A Christmas present
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I used to publish some fiction on this blog. Some of my longtime fans may remember the novel Wizards of Winds and Waves, which I published in serial form (but never finished) some years back. More recently, I had a St. Patrick’s Day special in the form a serialization of a longish short story, “What do You do with a Drunken Sailor.”
But it has been a couple of years now since I’ve put any fiction on here. Part of the reason for that is that I’m working on material that I hope someday to publish for money, and the kind of publishers that pay money don’t like works that have been previously published as a vanity project or online. I’ve been working on a series of murder mysteries in which my main character lives on a boat and interacts with all sorts of interesting people around the marina and yacht club. However, she’s awfully busy tracking down murderers, when she’s not getting nearly killed by fleeing suspects or getting arrested on suspicion that she’s the murderer, so she hasn’t had much time to spend sailing.
As a Christmas gift to my readers, I’ve decided to give you all an excerpt from one of the novels – a chapter that actually deals with sailing, sort of. It’s Chapter 4 from Murder at the Yacht Club. By the end of the chapter, you can probably guess who’s about to get murdered. Enjoy!
Murder at the Yacht Club
The next day, Harry dropped Hannah off at the marina before going in to the office. She spent the morning cleaning up the interior of the boat, tidying up clutter, scrubbing the galley and head, and even making a start on polishing the teak wood interior surfaces of the salon and staterooms. It had been a while since the wood had been polished, and Hannah wanted to do an extra good job, so the task was time consuming. About , she decided she needed a break, and she phoned Harry.
“How are things going there?” Hannah asked.
“Tedious,” Harry said. “There are so many people in this case who want to do harm to
“How about I bring you a sack lunch, and we can at least get together for lunch even if you have to keep working.”
“That sounds really good. I’m looking forward to it.”
Hannah drove to the police station, stopping at a taco stand on the way to get a dozen fish tacos and two large iced teas. When she got to Harry’s cubicle with the food and drinks, he got up and pulled up the extra chair for her. They sat at the desk and feasted on the tacos, savoring the slightly greasy, crispy shells and the tender, almost sweet fish, crab meat, and tiny shrimp that filled the shells, topped with just a touch of salsa for extra zing.
“Here’s what we have so far,” Harry said as he finished the last taco. “We’re looking into who might have made the bomb threat, and the trace on the phone call led to a throwaway cell phone, so we can’t trace it. So I’ve been going down the list calling people to find out where they were yesterday evening. Flash Duran was at a gentlemen’s club, and there are about a dozen guys who will verify that alibi, and that he never had a cell phone. Fidel de la Cruz was up the coast in the
“Bunbury, eh?” Hannah said. “I think you have a really shallow alibi there.”
“Well, we haven’t been able to reach him to verify Diana Worthington’s story. Why do you think this alibi won’t hold?”
“A play, The Importance of Being Ernest. One of the main characters invents a fictional Uncle Bunbury, and when he wants to get out of doing something or being someplace, he makes up a story about his poor, ailing Uncle Bunbury who needs him in attendance.”
“So Diana Worthington’s story is made up.”
“Yes.” Hannah frowned. “But why would she choose something so obviously made up, that we would spot it right away? It’s almost like she wants to be caught out.”
“With him, or with us?
“So did she do it and give us a faulty alibi to make sure we catch her, or did she not do it and make up the blatantly false alibi to make us think she did it?” Harry asked.
“And if she wants to make us think she did it, why? Is she protecting somebody, or just having fun by misleading our investigation?”
“We just don’t know,” Harry said. “But thanks for the Bunbury information. You probably saved me some wild goose chase time.”
“Ah, yes, the pursuit of undomesticated waterfowl.”
“Meanwhile, I’ve been looking through the other files, the ones from the secret safe. There are a whole lot of business dealings with one Vinny Fiorello. He’s never been convicted of anything, but we sure think he’s very much into organized crime – we just haven’t been able to pin anything on him so far.
“So would the mob phone a bomb threat as a warning that
“That would be a possibility.”
“And which would the warning be: to do something, or to stop?”
“I don’t know that that really matters,” Harry said. “But if he disobeys, things are likely to get ugly.”
Hannah picked up her purse and cane and stood to leave. “I think I’ll go back to work on the boat some more,” she said. “Then I’ll go to your place to get ready for the yacht club party. You make sure you get there in time to get ready, too. You’re not going to be able to get out of this by pleading that you have to work overtime.”
“Aw, spoil sport,” Harry said. “See ya.”
