want to come after me?" "I only want to caution you about staying here," Jonathan said again. "Well, that's okay. Thanks, but I've already decided to move out." Jonathan nodded his head slowly. Frank was curious to see if he was going to ask where Frank was going, but he didn't. Instead, Jonathan simply regarded Frank for a long moment, then turned and walked back into the house. "One creepy man right there," Rita said, shaking her head with a shivering motion. "I think I've changed my plans," Frank said. He turned toward Rita. "If I give you twenty dollars,
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would that be sufficient to drive me back to Augusta?" "Twenty dollars?" "If that's not enough, let me know. I just need to get out of here, and a motel on the other side of town isn't far enough away to suit me. Right now, I'm not sure Augusta is, but I'll have to make do with that." "Well, I don't know. I hate to see you run off like this," Adeline said. "It's the only sensible thing to do," Frank told her. "In fact, I would recommend that you do the same thing." "Well, my goodness, Frank!" Adeline said. "Are you inviting us to your house?" "I certainly am not. But if you have any relatives who live out of town, that would be a pretty good plan of action, if you ask me. You've already been clubbed in the head for some unknown reason, two people were killed yesterday, the killer is still running around, and there are enough creepy people hanging out in this neighborhood to fill a Stephen King novel." "That's a very good point," Rita said. She nodded her head fervently and looked at Adeline. "You both live right across the street from this guy, and that's not a very safe distance," Frank said. "I think you should both pack up and leave for a couple days." "You're worried about us?" Adeline asked. "Yes, I am." "I really appreciate your concern," Adeline said. She grabbed his hand again. "You know, I've come to regard you as a friend, Frank. I didn't start out feeling that way about you, actually. I mean, when you closed down my business and all, I have to confess I wasn't very fond of you at that particular moment. Well, maybe that's not true. Even then I felt vibes from you that made me sense that you were emitting pretty good karma, but I still wanted you to drop off a cliff, no offense. Now I have to say I believe you're a real true caring friend. You're over-reacting, no doubt about that, but you really are thinking of our best interests." Rita's hands flew up to the top of her head. The realization was slow to sink in. She gave a sharp gasp and her eyes grew large as silver dollars. "Frank, you closed Adeline's business down?" she said. She looked at Adeline, and back at Frank. "Oh, you shouldn't have done that because I need that clinic, Frank. I really, really need it." She looked back over at Adeline. "Don't let him do that." "It'll be okay," Adeline said. "If you don't keep Adeline's clinic open, I'm not going to give you a ride home," Rita said. "I really can't discuss these issues out here on the sidewalk," Frank said. Adeline turned toward Rita. "Frank's right Rita, it isn't ethical for us to chitchat about these things in public or threaten Frank that way. He's doing his job the best way he knows how and it would be like a bribe or something if he kept the clinic open as payment for a ride home." "You're absolutely right," Frank said. "I am?" Adeline beamed. "Maybe I'm actually starting to get the hang of this." "I'll do whatever you tell me to," Rita said to Adeline. "If you want me to give Frank a ride home I'll do it, but I'm very mad at him right now for closing down the clinic." Adeline opened the back door to Rita's car. "Let's give him a ride home," she said. "We'll all breathe easier when he's safely away from danger." She turned and looked at the inn. "This place has certainly changed vibes quickly," she said. "Jonathan and Peggy were very sweet people a couple days ago, but now, it's like whoa, the house just turned evil or something. Maybe we should burn some sage in it." "Maybe we should just leave town," Frank said. "At least, that's what I'm going to do. Once you drop me off, you can come back and set fire to weeds or anything you want to do, but in my opinion it
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isn't a smart idea to hang around here." Adeline got in the car and sat back. "I'll think it over," she said. "But my home is here. This is where I'm spiritually centered. Of course, on the other hand, I really don't want a second bump on my head." "And I don't want a first bump," Rita said.
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CHAPTER TWELVE Rita drove out of town and stayed on Route Three. Frank knew the road well enough to know it would curve west on its way to Bucksport and Belfast, and would eventually find its way to Augusta, not more than a mile from Frank's home on Riverside Drive. Adeline leaned forward in her seat again, the way she did on the ride through Acadia, and chatted with Frank and Rita, first about their visit to the national park, then about the mystery of who killed Gerald and Timothy Joslyn, and who bumped her on the head. The discussion was little more than a parlor game of "Who do you think did it?" at first. Rita and Adeline both took a guess, in fact they changed their mind several times, but they couldn't get Frank to play, unless you consider "I don't know" a reasonable answer, which they didn't, but he couldn't be drawn into the challenge. Eventually, Adeline shifted the topic to the events before and after Gerald and Timothy Joslyn were killed. She and Rita tried piecing together clues, but without success. "We've got all these things that don't seem to have any connection with each other, but I'm sure somehow they point to a solution," Adeline said to Rita who nodded fervently. "So let's see, there's that whole thing about the note that Jonathan buried in the garden. It fell out of the quilt when Peggy was making the bed and Frank and I showed it to Peggy. She put it in a plastic bag and Jonathan buried the bag in the garden. Why would he do that? If we could figure that out, we might have something." Frank scowled at Adeline. He couldn't restrain himself any longer from jumping into the conversation. "You're going about this completely wrong," he said. "You're mixing what you know to be true with what you're guessing to be true." "I am not," Adeline said defensively, although she wasn't sure what he was talking about. "Well, okay. First of all, you used the expression the 'note that Jonathan buried in the garden.' Already you're jumping to conclusions." "Jumping to what conclusions?" "You don't know for sure he buried a note in the garden. He insists he didn't." "But we were there when it got dug up, and you said yourself you saw him bury it." "I said I saw him bury a plastic bag. And I saw a plastic bag get pulled out of the ground a day later. It looks like the same bag, but who knows for sure?" "What are you saying, Frank? You think Peggy dug up the plastic bag and put the note in it? Or you think someone else did it? Who?" "I'm just saying we don't know for sure who put that note in the ground. Just like we don't know who killed the two Joslyn brothers or who attacked you. We don't know whether it's someone we've met or a stranger, we don't know whether one person did all those things or different people did them, we don't know anything. We don't even know why the note was left in the bag and the bar of soap and drinking cup wrapper were taken out. If you'll pardon the criticism, Ms. Carr, you seem to have a tendency to let your mind fill gaps of logic with conjecture whenever it pleases you." "I'll pardon the criticism, but why won't you help try to figure this out? We could certainly benefit from your logical mind." "I'm not interested in playing this parlor game because I know there are professionals working on this, and I trust their ability to solve these crimes." "I think the family that was tossing the lobsters into the ocean did it," Rita said. "Why?" Adeline asked. "Just a gut reaction," Rita said. Adeline nodded solemnly. "Okay. Go with that, Rita," she said. Rita squinted her eyes. "When I picture the family in my mind, I see them surrounded by police,"
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she said. "I get this image of them frowning and all these people gathered around them, police and lawyers and judges and big huge crowds of people, all gathered around them. And I can feel the unhappiness right here." She thumped on her upper chest. "Do you suppose Kimmy's a midget?" There was a moment of silence in the car. Frank couldn't stand it any longer. "What the hell are you talking about?" Rita shrugged. "That family. That's why I think they did it." Years of bureaucratic training kept Frank from groaning out loud. Rita glanced over at Frank and into the rearview mirror at Adeline. "Of course, I could be wrong," she said. She asked Adeline, "Who do you think did it?" "I think Frank did it," Adeline said without a moment's hesitation. There was a squeal from Rita, a reactionary yip from Missy-Pooh, and a gasp from Frank. Adeline met his gaze and said, "I'm perfectly serious. Think about it. Whose car was the Moose Man found in? Who went charging ahead of the rest of us toward the bedroom at Timothy Joslyn's house and who ran out the door before we found the body? Who was going shopping with me when I got hit over the head?" Rita took a second to calculate the evidence, then let out a good yelp. Missy-Pooh echoed the yelp. The car swerved. Adeline had difficulty controlling her laughter. Frank didn't. When he yelled at Rita to stay on the road, she only swerved more dramatically. Missy-Pooh let out a long series of barks. "Would you please tell Ms. Perry you're kidding before she drives us into a ditch?" Frank growled at Adeline. Adeline struggled to catch a breath and said to Frank, "I can't lie to her, can I? That wouldn't be ethical." Rita pulled the car over, put it in park and stepped outside the vehicle, grabbing Missy-Pooh in her arms. She wagged her finger at Frank and said, "You keep away from me." Missy-Pooh growled at him as if to say, "Same goes for me, Bucko." "Relax, Rita," Adeline said. "Frank didn't kill anybody, I was just teasing." Rita checked Adeline's face for a moment before she eased her posture. "You were?" "Yes, I was. Frank would never hurt anybody, although he may be thinking about throttling me at this particular moment." Frank muttered something under his breath. Rita looked at him. "I don't know," she said contemplatively. "He didn't do it because it's not in his nature, and he didn't do it because he couldn't have physically done it. He didn't have time to stab the Moose Man and drag him into his car when he left my place. You were there, you know that. And he was in the living room with Sergeant Lester and me when Timothy Joslyn was killed. We all heard the killer's footsteps and went to the bedroom together. And as for clobbering me over the head, he may regret now that he didn't do it, but he couldn't have attacked me because he was in the dressing room at the time. I saw him go in, and there was no way he could have sneaked out." "Whew!" Rita said. "I can get back in the car then?" "You can get back in the car," Adeline assured her. Rita got back in and refastened her seatbelt. "Don't tease me about that again," she told Adeline. "You know how easily I get overwhelmed by things." Adeline nodded her head and said she was sorry. The car started up and they proceeded toward Bucksport. "Could we continue on without anymore silliness?" Frank asked, "Without anymore conjecture about who killed whom? I don't mind if you turn on the radio or want to talk about recipes or whatever women talk about when they get together, but all this ridiculous chatter about murder is really playing on my nerves."
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Adeline sat back in her seat. "So, what's your favorite way of making peach cobbler, Rita?" Adeline asked. "I never made it," Rita answered. "I usually start with a fresh peach and add the cobbler later, after he's done cobbling. I've stopped making French onion soup altogether because French onions are so hard to find these days." "This is going to be a very long ride, isn't it," Frank said. The car turned left in Bucksport and continued on Route Three to Verona, one of those Maine towns that seems to exist in name only. Frank casually noticed a construction sign, but didn't pay enough attention to it to realize what it said. About a half mile later, when the car made a right turn and another sign appeared, Frank hollered, "Stop!" Rita reacted slowly. The car rolled forward another ten yards before she hit the brakes. "What is it? What's the matter?" she asked. "Turn around," Frank said. "Go back. Come on, go back." "I can't turn around here," Rita said. There's no place to turn around." They were on a two-lane road at the edge of a bridge spanning the Penobscot River, but not just an ordinary bridge. Frank remembered it well. The bridge hides. It sneaks up on cars coming down from the coast, just like it did to Rita's car. It dwarf's the old bridge that is still standing and was terrifying enough, but for an acrophobic, the new bridge was a study in pure raw terror. Coming from the south you get a glimpse of it, but it can sneak up on you if you're driving toward it from the coast and not paying attention. Thin and strung high over the water, suspending itself between two points of land like a toothpick placed on a rim of a cup, this bridge was the very symbol of Frank's fear of heights, and he was heading onto it. He tried not to look down, but looking up and seeing the cables that hung onto the bridge was no consolation. "Turn around, turn-the-car-around." "I can't do it here, Frank. We'll have to go across the bridge." "I'm not going across this bridge," Frank said. A car pulled up behind Rita's SUV and came to a quick stop. The driver gave a short honk. Rita didn't move so he made it a longer honk the second time. "What should I do?" Rita asked Adeline. "I think, if you don't turn around here Frank's likely to jump out of the car and dive off the bridge." "No!" Rita said. "Oh, Frank, you wouldn't do that really?" Frank wasn't exactly sure. He opened the car door and Rita squealed. Frank stepped out of the vehicle and said to Rita, "Okay, go ahead. Go across the bridge, then turn around, circle back and pick me up over here." Rita obeyed, and after she crossed the bridge, she found a place to turn around in a restaurant parking lot on the other side. While she did that and drove back toward Bucksport, Frank walked back to solid ground and waited. He stepped back into the car when she pulled up. "I don't like bridges," Frank said. "Is that so?" Adeline replied sweetly. "I think they're pretty," Rita said. "I mean I really don't like them. I get very very woozy around them." "You could just close your eyes when you get on one," Adeline suggested. "Unless of course you're driving." "That doesn't help. I've tried all kinds of things before and they just make it worse, it makes me vomit." "Well, somehow we've got to go across this bridge if we're going to get to Augusta." "No," Frank said. "We need to go around the bridge."
