Niles woke at 6:00 AM and trudged to the headquarters through five inches of blowing snow. He started a fire in the stove and walked over to the Harbor Inn where the coffee’s aroma wafted through the dining room and smiles from Charley, Shelly, and Steve greeted him.
Niles poured his coffee and sat at the table with Steve. The winds howled outside and the deck squeaked and moaned.
“Nasty,” Niles said.
“First Nor’easter in Maine?” Steve said.
“Yeah,” Niles said.
“You’re in for a real treat,” Steve said. “We get a couple of these a winter. This won’t be a bad one, but enough to slow things up for a couple days.”
“Did you drive through this to get here?” Niles said.
“No,” Steve said, “spent the night. If something happened here, I didn’t want to be to be driving through a snowstorm to get here.”
“So what does the town do when this happens?” Niles said.
“There’s a couple county trucks on the island,” Steve said. “They’ve probably been at work for a couple hours. I saw Butch Gleason driving toward the town garage, he’ll be plowing the town’s streets before long. Mostly, things just sort of stand still.”
“Steve,” Niles said, “if things slowed down anymore we’d be going back in time.”
“Slow pace really get’s to you, doesn’t it?” Steve said. “You’re kind of like a caged bobcat.”
“Not really,” Niles said, “more like a caged lobster.”
Charley and Shelly strolled over to the table holding cups of coffee and sat down.
“You guys have any guests?” Niles said.
“Three couples,” Shelly said.
“It’s kind of tough to get people to come up here for the winter,” Charley said. “If there was a ski lodge close by we’d be packed, but it gives us time to catch up on stuff.”
“The council, years ago, talked about a winter festival,” Steve said. “They decided against it. It takes predictably and consistently cold weather. One day it can be 10 below and the next 60 above. Besides we just aren’t situated for anything like that, slow and steady is our pace. We can’t handle a lot of tourists or traffic.”
“Yeah,” Charley said, “Shelly and I came here never expecting to get rich; just love what we do. Someday we’ll be too old for this and we’ll pass it on.”
“Has this place ever flourished in the winter?” Niles said.
“When Petit ran this place, it might go a couple weeks with only a guest showing up now and then,” Steve said.
“We run a few adds,” Shelly said. “It keeps people coming in; just enough to pay the lights and keep us up and moving.”
“I thought his place might really be crowded in the winter,” Niles said.
“Whatever gave you that impression?” Steve said.
“That’s why I’m a cop and not businessman,” Niles said.