Hannah returned to Nice Ketch and decided she had spent enough time cleaning down below. The teak on the topsides of the boat needed attention; as it was exposed to the weather, it needed refinishing once a year. It was about time for that refinishing, and she had a can of varnish already that she just hadn’t gotten around to applying. So she set about cleaning the foredeck. As she was working, she had a flashback to the daymare of the day before, when that beautiful teak had morphed into the flat non-skid surface of some totally alien sort of boat. She remembered the grin on the pirate’s face, and she shuddered in spite of the warm, bright sunshine. What would he have done to her if the dream had continued?
Before she knew it, it was late afternoon and time to get ready for the yacht club party. She put the cleaning supplies away, locked up Nice Ketch, and drove to Harry’s house to get herself cleaned up and dressed up. She was in the shower when Harry got home, and he was waiting for her with a towel when she got out. “Thanks,” she said as he wrapped her in the warm, soft plush terrycloth and then proceeded to wrap his arms around her and nuzzle her neck. “Now, shouldn’t you be getting ready, too?”
“Oh, I will,” he said. “Just checking that you smelled nice, you know.” Harry took a quick shower, and they got dressed, Hannah in a kelly green cocktail dress that accented her slender figure, and Harry in a suit and tie – Hannah picked out a green tie for him that both matched her dress and brought out the vivid green of his eyes. They drove to the marina and parked in the marina parking lot rather than at the yacht club, since they were planning to spend the night on Nice Ketch after the party. They walked to the club and entered through the front door, where they introduced themselves to the woman at the reception desk, who turned out to be Mattie Phelps, the yacht club’s administrative assistant who had phoned Hannah to extend the invitation to join the club.
“Take the stairs up and take a left past the trophy room to the dining room,” Mattie said, handing Harry and Hannah name tags and tickets that would allow each of them two free drinks from the bar. “We have several prospective new members here tonight, so we’ll be introducing all of the officers during the dinner. Meanwhile, we hope you will circulate and get to meet people.”
The Siete Mares Yacht Club wasn’t as fancy as some of the big, old, established clubs in some of the major cities, but it was still a very nice place. Downstairs were offices, meeting rooms, a health spa, and shower and locker rooms that were available to people who were staying on board their boats – much nicer facilities than the municipal shower house that Hannah used in the mornings. Upstairs were the restaurant and bar. One end of the main dining room could be partitioned off as a separate room for private parties. Both the restaurant and bar had wrap around picture windows that gave a view of the marina and the ocean, and both also opened out onto a broad deck that could be enjoyed when the weather was good – and in Siete Mares, the weather was nearly always good. Also on the upper level of the club was the trophy room, in which hundreds of glittering trophies of all sorts were displayed in mahogany framed glass cabinets, lit to make the trophies sparkle in a way that dazzled Hannah’s eyes as she passed by. They were made of many shining materials – lots of brass, but also silver, gold, crystal, and polished wood. There were cups and bowls and ship steering wheels, plaques with half hulls, models of boats, and a couple of odd ones – she knew she was going to have to ask someone about the giant plastic cheeseburger.
Harry and Hannah entered the dining room to find a good sized crowd, although the large room was far from packed. At one end, a row of tables had been set up as a buffet line, with covered chafing dishes simmering away, emitting tendrils of fragrant steam from around the edges of their lids, awaiting the moment when serving would begin. Servers were bringing more dishes out of the kitchen and setting them up; Hannah recognized a couple of her students, as well as Eddie Montoya, Amelia Alvarez’s fiancé. She had thought he was working as a mechanic’s assistant, but then, many of her students at the community college did have to work two jobs to make ends meet, and that would be especially true for Eddie; not only were there expenses involved with having a baby on the way, but also Amelia had had difficulties that had forced her to quit her job; she wasn’t going to risk another miscarriage. “Hi, Eddie,” Hannah said.
“Hi, Ms. M,” Eddie said. “I hear you’re joining the club.” He was short and wiry, with a shaved head and a goatee, looking somewhat out of place in the suit and bow tie that served as a waiter’s uniform rather than his usual baggy pants and extra-long cotton tank top. The waiter’s uniform did have one advantage in making Eddie look more respectable: The long sleeves covered up arms that Hannah knew were covered in tattoos, some of them, well, not exactly G rated.
“No,” Hannah said. “Just looking around.”
“I don’t know that we’d exactly fit in here, anyway,” Harry said.
