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ALL OF THOSE who had retired early that evening were rousted out of bed, disturbed by police car sirens and the ringing of telephones and text messages being sent and received. Strips of light were shining from the windows and onto the quiet streets. Practically the whole town was abuzz about the murder.
The cast, weary after the hours of questioning, were the only ones anxious to escape the hubbub of Privateer Days and to go home. The rest of the town’s folks were waiting for any word of the crime and a few hangers-on were still at the park. Music blared from the beer tents and musicians continued to play. The festivities went on. Song after song filled the air competing with the raucous noise that came from the midway. All the sounds merged, creating a disturbing din. Shops had shut long ago.
Immediately following the play, the original plan had been to invite people to attend the old graveyard tour. That event had been a part of Privateer Days for years and it was now too late to cancel. Some of the theatre group would take them on the tour, acting as storytellers. Two actors, dressed as town criers, would lead the way telling the stories of the notable and even some of the less notable characters, pointing spookily at their graves. The tour began at the Old Common Burial Grounds, the most historical of them all, before they walked on to the Methodist Cemetery, where Simeon Perkins had been buried, then to the United Baptist Church cemetery, before going on to the one at St Gregory’s Catholic Church and then ending up at the old Trinity Anglican. All of the cemeteries were within a block or two of each other and it was organized such that even the elderly could participate. It was all preplanned to coincide perfectly with the final curtain of Scarlett’s play.
Marc asked Scarlett, “I wonder how the graveyard tour will turn out after all this?”
“Maybe it’ll get more folks out, who knows? Though I somehow doubt it,” she said.
Because of the news of the murder only a few people had bothered with the graveyard tour. Usually there were dozens of paying customers for the event. A person in a Simeon Perkins costume was seen walking through the cemetery lagging behind the group. He lingered over Perkins’ grave looking at the gravestone cover. It had been moved and was tilted to one side. In the darkness no one else seemed to have noticed that the grave had been interfered with. He appeared to be confused or looking for something, and when folks tried to approach him, he turned away before they even came near.
Scarlett could not relax and before long she and Marc were back in the car, driving up and down the streets. They drove to the lighthouse and back, across the blue bridge and down Bristol Avenue before returning to circle around, past the late night activities of Privateer Days by the river.
Scarlett pointed and said, “There’s Mr. Briggs, he’s still wearing his costume. He must be having a hard time with all this too. The poor guy. Stop and I’ll call him over.”
Marc said, “That’s odd, he told me he was going straight home.” He stopped the car and Scarlett got out and yelled, “Hey Mr. Briggs, over here. Come on, we’ll take you home.”
Christian Briggs kept walking the other way. He turned a corner and was gone.
“Well, look at that,” she said, clearly offended. “Why would he shun me? We’re all upset. Not just him.”
“He probably couldn’t hear you with all the noise from the park. And, you really should get used to calling him Christian. He isn’t your teacher anymore. And yes, you are upset. We should just go home.”
“I’ll call him whatever I want,” she said angrily, immediately regretting her abruptness. “I think I’d rather be around people. Let’s walk through the park,” she added, more gently.
A small lineup was still outside the tattoo tent. They had probably been waiting for hours and did not want to get in line again the next day, so they waited. Scarlett and Marc walked around them. Vadoma was also still open for business, even at that time of night. She stood outside her tent like a sentinel. The last thing that Scarlett needed was to have her fortune told so she turned away.
Vadoma spotted her and her voice could be clearly heard, “I saw your ghost.”
Scarlett practically dragged Marc away. “Did you hear that? She doesn’t even know who I am? How can she know that I wrote the play? I’ve never seen her before. And what nonsense, why would she say that she saw my ghost?”
“She just does that for business’ sake, likely hoping to attract a line-up. I’d bet you that she tells everyone that. Just ignore her.”
But Scarlett could not help but look back at Vadoma who stood outside her tent holding a candle that cast her face in weird shadows. Her long dress flapped in the evening breeze and she wore a band over her hair to hold it off her face. Scarlett shivered for the image that she saw was eerily like that of a gypsy woman whom she had only ever seen in pictures.
A group of people ran over, having spotted them. “What happened to David? Is it true? Is he dead?”
Scarlett turned away, too distressed to answer.
~ ~ ~
Sergeant Hill flipped through the statements. Never had he been faced with a crime such as the one that he now had to deal with. He had known Scarlett his whole life and the likelihood of her committing the murder was slim to none. However no one was eliminated as a suspect…yet, except for the twelve child-actors. That left anyone and everyone over the age of sixteen a suspect, for now anyway. The only adult associated with the play who was excluded from suspicion was the late David Mosher.
