A murder mystery serial tale
by Donald Roberts
Recap Part One
I zeroed in on the shadow and enlarged it. My jaw dropped, my head spun, and my gut churned. It was not just what I saw, it was who. Frozen in the ice I could see a right arm that seemed to be waving at the camera, a shoulder, and half a face, a face I knew.
I sat at my desk staring at the image for several minutes then threw on my coat and boots and headed for the harbour docks.
It wasn’t so cold. The wind was light, the sun was bright, and it seemed the whole town glimmered and isn’t too far down to the harbour, so I decided to walk.
Every step closer got me a little more anxious and my mind was chewing on a dozen possible ways the light, the shadows, the dark and my eyes could create an optical illusion like a shadow arm sticking out of the ice.
As I walked to the corner of Elly and Merkins streets I was stopped several times by people just being people or asking about the next paper coming out and once to talk about putting an ad in the wanted section. I did my best to be attentive and polite, but I think I might have been a little short with a couple. The arm in the ice was getting bigger in my head and the literary mercenary in me was rearing its dragonish head.
As I got myself down to Harbour Front Avenue I was nearly running, as best as one can run on ice and through snow until I was on the boardwalk, edging watchfully toward the marina and the pier where the arm should be.
At first I couldn’t find it and was feeling relieved and disappointed all at the same time. Then, just as I was about to write it off as an optical illusion I saw it, frosted and dark and the half face glazed over with ice, but dreadfully recognizable.
I took more pictures, up very close, and looked around the area for anything else of interest, not thinking anything like murder but, well, I am not certain what I was trying to determine in how she got there. Though a tragic accident did flutter through.
Finally, I called the police, the local provincial detachment, not 9-1-1. The emergency was over. I got Sergeant MaKan. I was just starting to feel the cold reaching under my parka when he and a constable showed up. Then the ball started to roll and what happens when a body is found began.
Doc Marsha, the local coroner who kept a clinic in town was the next to arrive just ahead of an ambulance. Two more constables arrived and cordoned the area off with police tape. The Crime Scene Unit would take a while to get there but the sergeant went through a preliminary inspection being sure not to taint any evidence. He snarled at me for leaving my boot prints behind. I snarled back and said, “Sorry, I ain’t growed wings yet” in a hillbilly kind of lingo. “But I had to get in close enough to see before I called it in. It kind of looked like a piece of drift wood.”
Sergeant MaKan stared at me for a minute, grinned, snarled and shook his head as he walked away, muttering something like, “What a pain in the…” I didn’t catch the last word, but I could guess.
I knew for the moment that no one was going to tell me anything, so I headed back to my office to examine the new photos I took. I found out more that way than the police would ever tell me, at least until it was too late to bother.
When I enlarged the new photo I saw a new shadow and with a little pixel enhancing recognized something that made my blood run cold. Not only was Alasyn Murton dead, it was no accident. I started getting my headline story ready for January 10, ‘A Murder in Twin Bluffs Harbour.’
As soon as I had the first few paragraphs saved in the writing program I hit the streets again, a step ahead of the police. I knew enough about investigating crimes that the first few hours were critical and that I would be best off to do some background work and the movements of the deceased.
My thoughts went back to New Year’s eve. I tried to remember if I had seen Alasyn. I had, but very early on, up town. I recalled she was hurrying about and had an anxious mood about her. I had briefly seen her across the street from my office talking to someone and the conversation was not particularly friendly, to say, she had a scowl on her face and he, whoever he was looked angry. Of course, I would give all this information to the police for whatever good it would do.
I left my office just in time to see the Crime Scene Unit trailer’s back end disappear past the post office building and hurried after it. People love pictures of police vehicles, especially the trailer, and the barrier tape. In less than 10 minutes I was covering the scene from every angle I possibly could, focusing a lot on bystanders showing up in trickles, thinking maybe one of them would be the fellow I had seen the victim arguing with.
After a while I sought out Sergeant MaKan and showed him what I had found. He snatched the hard copy 8×10 photo out of my fingers and peeled a keen eye on it. “Humph. I’ll keep this Vancura. It might speed things up a little. Now stay back like a good little citizen. This is a police matter and reporters get their information from our liaison, not by honing in and snooping around.”
“Sure Sarg, but my readers will want to know what is going on.”
MaKan sneered but didn’t respond.
I looked around and recognized a face in the crowd of crime scene responders. They were all strangers but, off to the side, looking like a bystander was the fellow I had seen arguing with Alasyn. I started a casual approach toward him and got a quick phone photo, but when he noticed me and that I was heading toward him he walked off, casually, but with a purpose.
To be continued next week.