“Well, I think you’d like it here,” Eddie said, “except for a couple of people, but you could probably deal with that.” He glanced over his shoulder at the maître d’, a tallish, sandy haired man with a haughty bearing, who was standing by the kitchen door with a frown on his face. “Well, I gotta get back to work. I’m not supposed to socialize on the job.” He straightened the dish he had just put on the table, and then he headed back into the kitchen.
“You and Amelia have been good for that young man,” Harry commented. “Two years ago, he and his buddies were frequent guests at the jail. Now, the buddies still visit us often, but he’s been clean.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Hannah said. “By the way, did I tell you he’s going to be in one of my classes this term? He went to an Internet coffee house and signed onto the registration system one minute after on the first day of registration just so he could be sure to get into my class before it got full.”
“Well, I’m glad he’s working hard to get into your system and not mine.”
“Anyhow,” Hannah said, “let’s get drinks. I believe the bar is on the other side of the trophy room.”
Harry and Hannah went into the bar, where a couple of dozen members were seated in lounge chairs around small round tables, and a few more were seated at the bar, which was presided over by a red haired, red faced man with a bushy red mustache and a pot belly, wearing a white shirt, black pants and bow tie, and a green apron. Harry looked at the beer taps and then handed two drink tickets to the bartender. “Two red lagers, please,” he said.
The bartender took the tickets. “Prospective members, I see. Welcome to the Siete Mares Yacht Club,” he said, tucking the tickets into a corner of the cash register drawer and pulling out a pair of pint glasses from a small freezer under the bar. “I’m Johnny Mullaney, your bartender for the evening.” He drew beer from the tap into the chilled glasses and handed them to Harry, who handed one to Hannah. “Enjoy your visit.”
Harry and Hannah were just leaving the bar when Augustus Worthington stormed in, nearly colliding head on with them and causing Hannah to wobble on her cane and spill some beer on his French cut navy blazer. “You klutz!” he shouted. “Get out of my way!”
“Sorry, I …” Hannah stammered.
“There’s no rule that says that,” Johnny said. “State law just says I should cut people off when they get too drunk.”
“What do you mean, there’s no rule?”
“What, that wimp? He never gets anything done. Once I’m commodore, then you’ll really see things get done. I won’t have any drunken Irishman serving up drinks to get everybody else drunk too.”
“I suppose we ought to be mingling with the yacht club members,” Hannah said upon returning to the dining room, “since that was the club’s purpose in giving us the free food and drinks.”
“And it might be interesting to meet the other prospective members, as well,” Harry said. “I wonder who they might be?”
“I’m guessing the new Dean of Introductory Humanities will be among them – among us, I should say. She’s from
Almost as if on cue, Hannah saw Barbara come into the room. Recognizing Hannah as a familiar face, she came over. “I didn’t know you were a member here.”
“I’m not,” Hannah said. “The folks at the club seem to think they’d like to have me as a member, though. Oh, allow me to introduce you … Barbara, this is Harry O’Malley, my boyfriend. Harry, this is Barbara Yates, my new boss.”
“Glad to meet you, Harry,” Barbara said. “I know you were in on that murder case last spring. That must have been exciting.”
“Well, since I am a police detective, it’s part of my job,” Harry said. “Not all that exciting, really. Just a lot of worry over Hannah.”
“Oh, yes, that would have been bad,” Barbara said.
Hannah saw Sophie and Jeannine come into the room. Where Sophie was short, dark, and curvy, Jeannine was tall, blonde, and curvy. She was as graceful as a supermodel without being so skinny, and her medium blue eyes often had the appearance of a vacant look about them, so that most people, upon first meeting her, got the impression that she wasn’t so bright – an impression that was reinforced by Jeannine’s nickname, “Boopty Boo,” her former stage name as an exotic dancer. Interestingly, Jeannine and Sophie had ended up with the same last name through marriage, although not to each other – Sophie had been the ex-wife, and Jeannine the widow, of the late and definitely not lamented Jonas Spindle, whose murder Hannah had helped to solve the previous spring. Jeannine also had an interesting circumstance, as a result of Jonas Spindle’s will: She was the conservator of the estate on behalf of a cat to whom Spindle had bequeathed the bulk of his estate. As long as Fluffles, the cat, lived, Jeannine would be able to live in Spindle Manor and spend as much of the Spindle money as she wished, so long as she could justify the expenses as necessary to the health and happiness of Fluffles. Fortunately for Jeannine, the lawyer in charge of such decisions, Edgar Cooper, tended to agree that nice clothes, jewelry, and other such luxuries for Jeannine were indeed essential to the health and happiness of Fluffles. After all, it wouldn’t do for an upper-crust cat’s staff to appear unkempt or shabby.
