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IT HAD BEEN days since Mosher had been murdered. Hill decided to once again drive up to Moose Harbour to see Katy, to ask if and when the costumes had been turned in. It was still bothering him as to why Christian Briggs was wearing his, even after the weekend’s festivities had ended. He parked and looked down the slope to the harbour before turning into her drive-way, then looked at her well-manicured yard, hoping that she was at home. She was in her garden and when he parked his car she waved at him to join her.
After their customary greeting, Hill sat at the patio table. He stroked the multi-coloured tablecloth as if he could capture some of its brilliance into the palm of his hand, to brighten his mood, to negate the effect of the grey skies. The murder had depressed him. Katy prepared coffee without asking whether or not he wanted any. Hill looked across her garden, down the steep hill to watch the boats bobbing in the tiny sheltered harbour. For the first time in his life, and due to this investigation, he considered jumping aboard one of them and sailing away. But he knew that he never would.
“I was wondering if the costumes had been turned in.”
She placed the tray on the table, looked at him and said, “Yes, Tuesday, two days ago.” She had a puzzled look on her face as she glanced at Hill. He waited for her to go on. “As I usually do after each performance I check the garments in case they need any repairs. I take out any alternations that I may have made then I clean the clothing and return everything to the dungeon.”
Hill was anxious to hear what she had to say, feeling that there was something important to learn. He wanted to speed her words along but he simply stirred the cream and sugar in his coffee without interrupting.
“The children’s costumes were fine. But there were a few oddities with some of the others.”
“There was a button missing on Samson’s jacket. He lost it during dress rehearsal but I thought I’d mention it because of the timeline,” she said taking the jacket from her bag.
“Is that the fellow from Toronto? What’s his name?” Hill asked.
“Tom Hanson. He was originally from Winnipeg but now works primarily out of Toronto,” Katy said.
Hill took out his cell phone and photographed the single button that was still attached to the jacket.
“I also had to repair a tear on Mr. Clopper’s jacket sleeve. He tore it backstage just before he was to go on. We tried to fix it but didn’t have time so he went on that way,” Katy picked the garment from the basket at the side of her chair and pushed a jacket across the table towards him. He fingered the newly made repair. After a moment she placed a bag on the table, “You might want this for your investigation.” She paused, “its Ella’s dress. It has blood on it and the blood wasn’t there when the costume was given to her. When I saw the blood I didn’t clean it. I simply put the dress in the bag.”
Hill picked up the bag with the dress. “Do you mind if I take this with me?”
“Not at all…but,” and she paused, “I hope this doesn’t ruin your day…but there’s more.”
Hill gave her a sideways look.
“I’ve also found my key for the costume room.” She paused. “I know that its mine because I had made this little mark on it.” Katy pointed to the scratches. “It was in Juba’s pants.”
Hill took out his note pad and wrote down all the details. Without saying a word he sat back and sipped his coffee. After a few minutes he set his empty cup on the table, stood and said, “Thanks for the coffee. I guess I best get on.”
He walked to his car with the bag that contained Ella’s dress, another with Juba’s pants and Samson’s jacket, the one with the missing button. The bags swung at his side. In his hand was the newly-found missing key. He stopped, turned back and asked Katy, “What about Christian Briggs’ costume?”
“What about it?”
“Was it turned in at the same time as the others?”
“Yes. Darren brought all the costumes by on Tuesday morning.”
“And did Christian’s need repairs?”
~ ~ ~
Hill was having a hard time placing the events in chronological order and he knew that it would have been impossible for the murderer to have strung up the dummy-mannequin in between the acts. Time was too short and there were too many people backstage. He would have been caught for sure. He decided that the dummy must have been taken out of the coffin before-hand. But when? Having come to that conclusion he decided to speak with Darren, the stage manager, since he was the one who had brought it into the theatre on Thursday night. Freddie Hollis indicated that it had taken the two of them to load the coffin so it must have taken two to unload it back at the theatre. Hill phoned Darren. He was at home. Hill drove out to Beach Meadows to see him.
Darren was sitting, facing the sea, in a Muskoka beach chair.
“Taking in a bit of sun are you?” Hill asked, looking at the overcast sky.
“I love it here. I love the sea. It can change just like that,” Darren said, looking at the ocean and snapping his fingers. “What can I do for you?” he asked, turning away from his favorite view.
“It’s that damned dummy that has me puzzled.”
“I know what you mean.”
“I’m just trying to line up the facts. The murderer must have moved the mannequin at some point…before the play…I think. You picked it up on Thursday night, right?”
“You checked it out when you were over at Hollis’ place and were satisfied with the job?”
“That’s correct. In fact, Freddie had it all ready to go when I arrived and together we put it in the back of my truck,” he said, nodding towards his old pick-up in the drive-way.
“Then you took it straight to the theatre?”
Darren grunted approval.
“How did you get the coffin into the theatre?”
“Paul was there, waiting for me. We unloaded it together, took it in through the back door and hoisted it up the stairs. Then we left it in the narrow space at the back of the set, alongside the corridor. It stayed there until the third act.”
“Who moved the coffin between the second and third act?”
“I moved it. Freddie had designed the coffin to fit on a cart so I could just wheel it out on my own.”
“What time was that?”
“The time?” he said, scratching his head. “Well I suppose it was probably two minutes or so before curtain time. It was the last thing that I did. I wheeled it through Perkins’ counting room and into the sitting room. I had a couple of other pieces of furniture to shuffle first: Perkins’ desk and his chair. I also had to move a few other chairs from where I’d stored them in Perkin’s counting room, ready for the next scene. I suppose it probably took me about fifteen minutes to get it all ready before I actually wheeled out the coffin.”
“And the intermission, how long was that?”
“As I thought,” Hill said. After a moment he asked, “Did you hear anyone moving around backstage when you were busy changing the set?”
“Are you kidding…between the actors in the green-room and the audience it would be impossible to know.”
Hill was beginning to formulate a vague sequence of events in his head. He decided that it was more than enough time for the murderer to make his move. It was a bugger though that he had not been discovered.
END OF CHAPTER THIRTEEN
“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.”