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"Frank, there is no going around it," Adeline told him. "There must be another way, even if we have to backtrack a little." "The only detour is the River Road," Adeline said. "That's fine," Frank said. "Let's take it." "If we do that, there's no place to cut off until we reach Bangor," Adeline said. "That's nearly an hour away, and nearly two hours more from Bangor to Augusta." "I really don't care if it delays us a month, let's take it. I mean it. If we go on that bridge there's a pretty good chance that I'll…well, I'll throw up." "Not really?" said Rita. "Really." "Oh, I can't believe it would affect you that much." "No? How bad do you want to find out?" Frank asked. Rita checked the rearview mirror again, looking at Adeline and searching for guidance. Adeline shrugged. "I don't suppose we really want to chance it, do you?" "I guess not," Rita said. They drove back into Bucksport, turned right onto Route 15 and took the River Road toward Bangor. Frank sat in the passenger seat and moaned softly to himself. He felt his forehead gather sweat. His breathing became shallow and stayed that way until they were a mile beyond the bridge. "You look very pale," Rita observed. "I guess you weren't teasing about the bridge." Frank shook his head no. "There are no bridges between here and Brewer, but there's one over the Penobscot River into Bangor." "I'm familiar with that one," Frank said. "That won't be a problem; it's just a stretch of highway. It doesn't go up and over a big…" he sighed, "…a big plunging ravine like that one back there does." "No, it doesn't," Rita agreed. "We can catch Interstate 95 south to Augusta," Frank said. "It will only take about an hour and fifteen minutes. On your way back, you can take that bridge again if you like. Take it to your heart's content." He felt the blood begin to return to his head. "I'm sorry to make you drive so far out of your way." "That's okay," Rita said. "But guess what? We'll be driving right past the Moose Juice plant on this road. That's kind of cosmic, huh?" Adeline leaned forward in her seat. "We will?" "Yes," Rita said. "It's just about five miles up the road. That's where my sister works. She's there right now, in fact. She works Tuesdays through Saturday, doing customer service. Hey, want to drop in and see her? She could take us on a tour of the plant." "No," Frank said. "I think that's a wonderful idea," Adeline said. "A terrible idea," Frank said. "Oh, don't you get it, Frank? Fate has brought us up here to the plant for some reason. I think we're being told something." "I think we're being told to mind our own business," Frank said. "The police are telling us to do that, Jonathan MacLeod is telling us to do that, and the bump on your head certainly should be telling you the same thing." "Don't you feel any psychic connection with the place at all, Frank? Close your eyes and feel the connection. We're being summoned by cosmic forces."
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Frank shook his head no quietly. He would have debated the point further, but the energy was drained out of him. "This is a bad idea," he said. "We should all be keeping our distance from anything related to the Joslyn brothers, and we certainly shouldn't be taking a tour of their factory. This is a very bad idea." "Open yourself to the magnetic pull, Frank. Experience the cosmic forces," Adeline said. "I can feel it," Rita told him. "Bad idea."
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CHAPTER THIRTEEN A mile before they reached the Moose Juice plant, Rita drove past a mom and pop convenience store with a sign painted on the side of the building: "Home of Moose Juice One Mile Ahead…Guided Tours…Free Samples…Children Welcome…No Pets." When they approached the plant itself, Rita turned off as directed in front of a large arrow that was painted green and brown, the distinctive colors of the Moose Juice label, and pulled into a large parking lot that was nearly empty. "I haven't been here since I was a little girl," Rita said. An enormous cartoon moose on the front of the building was drinking a bottle of Moose Juice in profile, and grinning stupidly. Rita parked the car close to the building and opened her door. Adeline opened the back door and stepped out. "You coming?" she asked Frank. Before he could answer, Missy-Pooh began yipping mercilessly. "Now, you be good," Rita told the dog. Missy-Pooh began spinning around on the driver's seat as soon as Rita got out of the vehicle. "She hates it when I do things like this," she said. Missy-Pooh crouched on the seat, looked up at Frank, and growled. "I'm coming along," Frank decided. As they walked to the front entrance, Rita said, "We used to take field trips here every year when I was in grade school." She clutched at Frank's arm. It startled him and he looked at her abruptly. She was frowning. "Every year but one. I was bad one year and they wouldn't let me come along on the field trip." Frank had learned decades earlier that there were times to ask questions and times to avoid asking questions at all costs. He knew this wasn't one of those times to ask a question, but it didn't matter. Rita proceeded with her story after a brief pause just as if Frank had said to her, "Please tell me, what did you do that was bad and kept you from going on the field trip?" "I had a bad habit when I was little," Rita said. She leaned over to Frank's ear and whispered, "I used to punch boys. Down there." Frank smiled and nodded. It was a pointless response, but better than his first reaction, which would have been to say, "Don't show me." Frank always considered his mastery of restraint to be his finest counseling asset and an important technique that he used quite often to protect himself from being dragged into conversations too intimate and boundariless to suit him. This one, for example. "I was so humiliated," Rita said. "I thought the whole world was ending when I couldn't go on the field trip." She brightened up. "But I made sure I behaved myself the following year and I got to go with the others. That was the last year we came here. Look at the place. It hasn't changed a bit." She looked over at Adeline. "Did you take field trips in school?" Adeline shook her head no. "It was pretty much a field trip for most of us just getting to school every day. I lived twelve miles from school." To Frank she explained, "I grew up in The County." The County meant Aroostook County, the most rural county in Maine, much of it potato country. "How about you?" Rita asked Frank. None of Frank's skills seemed to be protecting him from Rita's chatter. Suddenly, the front entrance to the building that appeared to be only a couple dozen yards away when they got out of the car seemed miles away. Frank quickened his pace subtly. "A couple field trips, I guess." "Where did you go on your field trips?" Frank shrugged. "A farm or something, I think." "I'll bet they never made you stay behind when the class went on a field trip. You never got in trouble at all when you were in school, did you?" She didn't wait for him to answer. "I didn't think so." They approached the main entrance at long last, and Frank held the door for Rita and Adeline. The lobby was large and fairly old. It had a nineteen-fifties quality to it. The walls were two-tone green and brown, the same color as the soda can label, but considerably lighter in shade, and subdued to
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make the colors somewhat acceptable as wall paint. There was music playing in the background. Frank recognized the tune instantly from his days in front of the TV when he was in elementary school, it was the Moose Juice jingle. He remembered the first two lines, "I just love my Moose Juice…That energizing boost juice…" but he couldn't remember the rest of the song. He didn't wait long to have his memory refreshed. Rita and Adeline joined in harmony and sang, "Every time I have a thirst…This is what I reach for first…Take a tip from Bruce the Moose and have yourself some Moose Juice." They applauded their effort when they were finished. The song started up again, apparently in an endless loop, and Frank wondered whether the tune had ever driven any of the workers nuts. "I hate to disappoint you," Frank said, "But take a look at that sign." He pointed to a sign at the far end of the lobby that read, "Due To An Unfortunate Family Tragedy Tours Are Temporarily Suspended… We Regret Any Inconvenience." About that time, a head popped out of a doorway down the hallway to the right of the lobby. "Excuse me? Folks? I'm sorry but we're closed today," the woman said. Rita stepped forward and squinted her eyes. "Patty?" Patty squinted back. "Rita, is that you?" "Yes!" Rita ran forward and Patty stepped into the hallway to greet her. Frank and Adeline followed. As flamboyant as Rita was, Patty was equally subdued. She was younger than Rita, taller, and quite a bit larger. The flowered dress she wore didn't help conceal her weight, nor did her hairdo, poofed out from her forehead and swept back like a pompadour. Frank couldn't tell at first whether Patty was glad to see Rita or not, but Patty initiated a hug and gave Rita a kiss on the cheek. "I'm so surprised to see you," she said. "What brings you here?" "Frank doesn't like bridges," Rita said, "And he can't stay at the inn tonight." Rita had distilled the situation into its most superfluous points. Patty looked perplexed but smiled and nodded. "Did you hear what happened to the boss and his brother yesterday?" she asked. Her voice was thin and had a built-in apologetic tone, the perfect voice for certain types of customer service calls. "Did we hear?" Rita said. "I'll say. We've been right in the middle of it. Frank found the Moose Man sitting dead in his car. We all went out and saw him, and I almost touched him. I'm glad now I didn't." Patty looked over at Frank, smiled, and said hello. Frank said hello back, and Rita introduced Adeline as "my wonderful therapist, Adeline." "You can't believe the things we've been through the past twenty-four hours," Rita said. "Frank and Adeline were at the Joslyn house when he got killed last night, and Adeline got hit on the head, and we saw people killing lobsters, and I almost got arrested for putting my fingerprints on a door handle, and we found a note buried in a garden." Rita looked around. "The place sure looks a lot emptier than I remember it." "The plant is closed down today," Patty explained. "Usually we're busy on Saturdays, but the bigwigs are here today, trying to figure out what to do, and meanwhile they've stopped all production. The telephone staff has been here all day though. We've been right out straight. It's been wicked busy. The phones have been ringing off the hook, mostly retailers wondering whether they'll get their shipments on time and asking if there's any chance the company will shut down." "You wouldn't really shut down would you?" Rita asked. "No, but people get scared about that kind of thing." "It would be awful if you closed down. I can't imagine a world without Moose Juice." Rita cast a sideways glance toward Frank. "It would be like imagining a world without Adeline as my therapist."
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Before anyone had a chance to reply to Rita, an office door opened up, the door to the board room, and men began to come out into the hallway. In a loud voice, a young man said, "If you can't get it done, I'll get someone who can." Adeline recognized the young man as Tim Joslyn. Dressed in a polo shirt, jeans, and a long black trench coat, he looked decidedly uncorporate, especially in contrast to the others in the room. The man Tim Joslyn was talking to was considerably older, wearing a dark brown suit, and looking completely flustered. Another man emerged from the room and tried to come to the first man's defense. "Alan is just saying the timing is wrong, Tim." Tim Joslyn swung around and hollered at the other man. "The timing is perfect, there's nothing wrong with it. It's you people that are wrong. You just don't understand marketing. You're idiots." Still another man walked out of the room and entered the argument. "If you'll look around, Tim, you've got over eighty years collective experience in marketing standing right here in front of you. And, I'd like to add, we've also got the company's best interest at heart." "I'm the company now, and come Monday, you'll all be looking for work if you don't back me on this," Tim said. "I'm not afraid to fire the whole lot of you, and if I do it'll probably be the best thing that's ever happened to the company. Oh yes, and by the way, you better get used to calling me Mr. Joslyn when you speak to me because that's the only thing I'm going to answer to around here from now on." A woman came out of the room with a notepad in her hand. She'd been in the room taking notes, and with the meeting officially over, she couldn't wait to disappear down the hall out of harm's way. She threaded around the arguing men and scampered off like a timid squirrel. "The board of directors will have plenty to decide on come Monday," the first man said to Tim. "All your decisions can wait until they convene. We certainly don't need to throw together a quick ad campaign on the heels of your father and uncle's death without board approval." "Think how tacky that would look to the public," the second man said. "Think how broke you'll be when I fire you and throw you out on the street," Tim countered. "You better get used to me being in charge if you want a job. If this ad campaign isn't all packaged and ready to go by this evening, you're done here, do you understand that? You're done here." Tim Joslyn saw Frank and Rita and Adeline in the hall, standing beside Patty. "We're closed today, folks. You gotta go." He looked at Patty. "Come on, get them out of here." "This is my sister and her friends," Patty said. "I don't care if they're the Pope, the Queen of England, and Betsy Ross. Send them packing. Since when have you scheduled your family reunions for work time anyhow?" The second man out of the room tried being more diplomatic. "We're terribly sorry, folks. But, as you can well imagine we are under quite a bit of stress today. There have been a couple deaths that have had a serious impact on everyone here." "They know," Patty said. "They were with Mr. Joslyn at his home when he got killed." Tim Joslyn swung around quickly and studied Frank, Adeline, and Rita. He pointed his finger at them. "You stay right there," he said to them. "I need to talk to you." He led the other men down the hall to his office. Halfway down the hall he turned around and said again, "Stay right there." Patty said, "I better get back to my phone." She didn't want to be around when Tim got back. Rita and Patty said goodbye to each other, they promised to give each other a call, and Patty rushed back to her office. Rita's attention span for waiting was about twenty seconds. She walked over and looked inside the board room. Behind a podium there was a large poster mounted on a tripod. The poster was a rough sketch of Bruce the Moose with a tear dripping down his cheek, looking down on the Moose Man. Rita came back into the hallway to wait for another two or three seconds, then something else caught her eye. "Look over there. It's the Moose Juice Museum!" She headed off to the far end of the lobby, and
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scampered through a wide doorway. Frank could see a display of soda bottles and posters in the distant room. Adeline said to Frank, "Come on, since we're here we might as well take a look at the museum." "Did you not hear the man tell us to wait here? This is his place of business and he does not want us wandering around." "We're not going to be wandering around, we'll be right over there. Come on, we'll probably be back before he finishes his stupid meeting." "I'm doing what I was told to do, I'm staying right here." Adeline shrugged and ran down the hall to join Rita. They disappeared into the Moose Juice Museum while Frank stood in the exact spot that Tim Joslyn had pointed to, and waited. Rita remembered the museum well, although it had been twenty years since she'd been there. She described the layout of the museum to Adeline, and suggested they start with the "Century of Bottles" display. As they walked around, Rita recounted some memories from her grade school visits and mentioned it to Adeline when they came upon a display she didn't recognize, like the twelve-pack display and some of the newer Moose Juice toys. For the most part though, Rita's memory was as sharp as a tour guide's. "My favorite part is Grandpa Joslyn's Kitchen," she said. Out in the hallway, Frank did not have to wait long. Within two minutes, Tim Joslyn was back in the hallway, marching with a determined stride toward Frank. "Where are the women?" he asked. Frank turned around slowly toward the museum, but before he could respond, Tim said, "So, you sent them away, eh? All right. That's fine with me. Let's go in here." He walked into a room that was one door down from the board room, Timothy Joslyn's office. Frank followed and Tim shut the door. The room was large and decorated in a conservative style that would have been in fashion in the nineteenfifties. A large Persian rug covered most of the floor. One wall was covered with a dark, wood-stained bookshelf. Another wall was covered mostly by a long wooden venetian blind. When the blinds were open, Timothy Joslyn was able to look out across the factory. A door allowed him to walk directly from his office, down a flight of steps and into the work area, a nice symbolic piece of architecture, although Timothy Joslyn, and his father before him, seldom cared to step out among the workers. Tim didn't offer Frank a seat. They stood just inside the door and Tim regarded Frank for a long moment. "So," he said. "You were talking with Ms. Kennedy." "Ms. Kennedy?" "The fat girl out in the hall." "Oh, yes. Well—" "And she said you were at my house yesterday evening, is that correct?" Tim's tone of voice seemed harsh and accusatory. He didn't wait for Frank to answer. "Yes, I see." He smiled. "And now you've come here to pay me a visit?" Frank threw his hands up in the air and Tim jumped back. He pulled his hand out of his coat pocket and held it out toward Frank. Frank looked down at the hand and saw a gun in it. "Don't make any more fast moves like that," Tim said. "Keep your hands at your sides, you understand?" Frank nodded. "Now, let's talk money." "Money?" "Yes, money. How much exactly do you want?" The question didn't make any sense to Frank. "I don't want money," he said. Tim's expression hardened. "Of course you do." Frank shook his head no with great determination. "You don't want money?" "No," Frank said. "No money." He tried to call upon his crisis intervention training from fifteen
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years earlier. Keep your voice calm. Keep your sentences simple. Look relaxed. He drew in a breath and tried again. "I don't want your money." There. That should assure him. Actually, Tim Joslyn was anything but assured by what Frank told him. His mouth stretched back into a snarl and the gun in his hand raised up to Frank's face. Look relaxed, Frank told himself. Don't escalate this guy any further. Keep repeating the same simple sentences to him. "I don't want your money," he said again. "That's really too bad," Tim said. "Money I can understand. Money I can bargain with. But you're not going to be bought off, are you?" Frank started to say something and Tim said, "Shut up. The less you move and the less you speak, the less likely I am to squeeze this trigger." Frank didn't move. "I've got to figure out why you came here if you don't have a price in mind," Tim said. Frank started to say something again and Tim told him to shut up again. "It seems to me it was a very stupid thing to do, but I'm going to assume you're not stupid. I'm going to assume you didn't just happen to swing by here today to say hello." "Actually—" "Actually, you better shut up. I'm not going to tell you again." Tim peered into Frank's face. "I wish I knew what your game was, but whatever it is, you're obviously not going after nickels and dimes." He walked over to the door that led out to the factory and he opened it. The factory was dimly lit and empty. "We're going out there," he said. He motioned Frank toward the door with his gun. Frank didn't want to go. The factory was huge, filled with large containers, towering vats, intricate highways of overhead pipes, and lots of dark corners where a guy could get shot.