Sophie and Jeannine saw Hannah and Harry and came over to join them and Barbara. Sophie was wearing a light blue cocktail dress with a strapless bustier and a flaring skirt, both enhanced by patterned patches of sparkling beads. Jeannine was wearing a dark blue halter-topped sheath dress that showed her every curve. Together they made a very attractive couple. “Hi, Hannah, glad you could come,” Sophie said.
“Thank you,” Hannah said, finding herself again making introductions. “Barbara, these are two good friends of mine, Sophie Spindle and Jeannine Spindle. Sophie and Jeannine, this is my new boss, Barbara Yates.”
“Glad to meet you,” Sophie said.
“Charmed,” Jeannine said, in her lilting Southern drawl.
“I’m glad to meet you, too,” Barbara said. “Do you two sail often?”
“We only took it up recently,” Sophie said.
“I inherited a boat last spring,” Jeannine said. “I’ve been learning to sail it ever since. Do you sail?”
“Oh, yes,” Barbara said. “I had my first dinghy when I was five years old, and I’ve sailed a little bit of everything since then – big boats, little boats, racing, cruising, you name it.”
“Maybe you could come sailing with us some time,” Jeannine said. “I can always use extra crew on my boat.”
“That would be nice,” Barbara said. “I plan to get my own boat some time, but until I do, I really would like to get some time on the water.”
The room was becoming more crowded, as more yacht club members and a few more prospective members arrived in a constant flow. Suddenly, Hannah heard a commotion near the door leading to the deck. She saw Augustus Worthington arguing with someone outside of her field of view.
“Look, man, you’re wasting everybody’s time and screwing everybody up.” Hannah recognized the lightning fast voice of Flash Duran. “We’re spending more time in the protest room than on the race course. You can’t just keep making up things to call other skippers for. And you’d darn well better shape up your own conduct on the race course – your protests may be silly, but the other people’s protests are for real. You’re gonna get somebody killed!”
“Who’s going to get somebody killed?”
A hole opened in the crowd, and Hannah could now see Duran’s back as he continued to argue with
“Oh, yes, I can tell you, and I’m telling you now, I’ve sailed with Olympic athletes, and not some little nothings of club sailors like you who don’t know your mainsheet from your boom vang. I’ve been there big time.”
“So you’ve sailed with Olympic athletes. How sweet. Guess what: I am one.” Duran turned and began to stalk away, and Hannah saw his face – and gasped. Duran was the pirate she had seen in her dream, on the alien boat. He looked up, and their eyes met. Hannah found herself stunned by the anger in his dark brown eyes, and then his face softened into a smile, showing those ever so perfect straight white teeth beneath that line of mustache. He came over to Hannah and Harry. “Hi, I’m Flash Duran,” he said. He looked at Hannah’s name tag. “So you’re Hannah Montgomery. Pleased to meet you.” He held out his hand.
“Nice to meet you, too,” Hannah said, taking his hand and shaking it. “And this is my boyfriend, Harry O’Malley,” she said, gesturing toward Harry.
“Pleased to meet you,” Duran said, shaking Harry’s hand. Hannah wondered if it was her imagination that his smile seemed to fade, just a tiny bit. “By the way, you can call me Flash. Everybody does.”
“My pleasure,” Harry said. “I hadn’t realized that you were THE Flash Duran.”
“The Flash Duran?” Hannah asked.
“Yes, I’m that Flash Duran,” Flash said. Hannah thought maybe his smile had brightened up again.
“I used to follow sailing news avidly,” Harry said. “Pity about the 1980 games and the
Now Hannah could see that Flash’s smile was really brightening. “And of course, I qualified a couple other times, and nearly qualified a couple other times, and maybe I’m not where I once was, but I’m still good,” he said.
“Yes,” Harry said. “
Hannah heard raised voices behind her and turned around to see what was going on, as did Harry and Flash.
“I beg your pardon!” Barbara said.
“And because they are,” Barbara said, “you think I am?”
“Of course you are,”
“I’ll have you know, I was happily married for twenty seven years,” Barbara retorted. “And I mean happily – if you know what I mean!”
“Don’t fool yourself,”
“I ought to knock you off,” Jeannine snapped. “If you think I would have stayed in that marriage a minute longer – I was getting out of it even as the bastard got killed. The murderer just saved me some trouble.”
“I wonder,” Sophie said, “wouldn’t it be nice if a murderer came along and saved the rest of us some trouble, too?”
