Tuesday, Niles enjoyed an excursion around the harbor and nearby islands on a small retired lobster boat by a local guide called Captain Dave. He was a short frail man. He wore a white captain’s hat. He looked as if he drew the genetic short straw, not suiting him for the rigors of life as a lobster fisherman. Thus, he plied his skills to the next best thing; steering a boat and talking.
Captain Dave knew all the islands. He knew all the boats by sight, their captains and crews. The harbor was his business and he knew it well. Each island had a story, each story had characters and Captain Dave spun tales as if reading directly from a history book or novel.
Niles navigated their conversation carefully, knowing Captain Dave had an incredible and nearly flawless memory for the details of people’s lives; either that or made them up as he spoke. Experience warranted he should be cautious with people who collect information. Others who don’t possess such skills can readily use them for information. Thus, Niles did not want Captain Dave to have too much information on which to build a possible false narrative. On the other hand, Captain Dave may be the best source of information for future use.
Wednesday night at 7:00 the town council met in a small meeting room on the second floor of the town hall. It looked as if the room’s decor had not changed in 75 years. Lute called the meeting to order. Niles sat in one of ten empty chairs reserved for spectators.
While reading the minutes from the last meeting, a casually dressed woman in her early thirties with black rim glasses rushed in the room and sat next to Niles.
“Have I missed anything?” she whispered.
“No,” Niles whispered, “just reading the minutes from the last meeting.”
“I’m Izzy Willard, Brewster Harbor Beacon.”
Niles smiled, “Niles Quinn.”
After the minutes a couple small items were voted on and mechanically passed.
“Anyone else have any new order of business?” Lute said.
A round lady dressed like a lobster fisherman said, “Where are we on a new chief of police?”
“He’s here tonight,” Lute said. “His name is Niles Quinn. Niles, will you stand and let everyone get a full view.”
Niles stood and looked at every one individually.
“You can have a seat, Niles,” Lute said. “Niles is an old Army buddy. He’s got 30 years police experience in New York City. I called him last week and ask him to retire here. Would anyone like to ask Niles some questions.”
“I have one,” a very thin man in his late 70s said.
“Go ahead, Slim,” Lute said.
“What kind of police work did you do in New York City?” Slim said.
“My last job, I was captain of the homicide unit in the 10th precinct. I spent 18 years in homicide, 5 in burglary, 3 in narcotics, and my first five walking a beat.”
A man dressed in a flannel shirt and tan slacks asked to speak. “I’m Bogy. I got a grocery just north. Most of the folks here would give you the shirt off their backs, but I know for a fact $500 dollars a month leaves my place without going through the register. You got any suggestions.”
“First of all,” Niles said. “That’s not a lot compared to New York, but that doesn’t lessen the impact to your business. I’ve always found if you catch a thief it was because he was dumb. And catching him educates him and he gets better. Security cameras and letting people know there are security cameras are a good deterrent. When I was on the beat there was this deli owner, when he’d catch kid he’d put a broom or a squidgy in their hand. He made sure his employees were extra friendly. Most people won’t steal from the nice guy. Sponsor little league, youth soccer, offer free samples. Know as many people as you can by name and that goes for employees. When thieves see and hear that kind of stuff, they become concerned customers might look out for the owner and expose them.”
A woman in her 50s who looked like a school teacher from the sixties asked to speak. “Doris Murkowski, librarian. People will drive at a respectable speed on Main Street, but it’s as if they build up energy, because as soon as they get to the top of the hill it’s nothing for someone to go 55 or 65 in a 35. I don’t think our previous chief wrote more than a hand full of tickets in a year.”
“I’ve been a cop for thirty years and never wrote speeding ticket.” Rich said. “However, I’ve seen my share of kids killed as passengers in speeding cars or hit by them. A community or law enforcement that turns the other way deserves whatever happens. That’s not to say a guy or gal going a few miles per hour over the limit should be cuffed and taken to traffic court. Justice is blind, but law enforcement must be reasonable. It is said that good lawyers keep their clients from standing in front of a judge or jury. Good policing keep people from needing good lawyers. If the law is flagrantly violated than it must be vigorously punished to the full extent allowed by the statutes.”
Pencils tapped amid the silence.
“All in favor,” Lute said and everyone raised their hands.
After the meeting adjourned everyone stood around and talked with Niles. Izzy asked a few questions and jotted notes on a legal pad.
“When will you start?” Bogy asked.
“That’s something Lute and I never talked about,” Niles said. “I have to sign my retirement papers with the force and sell a house. I planned on staying till Friday and heading back.” He looked at Lute. “Does the first sound good?”
Lute curled his lips down, “the first.”