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CHAPTER FOURTEEN "Don't you think this is the most wonderful thing you've ever seen in your entire life?" Rita asked Adeline. "It's called Grandpa's Kitchen." In fact, Edward Joslyn's real kitchen, the one he did his soda experiments in, looked nothing like "Grandpa's Kitchen." It was a lot bigger and better equipped than the replica for one thing because Edward Joslyn already had a pretty good income when he began selling Moose Juice. He owned a fleet of boats that delivered ice to Manhattan and Philadelphia. He also had six servants, including a chauffeur and cook. But the Grandpa's Kitchen display was more concerned with delightful nostalgia than with boring fact, and even the clay likeness of Edward Joslyn, dressed in overalls and flannel shirt, had a softer, more wistful appearance than any photos you could ever find of the guy. His thin, penurious mouth was replaced with fuller lips and a little smile. His pale-green, heavily lidded eyes were made more delicate and less lizard-like. His jutting jaw was sanded down considerably, and from head to foot he was lankier by eight inches. For the display, Edward grew from five-foot six to six-foot two. And the bottles Grandpa Joslyn mixed in his replica kitchen also lacked credibility. Most likely, he didn't have a rack of test tubes on his table, and a row of clay pitchers with labels like, "Natural Fruit Flavors," "Fresh Spring Water," and "Specially Blended Spices." There was a lot of poetic license in the room. "Too bad they're not open today. If they were, we could go over to the soda fountain and get free samples," Rita said. "We probably ought to head back," Adeline told her. "Frank's waiting for us." They left the Moose Juice Museum and stood at the edge of the lobby, looking across the room toward the empty hallway. "He's not there," Rita said. "I wonder where he wandered off to." Adeline walked halfway across the lobby and looked out the front door to see if Frank was standing outside. "That's peculiar," she said. She went back to the spot where they had been standing and looked around again. Rita came up behind her. "I guess he decided to talk to Tim Joslyn without us," Adeline said. Down the hall she could hear Patty and a couple other women talking. She went down to their office and asked if they had seen Frank. They hadn't. She asked if Tim Joslyn was still meeting with the other men. Patty said no. "He sent them all home for the day." Adeline started to leave the room when a thought crossed her mind. "I thought I heard him say he wanted them to stay here and work on an advertising campaign." Patty shrugged. "I guess he changed his mind." Adeline nodded thoughtfully. She thanked Patty and left the room. "Maybe he's out in the car, waiting with Missy-Pooh," Rita said. "Maybe," Adeline said. Then she added, "Something doesn't feel right about this." They went out to Rita's SUV, stood in the parking lot and looked around. "Should we wait here for him?" Rita asked. Adeline shook her head no. "He must be in one of the offices," she said. "Let's go in and look for him." When they got back in the building, Adeline went to the board room and looked in. She studied the poster on the tripod and said, "Doesn't this look curious to you? It looks like Tim Joslyn had quite a bit of time to think about his uncle's death, time enough to come up with an idea about how to publicize it and get someone to design a poster. Time enough to think about a whole ad campaign." "All in twenty-four hours," Rita said. "That does seem suspicious, now that you mention it." Adeline walked out of the board room and went to the next door down the hall. The sign on the door read, "Timothy Joslyn, President." She tapped at the door. When there was no answer she opened the door and looked in. "Frank?" she said. "Hello?" She saw the door was open at the far end of the
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room and she walked over to it. Rita followed behind. "That's where they make Moose Juice, out there in the factory," Rita said. "I remember touring the factory in school, but it's all dark and empty now." The lighting was dim in the factory. Adeline stepped out onto a porch just outside the door. Metal stairs led from the porch down to the factory floor, one story below. The machines were silent, but Adeline could hear faint rhythmic sounds: Footsteps. Rita stood close to Adeline and whispered in her ear, "It's dark in there, dark and spooky." Adeline nodded her head. She wanted to stay close to the safety of the office door, but she also wanted a better view of the factory. She walked to the edge of the porch and leaned against the railing. The footsteps seemed to be walking away. "Frank?" she called out. The footsteps stopped. Adeline squinted into the dimly lit factory and started to call out again, but a shot rang out, drowning out her voice. Adeline saw the flash of light just off to the right at the same time she heard the gunfire. She drew backward quickly to get to the office door, but Rita was leaning against her with all her weight. Adeline lost her balance and tumbled down the stairs, she regained her balance about halfway down, but Rita shoved up against her fiercely again. Adeline yelled out, "No!" and fell the rest of the way down. Rita tumbled behind her. Adeline now had a sore shoulder and bruised knee to go with her cracked skull. When she turned to look at Rita, she saw a blotch of blood spreading across Rita's blouse. Rita noticed it at the same time. "Ouch," she said softly. She put her hand to her chest and it came away red and soaked. "That really hurts, Adeline," she said, dazed. "What have they done to me?" There was a second shot. This one flew past Adeline's ear. She took hold of Rita and managed to take several clumsy steps until they were hidden behind a large white tank. "Help!" Adeline called out, hoping someone upstairs would hear her. She called out again. "Please help us!" With the second shot, Frank realized Tim's attention was directed toward the two women. Frank swung around and gave Tim a shove. He put enough force into it to put Tim off balance for a moment, and that moment gave Frank time enough to dodge around a corner and hide himself among pallets of soda that were packed in boxes and stacked eight feet high. Tim came after him. "Frank!" Adeline called out again. "Go get help," he called out. Tim zoomed in on the sound of Frank's voice and ran toward where Frank was hiding among the pallets of soda. "So, they've come to help you," Tim said. "I can handle that. Bring them on." Frank tried to climb to the top of one of the pallets, but he lacked the arm strength and balance. He fell back and made enough noise to help Tim locate him again. Tim moved closer and Frank eased around a couple more pallets. There were dozens of pallets and a maze of intersections to hide in, but there was no way out and no way to circle behind Tim without revealing himself. Frank needed another place to hide. He needed a plan of some sort but there just weren't any good options, not even a stray tool or stick of wood to use as a weapon. For lack of a better choice, he decided to run to the other end of the factory where the large vats were lined up, over by the wall of the factory where Frank guessed there might be a door leading outside. The problem was, there was a large open area between him and the vats. Once he committed to the dash across the open area, he couldn't turn back. As Frank planned his course of action, Adeline sat beside Rita. She pressed her hand firmly against Rita's upper chest to try and stop the bleeding. She could tell that Rita had passed out, Rita's breathing was shallow and her forehead was clammy. Adeline tried to decide what to do, but her choices were no better than Frank's. If she left Rita alone Rita would bleed to death, and if she didn't try to escape out of the factory, they would all be gunned down. She listened for sounds across the factory, and listened for sounds upstairs. Hiding among the pallets, it occurred to Frank that Tim had fired two shots toward Adeline and Rita. He wondered whether Tim had shot them both. It was quiet across the factory and he tried to
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imagine they were both keeping still to stay safe, but he knew they might be keeping still out of no choice of their own, and in that case they would be keeping still forever. He thought about hollering out to them to see if they were okay, but he knew that was a bad idea. He heard feet shuffling two or three pallets away. He was aware of his own uncontrollably loud breathing and he knew his options were running out. Hide and seek was not going to last very long. But—and this was a crucial issue—he was well aware how painfully slow a runner he was. He tried to use his crisis training again, not that it did him much good the first time he tried it. STOP was the acronym, wasn't it? Yes. Clear a Space in your mind, Think clearly, Organize your thoughts, Plan your move. Not much planning to it, actually. Just go. He planted his left foot, leaned forward, and lunged toward the open space in the middle of the factory. After four strides, the pallets were behind him and he was in the open. But the open area was a dangerous place to be; he realized just how dangerous as soon as he set foot into it. It was nearly fifty feet across and it was the most illuminated area in the factory. His feet echoed loudly on the cement floor and gave Tim a crystal clear indication of where Frank was. Frank heard Tim scrambling behind him among the pallets. It wouldn't take Tim more than a couple seconds to be at the edge of the pallets and in a position to take a clear shot at him. Weave back and forth a bit, Frank told himself. Don't give the guy an easy target to shoot at. He wanted to weave, but knew every step he took to one side or the other delayed him from getting to the safety of the vats across the room. His common sense said weave, his gut wouldn't let him. His eyes fixed on an object in front of him. There was a pushcart in the middle of the floor, directly in his path. Why hadn't he noticed that before? He was heading straight for it. Should he run to the right or the left of it? It didn't matter. Well, maybe it did. Which way would Tim expect him to turn? Right, no left…there was really no way of knowing for sure, but whichever way he went he would be giving Tim an extra moment to take aim. He decided to go to the right of the cart, but he waited too long to make a decision and he didn't clear the cart completely, he bumped into the handrail and slammed his shin on the corner of the cart. The collision nearly knocked him off his feet, he stumbled and staggered. He heard a shot and his stumbling saved him from getting hit. He heard the bullet strike the floor beside him. The vats were still another twenty feet away. He hadn't completely regained his balance and he began to feel the pain in his shin. He wobbled and lurched forward, moving no faster than if he had been walking. He heard a second shot, a third, and he wondered if he had been hit. There were stories he had heard about people being so frightened they didn't feel the pain of a bullet striking them. He looked down at his chest to check for blood or bullet holes. He heard Tim's footsteps taking off behind him, heading in his direction. Another five seconds and they would be playing hide and go seek again. Look for an exit door. Get over to the wall and look for it quick. The wall was the darkest area of the factory, shielded from the lights by the tall vats. Frank groped along the walls, searching for a door handle. The wall was cold and smooth. In his frenzy to find an exit, he didn't realize how much noise he was making, slapping at the walls with the flat of his hands. By the time it dawned on him, he could hear Tim's footsteps heading straight toward him. He backed away from the wall and tried to find another place to hide. He felt along the edge of a round vat and stepped backward as quietly as he could. Tim's footsteps stopped only a few yards away. He kept still and listened. Frank continued around the backside of the vat, moving cautiously. His hand struck a metal railing of some sort that rose vertically along the outside of the vat. He felt the railing carefully and realized it was the edge of a ladder. The idea of a three dimensional escape option was a glorious revelation to Frank. He anchored his right foot on the bottom rung and started to climb. The darkness was also a blessing to Frank who didn't have to contend with his fear of heights as long as he didn't have any idea how high off the ground he was. In fact, he was twenty feet from the ground when he reached the top step.