“Are you threatening me?”
“Oh, don’t you wish?” Sophie asked.
At this point, a man stood up on the raised platform at the end of the room near the food tables. He was smallish, with thinning grey hair slicked over his head in a futile attempt to cover the lack of hair on top, and he had a long pointy nose and small blue eyes behind small wire rimmed eyeglasses, and he wore classic yacht club attire: a navy blue blazer and white slacks. He went to the microphone and tapped it a few times with his finger, creating a thunk thunk thunk sound over the public address system. “If I may have your attention,” he said, in a slightly nasal voice. “I’m Ernest Hopewell, and I’m the commodore of this club. Welcome to all of you prospective new members, and I hope this will be a great evening that you all will remember. We’ll eat first, and then I’ll be introducing you to our officers and some of our more prominent members. Meanwhile, socialize and get to know us; I’m sure you’ll like us. Now, let’s serve up the food!” He stepped down. Overseen by the maître d’, the servers began taking lids off food dishes and picking up spoons, forks, and tongs to prepare to serve up the dinner.
“If he wants us to like the experience here, I’m surprised he couldn’t find some way to discourage
“Oh, he couldn’t do that,” Flash said. “You see,
“How did that happen?” Hannah asked. “Don’t club officers have to get elected?”
“Yes, they do,” Flash said, “but that’s traditionally only once. You see, what usually happens is each year the vice commodore moves up to commodore, and the rear commodore moves up to vice commodore, and the associate commodore moves up to rear commodore. What happened was, a couple of years ago, we couldn’t get anybody who wanted to be associate commodore, and after trying candidate after candidate after candidate, and they all refused, Worthington stepped forward. We were hoping something would happen to him before it came time for him to be commodore, you know what I mean?”
“I hope it doesn’t mean foul play,” Harry commented.
“Oh, no, never that,” Flash said. “Let’s just say, some people may have been wishing less than charitable wishes in their thoughts.”
Hannah heard a crash from the direction of the buffet tables, followed by raised voices –
“But, Mr. Worthington, I …” Eddie stammered.
“Look at this! I bet you can’t do anything right, except maybe tacos. Oh, and refried beans – you Mexicans invented those exactly because you can’t get anything right the first time. I ought to have you fired.”
“Look, Mr. Worthington, it was an accident, and it was only a little drop …”
“Only a little drop! And next time, if I let you get away with it, it’s only two little drops, and then you get even sloppier, and then this club’s food service will be disgraceful. I don’t know why they hire you wetbacks anyway. You’re overrunning the country.”
“Mr. Worthington,” Eddie said, standing up straighter, “I was born in this country. And my father was born in this country. And my grandfather was born in this country. And so was my great grandfather. You have got no f--- right to tell me I don’t belong here. I f--- DO belong here, and I’m f--- gonna stay here. So you can take your f--- attitude and f--- go to f--- hell.”
“I ought to f--- kill you!” Eddie yelled. “Then you can f--- really go to f--- hell!”
“Well, that was interesting,” Harry said.
“Poor Eddie,” Hannah said. “I’m going to have to help him work on his vocabulary this term so he has something more creative to say when he gets angry.”
“You know that kid?” Flash asked.
“Yes,” Hannah said. “His fiancée’s one of my best students, and he’s starting college this term. He’s going to be in one of my classes.”
“That’s cool,” Flash said. “Not too many people around this club give a s-- about a kid from the barrio – oops, pardon my language …”
“Well, I can help you with your vocabulary, too,” Hannah said, suppressing a giggle that she had no idea where came from.
“The thing is,” Flash continued, “I was a kid from the barrio. And look at me now; I’m somebody important. I get deals from people wanting to put my name in their advertising. I get special treatment at banquets at the university. I got my picture on the wall at the Hall of Fame. Who knows, that kid might be somebody great, too, or any of a million kids in the barrio, but nobody cares s-- about them, you know what I mean?”
“Boy do I,” Hannah said, choosing to ignore Flash’s lapse of vocabulary. And she did know what he meant. A lot of her students were just as smart as kids from anywhere else; they just hadn’t had the chance to show it.
