Lute convened the mayor’s court in the police station. Everything proceeded as planned. Ernie was given a three-day sentence, which meant someone had to be at the office all the time to watch Ernie.
Niles agreed to stay at the office rather than pay Tom or Sid the overtime.
Niles sat in a chair next to the cell and Ernie sat on the edge of the bunk.
“What do you like to watch on TV?” Niles asked.
“I like football and nature shows,” Ernie said.
“I’ll just give you the remote and you can watch whatever you want to watch,” Niles said.
“What about you?” Ernie said.
“I like football,” Niles said, “but I don’t watch a lot of TV. I got enough to keep me busy. I’m working on the Carmichael murder and Sam Petit’s, the mayor, a couple of years ago.”
“Yeah,” Ernie said, “it’s sort of funny how everybody gets all up in arms about a murder when it’s somebody important, but if it’s just a little guy, a nobody, nobody cares.”
“What do you mean?” Niles said.
“Long about 10 years ago a buddy of mine,” Ernie said, “Keith Beauchard takes a gunshot to the temple. They said it was an out of season deer hunting accident.”
“What do you remember about it?” Niles said.
“It was just sad,” Ernie said. “He and I did a lot of things together. In fact that chair I tossed out was his chair. He brought it over to my house one day. He said he spent so much time at my place he might as well be comfortable. Truth is, it wasn’t very comfortable, but it was hard for me to get rid of it. I don’t know why I dumped it there. All I knew is I didn’t want it around anymore and didn’t want it going to the landfill.”
“How’s that hand?” Niles said.
“It’s okay,” Ernie said. “I don’t think it’s broken it moves good.”
“What kind of work did your buddy, Kieth, do?” Niles said.
This and that, kinda like me,” Ernie said. “He was a deckhand on lobster boats when he could get on board, nothing steady.”
“Was he married?” Niles said.
“Once,” Ernie said. “Divorced, one kid, a little girl.”
“Do they still life around here?” Niles asked.
“No,” Ernie said, “they moved on shortly after Keith got shot.”
“I remember he told me if anything ever happened to him to make sure his ex got the chair,” Ernie said. “Things happened so fast I forgot all about it. I tried looking them up, but I heard they moved over to Vermont. That’s too far to take an old chair.”
“Sure is,” Niles said.
“When you said Keith did this and that, what did you mean,” Niles said.
“Nothing illegal,” Ernie said, “he did a lot of odd jobs for folks and the town; stuff the regular guys couldn’t handle. I suppose, technically, it may have been illegal, because he said he was paid under the table. I didn’t think towns could do stuff like that. Can’t they just say it’s to a contractor?”
“I don’t know how things work up here,” Niles said.
“A couple years ago they asked me to haul away an old shed that was an eyesore,” Ernie said. “It was all above board. They told me I had to claim it and everything.”
“Who was that, Mrs. Carmichael?” Niles said.
“Yeah,” Ernie said, “it was her.”
“You like pizza?” Niles said.
“Yeah,” Ernie said.
“I’m going to call Sid,” Niles said, “he’s on patrol and I’ll have him swing by the grocery and pick us up a couple slices each.”
“I was kind of hoping not to lose any weight while in jail,” Ernie said.
“How many slices?” Niles said.
“Four,” Ernie said.
“Large soda?” Niles said.
“Yeah,” Ernie said. “Orange.”
“You may take another swing at me just to stay locked up,” Niles said.
“Well, I do enjoy the company,” Ernie said.
“Well,” Niles smiled, “me too, as long as there’s bars between us.”
Sid brought the pizzas and sodas.
They ate the pizza together and chatted more; Niles on one side of the bars and Ernie on the other. Ernie talked about his childhood living on Bellamy Island. The death of his mother and father, the girl he loved and moved from the island, and his desire to own his own lobster boat.
“How would you like to get out early for good behavior,” Niles said.
“That won’t get you in trouble, will it?” Ernie said.
“I have some latitude,” Niles said. “However there is something you can do for me.”
Ernie smiled. “Long as it ain’t illegal.”
“It’s not illegal,” Niles said, “but it is sneaky.”
“What ya got in mind?” Ernie said.
“Tomorrow morning,” Niles said, “let’s say about 10:00, I’m going to be called away from the office. I have to have somebody here to watch the jail. You see, as long as it is occupied by a prisoner, if there is some emergency like a fire, somebody has to be here. So tomorrow I will have Lucinda watch the jail. I’m going to have a video recorder hidden that will record everything. It’s up to you to get her to incriminate herself. Now mind you, don’t try too hard. Can you do that?”
“Chief,” Ernie said, “with Lucinda, it won’t take much.”
“I got some work to do,” Niles said and handed the remote to Ernie.