Murder on Covey Hill chapters 19 & 20, a short story by AidanRGreen. Date added: 2011-06-21. Times viewed: 630.
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- Intro: A small New England town, a violent murder, and secrets behind every door.
By the time Millie called everyone to the cafeteria, I had gone down to the quay to check the mooring lines on the Jace 2 Oh and had added more lines for security.
Walking into the cafeteria, I found everyone talking in hushed tones, if talking at all. All eyes were glued to the two television sets hung from the ceiling, both tuned to The Weather Channel. As I walked to the front, Marc hit the mute button on the remote, and, as the sets went silent, so did the room. There was no having to get everyone’s attention, no waiting for someone to take a seat. All eyes were on me, awaiting instructions. Marc laid the remote down and picked up his pen, ready to take notes.
I looked out at everyone, took a deep breath and began.
“Good morning everybody. Since you’ve all heard the latest updates, there’s no need in telling you that things changed pretty drastically overnight. We’re going to have to hit the door running. For starters, will the two groups that volunteered to secure the properties across the street please go with Harvey and Tim now. The sooner you get started, the better. Harvey has everything ready. Come back by noon-thirty. I’m having lunch catered in.” I waited while Harvey and Tim and a dozen others headed out. Then I turned the floor over to Grant, who filled everyone in on the latest and, when we could expect Carlene to knock on our door and what "house warming" gifts she would most likely be bringing.
By the time we broke for lunch just past noon, the top two floors of the building had been secured inside, The ground floor would be the most difficult since the entire exterior wall was made of glass. Outside, the light ran that began that morning, had turned into a heavy shower. As the day progressed, the clouds grew more ominous, the sky darkened, and the winds picked up. Around eleven I asked Dianne and Marc if they would join Ryan and myself in the cafeteria. Jerry and Jennifer Austin, who run "Anchor's Aweigh!", the OCEAN cafeteria, were both working with teams. Jerry with Harvey and Tim, and Jennifer with Millie and Denise. I had intended to have lunch catered in, but Ryan was quick to point out that we would come out ahead by using what food we had on hand, because, should the power go out, we'd be reducing our food loss.
Hey, I never said I was the smart one of the two!
However, I did decide that Ryan, Dianne, Marc and I should be the ones to prepare the meal. I didn't want Jerry and Jennifer thinking that their OCEAN family thought their only skills were culinary, which, deep in my heart, I knew wasn't the case.
The four of us put together trays of cold cuts for sandwiches, along with all the trimmings. Dianne and Ryan peeled and boiled pounds of potatoes for potato salad while Marc and I chopped countless heads of cabbage for coleslaw. Ryan had the bright idea of boiling the eggs we had on hand and making deviled eggs. This not only used up the egg supply but also cut down considerably on the mayonaise, mustard and relish supply. By the time everyone rolled in at twelve-thirty, we had a spread laid out fit for a king. To round out the indoor picnic, we pulled all of the pies and cakes from the cooler, especially any that might go bad should the town go dark. No one was going to greet the afernoon on an empty stomach. In order to give everyone as much of a 'mental' break as we could, both television sets had been switched from The Weather Channel to Turner Classic Movies. As luck would have it "On The Town" was showing, and the big musical numbers and slapstick comedy worked wonders to take the edge off.
As we looked out over the cafeteria we were pleased to see Bob Cromwell, who owned and operated Hot Dog Bob's! across the highway from OCEAN, sitting at a table with Harvey and Jane and Anne Carroll, the Resident Director of The Nautilus Theatre, who's bungalow our crew had boarded up that morning. Across the room we spotted Michael deep in coversation with Ray Greenfield, owner of Covey Pointe Realaty and another of the homes our guys had taken care.
As we watched, Michael laid his head back and laughed. Really laughed.
"Now that's the Michael we know!" Dianne said.
"I wonder what in the world Ray said to get such a laugh out of Michael?" Ryan asked.
I looked at Ryan and grinned. "Who cares, as long as it brings him out of the funk that had him so down."