Harry, Hannah, and Flash reached the head of the buffet line and began loading plates up with food. The invitation that Hannah had received had mentioned a “light buffet,” but this was still a huge array of dishes. In addition to the egg rolls and Swedish meatballs that Worthington had mentioned in his tirade – Hannah made a point of getting extra meatballs – there were little dumplings of puff pastry filled with something or other, triangular finger sandwiches with all sorts of fillings on several sorts of bread, chicken wings with a choice of three sauces, flautas with sour cream and guacamole, ravioli with marinara sauce, pasta primavera, fettuccini Alfredo – gee, Hannah thought, three Italian dishes, but only one each of Chinese, Mexican and Swedish; maybe the chef was Italian. Further up the table were the vegetable dishes: latkes, mashed potatoes, succotash, a cheese and broccoli casserole, and green beans. Next were salads: basic green salad, cole slaw, pasta salad, bean salad, Waldorf salad, and red gelatin with black cherries and walnuts floating in it. The main buffet line finished off with breads: white fluffy rolls, crusty sourdough bread, whole wheat rolls, blueberry muffins, pumpernickel bread, and marbled rye bread. There was a separate line for desserts; Hannah chose to skip that for now and find a table to sit at, while Harry and Flash went to grab their desserts.
Once they were seated at a table, conversation lagged while the three of them concentrated on eating. The food was excellent, and Hannah enjoyed the huge range of flavors, from the savory Swedish meatballs to the zesty flautas to the ginger tinged egg rolls to the creamy cheese filled ravioli. Sophie, Jeannine, and Barbara came to join them at their table, and the two remaining seats were filled by two people Hannah had met during the investigation into Jonas Spindle’s murder the previous spring: Edgar Cooper, the lawyer, and his assistant, Rosalyn Booker. Edgar, in addition to being one of the most successful lawyers in Siete Mares, was also the most successful black lawyer in the state. He was short, bald, and a little on the pudgy side, and he looked at the world through very thick, soda pop bottle glasses. But he also had a sparkling smile, which was quick to emerge and which lit up his face and made it attractive in a fatherly way that belied his aggression in the courtroom. Like Flash, Edgar had grown up in a neighborhood that, in politically correct terms, was called “disadvantaged,” and he had fought his way into and through law school with the tenacity that now made him a very good lawyer to have on one’s side and a very bad lawyer to have against one. Rosalyn was tall, slim, tailored, and attractive. Her life had been ruined by the late and not very lamented Jonas Spindle, and she was working on rebuilding it, pinching pennies while helping her fiancé, a former star medical student, to recover from a suicide attempt that had left him an invalid. Hannah knew Gordon Ross was getting better, so Rosalyn could leave him for short periods, such as to attend this party. Rosalyn kept Edgar’s office running smoothly, so he could concentrate on the business of doing the very best for all of his clients. As Hannah looked around the room, she realized she was sitting at the most colorful table, with Flash, Edgar, and Rosalyn – of all the couple of hundred people at the party, there were very few people of color – a brown or yellow face here or there, but no black ones other than Edgar’s and Rosalyn’s.
“Hi, Edgar, Rosalyn,” Hannah said between bites of Swedish meatball.
“Hey, guys,” Flash said. “How’s tricks?”
“Oh, not too bad,” Edgar said. “I’ve been doing some pro bono work on behalf of Fidel de la Cruz. He’s discovered some shady stuff about
“Think you’re gonna bring him down before January?” Flash asked. “I’d really like to see him go before
“What, and put myself next in line for succession?” Edgar laughed. “Nah, this case is going to take time, and a lot of it. And I have a whole lot of paying cases to work on as well, and those clients don’t want their work to wait while I investigate something as silly as widespread bribery, extortion, injustice, and general corruption at the highest levels.”
“All that?” Harry asked.
“It looks like it,” Edgar said. “Of course, I’m still in the preliminary stages of the investigation, but once I get something solid, you’ll be the first to know.” Edgar turned to Jeannine. “How’s Fluffles?” he asked.
“Oh, she’s doing fine,” Jeannine said. “She’s especially happy with that new pair of Manolos I got yesterday.”
“Fluffles?” Barbara asked.
“My cat,” Jeannine said. “Well, really not my cat, my boss. I get paid to keep her healthy and happy, and I get free housing in her house, Spindle Manor, plus a living allowance, as long as she lives.”
“Sounds like a cat’s dream life,” Barbara said. “How did that happen?”
“It was in the terms of Jeannine’s late husband’s will,” Edgar said. “He left the boat to her, and he left everything else to the cat.”
“Well, getting a boat is a lot better than getting nothing,” Barbara said. “You may not have anything to eat, but you can at least go sailing.”
“Well, we’re working on that,” Sophie said. “We’re still learning how to sail.”
“At least I can help you there,” Barbara said. “I don’t have a boat of my own yet, and I’d be glad to help you sail yours.”