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CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
HILL FLOPPED into a chair across the room from Geoff. They were sitting in Hill’s living room. “Geoff, I’d like your unbiased opinion on something,” he said, knowing that he would get a good honest opinion regardless of the subject, for Geoff was just that way.
“What’s on your mind?”
“Well…and I hope you don’t think me a fool, but it feels like I’m overwhelmed with ghosts and crackpots and all sorts of crap. I never did give all that who-haw much credence but it seems as though the clues are pushing me down that road.”
“No I don’t think you’re a fool. But I’m not so sure that I’m the best one to ask. I myself have had an experience or two that couldn’t really be explained any other way. One or two things have happened to me that have been positively surreal. So in one sense I guess I’m one of your crackpots.”
“Really? I had no idea. It goes to show, doesn’t it? Do you care to tell me?”
“Ahh, there’s not much to tell really. It was almost like a sleight of hand. There it was and then it wasn’t.”
“Well I have quite the reverse – a there it wasn’t and then it was – situation myself.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was over at the Old Methodist Cemetery the other day, by Perkins’ grave, and saw that the stone had been lifted off and tilted. I stood there surprised for a moment or two when suddenly I felt someone, or something, brush past. When I turned to look I saw that I was alone, aside from old Ernie who was on the other side the cemetery. Then, when I put my hand in my pocket I pulled this out,” he said, showing him the button.
“Holy Christ,” Geoff said, flopping back on the sofa. “That’s a real KOR button. I’d know one a mile away.”
“Well you’re keener than me. I actually had no idea what I had until I showed it to Glenda over at the museum.”
“What do you suppose it means?”
“You’ve got me on that one. She has some notion that I’m one of the troops resurrected in some way to avenge the past.”
“Like the King’s Rangers?”
“That’s right. All these superstitions are driving me crazy. But that’s what she said.”
“But why does she say that you’re one of the troops?”
“Because of the button, I suppose. I guess we’ll see.”
“Yip, there are four of us.”
“And you’re not surprised that there are four KOR buttons that just magically appeared in Liverpool?” He paused and added, “That’s extraordinary. There can’t be very many in existence. And they’re all in museums probably. Yup, it’s strange,” Geoff said, giving it great thought.
“I know,” Hill said in agreement. “I keep thinking about Scarlett’s play. I read through part of the final act last night and it’s pretty damned good. I can see where it would make for great entertainment, especially for anyone interested in Liverpool or Nova Scotian history.”
“Don’t even tell me what happens. I’m still hoping that it’ll be back on stage. I, like you, didn’t have a ticket. Who would have thought that they’d sell out within weeks? It seemed that there hadn’t been a seat sold by the way Scarlett had those kids on the street-corners to sell the show.”
“Big hype for next year I guess. Who’s to know? I could ask what her strategy was but it wouldn’t really make a speck of difference one way or the other. If you have a few more minutes I’d like you to watch the funeral play that Scarlett and the rest of the cast put together for David’s funeral.”
“You got a copy of that? Yea, I’d like that. It was damned good for being thrown together in just a few days.”
“Actually I was hoping for an unbiased opinion. When the funeral was over the only thing that kept going round and round in my head was that I had missed something. Something obvious perhaps. Maybe you’d have the eye to catch it?”
Hill put the DVD on to play and they sat watching every clip. From time to time Hill would pause it, reverse the video and play it over again, slowly. On other occasions Geoff would ask him to do exactly the same thing. When the DVD reached its end both looked at each other completely baffled.
“Well, did you see anything?” Hill wanted to know.
“Nothing out of the ordinary. It all seemed to line up perfectly with his life. I can’t imagine what you thought you had missed.”
“There’s no way of describing it…that feeling. What did you make of Alexis playing the role of Tiffany?”
“She was the main actor in the play, so why not her?” At Hill’s nod he went on. “No, it looked normal to me. Well, as normal as it can be for a funeral. I’ve never really seen anything like this at a funeral ceremony before. It’s totally original. A bit off the wall too.”
“Then it’s more than likely just me grasping at straws. I’ve milked the first two acts of Scarlett’s play to death and now the funeral.”
“So, other than ghosts and funeral re-runs, how are things going?” Geoff asked Hill.
“Damned slow. Too slow to suit me. Every time I try to line up the facts I get thrown a curve ball.”
“That’s probably because your conscience is telling you that you should have tried out for the big league.”
“It would probably be a lot less stressful than police work. But you know that I was never good enough for that. I think I’ll slide on over to the marina and see if Kent is about,” Hill told Geoff.
“Are you thinking of taking up sailing?”
“No chance on that, I get seasick sitting in the bathtub. I need a quick lesson on knot tying.”
“Then you should be talking to Kelvin.”
“Yes, I’d head right on over to see Kelvin if it was a fishing knot that I needed. I have an idea that it might be more complicated than that.
“Maybe we could try to get in a round of golf this evening.”
“I’m not sure how long it will take with Kent,” he said, disappointedly. “Sorry to have kept you so long for nothing.”
“If you finish up early or change your mind, you know where I’ll be,” Geoff said.
There wasn’t another soul around when Hill parked his car in the parking lot of the Brooklyn Marina. It was quiet enough to enjoy the birdsong in peace. At that hour the shadows had begun to lengthen. He looked at the news-print mill that stood quiet, having long ago closed. He wondered how many years it would take before it slipped into the sea. He almost wished that it would happen sooner rather than later for it created an eyesore on the beautiful shoreline. ‘What a ridiculous place to have put it,’ he thought to himself.