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A dim overhead light lit the top of the vat. It was shiny, made of copper or bronze, and was glassy smooth. It had a rounded lid, curved like the bottom of a spoon, but not so steep along the rim that Frank couldn't crawl onto it without the risk of sliding off. He pulled himself onto the lid of the vat and stayed perfectly still, feeling the blessings of safety. These were feelings he had not felt for several minutes. Tim was not going to be able to see him on top of the vat unless he also climbed above the factory floor. As Frank hugged the top of the vat, Tim looked around frantically and realized he had his hands full. He couldn't find Frank, and he didn't want Adeline wander away from the corner he had forced her into. He went back to the edge of the open area and fired another shot in her general direction, just to remind her to stay put. The shot came closer to her than he realized. It whistled past her face. She huddled down closer to Rita and knew Rita was still alive because she could feel Rita's blood flowing against her cheek. Tim took a step toward Adeline. He squinted into the gloom, looking for some movement. Maybe, he thought, he ought to abandon the hunt for Frank and go finish off Adeline and Rita. He could come back for Frank after that. Get two of them first and the other one later. Frank slid forward so he could see over the edge of the vat. He looked for the two women but couldn't see anything in the shadows. He heard the clicking of footsteps below him. He recognized them as Tim's footsteps, slow and steady. Frank leaned forward. Over the rim of the vat he saw a dark movement, the shadowy figure of Tim walking in the open area of the factory, toward the darkened corner where Adeline and Rita were hiding. He saw a faint glimmer of light reflect on the barrel of Tim's gun. Crisis intervention time again. What to do? If this was a movie he could leap down upon Tim from twenty feet and walk away from the fall. The mere thought of jumping made Frank woozy. If he had something to throw at him, anything, or if he could draw Tim's fire so the women could escape, if if if... Tim quickened his pace. "Watch out! He's coming toward you!" Frank hollered. Tim spun around and Frank ducked down, but not before Tim caught a glimpse of him. Tim saw just enough movement to let him know where Frank was. Tim could make quick work of him now. There was no place for Frank to retreat to. Tim headed toward the vat. He knew exactly where the ladder was. He knew exactly what to do. Adeline sat up when she heard Frank holler. She saw him perched on top of the vat, and saw Tim in the center of the factory, turning, looking up, and heading toward Frank. Frank slid back from the rim of the vat. He clung to the top and tried to think. He was out of ideas. His crisis intervention training didn't cover this particular type of situation. Adeline watched Tim walk to the back of the vat. She heard him climb the metal ladder and she knew she had time to run upstairs now, to run to the safety of the offices and call for help. But help would not show up before Frank was dead. Adeline stood up and ran to a case of empty soda bottles, stacked on a work bench a few yards away. She took one of the bottles out of the rack and held it by its neck. She moved in the opposite direction from the vat where Frank was hiding, toward the stairs and drew back her arm. At the foot of the stairs there was a fire alarm. Adeline swung the bottle fiercely and smashed it against the alarm. Bells began blaring and torrents of water flooded down all over the factory from the sprinklers that dangled from the ceiling. The slick top of the vat Frank was perched on became slicker and Frank slid dangerously close to the edge. Tim's footing on the metal ladder became unsteady. Through the heavy downpour of water it was difficult to see, but Adeline grabbed another soda bottle from the rack and ran over to the vat. Tim was still climbing, although he was struggling against the steady flow of water. Adeline started to climb the ladder beneath him. Her bare feet gave her better traction than Tim's shoes were able to give him. He got within a couple rungs of the top and saw Frank clinging to the vat. Tim raised his gun. Adeline drew
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the bottle back and brought it down heavily against the bone in Tim's right ankle. The impact knocked Tim's foot off the ladder, the pain caused him to jerk backwards, and he snapped his head backwards with enough force that his balance yanked his hands off the steps. He threw his arms out and the gun flew from his wet grip. His head twisted back until he was looking directly at Adeline, and she saw a look of horror on his face. He dove back from the vat like an Olympic diver, and like a diver, made a perfect landing, right on his head. Unlike a diver though, he didn't land in a pool of water; he smashed down on the unforgiving cement floor. Sprinkler water poured down on him and diluted the blood that gushed from his skull. It poured across his face and into his open mouth.
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CHAPTER FIFTEEN Adeline couldn't hear the sirens outside, any more than the office staff could hear the gunshots through the thick insulated walls of the factory when Tim was firing at Rita and Adeline. Fire fighters swarmed into the factory with flashlight beams darting wildly around the room. One of the beams swung around in a wide arc and settled on Adeline. She was back at Rita's side by the time they entered the room, her hands pressed hard against Rita's chest and her eyes closed. She was trying to get Rita onto her feet, but the floor was wet and slippery, and Adeline was exhausted. "Over here!" one of the fire fighters hollered. "We have someone injured over here!" A rescue team followed the fire fighters in and began tending to Rita before the alarm and sprinklers were turned off. They lifted Adeline gently away and one of the workers stayed with her, saying something soothing to her, but Adeline couldn't hear over the noise of the alarm. She turned toward the worker and said in a shocky voice, "Don't forget Frank." The worker smiled and nodded and patted Adeline's hand. He didn't hear what Adeline said. In another moment, the water stopped spraying from the sprinklers, and the alarm stopped ringing. The relative silence that followed the piercing alarm was punctuated by dripping water and the echoing din of the bell that had been blaring for ten minutes. Two attendants carefully strapped Rita's limp body to a wet stretcher. They sloshed to the stairs and carried her up to the office, out the building, and into an ambulance. Other attendants, at the far end of the factory, were huddled over Tim Joslyn. They put his body on a stretcher too, and fastened him in. His wide open eyes pretty much told them what they needed to know about how to tend to him. Frank clung to the top of the vat and kept his head pressed down hard, trying to create every possible inch of traction for himself, to keep from sliding off the edge of his sanctuary. He didn't hear the fire fighters enter, he didn't see the flashlight beams. The alarm stopped, but the ringing in his ears and the resonation inside the vat kept him from appreciating the disconnected alarm. Water stopped pouring down on him, but the slippery lid on the vat and his saturated clothing kept him from being able to move. That, and his panic. The factory lights came on all of a sudden, and Frank got a clear indication how high off the ground he was. He also had no idea that Tim Joslyn was dead. In fact, he assumed Tim had stopped the alarm, turned off the sprinkler, and turned on the lights. As he heard footsteps climbing the ladder to the top of the vat, he assumed his time on earth was just about over. He thought it would be better to slide down to his death than be gunned down as he clung pathetically to the vat. One last desperate strategy remained for him. If he was going to slide off the vat, he could slide backwards, toward the ladder, and maybe, just maybe, take out Tim Joslyn by grabbing onto him on his way down. They would plunge to the ground together, and then maybe Adeline and Rita would survive. Better to go out with a bold heroic effort than die a coward, embracing the vat, cringing, whimpering. Two fire fighters reached the top of the vat and pried Frank's fingers from the rim of the lid. So much for his heroic effort. They took his shoulders and eased him back toward the ladder where another fire fighter helped steady him. He wrapped Frank over his shoulder and walked down the ladder with Frank clinging to his back, then he sat Frank on the ground where he shivered and looked bug-eyed at the activity around him. "What were you doing up there, sir?" one of the fire fighters asked. "Oh, nothing," Frank said dreamily. "How are you?" A small cluster of people gathered outside the building in the parking lot, including Patty and her co-workers, the three men who had been at the meeting with Tim Joslyn, and the timid secretary who had hidden from Tim Joslyn's tirade. When the alarm bell sounded they all ran outdoors, and the executives,
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halfway home, circled around and followed the fire trucks to the factory. The group had been watching with some interest as the fire fighters charged into the building. It was just one more dramatic event for the Moose Juice Company in a series of dramatic events over the past twenty-four hours. Two stretchers emerged from the building, but no one could see who was on either of them. There was some casual conjecture, but not much concern. Of more concern was the complaint by one of the executives that "someone should have locked that front door to keep people out." A state police car arrived and Lieutenant Clarkson stepped out. He paused beside his car to take a centering breath and strike a profile, then he walked over to talk with the fire chief. He got a brief explanation from the chief, spoke with the group of workers outside the front door, and then entered the lobby. Adeline and Frank came down the hallway, wrapped in heavy gray blankets. Both had an EMT at their elbow, escorting them. "Good afternoon," Clarkson said to them. Adeline stopped in front of him and peered at him a moment. "We've met," she said, mostly as a question. "Earlier today," Clarkson reminded her. Barely an hour before. Frank walked up and nodded his head wearily. "What happened here today?" Clarkson asked. "He tried to kill us," Adeline said. Clarkson looked over at Frank. "Not him," Adeline said. "Tim Joslyn. The son of the man who was killed yesterday. He shot Rita." Adeline looked around. "Where is Rita? Is she okay. She was hurt real bad." "Ms. Perry got shot?" Frank asked. "He shot her." "Is she all right?" Frank asked. "I don't know." She looked back at Clarkson. "I don't know either," Clarkson said. He looked at the EMT beside Adeline. The EMT said, "She was hurt pretty bad and lost quite a bit of blood, but she's still alive. I think she may come out of this okay." "Where's Tim Joslyn now?" Frank asked. "He's dead," Adeline told him. "Dead?" "I killed him." "You did?" Frank regarded Adeline for a moment. "My goodness." "So why was Joslyn trying to kill you?" Clarkson asked Adeline. "I don't know," Adeline and Frank said together. Frank elaborated. "He said he wanted to talk with us and then he left for a couple minutes to speak with some of the staff that work here. Before he came back, Ms. Perry and Ms. Carr wandered off, so I was here by myself and he just pulled a gun out and took me downstairs, into the factory. It didn't make any sense." "What did he say to you?" Clarkson said. "Not much, he just kept telling me to shut up." "That's it?" "Um, yeah. He also asked me how much money I wanted." "What did he mean by that?" "I have no idea. He just kept asking me that, and I kept saying I didn't want any money." Frank closed his eyes and tried to think. "Wait a minute. No, there was more to it than that. He said he wanted
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to talk to us after Ms. Perry's sister told him we had seen his father get killed last night. That really seemed to get his attention. Ms. Carr and I were with Officer Lester last night when Timothy Joslyn was stabbed. We heard someone run out of Mr. Joslyn's bedroom and went to see what was going on. I chased the person who stabbed Mr. Joslyn out of the house, but I didn't get a good look at the person. I think what happened was Tim Joslyn believed I saw him running out of the house last night after he killed his father. And I think he believed we were coming here today to blackmail him or something." "Well, come to think of it, why did you come here?" That was hard for Frank to answer. There wasn't any real sense to it. You would have to know Rita to understand it. He just replied by saying, "Not to blackmail Tim Joslyn, because I had no idea he was the one who killed his father." "And he took a gun out at that point and tried to shoot you?" "He took a gun out and made me go downstairs into the factory. He started shooting when Ms. Perry and Ms. Carr showed up." "That's when he shot Rita," Adeline said. "He chased us and I hid on top of one of the big storage tanks, then the bells came on and the water sprinklers, everything came on all came on at once." "I turned the alarm on," Adeline said. "I didn't know what else to do. And when I saw Tim Joslyn climbing up the ladder to get Frank, I took an empty bottle and smacked him on the leg, right at the ankle. He fell backwards, and landed on his head. I could tell the fall killed him. I could tell by the way he landed. What a loud crack it made. Then I went back to take care of Rita, to try to get her to stop bleeding, but I couldn't stop it. And, then I guess the firemen showed up. It got really strange at that point. I don't remember walking upstairs. All of a sudden, I'm just here talking to you about it, like out of nowhere. The last part of it really seems fuzzy to me, and…and I think I'm going to faint." The EMT braced her. Another police car pulled up in front of the door, the Bucksport police. Officer Butch Dietrich got out and walked into the lobby. "What's going on here?" he asked with more bombast than Clarkson cared to deal with. "Are these the ones who set the alarms off?" Dietrich asked, nodding toward Adeline and Frank. "What's going on here is a murder investigation," Clarkson told him. "Murder? Who?" "What I want you to do is get one of those executives out there to come in here and let us have a room where we can talk." Adeline was wobbling on her feet, about to pass out. "Do it now," Clarkson told Dietrich. Dietrich went and fetched Peter Fessler, one of the vice presidents of the company. Fessler offered the board room to Clarkson. Clarkson, Frank, Rita, and the EMTs went into the room, and when Dietrich followed, Clarkson sent him back out to direct traffic and wait for another state police car to show up. He was insulted, but he did it. Adeline was doing better when she sat down. The world stopped spinning around her and she began to describe what happened more clearly. Frank, on the other hand, passed out as soon as he hit the chair. Between the two of them, Clarkson had his hands full, but he was eventually able to piece the story together. Everett Lester pulled up in front of the building in his police car and Butch Dietrich walked over to his window before he got out of the car. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "Murder investigation," Everett told him. "Excuse me." He opened the car door and delicately bumped Dietrich out of the way.
