Another foggy morning greeted the day and thickened with each passing minute. Thus, Niles spent a little more time than normal at the Inn. Local radio said fog had settled heavy over the entire island and not likely to clear before noon. The school canceled classes and the fisherman stayed home.
Niles approached the office at about 7:50. Through the foggy gloom a dim light from the office shone. Niles opened the unlocked door. Tom and Sid sat in chairs waiting.
“We were about to come and get you,” Sid said.
“I thought you guys might arrive late because of the fog,” Niles said.
“And face a lecture,” Sid said.
“I guess I’m the one that needs the lecture,” Niles said.
“What ever you were going to chew us out about makes it tough to do now, doesn’t it?” Tom joked.
Niles smiled. “Didn’t have that in mind, but I’ll save it.”
“As you are aware, this town has an unsolved murder,” Niles said.
“Ain’t it outside our jurisdiction?” Tom said.
“First of all, what we talk about in this room stays here,” Niles said. “If I here the particulars of this meeting from anyone other than you two, I’ll assume it came from you two and I’ll have to replace you. We can’t talk to anybody about this. What we can say, is what everybody already knows. If somebody ask if we are investigating just tell them we are always interested in any information on any crime.”
They both nodded.
“The fact is, I’ve been investigating,” Niles said. “Not a full blown one. For now I have to keep things discreet, I’m new here. But to get back to your question, Tom, it doesn’t make any difference where the body is found, it is where he was murdered.”
“There was no water in his lungs,” Niles said. “He didn’t die of drowning in the harbor. He was killed on shore and transported out into the harbor.”
“Somebody who was staying at the Harbor Inn at the time said they heard a commotion like two men arguing, a splash, and that was it,” Tom said.
“You see, that doesn’t even make sense,” Niles said. “That’s supposed to give an impression there might have been a fight, but Petit was found with an anchor tied around him. So the fight, if there was one, was wrapping him up with an anchor and tossing him overboard. And then jump into the water and make sure he’s stretched out like he’s laying in a coffin? No, it didn’t happen that way. Who ever reported what they said they heard, lied. Do you know who that was?”
“I just heard it was a guest,” Sid said.
“Did Kevin ever try to investigate it?” Niles said.
“He told us it was in the harbor and it was the harbor master’s jurisdiction and they handed it to the state,” Tom said.
“Yeah,” Sid said, “that’s what he told me too.”
“I’ve started a file on this,” Niles said. “I’ve been collecting evidence and I already know where Petit took his last breath.”
“Is there anything we can do?” Sid said.
“That’s why we’re meeting,” Niles said. “I want this kept between us for now, but I need information. Don’t try to figure out whether it is important or not. Many many cases are solved by unimportant information.”
“What do we do right now?” Tom said.
“You can create a false narrative,” Nile said. “In casual conversations, say something like, it’s too bad Kevin went too Portland; he had a couple ideas about the Petit murder. That way it’s Kevin’s imagination and curiosity and not ours.”
“If they say, like what?” Niles said. “Say, he kept it to himself.”
“Then you can say something like, I can’t remember who said it, but they said ole Sam was acting funny just a couple days before they found him in the harbor. That gets people talking.”
“A year or so ago, I was at a bar and we was all talking and one guy said that he heard
Steve was seeing Sam’s ole lady and they killed him,” Sid said.
“I heard the same thing,” Tom said. “They was supposed to run off to Mexico together. But Steve’s still here and that guy wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“That’s true,” Sid said. “I had him as a school teacher, he would not kill a fly – literally.”
“However,” Niles said, “it is information. Somebody said it to be talking or somebody said it because they know something. They may have even heard it wrong, but it’s something.”
“Okay,” Niles said, “we will meet from time to time and I’ll keep you guys in the loop. Remember, what ever you hear that may be remotely associated with the murder give it to me right away. Don’t make the decision on you own, whether it is good information or not. Let me make the mistakes.”
“Have you guys had breakfast yet? Niles said.
“No,” Tom and Sid said.
“You’re not thinking about the Harbor Inn are you?” Tom said. “They serve stuff like quiche and croissants with a sprig of mint.”
“What I had in mind was steak, eggs, and potatoes,” Niles said.
“We’d have to go off the island for that,” Sid said, “clear to Stockbridge. In this fog we wouldn’t get there until lunch.”
“I got some steaks in the frig and some potatoes that need peeling,” Niles said. “I had my place in mind.”
“Sounds like he’s asked us on a date,” Sid said.
Niles locked the office and the three walked to Niles’ house and had breakfast.