We all murmured our agreement.
"Well guys," Ryan said, "we'd better eat. We need to get started again ASAP."
After making our trays Dianne made her way to the table where David was sitting with Kevin Franklin and Will Adams, two of our Recovery Lab assistants.
Marc, Ryan and I found a table by the doors leading out to balcony that runs across the back of the building. Had the weather been nicer, we would have been hard pressed to find an empty table outdoors.
Completely lost in thought, I sat staring out the windows at the pouring rain, my mood matching the clouds. Dark, heavy and all wet.
Once lunch was over, everyone joined forces to secure the downstairs. The decision was made to start at the front of the building and work to the back. Outside we split into two teams, one to cover the left side, the other the right.
David and I held each sheet of plywood in place while Ryan, using a cordless drill, secured the sheet to the frame supports beween each window panel. Harvey had had the foresight to cover the stacks of plywood with tarps, and since the rain had yet to let up, even though the plywood was coated with a water resistant material, I was thankful for his wisdom.
Each window along the front would require three sheets of plywood, those along the left and right sides would require only two, thereby cutting down on the amout of time required to finish the task. By the time we had covered the front with the first two sheets and completed the sides, we were soaked to the bone, our windbreakers having offered little protection from the rain and biting wind.
As we stopped to take a break Harvey, Tim and their crew pulled onto the lot. We all crowded into the vestibule to take off our windbreakers, a few of us even shucking our shirts.
Millie suddenly appeared, as if out of nowhere, her arms full of towels.
"I saw you coming in and thought you could use these."
Everyone thanked her as each of us grabbed a towel from the stack she held in her arms.
Then, just as quickly and quietly as she had appeared, she disappeared.
As Harvey and I were shucking our shirts he brought up the subject of the buildings main doors.
"When do you want to board these up?" he said, pointing at the thick beveled glass doors.
"We'll do it once we get the top layer up. After that we can use the entrance down by the quay."
"After we've had a chance to dry out a bit we'll bring the powerlifts over and get started on the third layer."
"Thanks Harvey. While your crews add the third layer I'll grab Ryan and a few others and we'll take care of the back wall. Are we going to have enough plywood or do we need to make a trip and pick up more?"
Harvey did the math in his head, and in less time than it would have taken me to write it on paper, he had an answer for me.
"We'll have enough plus about a dozen sheets left over."
"Thanks. That's the first good news I've had all day. Come on, let's grab some coffee!"
Stepping through the vestibule doors to the inside, I went straight to our gift shop and grabbed a handful of t-shirts. Coming into the cafeteria I passed them out to the guys as they lined up for hot coffee.
A few grabbed a leftover sandwich or piece of pie to re-energize themselves. I grabbed a cup of coffee and half of a sandwich and joined Ryan at a table.
The inside crew had managed to move everything away from the windows and as far back as space permitted, which meant that now, instead of sitting by the back windows with an ocean view, we were sitting mid-room sandwiched in between a support column and a trash can. I couldn't help myself, I began to laugh as I took a seat.
"What in the world?" Ryan looked up, a fork full of cherry pie halfway to his mouth.
"Just my warped sense of humor. I..." I shook my head, "I...you don't want to go there!"
Ryan rolled his eyes and downed the pie. We quickly turned our conversation to the progress we were making on the building.
My biggest concern was for the displays in the museum room. Ryan and I put our heads together to brainstorm for a solution.
The answer hit us at the same time. " Our eyes went wide as we both looked at each other and grinned.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Ryan asked.
"Is it 'dum de dum de dum'?" I grinned at him.
I winked at him. "Are you thinking 'leftover plywood'?"
He nodded. We immediately went in search of Harvey.
We ran the idea by Harvey, who agreed with our plan. We would take the extra sheets of plywood, stand them length wise in front of the windows in the museum, which is located along the South side of the building, then place stacks of chairs from the cafeteria against the sheets for support. This would offer a double layer of protection to the priceless artifacts on display.