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"You realize you're in my jurisdiction, don't you? Who got murdered?" "I'm familiar with the jurisdictions around here, but thank you for pointing that out." Butch Dietrich was not popular with many people, least of all with those who knew him. "Who got murdered?" Dietrich said again. "Clarkson's in there?" Everett asked, nodding toward the building. "I said—" "You ought to read the newspapers every now and then, Butch. If you had read this morning's paper you'd know what we're doing here." Everett walked into the building and was directed to the board room by Peter Fessler, who was pacing outside the door with the other two executives. When Everett opened the door he saw Adeline and Frank, sopping wet, wrapped in blankets, and sitting beside each other. He choked back a wisecrack (he had a good one) and nodded his head in their direction. "I've come to give you folks a ride back to Bar Harbor," he said. Frank was already resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to make it back home to Augusta this trip, but at least he could set aside his fears now of being knifed in his sleep by the Moose Man killer. "I think I'm all set with them for now," Clarkson said. "You two ready to head back?" They nodded their head. "Okay. I'm sure there will be more questions you'll have to answer down the road, but for now just try to get some rest. You've been through a lot." They nodded their head again. Slowly, they rose to their feet. "Did I see Rita Perry's car out there?" Everett asked. "Rita got shot," Adeline told him. "Shot? No." Everett looked at Clarkson. Clarkson gave him a subtle nod of agreement. "How bad? How is she?" "They took her to Bangor," Clarkson said. He glanced over at Adeline before saying more. "She's critical right now, but one of the EMTs said she would probably pull through. They might Life Flight her down to Portland. Joslyn caught her in the upper right area of her chest, apparently with a nine millimeter bullet from his gun. She lost quite a bit of blood because nobody was able to get to her right away." Clarkson pointed over at Adeline and said, "She probably saved her life. Probably saved all three of them." "What happened to the boy, Timmy Joslyn?" "Apparently he broke his neck and fractured his skull when Ms. Carr knocked him off a ladder about twenty feet off the ground. Dead instantly. As they report it, he was chasing them with a gun, fired several shots at them. Mr. Rupert believes Joslyn thought they came here to blackmail him for shooting his father." "Did you know it was Timmy Joslyn you were chasing last night outside Joslyn's home?" Everett asked Frank. "No. But he had plenty of time to take note of us when we were in the living room talking with his father, so I guess he knew it was me chasing him last night, and I guess he just assumed I knew he was the one who stabbed his father. As soon as someone told him today that we were at the house last night, he wanted to get us alone. He started talking about money, about how much money I wanted from him, and I was too stupid to know what he was talking about. The whole time he was chasing us, out in the factory, I just figured he was a lunatic. It didn't make any sense to me." "Crazy sociopath," Everett said. "With funny triangular handwriting." Frank shrugged. "Yeah." He'd been surrounded by so much craziness, he'd come to expect senseless behavior. "Come on," Everett said. "Let's go." He helped both of them up and walked them to his car.
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"Let me go get Missy-Pooh," Adeline said. "Get what?" "Missy-Pooh, Rita's dog. We left her in Rita's car." Adeline retrieved the dog and came back to the police car. She and Frank sat huddled in their blankets in the back seat. Missy-Pooh poked her head out of Adeline's blanket. Everett studied the three of them in the rearview mirror. He felt responsible for their plight. He never should have taken them along to Timothy Joslyn's house. He decided not to say that to them out loud, though. He drove back down the River Road, past the bridge in Bucksport, and as the car went by, Frank looked indifferently at the bridge through the car window. "Still makes you wobbly looking at it?" Adeline asked. Frank shook his head no. "That's good," Adeline said. "If nothing else came of this adventure, maybe it cured you of your fear of heights." "I suspect it hasn't," Frank said. "In fact, my best bet is I'm going to come down with post traumatic stress disorder out of this." "Is that bad?" Adeline asked. "It's bad. It means it'll all catch up with me later, when I least expect it." "So, like you'll be walking down the street one day," Adeline said, "And someone will open up a can of soda behind you and you'll dive into a ditch?" "You can joke about it if you want, but we're both pretty good candidates for something like that." "Sounds like you're going to need a good therapist," Adeline said. "Don't happen to know of any, do you?" "Just wait," Frank said. "When the first wave of this wears off, we may be dealing with aftershocks for a long time." "I hope not," Everett said. He took a look at them in the rearview mirror. "Just for the record, and setting aside for the moment the craziness of you three showing up at the Moose Juice factory today, your behavior today was pretty brave." Frank studied Everett's face to make sure he wasn't joking. He wasn't. "I didn't do anything brave," Frank said. "I ran and hid like a scared bunny, that's all I did. They had to peel me off the top of a tank when they came to rescue me. Ms. Carr was the one who was brave. She saved all of our lives." "I didn't do anything brave either," Adeline said. "I just reacted out of instinct." "It was one time your instincts worked better than my logic," Frank said. "You really gained my respect today." "Well, thank you, Frank." She hung onto the compliment for a moment, but she had to add an explanation. "I said to myself he's a bully, and as soon as I realized he was a bully, I had to stop him. It was as simple as that. I hate bullies." "You just thought of him as a bully?" Frank said. "That's an interesting way to look at it." "Yep, it was like this kid I used to go to grade school with, Burt Corwin. He was a bully too. He used to pick on kids who were smaller than him." "That's what bullies do," Everett said. "One day Burt started picking on me out on the playground and I knew I had to fight back and punch him, so I did. I out-bullied him. He cried and yelled and carried on, and acted like he was the victim of the whole thing instead of the one who started it. That's when I realized bullies always think they're victims. They never think of themselves as bullies. So, as long as they feel like a victim they think they're entitled to do anything they want. It didn't stop him from picking on other kids when I hit him back, it just gave him more excuse to beat up other kids. He left me alone after that though."
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"That's very astute," Frank said. "A lesson learned out of grade school," Adeline said. "I used it to get me through this. I figured, as long as Tim Joslyn was shooting at us he felt confident and in control. But once the sprinklers started pouring down on him, he lost confidence and had to shift gears. I went after him while he was still confused, before he could rebuild his confidence. I don't feel brave about it, it was just something I had to do. I out-bullied him." "You've still got my respect," Frank said. "It wasn't brave," Adeline said again. She sat back in her seat and a little smile crossed her face. "But it was brilliantly clever."
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CHAPTER SIXTEEN Driving along the highway between Bucksport and Bar Harbor, sudden glimpses of the coastline appear from time to time through the trees. Frank hadn't noticed the view before. He noticed the coastline now though, and it was deeply beautiful and remarkably treacherous all at once, the battle between the attacking waves and the jagged rocks playing out before him, fought under a sky that was almost blindingly blue. Frank thought he'd be too weary to care about the view, but as it turned out, he was too weary to resist. Everett drove past a couple fields filled with woolly mammoth snails (hay bails), down a long road lined with tourist restaurants featuring lobster dinners, and into Bar Harbor. He pulled up in front of Adeline's house on Farrington Avenue. Adeline patted Frank on the shoulder before she got out of the car and said, "I'm sorry we couldn't get you back home today, Frank." "That's okay," Frank said. "And as a matter of fact, I think I'm the one who should be apologizing." "Apologizing for what?" "For my behavior. I'm sorry that I couldn't have been more help to you today. You ended up fighting off Tim Joslyn pretty much alone while I ran and hit on top of that big tank. I wanted to be more help, but I just couldn't do it. I froze. I guess I'm just not used to this level of excitement in my life. I like things calm and predictable." "I know," Adeline said. "If you think about it, we wouldn't have gone through any of this horror show today if I had enough courage to ride across that foolish suspension bridge. I feel terrible about that. I am, well, I am ashamed of myself." "Don't be," Adeline said. "It's just part of what makes you unique and special in the universe, Frank." That wasn't especially comforting to Frank. The way he took it, his singular quality in all the universe was his overwhelming cowardice. "Okay," Everett said. "Since we're trading apologies and all, I'm feeling pretty guilty myself right now about dragging the two of you to Timothy Joslyn's house last night. There was no need of it, and the whole thing ended up getting Rita shot and nearly killing you two as well." "I guess we're all just a pretty sorry bunch," Adeline said, summing up and trying to keep it light. "We might just want to save a little blame for Tim Joslyn though. He was the one who was chasing us around all day, trying to kill us. I wonder if we'll ever find out why he did all those horrible things." "He tried to kill you because he thought you saw him kill his father last night," Everett said. "As soon as he saw you at the factory, he was convinced you were there to blackmail him." "That's right," Frank said. "He kept asking me how much money I wanted. He wouldn't believe me when I told him I didn't want any." "He killed his father and his uncle because he wanted to take over the family business. His father and uncle were negotiating control of the company, and I imagine they both wanted Timmy out of the picture." "What makes you think they wanted him out?" Frank asked. "Because I've known that kid for a lot of years, and he was trouble for everyone around him. Always scrapping and scheming. He's been heading in this direction for a long time. Just a matter of time before he landed himself in some real serious trouble, and that's exactly what he did this weekend." "So he found out somehow that the family was conspiring against him?" Adeline asked.
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"I think that's what we'll discover as we keep looking into this. Unfortunately, all the major players are dead now. All three of them have been killed off. Timothy Joslyn had already sold his share of the company to his brother, but my guess is he had a stipulation that Timmy wouldn't inherit the company if something happened to Gerald. I'm sure everyone in the family knew what it would mean for Timmy to take over the company, and Timmy was the only offspring of either of the two brothers." "It's awfully confusing for me," Adeline said. "It just doesn't sink in." "My hunch is we'll find out that the envelope that was stolen out of your purse will be an agreement between Gerald and Timothy, barring Timmy from taking over the company. Somehow he learned about it and that's why he attacked you and took it." "It all makes sense," Adeline said. "But it doesn't click." "Doesn't click?" "Inside. It doesn't click inside me. It's all very logical, but I'm not a logical person." She caught the smile that appeared on Frank's face. "Oh yes, I know I'm an illogical person. But you know, the world is illogical too. People don't go around doing logical things, they do things that click for them. That's why I'd feel better if this was clicking." "But the important thing is, it's all over now," Everett said. "And maybe it will start clicking for you after you've gotten some rest." Adeline nodded her head. "I really do need to get myself centered again. I'll work on it." She sat back, closed her eyes and drew in a long breath, as if to demonstrate. When she opened her eyes she said, "I've got to call in to the hospital to see how Rita's doing as soon as I get to my phone. I won't feel right until I know she's okay." They had been sitting in the parked car a couple minutes, conversing and watching traffic go by occasionally. There was a long moment of silence. At last, Frank took a sharp breath, opened his door and stepped out of the car. "Well, thank you for the ride back," he said to Everett. "At least I think I can rest easier at the inn tonight, knowing I'm not going to be murdered in my sleep." "That ought to contribute to a restful night," Everett agreed with a faint smile. He paused a moment and said, "Look, I've got tomorrow off." He set his jaw and squinted his eyes in concentration. "So, I'll tell you what, I will give you a ride back to Augusta tomorrow if you want." "Tomorrow? That would be wonderful." "Of course, somebody's got to come back up here from Augusta to get the car when the detectives are finished with it," Everett said, "And my guess is, they'll finish up with it pretty quickly now." "That's not a problem," Frank said. "A couple of our mechanics can drive up here and bring the car back. They do that a lot with state cars. They break down pretty often." "Tomorrow morning around ten-thirty, then?" "Thanks," Frank said. He said goodbye to Adeline and headed toward the inn. Adeline opened her door and crawled out of the car with Missy-Pooh in her arms. She was beginning to feel the bumps and bruises and fatigue of the last twenty-four hours. When she got to the porch she looked back and saw Everett drive off toward the police station. She walked through the front door and went directly to the telephone. Missy-Pooh scampered over to a chair and sat down, where she made little grunting sounds and observed her surroundings cautiously. Adeline called the hospital in Bangor, but they wouldn’t give her any information about Rita. "I think I need a nap," Adeline said to herself. She wasn't usually a nap person, but this day she might make an exception. From a desk drawer she pulled out a stick of incense. She found a lighter on the mantle, lit the incense and set it in a holder. If not a nap, maybe some meditation. She found a pan flute CD she liked and put it in the player. Across the street, Frank opened the front door to the inn and listened cautiously before he stepped inside. The place was quiet, and he was very grateful about that. The MacLeods weren't arguing and the
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Nestors weren't celebrating their public service announcement. Frank walked past the parlor and looked in. He did a double-take. The Burleighs were sitting in the parlor, in separate chairs, not reading, apparently not talking, just sitting and staring off into space, as near as Frank could tell. He felt compelled, out of courtesy, to say hello to them. They didn't feel compelled to say hello back. They seemed to be taking notes of some sort. Both had an earphone stuck in their ear, and matching small tape recorders on their lap. They looked at Frank briefly and then looked away without interest. Frank walked upstairs and went to his bedroom. Peggy had made the bed and straightened up the pile of Sam Carr's clothes that Adeline had brought over for Frank wear. Peggy had also placed a new bar of soap by the sink in the bathroom. When Frank walked into the bathroom, the bar of soap caught his attention and he picked it up and looked at the wrapper. He also noticed that the trashcan had a new plastic liner in it. Frank lifted the liner out of the trashcan and dropped the bar of soap in it. Even though it was a small bar of soap—one of those slivers of soap that are only good for a couple baths—it was heavy enough in the plastic bag to be a noticeable heft. Frank got caught up in his experiment at that point. He took a cup from the shelf and pulled the wrapper off it. When he dropped it into the bag, he noticed it gave some bulk to the bag and crinkled loud enough for someone to know it was in there. So, he concluded, a bar of soap and the wrapper off a drinking cup were items that Jonathan MacLeod would have noticed if he used an empty trash bag in his garden. The note Timmy Joslyn wrote wasn't bulky however, and it might have fit in a trash bag without Jonathan MacLeod realizing it was in the bag. But all three were in the bag when Peggy was cleaning the room, the bar of soap, the drinking cup wrapper, and the note from Tim Joslyn. Okay. So, why would anyone remove the wrapper and soap from the trash bag and leave the note? If Jonathan MacLeod was the person who removed them, why did he go to that much trouble? It didn't make any sense. If he wanted to bury the note, to hide it so no one could find it, wouldn't it make sense to take the note out of the bag and bury the note all by itself, rather than take the other items out of the bag and bury the note and the bag together? Why would he do that? Things weren't clicking. Frank reached over to the tub and turned the taps on. He stared at the water for a long moment as the tub began to fill. The sound of the rushing water was hypnotic. It would feel good to rinse off the sprinkler water from the factory, to soak in some nice warm water and then take a nap. It would feel good. Now that the killer was dead it would be possible to relax, take a nap, and rest up for the trip home tomorrow. A bath would feel good. He wasn't doing a good job convincing himself. Something just wasn't clicking. This note that was buried, he asked himself, can it really be unrelated to the murders? Idi it get misplaced accidentally in the trash bag and planted in the garden? No. That didn't click. Frank turned off the tap water and decided to postpone the bath. He went back downstairs and looked around for Jonathan. The Burleighs were still in the parlor, silent as a pair of griffins, but alone in the house. Jonathan wasn't around; neither was anyone else. Frank went into the backyard and walked over to the garden. A couple rows in, Jonathan had planted a row of tomatoes. Frank poked his hand into the soil and felt around. A couple inches under the soil he felt something unsoil-like. He grabbed onto it and pulled it up. It was a plastic bag, one that apparently had been planted there weeks before, when the tomato plants were put in. Jonathan must have put it in the ground to discourage weeds from growing between the rows, just as he had claimed. Frank tried digging around another row back, among the cucumbers. He found another bag planted there. The next row, among the zucchinis, the same thing. Jonathan had used plastic trash bags for all the rows. Frank stepped back and studied the garden. He saw the spot where Everett had dug up the trash bag with the note in it. He went back to that area of the garden and felt around in the dirt. There wasn't
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another bag planted in the ground to the left of that area. There wasn't a bag planted to the right either, but there was something else in the ground, something hard and smooth like a rock. He grabbed onto it and lifted it up above the ground. Loose dirt spilled off the object when he gave it a shake. It was a knife. Frank studied it. It was a large, thick butcher's knife with a light-colored wooden handle. The dirt clung to the blade as though something wet had coated the blade before the knife had been planted in the ground. Frank dropped the knife to the ground and looked at it intently. It seemed as though—if he stared at it hard enough—the knife would tell him why it was buried in the ground. It would explain how this all made sense.