A rhythmic pounding brought him back to reality and he knew that Kent was somewhere in the bilges of his sailboat, Nirvana. Every spring Kent put the boat into the water, sanded, painted, refinished and repaired the old boat and every autumn it was hauled back out and placed it on supports for the winter. Not once since he had taken ownership of her had she ever left the dock. Kent believed that no sailboat should have her sails raised until she was ship-shape. Hill figured that whenever that day came it might be an event that the whole town would remember. Maybe it would make the headlines like Joshua Slocum did when he sailed the world single-handed, back in 1909?
Hill strode down the dock. It wobbled under his feet and he focused on the horizon, fearing the worst as he knocked on the hull of Nirvana. It took a moment or two before Kent’s smiling face greeted him.
“Good day Sergeant, what brings you out here on this beautiful evening?” Kent said.
Hill knew he had spent the whole day hidden from the sun, sweating away, in the hot, unmoving, muggy air that hangs near the bilges in any boat.
They both looked at the bay. It was so beautifully calm that there was hardly a ripple on the water.
Kent added, “Gotta love it, don’t you?”
“It’s a beaut,” Hill said. “I’m still trying to get my head around things with this murder case and thought if you had time you could give me a few knot tying lessons.”
“It’s not as easy as that,” Kent said, nudging him. “Get the pun?” and laughed. “They’re a bugger to learn, but I tell you what. I have the largest collection of knot display boxes that you’ve ever seen in your life and I could drop them by shortly if you like. I’m almost done here for today.”
“Yea, when folks don’t know what else to get me for my birthday or Christmas I get another one of those darned knot display cases. The boxes are great but how many knots does one really need in their lives?”
“Lucky for me there’s only one in particular that I’m looking for. I’d appreciate your stopping by.”
~ ~ ~
Kent wrestled the huge box out of the trunk of his car and carried it up Hill’s drive. He shifted it awkwardly onto his hip, rang the doorbell and thankfully waited but only a second before the door swung open.
“Good Lord, look at that,” Hill said, smiling as Kent struggled with the box. “I had no idea or I would have just come by your place. Let’s use the kitchen counter,” he said, leading the way.
“No worries, I thought I’d bring us a beer from the local micro-brewery as well. I suspect it might take you some time to get through all these,” Kent said, opening the beers.
“Thanks.” Hill accepted the beer and nodded at the wide collection of knot boxes.
They sat on the bar stools and Kent lined up the various boxes on the counter. From time to time Hill would pick one up, puzzle over it for a while and put it back down.
“Isn’t that odd, I can’t seem to see it here,” he finally said.
“Well if you don’t see it here then it’s not a sailing knot for sure. Every last one of them, however simple, is here. Maybe it’s a fisherman’s knot you’re looking for. If so then you need to talk to somebody like Kelvin.”
“You might be right there. That’s what Geoff said right off when I told him I was going down to see you.”
“It’s strawberry season so you’ll likely find him close to home. Once he has that taken care of he’ll be back on the lake, bass fishing, until his garden calls him back home. He never keeps his catch, fishes for the sport of it and throws them all back.”
“I think I’ll try to see him tomorrow then.”
By the time Kent left, Hill was too tired to read the rest of Scarlett’s play. At times he felt as though it would just be a waste of time anyway. In the back of his mind he was reminded that there had to be a logical reason why he could not seem to get through it. Maybe it was not even worth the struggle?
~ ~ ~
Hill smiled as he walked back to his car after talking to Kelvin. He had a basket of strawberries in one hand and a bag with a couple of tomatoes and a cucumber in the other. But more importantly Kelvin had taught him the type of knot that was used to string up the dummy. It was a simple fisherman’s knot, one that would be tied to hold the fishing hook to the line, or in some cases to tie the leader to the line. He now knew all the ins and outs associated with the knot.
He had wisely taken with him a photo of the noose from the dummy to show Kelvin, rather than trying to explain what it looked like. In the photo he had tried to obliterate the fact that it was still around the neck of the dummy, but Kelvin was not fooled. Within seconds of his explaining what he needed Kelvin had an old fishing line out and was showing Hill how to make the knot. They had sat in the back corner of Kelvin’s garden, on a rusty old swing, surrounded by vines and garden vegetables, with the sun dappling patterns on their faces, and he almost felt like a child again. After an hour of knot-tying lessons Hill not only knew the knot inside and out, but also why and when it was used. He could now tie it blindfolded. At the sound of a bell Kelvin said, “That’ll be my Glady. She must be serving tea.” The knot-tying lesson had come to an end when Kelvin took his gardening hat in his hands and stuffed it in his pocket. They sat across from each other, in the Muskoka chairs on the deck.
“I’m not much of a baker myself these days but that new bakery sure knows how to turn it out, so we’re happy to support it,” Kelvin’s wife said, laying a plate of cookies and banana bread on the table next to the tea.
Hill was thankful for the lovely interlude with these delightful people. As he munched on the cookies he knew that all too soon he would have to get on with his day and the investigation. Moments like those with Kelvin, sitting in the shade of an old oak tree, gave reason for his living in that little town, hidden away along the seaside. Kelvin was such good company that Hill would have liked to have spent the day there. Between the knot tying lesson and the fishing stories he felt like putting his feet up. For those few precious moments the murder investigation seemed far away and he had not been in a hurry to leave. In the end he had to.
~ ~ ~
Hill’s handwriting looked like chicken-scratch compared to Golden’s neat script, but he was so excited to add yet another fact to the board that he could not wait for Golden’s hand to write it. In Hill’s mind it also showed great progress on his part, which was rewarding. Under the category for the dummy he added: noose tied in fisherman’s knot. He nodded in approval at his own discovery. But the baffling part was that the murderer had used that knot, a fisherman’s knot. Why not a hang-man’s noose? Across from that was his last entry, also in his hand, about the lost button from Samson’s jacket. He had written: found in Perkins’ coffin on stage
END OF CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
“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.”