After a forty-five minute break, we donned our windbreakers and went 'once more into the breech'. Outside we got right to the task at hand, carrying sheets of plywood around to the baclony at the rear of the building. Due to the building being built along the shore, the balcony, though accessible from the sides of the building at ground level, actually sits out over the water. Directly underneath is the entrance used by the submersible to dock inside the building on the lower level, aka the Sea Deck. As we carried the plywood along the walkway at the left side of the building and onto the balcony, we noticed the sky out over the ocean growing darker. The wind was picking up, causing the whitecaps of the waves to be more noticeable. Once we had enough plywood sheets to cover the back wall, Ryan, Marc, David, Michael and I got started. Grant had gone back to the South Pole to monitor the storm so we pulled Josh Evans, one of our submersible pilots, from the crew working the front, to give us a hand. The windows along the balcony were only eight feet tall, which meant only two sheets of plywood would be needed for each section. The remainder of the first floor at the back of the building, as well as the entire second floor at the back, was windowless. This left only the windows of the third floor. These we would have to secure as best we could from the inside, as the balcony would never support the weight of the powerlift.
As we were preparing everything for the balcony, Harvey and Tim walked the hundred yards South to OCEAN's warehouse. The warehouse holds additional equipment, supplies, two company SUV's, a flatbed truck, my boat trailer for the Celtic Knot, and our two powerlifts used to clean the numerous windows on the building. Sliding the hanger doors open, the two powerlifts were driven out, then the doors were closed and secured. Tim and Harvey maneuvered the lifts along the gravel road and into the parking lot, then expertly steered them into position along the front of the building. Once the plywood was loaded onto the powerlifts, the crews climbed on and the lifts were raised into place.
The crews working on the front side were given a break from the howling Easterly winds. Ryan, myself and the others weren't as fortunate. The wind was now blowing the rain horizontally. Something told me it was going to be a long afternoon.
We had been at it less than an hour when Josh came up to me, tugging on my windbreaker to get my attention. I saw his lips moving, but his voice was lost in the howl of the wind.
"WHAT?" I yealled at the top of my lungs.
Once again his lips moved but the words were gone with the wind.
Josh let out an exasperated sigh, rolled his eyes, then grabbed me by the hand and pulled me alongside him. He leaned in, his face so close a sheet of paper would have had trouble sliding through. Putting his mouth next to my ear, he took a deep breath and tried once again.
"DIANNE! AT DOOR!", he pointed to the balcony doors leading inside, "WANTS YOU!"
I pulled my face away from his then nodded my head to show I understood. I pointed to myself and then made the motion with my hand to let him know I was going to go around to the front of the building. Josh nodded his understanding, then stepped over to the balcony doors to motion to Dianne that I would be coming in through the front. Stepping up next to Ryan I grabbed him, pulled him close to me and shouted into his ear "DIANNE NEEDS ME!"
He nodded he understood, looked heavenward, then back at me, rolling his eyes while shaking his head. Our mental telepathy made its way straight from his brain to mine.
'Can you believe this?' he was asking.
I broke into a huge grin and shook my head. 'Like we should have expected anything less?'
We smiled at one another and shrugged our shoulders. 'It's just our luck!'
Then I turned and made my way to the front doors.
Rounding the front of the building I was glad to see that Harvey and the gang were making great progress. At the rate they were going they would be through within the half hour.
If we were lucky we would have everything finished up by four, which would give those of us planning to work overnight, an hour to head home, take care of business and then report back.
Stepping into the vestibule, I shucked my windbreaker and t-shirt. I shook my wet hair, much like a wet dog would, trying to get at least one of the numerous gallons of water to shake free.
As I moved to walk through the sliding doors and into the building, I realized, though not to my surprise, that even my underwear was wet.
Dianne met me as I stepped inside, handing me another clean t-shirt.
"Thanks." I said as I slipped the tee over my head. Pulling my head through, I found her holding out a towel.
"God, you're a lifesaver! Josh said you needed me. What's up?"
"Mark Andrews is here to see you."
"Mark Andrews? What's he want?"