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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN As Frank stared at the knife, he felt a tap on his shoulder. "What did you find?" Adeline asked. It jumped him. The cold shiver of fear did not go away before Frank turned around, and when Adeline studied the expression on his face, she smiled sympathetically. "Sorry I startled you," she said. "More apologies, huh? I should have been a little louder walking up behind you I guess. So, what did you find?" Frank gathered his wits about him and pointed toward the knife on the ground. He felt his heart pounding frantically in his chest. How many times in one day could his heart do that without blowing up? Adeline's eyes grew wide. "A knife, buried in the garden?" She headed toward it. "Don't touch it," Frank said. "It's important evidence." Adeline looked at the knife, the disturbed pile of dirt in the garden, and then at Frank. "What do you mean don't touch it?" "There may be fingerprints on it." "Well, how did you get it out of the ground in the first place?" she asked. Frank was confused by the question for a moment. "Well, I touched it of course when I pulled it out of the ground, but the fewer fingerprints we put on the thing the better." "Frank, you think Tim Joslyn buried the knife in the garden after he stabbed his uncle? Why would he come all the way back here behind the house to bury the knife after he stabbed his uncle in front of the house?" Her eyes widened. "Wait a minute. You think Jonathan MacLeod buried it? You think Jonathan is the murderer?" Frank shrugged. He still didn't want to play "who done it?" "If that's the case, Frank, nothing else makes sense, does it? Why would Tim Joslyn be chasing us around all day trying to kill us if Jonathan was the murderer?" "I have no idea. I just found the knife. I'm not going to start making wild guesses about what it all means." Adeline nodded her head thoughtfully. "Okay. So, you got out of Everett's car, went upstairs to take a bath, then decided to come down here for no reason and dig around in Jonathan's garden…" "How did you know I started to take a bath?" Everett asked. "Because I knew it would be the first thing you would do when you got back to your room, and I knew you didn't have enough time to finish taking a bath before I got here." Frank pursed his lips and shook his head. "You're absolutely right." "And also, I went up to your room and saw the tub half-filled with water." "Ms. Carr, I really resent you walking into my room anytime you feel like it and going through my things." "I didn't go through your things. Not this time." She paused and smiled. "They're locked in the safe, remember?" "I remember. That's the only smart thing I've done all weekend." Adeline directed her attention back to the knife on the ground. "What are you going to do with that knife now that you've found it? You can't very well ask Jonathan to lock it in the safe for you." Frank's mind drifted off. He wasn't sure where it went to, but something began nagging at him from his recent memory. Something still didn't click. He looked at the knife blandly, and at Adeline. "I said what are you going to do with the knife now? You can't just leave it here, we can't go carrying it around with us, and if you think I'm going to stand here and guard it while you go call Everett, you're crazy." "No," Frank said. "I'll stay here and guard it while you call the police. But I'd appreciate it if you
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hurry. I don't want to be standing here when Jonathan returns." "I'll go inside and make a call to the police from the inn," Adeline said. "Then I'll come right back." "Oh by the way," Frank said, "There's a weird couple inside, sitting in the parlor." "A weird couple of what?" "You'll see them when you go in, the Burleighs." "What about them?" Adeline asked. "Well, nothing I guess. I just wanted to let you know they're in there. It might not be a good idea for them to overhear you calling the police." Adeline nodded her head and trotted to the back door and into the kitchen. She remembered there was a phone in the kitchen. She'd seen it when she visited the MacLeods before. It was on the wall, near a cutting table. As she reached for the phone she saw a row of knives, all with light-colored handles, displayed in a long wooden knife holder. There was one knife missing. She knew where the missing knife was, she'd seen it on the ground by the garden, not thirty seconds before. She picked up the phone and began dialing the police station. In the middle of dialing, she heard the front door shut. Someone either came in or left the house. Adeline caught her breath and listened for a brief moment, then quickly finished dialing. Better to be standing there with the police on the line, she figured, than be caught next to a row of knives with the phone off the hook. "Good afternoon, Bar Harbor Police." "Hello," Adeline whispered into the phone. "How are you today? Could I speak with Everett Lester please?" "I can barely hear you," the dispatcher said. "Everett Lester," Adeline said as distinctly as she could without speaking louder. "Sergeant Lester." "Sergeant Lester isn't in right now," the dispatcher said. "Would you like to leave a message for him, or would you prefer to speak with someone else?" "Um, we found a knife in the garden," Adeline said. "I beg your pardon," the dispatcher said. "I really can't hear you very well. Are you able to speak any louder?" "A knife in the garden." "A night in the garden?" "Knife." "Knife?" "Yes." Someone was walking around the rooms downstairs. Maybe it was one of the Burleighs. Maybe not. Probably not. Someone was going from room to room. "What about the knife in the garden?" the dispatcher said. "We found it." "Mm-hm. Could you give me your address and phone number, please?" "Yes, but you've got to tell Sergeant Lester about this. He'll understand. Tell him Adeline called." "Airline?" "Ad-el-line." "Yes, ma'am." "And tell him…" The kitchen door opened abruptly, the squeal from Adeline nearly shattered the dispatcher's ear.
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"Ma'am? Ma'am?" he said over the phone. Everett took the phone from Adeline's hand and spoke into the receiver. "Who's this?" he asked. "Bar Harbor police," the dispatcher said uncertainly. "Oh, hi Ron. Everett." "Is everything okay there, Everett?" Everett studied Adeline. "Reasonably so." He asked Adeline, "Why are you calling the police?" "Because we found a knife in the garden," Adeline said. "By we, I suppose you mean you and Mr. Rupert." Adeline shook her head. "Are you going to need any backup?" the dispatcher asked. "No," Everett said. "I've already arranged to have a state police officer meet me here on another matter. He should be here in a couple minutes." Frank heard Adeline's squeal and started to run toward the house. He made it to the back porch when Adeline and Everett came out the door. "What happened in there?" Frank asked. "I guess I startled Ms. Carr," Everett said. "Turn about is fair play," Adeline said to Frank with a smile and a shrug. "She tells me you found a knife in the garden." Frank nodded his head and pointed toward the garden. "Yes, I'm aware where the garden is," Everett said. They walked over to the knife and Everett crouched down beside it. He looked up at Frank and Adeline. "Which one of you decided to paw around and dig this up, or was this another joint effort?" "I did it," Frank volunteered. "And why?" "I'm not sure," Frank said. "I was about to take a bath, when I started thinking about the murder, and I had this feeling…" "Intuition!" Adeline said. "Pure inspiration. It's called holistic focusing, Frank. It just came to you spiritually, that's what happened." "Okay, whatever. Haven't you already created enough trouble for yourself for one weekend?" Everett asked Frank. "I don't usually do things like this," Frank said. "I'm not the kind of person who goes snooping around looking for trouble, honest I'm not. It's just that, well, I got to thinking, like I said and…" "All right, I get the picture," Everett interrupted. "Just stay away from the knife and the garden, and try not to poke around in the bushes or the basement while we wait for the homicide investigators to show up, okay?" Adeline patted Everett on the shoulder. "Guess the state crime investigators overlooked the garden, huh?" "Don't get me riled up, Adeline," Everett said. Adeline gave him a flirtatious smile. "I mean it, Adeline. I have gotten absolutely nothing done but trot around behind the two of you for the past twenty-four hours. I do have a few other duties I'm supposed to attend to you know." He walked toward the house, then stopped and turned around with the scowl still on his face. "And yes, it looks like the hotshot detectives overlooked a pretty obvious clue." Frank and Adeline followed Everett back into the house. As they walked through the back door, Lieutenant Clarkson was coming through the front door. They met outside the parlor entrance. Everett seemed startled by the sight of the Burleighs, still sitting quietly, listening to their tape recorders. "How long have they been here?" Everett asked, to no one in
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particular. He'd walked right past them when he entered the house before. The Burleighs both looked up, then back down at their notepads. They had better things to do than be sociable. Everett walked up to them. "Excuse me," he said. "What are you two doing here?" The Burleighs both removed their earplugs. "They're guests," Clarkson said. "We've already interviewed them." With that settled, the Burleighs re-planted their earplugs and went back to their work. "What's their story?" Everett asked. "They're here for a conference at the hospital on Monday, a medical conference." "They're doctors?" Everett asked. Clarkson nodded. "Well, that explains their social skills. What are they conferencing on?" Clarkson took a notebook out of his pocket and flipped through it. "Some kind of presentation on the effectiveness of play therapy for people with chronic illness." "Play therapy," Frank said quietly, studying the couple. Those who can, do; those who can't do, teach. There was a brief moment of silence. Everett peered out the front door and tapped his foot a couple times impatiently. "They should be along soon, shouldn't they?" he said to Clarkson. Clarkson nodded and checked his watch by flinging his arm around dramatically. Frank and Adeline both wondered who Everett was referring to, but knew enough to step back and wait silently. An SUV approached and Everett said evenly, "Here they come." The vehicle pulled in front of the inn and came to a stop. Everett and Clarkson stepped out the front door and started down the steps. The Nestors got out of the car and walked together toward Everett and Clarkson. "Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Nestor," Clarkson said. "I have a warrant for your arrest." Tom Nestor took the warrant, looked at it and handed it to his wife. She looked at it stoically and handed it back to her husband. "Okay, there's no point arguing this or denying it. And I suppose you have to do what you have to do," Tom Nestor said. "I'd just like you to know the reason we did it, that's all." Everett looked at Clarkson, and Clarkson glanced back. "Okay, why?" Everett asked. "We really had no choice," Nestor said. "My wife is running for public office. It's a close election, and we were running behind in the polls, you know? And over the past four months our opponent has outspent us three to one for advertising spots. That's a very bad margin, sir. We were struggling, and we knew we just had to get our message across to the voters." "So you stole from the city treasury to take a vacation to Maine?" "No," Jean Nestor said quickly. "We didn't steal any money, not really. We took some money from the treasury, yes, but we had no place else to turn, and we needed money for video equipment, and for the trip here to film the commercial. And, of course, for all those lobsters. It's always been our intention to pay the money back in full. If you give us a chance, we will pay it back. Every penny of it." Clarkson nodded sadly and said, "I'm afraid you'll have to come along with me." "That's it then?" Tom asked. "You won't let us explain?" "You'll have plenty of opportunity to explain in court," Clarkson said. "But for now, you are under arrest." Tom looked at Jean and Jean nodded solemnly. Clarkson led Tom, Jean and Kimmy to his car. They went quietly and sat in the back seat. Clarkson got in the driver's seat and drove them to the police station. Everett stood on the lawn and watched them drive off. Then he came back into the house and said,
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"I really don't know what's wrong with people." "What did they do?" Adeline asked. "They embezzled a big wad of cash from municipal funds and decided to take a vacation out here in the guise of a public service commercial. What a stupid thing to do. And the worst part is they believe they're totally innocent. You can tell by the way they're acting. They think their behavior's completely justified." "What's going to happen to them?" Adeline asked. "Someone from Kentucky will take them back to their home town and they'll stand trial I guess." "Does everyone in this town work hard at being weird and eccentric?" Frank asked. "It sure seems like that way." Everett shrugged. "You mean the Nestors, Jonathan MacLeod, and the Joslyns? Seems to me the one thing they have in common is they're all from out of town." He gave Frank a wry smile. "Like you, Mr. Rupert." "Okay, I get your point." Frank wasn't going to try to defend himself. "But, getting back to the knife I found, what's going to happen about that?" he asked. "We'll be asking Jonathan MacLeod to explain what it was doing in his garden. He's still at the station, and his wife is there too. The state police investigators have been interviewing them all afternoon. I think they've got a lot to talk about, a lot of explaining to do. We found out MacLeod bought new tires for his SUV this morning in Ellsworth. We went over to Ellsworth and checked the tread on his old tires, and guess what? They match the tread marks at Timothy Joslyn's house. Things aren't looking good for Mr. MacLeod right now." "So, it was his car that was parked outside Timothy Joslyn's house last night?" Frank asked. "Apparently." "I'm more confused than ever," Adeline said. "If Jonathan put the knife in the garden, and stabbed Timothy Joslyn's last night, why did Timmy Joslyn chase us around the warehouse all afternoon, trying to kill us?" Everett shrugged. "It's a puzzle," he said. "Just when everything seemed to fall in place, more evidence started to come in. Now, we have this knife to contend with. But we'll get it all figured out." He glanced at his watch. "I need to get back to the station." Everett turned, and started to walk back to his car. He stopped about halfway, and turned uncertainly to face Frank and Adeline. "Has it occurred to you," he said to Frank, "It might be rather uncomfortable for you to spend the night at this inn under the circumstances?" Frank's eyes widened and he shook his head no. "I thought about that earlier, but then when I came back here I kind of lost track of where I'll be tonight. Normally, you know, I'm a very good planner. I really am." Everett drew in a long sigh. "I'm off work at eight tonight. I'll give you your ride back to Augusta tonight." "Oh. Well, thank you," Frank said quietly. Everett continued to walk to his car. "Believe me, it will be my pleasure," he said as he got in the car. He pulled from the curb and drove toward the police station. Clarkson was standing in the front room of the police station with the Nestors and another state police officer when Everett arrived. Everett called Clarkson to the far end of the room and showed him the knife. "This was found in the garden today. That guy Rupert dug it up. Look at the blade." Clarkson leaned forward and examined the knife. "We've got something dried on it. Want to place a bet it's Gerald Joslyn's blood?" Clarkson nodded and said, "I wonder how MacLeod plans to talk his way out of this."
