“Let’s start with you two, Dave and Steve,” Niles said, “local historians, you know all the history and legends of this place and when I mentioned Sam Bellamy’s treasure, you act like you’ve never heard of it. You’ve heard of it. You’re two smart guys. Frankly, neither of you fit in Brewster Harbor, but you stick around. That treasure or the possibility of finding it keeps you here. I would say you are convinced it’s real. But, there is nothing more competitive than brother against brother. I always detected a rivalry between you two and Dave seems to resent Steve and Steve condescends to Dave; just an observation.”
Dave and Steve smirked uncomfortably.
“Jessica,” Niles said, “You worked for Mildred for several years. She liked you. She may have confided in you. You may have thought she knew about the treasure. You may have poked around her house while cleaning and came across something. Whatever, you may have knowledge and a motive. Interestingly, you are a decedent of Sam Brewster which may mean you are a decedent of Black Sam. You could have picked up the information from a family Bible or just some stories. And who else is a better shot than you?”
“I’ve never heard about no treasure,” Jessica said, “but it’s good to know my roots are firm in this town.”
“Lute,” Niles said, “an old buddy from my Army days. Out of the blue, you invite me up here for a job. I haven’t been able to figure that one out, but how could it be me, (referring to Lute) I brought in a top-flight detective. I don’t know, but I think you are convinced the treasure exists. Likewise, you are a decedent of Sam Brewster. Insurance agents sometimes know all the town gossip, stories, history, and legends. Have you ever seen that movie Double Indemnity? Who knows, that movie may be played out in real life right here in Brewster Harbor.”
“That was an old story told by old drunken lobster fishermen when I was a kid,” Lute said. “Nobody believed it.”
“That leaves Charley and Shelly,” Niles said. “Why did they come here? Of all places. I had to find out if it was purely for the reason of buying a business or was something else afoot. So I did some digging. Come to find out, Charley, Pauline Petit is your aunt. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“The truth,” Charley said, “no one in the family has anything to do with her. Three years ago, out of nowhere, she calls around to the family about an opportunity. It was exactly what Shelly and I were looking for. It was a good deal, but we realized she took advantage of us; not real bad, but just enough to know it. I mean, you expect those kinds of things; even from family. And I figured if I told you she was my aunt, I’d be a suspect, which now I am, and I figured you’d be bugging me about where she was. And the absolute God’s honest truth is I don’t know, and except to help you out, I don’t care.”
“So we’re all suspects,” Shelly said.
“I hope to god we ain’t related to Sam Brewster,” Charley said.
“Too bad Tom Shepherd isn’t here,” Niles said. “He handled all the listings of Pauline Petit’s property. That links those two together. I’m going to check with Tom about where he sent the money for the sale of the properties, but I strongly suspect it was sent to a lawyer and that will end that trail. Sure wish Tom was here.”
“The last possibility is that all or some of you are in on it together,” Niles said. “Wouldn’t that be cute. Sometimes all it takes is a tug on one string and everything unravels.”
Everyone’s suspicious eyes roamed the faces sitting at the table. Uncomfortable smiles became serious glances.
“I’m going back to the office,” Niles said.
“Can I walk back that way with you?” Jessica said.
“He thinks you’re a suspect,” Lute said incredulously.
“Until he slaps the cuffs on, I figure we’re still friends,” Jessica said.
They bundled in their coats and walked back to the town hall in the howling wind and blinding snow.
Jessica unlocked the front door to the town hall. They walked in and Niles helped Jessica with her coat.
“You got it all figured in your head, don’t you?” Jessica said.
“Yep,” Niles said. “And you are really confident I was blowing smoke up everybody’s wazoo.”
“I play poker with the boys down at the gun club,” Jessica said, “I know a bluff when I see one.”
“Are you all set to make an arrest?” Jessica said.
“First, I’d like to have a confession,” Niles said. “It makes everybody’s work so much easier.”