"Wouldn't say. Just asked for you."
I let out a sigh. "He couldn't have come at a worse time. Ah well," I said, shrugging my shoulders, "might as well get this over with."
Dianne laid a hand on my shoulder, gave me a sympathetic smile, then went to join Millie to finish putting things away in the gift shop.
I spotted Andrews pouring himself a cup of coffee. As I made my way across the room to where he was, I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the purpose of his visit could be.
Mark, a private detective, had moved to Covey Pointe less than two years ago. A likeable enough fellow, no one in town really knew that much about him, or what had brought him to Covey Pointe. He had bought the old Bartholomew farm on the outskirts of town, and aside from an occasional trip to the green grocer, didn't really associate with anyone in town. Well, not that anyone knew of anyway. No one was quite sure how he made his living. After all, Covey Pointe wasn't exactly crawling with people in need of a private detective. Well not until Nora Mae had to go and make a spectacle of herself.
Andrews, looking up as he added creamer to his cup, stuck out his hand as I approached. "Mr. O'Banyon."
"Mr. Andrews." I shook his hand as I looked up to face him. Mark, who stands six foot six, is lean and athletic. "Forgive my appearance. I'm afraid you've caught me at a rather busy time."
"I understand. I'll make this as brief as I can." He looked around the room where everyone was finishing getting things secured. "Is there somewhere more private we can talk?"
"I'm afraid right now this is the best I can offer." I led the way to the table where Ryan and I sat earlier. "Join me." I said as I sat.
"Mr. O'Banyon..." Mark began.
I quickly interrupted. "So sorry to interrupt. First off, it's Colin, not 'Mr. O'Banyon'. Secondly, not to be rude, but could we cut the red tape and get straight to the point? With this storm moving in I've got to wrap things up here, take care of my own home, then get back here asap. I've got a ship at sea right now and I plan to be here till this thing blows over so that I can monitor its path and keep my crew informed."
"Understood. Colin, I was hired by Colleen Ferguson to look into the matter of her cousin's death. I take it you're aware of the accusations my client has made?"
I held my temper as I studied Andrews' face. His brown eyes bore right through me, just waiting for me to give myself away.
"It's been brought to my attention." was the best answer I could give. Suddenly just the very presence of this otherwise amiable young man was getting my Irish up.
"I take it you are aware that my client spotted you on the night her cousin was murdered, getting into your car which was parked directly below the Gallagher residence. Can you explain this? Especially given that it was somewhere in the neighbourhood of three o'clock in the morning at the time."
"Mr. Andrews..." I began.
"Mr. Andrews," I said, my voice turning to stone, "I've already discussed this with Chief Owens. I suggest you stop by the police department and take the issue up with him. And as for your client, I suggest you tell Miss Ferguson that she should keep her old bird butt out of places where it doesn't belong. Because, so help me, if she doesn't she will live to see the day when I..."
The sound of Millie's scream sent chills all through my body. I looked over to find her frozen in her steps, her face white, her eyes transfixed on the balcony.
I followed her gaze out the window, just in time to see the lower half of Ryan's body going over the railing.
"OH MY GOD!" I screamed as I jumped out of my seat and raced for the door.
Forgetting that the glass doors had been locked because of the wind, I hit them with such force that, not only did I break the lock, but I also shattered the the glass. I was only vaguely aware of the shards tearing into my flesh as I ran to the railing. David and Michael were already racing down the circular staircase at the left end of the balcony, headed for the quay. Marc had fallen to his knees, turning pale as his body went into shock. Before I could even reach the railing, Josh was climbing onto the rail top and diving into the water below.
As I reached the railing I looked down. Ryan's body was lying face up in the water, his legs splayed out at odd angles. At first I thought he had simply knocked the wind out of himself as he hit the water, until I noticed the crimson water around his head, the area growing larger by the second.
"No, no, no! Oh dear God NO! Please God NO!"
I heard the voice screaming over and over. As I fell to my knees, tears pouring from my eyes, I realized the voice belonged to me.
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