Niles visited his dad in Hoosick Falls, New York. It was a good weekend, yet he longed for Brewster Harbor and his home. He returned from his dad’s late Monday – glad to be home.
He put some music on the stereo and held the phone in his hand. He came within an inch of calling Annie. “We’re as close as we’ll ever be,” he thought. “If she wants to hear from me she’ll call. But, I want to hear from her. I’m so needy.”
He laid the phone on the kitchen counter, relaxed on the couch, watched the harbor lights, and listened to jazz. “Jazz takes away loneliness without anyone being there.”
Tuesday morning’s weather remained brisk and cool. He walked to the office to start a fire and then to the Harbor Inn. “Fog today,” he thought. “It just feels like this should be a day hid away by the fog.”
Niles strolled into the Harbor Inn. He poured a coffee and sat across from Steve.
“Fog?” Niles said.
“Heard on the radio it’s thick as pea soup just beyond,” Steve said. “Did you hear they finally got rid of the harbormaster?”
“No,” Niles said. “I’m always the last to know.”
“Happened yesterday,” Steve said. “How did the visit go with your dad?”
“We had a good time,” Niles said, “but I really wanted to get back. I did get a call telling me Pauline Petit will be extradited to Florida.”
“Death penalty state?” Steve said.
“Yep,” Niles said.
“She’ll still outlive us,” Steve said.
Charley and Shelly came into the dining room together. They sat down with their coffee.
“Good weekend?” Charley said.
“Yep,” Niles said.
“What are you doing for supper tonight?” Shelly said.
“Don’t go thinking you’re special, Chief,” Steve said. “I already turned them down. Seems I have been asked to marry someone. As a mayor I can do that.”
“So I’ve heard,” Charley said.
“You were never invited,” Shelly smiled.
“That hurts,” Steve joked.
“I had nothing planned,” Niles said. “Anybody I know?”
“We was thinking around seven,” Charley said.
“Couple lunatics from out of state,” Steve said.
“That will be fine,” Niles said. “What are we having so I know what wine to bring?”
“We don’t want you to worry about anything,” Shelly said.
“I appreciate that,” Niles said.
“Hey,” Steve said, “I’m going to boil some hot dogs Wednesday night; you can bring some buns and relish.”
“I’ll pass,” Niles said.
Steve stood and walked to the front desk with his coffee.
“You doing okay?” Charley said.
“I can’t help but think I was a little overboard with the wild accusations,” Niles said.
“We understand,” Shelly said. “Jessica explained it to us and you apologized.”
“I should have tried a different approach rather than dragging you guys into this,” Niles said. “I imagine you guys, Steve, and Dave had some sleepless nights.”
“Not nearly as bad as Lute’s,” Charley said.
“You know,” Niles said, “at first I took it as a loss of a friend, but he was using me. As I think about it, he probably wanted me to use my experience to cover the crime.”
“In a strange sort of way,” Shelly said, “we’re glad we were able to play a part in it.”
“Well, you’re far too kind,” Niles said. “I hated doing that to everyone.”
“Can we just drop it,” Charley smiled. “The truth be told here, since everything has calmed down and you’re carrying around all this guilt and mopping around, we just worry about you.”
“I’m fine,” Niles said. “This has taken an emotional strain on me, I’ll admit that. I’m a cop, we go through these things and get over it. I’ve had to overcome other things and I’m okay. I’ll confess something; Mildred reminded me of my mother – there, I’ve said it.”
“Niles,” Shelly said, “we had no idea you were carrying that around with you.”
“I got a city to save,” Nile said. “Seven?”
“Seven,” Charley said. “And don’t be offended; cops deal with things by getting to work.”
“Go save the city,” Steve said.