Dick Pride looked questioningly at the old woman. “Are you Grace Divine?”
“Maybe. Who wants to know? You a cop?”
“Newspaper reporter. Charley Smiles said maybe you could help us out.”
“I don’t read newspapers. They only print what the Feds tell them to. I don’t read nothing no more.”
“That’s not really very fair. We’re not a big city paper. We serve the community.”
She studied his features. Her voice softened. “But I consider Charley an old friend and if he sent you…”
Dick seized the moment. “Can you tell me more about Evie? Maybe over lunch? We could go to Starbucks.” He thought about the cute redhead drama student from Emerson who worked there. Maybe she’d on duty while he’d ply Grace with coffee and their spectacular sweet rolls.
“It’s getting’ on time for lunch,” he tried again. “Maybe you’d like a sandwich and coffee at Starbucks and we could talk. “
To Grace he seemed wet behind the ears, she wanted to help him but…. She sighed. Finally she said. “I don’t talk no more. Talkin’ can get ya killed. Bet it was talkin’ too much that got Evie.”
“But if you can help.”
This time she was emphatic. “I did help. I told you her name, let it go at that. Suddenly she seemed nervous and impatient. “Now go ‘way’.” Abruptly She turned and headed back to the cabin.
The old guy with the ponytail was lurking near the rusted heap. Dick realized he’d been listening to their exchange. He saw the long Bowie knife in a well worn leather sheath strapped to his left leg and wondered if it could cut off someone’s head. The man looked mean.
“Thanks,” Dick called out. Deciding discretion was the better part of valor, he made his way back to his car. At least she’d given him a name. The morning trek up the hill wasn’t a total loss.
He parked at the paper and gathered his thoughts. He knew he had more questions than answers. Frustrating!
Dick bounded into Charley’s office and waved the photo. I found Grace Divine. She told me that the dead woman’s name is Evie Comington.”
Charley looked up from doing his receipts. “Sit down.” He waved him to a chair. “Start from the beginning.”
Dick nodded. He sat down and leaned forward. “When I got closer I saw a cabin and a classic Harley hidden under a tarp. Also a rusted heap I doubt could run.”
Charley nodded. “Go on.”
“I called out to her, and when she finally appeared, she held a shotgun on me.”
Charley laughed. “Sounds like the Grace I remember.”
Dick’s eyebrows flew up. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
“Better you find things out for yourself.”
Dick frowned. “Humph. Well I showed her the photo. She recognized her right off. Told me she was Evie Cummington but that she hadn’t seen her in years. Then she said Evie talked too much which is probably what got her killed.”
“Notice anyone else?”
“Yeah,” Dick made a face. “A small nasty looking guy with a long white ponytail and a menacing Bowie knife strapped to his left leg.”
Charley smile again. “It’s nice to know Grace’s still around and all in one piece. She’s been a loner for as long as I can remember.”
“I didn’t try talking him. And he did his best to avoid me. I thought it best to leave.”
Charley nodded. “Wouldn’t have gotten you too far. That’s Earl Redford. He and his brother Howard and two sisters grew up in these parts and all stayed around. If there was ever a petty crime the word at the station house was go find Earl. Not sure about the sisters. One of them was said to be strange, maybe off her head.”
“I’ll give Mallory a call and bring him up to date.”
Dick looked concerned. “But it’s still my story?”
“Absolutely,” Charley smiled. “Believe me the last thing Tom Mallory would ever think of doing would be to call in the Press.”
“I though this Earl character was odd. Clearly he didn’t want me to get a good look at him.”
Charley nodded. “Earl’s always been sneaky that way. See if you can locate the rest of the family. We may as well keep tabs. Good work! What you’ve done so far has been helpful.” He stood and reached into his pants’ pocket, pulled out a roll of bills, and peeled off two twenties. “Go have yourself a good lunch on me. Maybe even at the Inn. See what you can pick up on Bee Bopp’s Halloween party. Never can tell who or what you might hear about or run into.”
“Do you have the names of the sisters?”
Charley smiled. Portia and Sylvia. Never could tell them apart. Identical twins with questionable IQ’s.”
Dick had intended on doing lunch at Starbucks. Hoping to see the lovely redhead drama student from Emerson who worked the weekday lunch shift. But lunch at the Inn was a definite step up. For the first time he felt like a reporter, the real deal. In his mind he saw himself seated at a workstation drinking coffee in the city room of the New York Times. Before heading to lunch he decided to stop by the station and see Sippi Bopp, but she wasn’t there.
Sippi and I went home early intending to help Aunt Bea take care of last minute details for her celebration that Saturday night. When we got there Sippi saw Raven Jones pacing around the kitchen talking a mile a minute on his cell phone helping with Aunt Bea’s last minute arrangements.
I scampered through the condo and stopped when I saw Ku perched on his loveseat appearing and disappearing by the window in Sippi’s living room.
Ku stretched and meowed. Telepathically he said: “Walk upon the memories of a different time. Dig up the secret and find the sign.”
I wagged my tale. I had no idea what he was getting at. But then again I hardly ever did. Aunt Bea came into the living room with Sippi. I saw that Ku had disappeared again.
Raven followed them in. “I think we got it all. Everything will be delivered to the Inn by three thirty. That should give them plenty of time to make the preparations.”
She smiled appreciatively at him. Her cell phone rang. She smiled at the name on her caller ID. To Sippi she appeared to be blushing.
“I thought it might be you.” Then she listened. “I’m hopeful you’ll be there. We have a lot of catching up to do. A few days with you at the your place on the Cape? I’d love to. I’ll bet that old place of your grandmother’s is worth a fortune these days.” She laughed. “I’ll do my best to get away. Right now I’m trying to help my niece Sippi solve a murder case. Maybe you could lend a hand.” Another pause, she listened and whispered something Sippi couldn’t hear, ended the call and kissed her cell phone.”
(To be continued)