Hill sorted through the statements, knowing that it would have been easy, much too easy, for anyone from the audience to slip backstage; yet their statements offered little. But what was puzzling was how the murder could have been committed in plain sight of the actors. Corina confirmed that she had not left her post at the ticket booth and that no one had entered the theatre after the performance had started, aside from the two late-comers. He read Paul’s statement again, for it mentioned that the theatre’s doors had been left open all that afternoon, even the back door, because of the extreme summer heat.
He looked up at Constable Golden and said, “Anyone could have snuck backstage at any hour of the day. What do you make of Scarlett’s statement?”
“I feel certain it wasn’t her.”
Golden was concentrating on what he was reading and said, “Perkins’ ghost.”
“Don’t talk nonsense, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
“No I didn’t mean that he did the murder, I was just reading the title of the play. It’s a strange title.”
“It certainly got the bums in the seats. And by the way that they were praising it I can’t wait to get home to read it. Heidi ran off a copy for me. Have you got that theatre sealed off?”
“Nobody will be going in or out. Constable Pierce is posted outside at front and Constable Brice is inside. He’s not too happy about that but he’s there.”
“Detective Carter will be here from Bridgewater with the Crime Scene Investigation team tomorrow morning. Has the murder weapon turned up yet?” Hill asked.
“Call if you hear anything. I’m going home.”
Sergeant Hill got into his car, tossed his copy of the play on the passenger seat and backed out of his reserved parking spot at the police station. An ambulance was arriving at the hospital just as he signalled to enter School Street. He waited and watched it turn into the parking lot. When its siren ceased to blare, he drove off. On his way home he made a loop past the theatre. All was quiet. Constable Pierce was guarding the main doors, just as Golden had told Hill he would be. From where Pierce stood he had a good view of the side door as well. Hill got out of his car, walked across the parking lot and rattled the back door. No one was on guard outside there because it was securely locked.
Constable Brice yelled out, reminding any intruder that the police were on duty and to frighten them away, “Who’s there?”
“Sergeant Hill,” he said. “Just checking.”
Knowing that the three doors adjoining the Photography Museum were locked from both sides Sergeant Hill went back around the front and gave Pierce a wave before he drove off. Anxious to prop himself up in bed and to read Scarlett’s script he then drove straight home.
Hill had yet to find a partner who could tolerate the ridiculous hours that he worked. Therefore he was still single. In many ways his life was less complicated on account of it. He watched his friends go from relationship to relationship, then marriage to divorce. He felt better about himself and about life, biding his time knowing that when the right woman came along he would gladly say his marriage vows: once and only once. And in regards to raising a family he did not mind one way or the other. Having children complicated things. At the age of forty he was not actively looking for a partner and the thoughts of having children was growing less and less appealing. It also allowed him to use the whole of his queen size bed and he was able to read long into the night. He could even eat crackers in bed or drink a beer if he chose.
It was one o’clock in the morning when he parked alongside his house. He walked back towards the street to admire the long line of Victorian homes and old trees on Church Street. He loved living in Liverpool. The town had always felt so peaceful and beautiful and safe until that night. It was so serene that he could almost forget about young David Mosher who lay dead in the morgue. The activities down at the waterfront had quietened to a dull hum.
With a sigh, he turned to go inside his house when he saw a costumed person crossing from the Rossignol Cultural Centre and down Gorham Street to the theatre. Even though it was dark it looked like Briggs. Hill mused, ‘He should be in bed by now, and why is he still wearing that ridiculous costume?’ Putting it out of his mind he turned back to his house, walked up the steps and inserted his key in the lock, knowing that Pierce wouldn’t let anyone in or out of the theatre. The last thing that he needed was an emergency call-out, for he had a good deal of reading to get through. He wondered why Briggs was wandering around at that hour and would certainly be getting him in for questioning. There did not seem to be anyone else around, even the festivities in the park had wound down and would soon be over.
Tucked in bed and reading through Scarlett’s play, Hill had not finished reading Act I when he thought that if the play was ever back on stage that he would certainly be the first in line to get his ticket. He was learning more about the history of Liverpool, his home town, than he had ever known before. He regretted having missed it tonight for his sharp eye might have caught something even before the crime occurred. Try as he might he could not stay awake and ended up falling asleep before reaching the second act.
Usually he was a restful sleeper so he was surprised to see that by morning he had completely tangled his sheets. He had slept very badly.
END OF CHAPTER SEVEN
“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”