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Everett shrugged. "I'm sure he'll try." Inside Interrogation Room One, Jonathan MacLeod was getting tired of the police inquiry. He sat with his jaw cupped in his hands. He had an attorney standing beside him. Clarkson and Everett walked in and Clarkson told him about the knife. Jonathan's face didn't register any expression. He admitted planting a plastic bag in the garden, the one Frank had seen him plant, and said he'd planted the other plastic bags as well. But he denied any knowledge of the knife. His attorney hushed him up at that point. "So, it sounds like you want us to believe someone else hid that knife in the garden, is that it?" Clarkson ask. Jonathan shrugged. "And dug up one of the plastic bags you put in the garden, put the note Tim Joslyn wrote to his uncle in the bag, and re-buried it." Jonathan didn't answer. "Well, that must be what you want us to believe," Clarkson said. "I couldn't possibly care less what you believe," Jonathan told him. The attorney cleared his throat. "It may become more important to you after you are indicted for murder," Clarkson said, measuring his words. "I haven't done anything to be ashamed of." "Murdering someone doesn't make you feel just a little bit ashamed?" Everett asked. "I haven't murdered anyone." "Whose blood do suppose we'll find on the knife that was buried in the garden?" Clarkson ask. "I suppose you will find Mr. Joslyn's blood." "And why do you think that?" Clarkson asked. "Because as far as I know, Mr. Joslyn is the only person around town who has been stabbed recently," Jonathan said flatly. Clarkson started to say, “As a matter of fact, he wasn’t the only person who was stabbed this weekend,” but he decided to hold back that information. In the room three doors down the hall, the officers were having more success interviewing Peggy MacLeod. Two minutes into the interview, she burst into tears and started talking about her marital problems. "It's a marriage without love. It's been that way for a long time," she told them. "Jonathan told me he wants to get enough money to go back to Scotland and open a restaurant. He wants to go there without me, he's made that clear. He's a strange man. Cold and detached. Always focused only on himself. But, he's not a murderer. I could never believe he would kill anyone." She looked at both officers. "I could never believe that."
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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Adeline got dressed up to go to the store. She put on a pair of sandals and an ecru jacket that matched her hemp purse. As she stepped out of the house, she saw the Inn at Farrington across the street, and thought about asking Frank if he wanted to go along to get something for lunch, but she decided not to. He deserved at least a couple hours of peace and quiet during his stay in Bar Harbor. The store, like just about everything else in town, was within walking distance from Adeline's house, just the other side of Main Street. As she walked down the street, Adeline wondered whether she should take a ride to Bangor to try and see Rita. Maybe Rita wasn't even there. They might have taken her to Portland. Adeline figured Rita probably wasn't in any condition to have visitors, she might even be —well, she didn't want to think about that—but Adeline decided she could wait at the hospital as easily as she could wait at home. Maybe she could get the police to track down where she was. It was worth a shot. She headed off in a different direction and walked to the police station. When she got there, she walked up to the desk in the lobby and said she would like to find out about Rita Perry. From a corner of the lobby, she heard the answer to her question. "She's just out of intensive care," Frank said. "Sounds like she's going to be okay." "Frank!" Adeline said. "What are you doing here?" She realized how silly the question was as soon as she asked it, but Frank didn't respond with any irony. "I'm waiting to see how Rita is," he said. "I talked to the doctor once, and he said she was doing well, but she's lost a lot of blood and is still weak." "Is she conscious?" Adeline asked. "The doctor told me she was conscious, but he thinks she's delirious," Frank said. "Knowing Rita, that could be a hard thing to determine," he added. "Poor Rita," Adeline sighed. She sat beside Frank. "It was nice of you to come here to check on her," she said. "But how were you able to talk to the doctor? Don't they have HIPAA rules or something that keep them from giving out information?" Frank shrugged. He looked around the room nervously. "I told them I work for the state," he said, measuring his words cautiously. "I just kind of lied about which department I work for." Adeline studied Frank for a moment with renewed respect. She nodded her head without making a comment. "It's six o'clock," Frank said. Adeline looked over at the clock. "Sergeant Lester is going to be giving me a ride home in two hours. I've been waiting here so I wouldn't miss him." "Oh." Frank gazed around at the lobby for a while. "Would you like to have dinner with me someplace before I go?" Adeline smiled. "Yes, I'd like that." "Someplace other than the Laughing Gull? Or Minnie's?" Adeline broadened her smile. "And since you're out of work now, thanks to me, I'll buy dinner." "But I thought you said—" Adeline stopped herself. She nodded her head and said, "That would be very nice." They walked to a restaurant located on Main Street that had outside tables lined up along a side street, across from the park. The weather was still warm, and the slight breeze that blew across the park brought a hint of sea spray. A waiter handed them menus and recited a list of specials before he left. They made their choices quickly and put their menus down, staring out at the park silently until the waiter
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returned to take their order. It wasn't until after the bread plate arrived that Frank initiated a topic of conversation. "You know, I have always appreciated structure and discipline. And I've always had a problem with chaos and confusion," he said. Adeline said she knew that. "And I have spent two full days here surrounded by nothing but chaos and confusion. I've been miserable most of the time, like a fish out of water. I've been threatened, attacked, and placed in peril the entire time I've been here. Let's see, what else? I've been publicly humiliated, my values have been compromised, my nerves have been shattered, and yet…and yet, well somehow all this turmoil has churned up something inside me. I've discovered that something inside me actually enjoys a certain degree of chaos and confusion." "Really?" "Really. You know, you told me I need more weirdness in my life. Maybe you were right." "You remember me telling you that?" "I do." "I'm glad you had this weirdness then." "I'll probably be a whole lot gladder when I'm home, of course. I haven't given up completely on the value of peace and quiet, mind you. Still, I won't forget this experience." "I'm sure I won't." "All the same, it's hard leaving here without having more answers to what this has all been about," Frank said. "It seems so crazy, you know? All the violence seems so pointless. I wish I knew for sure who the murderer was. It would certainly put my mind at ease." "You know what I think, Frank? I think we could figure it out if we set our minds on it," Adeline said. "I doubt it," Frank replied. "It's all certainly beyond me right now, and whenever you and I try to discuss anything, we approach the issue from two entirely different positions." Across the street, a band walked into the gazebo and began setting up. It was a brass band, eight musicians in Music Man costumes to amuse the tourists. They started their concert before Adeline and Frank were finished with dinner. Adeline said to Frank as he was finishing his coffee, "Let's go over to the park." They walked toward the gazebo and stood twelve feet away from the band, but Frank grabbed onto Adeline's arm and said in her ear, "This is really too loud for me. Can we move back?" Adeline nodded her head and they retreated to the outskirts of the park. Frank was much happier there. "Frank, I know you don't like playing guessing games about the murders, but I know you and I could sort through this if we tried." "I think we're going to have to wait and have the police solve this," Frank replied. Adeline leaned against a tree and squinted her eyes. She ignored what he said. "You've got a real gift for logic, but you've got no intuition. And on the other hand, all I've got is intuition, no logic at all. But, you know what I think? When my gut tells me I've got the right person, and your logic tells you it's the same person, we'll have this whole thing figured out." Frank gave her a tired smile. "I don't think it's that easy," he said. "The murderer could be someone we've never even met, someone we don't even know." "Maybe, but if that's the case, we'll just come up empty handed. Let's try it. Come on. First of all, hmm, my gut is telling me Timmy didn't murder anyone. When I think of him, it just doesn't click for me." "Well, you see, already we're in trouble with this, because logically, Timmy is the prime suspect. He even tried to kill you and me and Rita. I think maybe your gut is sending you wrong signals." "Now, wait a minute, Frank. Come on and help me out with this. Do some thinking for us. What
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are some logical reasons why Timmy wouldn't be the murderer?" "I don't think there are any logical reasons." "Come on, think." "Oh, all right. Why not Timmy? I don’t know. Let's see, he'd have to kill his own father. That's pretty hard to imagine, but it's been done plenty of times, going back to Oedipus." Frank stuck with the thought another moment. "Logically, I suppose he didn't kill his father, though, because I don't see any logical reason why he would have done it the way it was done." "How do you mean?" "Well, I mean why would he park his car at the end of the driveway at his own house? And why would he make a getaway from his own house? That doesn't make sense." He pondered it another couple seconds. "He didn't kill his uncle either, by the way." "Why not?" "Because he wouldn't have gone to the back of the inn after he stabbed his uncle just to bury the knife, would he? If he was eager to get away, I imagine he'd run in almost any other direction than that, and bury the knife almost anywhere other than on the property where he committed the murder." "So, how about this? Maybe Jonathan helped Timmy Joslyn out with the murders. They committed them together. That would make more sense, wouldn't it?" "What does your gut tell you?" Frank asked. Adeline closed her eyes and sucked in a long breath through her mouth. "My gut is telling me… no." "Well, it's a more logical solution than Timmy committing the murders alone." "So, it was the two of them, you think?" Frank shook his head no slowly. "There's still some problems with that. Burying the note in the garden doesn't make any sense for them to do. And neither Timmy nor Jonathan could have hit you over the head without being observed in the women's section of the store." "So, did Peggy help out too?" Adeline asked. "All three of them were in on it? Hard to imagine her cooperating with Jonathan." "I agree. Their quarrels certainly didn't seem staged. They really don't like each other." "That's another "no" vote from my gut. How about Peggy and Timmy then? That would explain the SUV being parked at the end of the driveway at Timothy Joslyn's house, and me getting clubbed over the head. Nobody would pay attention to Peggy standing behind me in the women's section of the store. It would explain everything, wouldn't it?" "No, not everything. It was Jonathan who had the tires changed on his vehicle to conceal the tread marks outside Timothy Joslyn's house. I saw him drive off to Ellsworth this morning to do that." Frank squinted in concentration. "But, wait a minute. As I recall, it was Peggy who told him to take the car to Ellsworth." "Peggy told him to take the car?" "I remember the conversation they had about it in the kitchen at breakfast time. They were arguing and Peggy said she didn't have time to go to Ellsworth, that she had housework to do. She told him to go get the car fixed." "Oh, really?" "And, now that I think of it, there was more to the story about Jonathan burying the trash bag in the garden too. Peggy was hollering at Jonathan when he was burying the bag. She was yelling loud enough to draw my attention to the back yard. It was like she wanted me to see what Jonathan was doing." "That would make sense if she wanted to set her husband up. If she wanted someone to notice what he was doing."
