“Sharpe! Jansen! Get your butts in here!”
The detectives looked at each other. Gerry cringed.
“Crap!” she said. “I was hoping we’d have more time.”
“Well, we’ve just got to convince her,” Pete said.
“What’s this we shit? This is your deal.”
“Oh. So now you’re runnin’ out on me?” Pete’s tired old chair nearly expired as he suddenly leaned his big body forward. “Whataya ‘fraid of? Her?” he swept a huge hand toward the Chiefs office.
“Goddamn right I am! And so should you.” Gerry’s emphatic tone literally shook her long dark hair from her bun. She wrestled it back together along with her composure. “We got nothing,” she said softly, settling back into her chair. “Nothing. Not one friggin’ thing.” She looked up at the dirty ceiling tiles. Pete sighed loudly and leaned back as well.
“I know,” he said. “I know.” Her use of the word “we” did not go unnoticed.
“NOW!” Chief Meriwether bellowed. Three patrolmen hustled out of the room, knocking over a chair and leaving full cups of coffee behind.
“But she doesn’t know that,” Pete said.
“No Peter. Oh HELL no,” Gerry shook her finger. “I am not lying for you again.”
“Just follow my lead,” Pete said as calmly as he could. Gerry stared at him shaking her head
“You goddamn sonofabitch,” she said finally, spitting the words out. “C’mon. Let’s go before she has an aneurism.”
June Caruso waded out to the 12 foot aluminum dinghy floating 20 feet off Waretucket beach. It was a beautiful Summer morning. Hot, humid, and hazy, just like July should be. Even on a weekday, the residents-only parking lot was already filled to capacity. The sounds of shrieking children and tinny radios mingled with the aromas of salt water and sun screen. Waves of heat radiated off of anything that wasn’t wet. June stopped briefly to wave to a neighbor then continued on. The tide was just right, about knee-deep.
“Perfect…I hate getting my clothes all wet,” she thought as she climbed into the silvery dinghy and tilted the 9.9 Mercury outboard into the water. She pressed the starter button. The little engine fired right up and settled into a nice even burble. She patted it on its shiny black cowling and twisted the tiller into the “forward” position. The little boat started moving slowly through the mooring field.
Chief Julia Meriwether stood behind her oversized desk, arms akimbo, and stared out the window. Her back was to the door when Sharpe and Jansen walked in.
“Please have a seat Detectives,” she said calmly, still facing the window. The pair exchanged a nervous glance: Chief was even scarier when she was acting nice.
“Do you know why the good people of this fair community put me in charge?” she began. Pete and Gerry looked at each other, not sure how to react. Pete was about to offer his thoughts when the Chief cut him off.
“I know what you’re thinking Detective Jansen, but you’re wrong. It’s not my sparkling personality, or my good looks, contrary to popular beliefs,” she clasped her hands behind her back. Pete wisely kept his mouth shut.
“It’s because get things done. I offer the gift of closure. The ability to tie things up in a neat little box, and tuck that box away in an orderly and timely fashion. The people expect that of me. And well they should, because I never disappoint.” She paused, still staring out the window.
“Do we understand each other?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Good. Now get your sorry asses out of my office and don’t come back until you give me something on this Caruso case.”
Pete started to speak, but Gerry put her hand on his arm and shook her head.
“Please close the door on your way out, Detectives.”
“That went well,” Gerry said in the hallway as they walked back to their desks.
“Actually, it went very well. Chief didn’t give us a time limit. Not really. And she didn’t ask for any specifics. I’d say we were getting the benefit of a doubt.”
“Yeah well…” What’s the plan man.”
“For starters, I’d like to have a look at that boat, and we’re going to talk with June Caruso at four o’clock. But to be honest, I’m not convinced we’ll get anything out of it. Hey, you never know. Right?” Pete said, trying to sound upbeat.
“Right. What about Chocomont cove? A person falling off a boat has to make some kind of noise. Somebody may have seen or heard something. We’re gonna need a trip to Fishers Island.”
“On my list, Gerry,” he said as he sat down and opened his laptop. “There must be a Harbormaster somewhere willing to give us a ride across the sound.”
June pulled the dinghy alongside the swim platform of her big cabin cruiser. Using a boat hook, she caught a cleat, hauled herself up, and quickly tied the little boat fore and aft. She thought it odd that the key to the cabin was not hidden in the usual place, hanging from the ship’s bell clapper. She tried the door and it opened.
“I must have forgotten to lock up the last time I was here,” she thought. “Well at least I’m not locked out.” She stepped through, walked up to the counter and poured a glass of white wine. The door suddenly slammed shut behind her. Startled, she quickly turned, then froze with fear. Her wine glass shattered on the parquet floor.
“Wha… What are you doing here?” she stammered. It would be the last words June Caruso would ever speak. The .380 caliber bullet smashed through her left orbit and blew out a large chunk of the back of her skull. Bits of blood, bone, and brain splattered all over the tidy little galley.