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"Let's see, she could have taken the drinking glass wrapper and the soap out of the bag and he never would have known the note was in it. She could have given him the plastic bag to use in the garden , and then she could have caused a commotion so someone would see he was putting the bag with the note in it in the garden. I remember now. She turned around while they were arguing, and you know, I recall now that I thought she saw me watching through the window. I think she knew I was watching. And then right after that she went into the house. All of this makes some sense." Frank was starting to get excited. "And, even if Jonathan didn't stab the Moose Man with the kitchen knife, his fingerprints would still be on the knife," Adeline said. "There's more," Frank said. "Peggy knew you had the envelope Timothy Joslyn gave you because we talked about it in front of her when Peggy put my notebook in the safe. Do you remember that? She's the only one who knew you had the envelope in your purse. Peggy MacLeod is the only person who could have killed Gerald and Timothy, hit you over the head, and gotten her husband to take the blame." "Okay," said Adeline. She drew in a couple breaths. "That's clicking. Yes. But then why did Timmy Joslyn try to kill us at the factory? That still doesn't make any sense, does it?" "You're close enough, I might as well fill the rest in for you." Adeline and Frank heard the voice behind them. They spun around and saw Peggy MacLeod standing slightly beyond arm's reach from them. The knife she had in her hand was from the cutlery set. It was the next larger size to the one buried in the garden. "Don't get up," Peggy said. Adeline and Frank were halfway to their feet. Peggy waved the knife at them and said, "Sit." They sat. Peggy looked nervously around to see if anyone was watching. They weren't. "Turn around and face forward," Peggy said. When Adeline and Frank did, Peggy tucked the knife back in her folded arms to keep it out of view. "Now, you're both going to get up slowly, and we're all going to walk to the edge of the park, and then back to the inn. Do you understand that? If everyone behaves, we'll all make it back safely to the inn. But if there's any problem there will be more dead bodies in Bar Harbor tonight. Do you understand that?" They both nodded. When Frank and Adeline got to their feet, Peggy directed them to walk to the back edge of the park, where the street was dimly lit. Frank saw the police station to the right of the park within hollering distance, but it might as well have been a thousand miles away. A few tourists wandered by, a couple dozen feet away. Frank and Adeline looked at them furtively, but no one paid attention. There was no point trying to run. Both Frank and Adeline were too banged up to make a good chase of it. There was no point hollering for help, either. Peggy would have them both carved up before anyone could come to the rescue. "You said you were going to fill us in on the rest of the information," Adeline said. "Yes," Peggy said. "You just keep walking, and I'll tell you the rest." They took a few more steps, then Peggy continued. "I'm not a violent person," she said. "That's kind of difficult for me to believe right now," Frank told her. "I killed because I had to. I wouldn't let Jerry cheat my son like he cheated my ex-husband." The words didn't sink in for Frank. "I don't have the slightest idea of what you're saying," he said. "I think I do," Adeline said cautiously. She thought it over a moment. "You wouldn't let Jerry cheat your son like he did your ex-husband. Jerry, is the Moose Man, right? So, you were married to Timothy Joslyn, weren't you. Timmy is your son, the son you abandoned twelve years ago." "I never abandoned him," Peggy protested. "I came back to him, I just…" Her voice trailed off. "I just couldn't live with his father. I didn't abandon my son before, and I'm not going to do it now." They were at the end of the park and walking down a dimly lit side street toward Farrington Avenue. "Gerald swindled Timothy out of his inheritance, and he and Timothy were about to make sure
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Timmy would have no control of their company when they retired. That was what was what was in the envelope Timothy gave you, an agreement between Timothy and Gerald to exclude Timmy from ever managing the company. He gave it to you because he thought Timmy and I would never know you had it. But you came over to the inn and mentioned the envelope, right in front of me. You even showed it to me. Poor Timothy, he could never do anything right." Her laugh was brief and bitter. "Then, you showed up at the factory and told Timmy you were at the house when his father was killed. Timmy called me and told me you were there. I told him you had the agreement his father and uncle had signed. I told him you were planning to blackmail us." "But I didn't have the agreement, you did. You lied to your son?" Adeline said. "You set him up to kill us? You did that to your own son?" "No," Peggy protested. "I didn't set him up. It wasn't that at all. I would never do anything to hurt him. We just needed to get rid of Jerry and Timothy, to get rid of their wicked influence. And, I needed to rid myself of Jonathan too. I've never chosen my men wisely. Jonathan's no better than Timothy was. All of them, Jerry and Timothy and Jonathan, they were all selfish and cruel in their own way. I thought, maybe if Timmy were free of all of them, he might have a chance. He might straighten out. He might… but he's dead now. And I know you killed him. The police told me you killed him at the factory." Peggy voice turned cold. Frank and Adeline didn't like the turn the conversation was taking. "You killed him," Peggy said again. "My son. He's dead and you killed him." The street was dark. It was dark and isolated. The darkness, along with a line of cars parked along the curb, concealed Frank and Adeline from the view of people in the park. This would be as good a place as any for Peggy to use her knife again. If she was brave enough to use it on Gerald Joslyn in broad daylight, and on her ex-husband with witnesses present in a room down the hall, she would have no compunction about using it here. Frank was considering the best therapeutic intervention possible to dissuade her from striking again. But he wasn't getting very far beyond, "Oh please don't. I'm begging you." Not a great tactic. Adeline, on the other hand, had a different plan. She decided to act instead of speak. She let her crocheted hemp purse slide down slowly off her shoulder. The strap fell to her elbow, then in one move she let if fall to her hand and swung it back wildly and sharply at Peggy. Peggy swiped at the purse with her knife and the knife tore into it. Adeline grabbed the purse and twisted it, locking the knife in the webbing. Peggy still hung onto the knife handle. She shoved Adeline back. Adeline stumbled a couple steps and noticed a Porsche three feet away, parked at the curb. She took a step toward Frank and shoved him hard against the side of the car. Frank's face registered a look of shock and confusion. As he struck the side of the Porsche, the car alarm went off. Adeline ran forward toward Peggy and pushed her into a Saab, parked behind the Porsche. Now two car alarms were blaring. People from the park began to come forward to check out the commotion. Peggy dropped the useless knife she'd been clutching, tangled in the strands of Adeline's purse, and decided to make a run for it. She headed down a dark residential street toward the shore. Two police officers arrived before Everett did, but when Everett showed up, he understood what Adeline meant when she pointed toward the street where Peggy fled and said, "It was Peggy. She ran off that way." Everett sent two police officers after her. Peggy ran as far as the shore, and dove into the ocean. Even in mid-summer the ocean is frigid in Bar Harbor. Peggy must have known that, but she discovered it with renewed emphasis when she hit the water. Or maybe she knew it full well even as she was running to the shore, no one knows. She was nearly a quarter mile out to sea when the officers
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reached the shore. One took a flashlight off his belt and panned it across the waves. They saw a dark speck, heading toward the horizon. The officer called for her to come back. The speck went under the surface of the water a long moment, then reemerged. It moved forward more slowly. It sank again. It came up and bobbed for a few seconds, then went down again, and this time it didn't come back up.
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CHAPTER NINETEEN The police weren't done talking to Frank and Adeline until nine-thirty. They finished talking to Jonathan MacLeod about the same time. Frank and Adeline stood in the lobby as Jonathan and his attorney walked past. Lieutenant Clarkson called to Jonathan before he walked out the front door. "Get some rest, Mr. MacLeod. We may need to talk with you a bit more tomorrow." Jonathan turned around slowly. His expression was flat and hostile, the only expression Frank had ever seen on him. "I don't plan to be anywhere near this town by tomorrow. I'm getting my things together and getting as far away from here as I can get." "We're going to need to get in touch with—" Clarkson started to say. "Get in touch with my attorney," Jonathan said, and he walked out the door. The attorney gave Clarkson a pained smile and a conciliatory shrug and followed Jonathan out. Everett stood in a doorway and watched Jonathan leave. He called over to Frank. "Well, Mr. Rupert, are you about ready to head home?" Frank looked up at the clock. "It's nine-thirty," he said. "Yes it is." "Sergeant Lester, if you take me home now you won't get back here until one or two in the morning." "We ought to get going then." He smiled at Frank. "I don't mind making the trip. In fact, I know I won't rest easy until you're back home safe and sound." "I really appreciate—" "Good. Let's get your stuff together then and we can head out." "This is my stuff," Frank said, tugging at his shirt collar. His jacket and tie and shoes were back at the inn, but it didn't seem worth the trouble to go back there and retrieve them. His notebook was there too, in the safe, but he couldn't get into the safe anyway. Everett pulled car keys out of his pocket and headed toward the front door. Frank looked at Adeline and said, "Well, Ms. Carr, I have to say this has been the most intriguing weekend of my entire life." Adeline gave him a weary smile, "I'm sorry, Frank, that you had to go through so much grief while you were here." "I didn't mind it." "Of course not. What's to mind about a couple assassination attempts?" Frank looked puzzled. "I'm serious, Ms. Carr. This was truly the most intriguing weekend I've spent in my whole life, and I mean that in a positive way. I've never been exposed to so much danger and excitement and suspense, and, well, it was all quite invigorating. I can't say I want to ever experience anything like it again, but it's been quite an experience all the same, and it's given me a great deal to ponder. It's caused me to reconsider how I've been looking at the world, and at my life." "So, how do you look at the world now, Frank? And your life?" "Well, I'm not sure yet. But, I see things differently somehow. I've got a lot to ponder." Everett opened the front door and held it for Frank and Adeline. The three of them walked to Everett's car, parked at the curb. He unlocked the passenger door and Frank got in. Frank rolled the window down and said quietly, "Well, goodbye." "Goodbye, Frank," Adeline said. She leaned in the window and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. He looked straight forward, but he blushed, and Adeline smiled when she saw his face redden. "Thank you for bringing so much adventure into my life also the past two days. Things were pretty boring around here before you showed up, Frank. I'll bet this kind of excitement follows you wherever you go
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though, doesn't it." Frank swung his head around and gave her a puzzled expression. When he saw the grin on her face, he returned a smile. He started to say something, but nothing came to mind that would keep up with Adeline's sassiness, so he quit trying and just gave her a nod. Everett got into the car and started the engine. "All set?" he asked. "I guess so," Frank said. He turned toward Adeline. "Oh, Ms. Carr, would you mind if I gave you a call tomorrow to find out how Ms. Perry is doing?" Adeline shook her head no. "I don't mind at all." She gave him another smile. "I'll do that then." The car started to pull away from the curb. "Oh, Frank!" Adeline said. The car came to a halt. "Um, what are you going to do about your notebook?" "My notebook?" "Yes, it's locked in the safe at the inn." "I know. It'll have to stay there," Frank said. "Jonathan's headed off to who knows where, so there's no one around to open the safe and get it out for me." "But what about your report?" Adeline asked. "I don't need my notes for that. Not really. I can write site visit reports in my sleep." "So, is that how you state workers do it?" "Most of the time." "And, um, also you know, you never did give me that technical assistance stuff on how to get trained to be a real therapist. You remember you promised to give me that?" "I remember." "I haven't given up on the idea of being a counselor, you know. Not completely." "Perhaps next time I come to town." Adeline nodded her head. "Perhaps then." The car pulled forward. "I'm going to miss you," Adeline said. Frank looked straight ahead. He nodded his head absently. The car drove down the street and headed for Route One. A few miles down the road, Everett decided to start up a conversation. "I imagine you'll be glad to get back home after all this." Frank didn't say anything. "You'll have a pretty good story to tell at work, I suppose." "I guess I will," Frank said. "There's probably no chance in the world that you'll ever step foot in Bar Harbor again, but I'd like to think maybe you'll come back some day and see what the place has to offer. I think you might like it, I mean, if people aren't trying to knock you off." "Oh, I'll be back." "Yeah?" "Yes. I've got agencies in town I have to inspect. I'll have to come back to do that." Frank caught a quick glimpse of the moon's reflection on the ocean as the road passed by a clearing. The water glistened for a moment, then dark trees abruptly closed in and obscured the view. "I would like to see the town again anyway. Maybe, after a few months, I'll be over some of the more unpleasant memories. Maybe that would be a good time to come back." "Well, I can appreciate you wanting to give it a little time before you return. You saw a lot of grisly things while you were here, a lot of bloodshed. Those kinds of memories are pretty hard to forget." "I wasn't referring to the murders. I was referring to my embarrassing ordeal at the clothing store,
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parading myself around town in those ridiculous clothes." The memory flickered in Everett's mind and he burst out laughing. He glanced over at Frank and saw he wasn't sharing in the mirth. "Don't worry, Mr. Rupert. I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you." "Oh sure." "But all the same, next time you go out on one of your site visits, even if you only expect to be gone a couple hours, maybe you should pack an overnight bag, just in case, so you'll have something a little more stylish to wear." "Not a bad idea," Frank said. He grinned faintly. "Don't leave home without it." The car traveled a few more miles down the road before Frank spoke up again. "I suppose I understand just about everything that happened this weekend, as much as I'm ever going to. It finally clicks, as Adeline would say. Well, most of it does, anyway. I understand how passion can drive people to do outrageous things, like the Nestors stealing money, the Joslyns fighting to take control of their company, and Peggy MacLeod trying avenge the wrongs she thought people had done to her son. I understand that passion can override things like common sense and decency. But I don't really understand how people can keep their focus so narrow and so cruel for so long without tiring of it. The fire keeps burning in them until it burns them up." "Well, I guess that's what passion is," Everett said. "Sometimes the flame is good, sometimes it's bad." "I suppose." "I'll tell you what's bothering me," Everett said. "What?" "It's that weird couple at the inn, the ones who don't speak to anybody." "The Burleighs," Frank said. "Yeah, the Burleighs." "Strange people." "Yes they are, and about as passionless as people can be." "What's bothering you about them?" Frank asked. "It's bothering me that I can't find a good reason to be at the inn tomorrow morning when they get up. I'd give anything to see how they handle it when they go to the breakfast table tomorrow and nobody else shows up." Frank nodded. "They could be sitting there for hours." "Days," Everett said. "Days," Frank agreed. "Tell you what, I'll swing by the place when I come back to town in a few months and see if they're still sitting there." "Now, there's a plan," Everett said. He turned onto Route Three, south of Ellsworth, and headed for the town of Verona.
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