the heron island mystery (part twenty-six)

This story started here.

It was not unpleasant to talk with Jo, but I had to remind myself a few times that patience needed to be my watchword here, since I had a pretty good idea she hadn’t murdered anybody.

I could imagine, fairly easily, a person who would be able to grill me about how different people react to dead bodies as a way of concealing the fact that she had produced a corpse or two herself recently, but I had a strong hunch that Jo wasn’t that person.

My best guess was that she was collecting background information because she was planning to incorporate a murder into her novel.

Finally, Jo thanked me for my time, and she headed off and back upstairs to her typewriter.

After a few minutes, I saw Elsa through the glass doors to the living room, and I gave her the high sign we’d agreed on. She came out onto the deck, closing the door behind her to keep the heat inside the house.

She came close to me, and then she put her hands in the sleeves of her sweater, clenching up her shoulders.

“Are you sitting out here in the cold to be unobtrusive?” she asked.

“I have no specific instructions about whether or not I should obtrude. And I’m definitely not going to sit out here all night — I didn’t bring enough sweaters for that. However, this is where the action has been focused.” I looked around. “Mary’s body was right here, after all, and Manfred’s body was found down there on the beach. Also, from here I can see the kitchen through those windows, and some of the living room, and I can see a little of Kim and Jo’s rooms up there.”

Elsa grinned. “You’ll like that — Kim does have a tendency to walk around in her underwear.”

I looked up at the second floor windows and sighed. “From this angle, even if she turns on her light I’ll be lucky to see anything below her neck.”

She chuckled as I heard Jo’s typewriting resume.

“I’ve been thinking about… what we talked about in the car,” Elsa said slowly. “How did you know — how did she know — what I saw, the night Mary was murdered?”

“I have no idea. Miss Sleet never reveals that sort of information to me — not until the end, and sometimes not even then.” I smiled. “I sometimes get the idea that she enjoys keeping me in the dark most of all.”

Elsa leaned forward and beeped my nose. “It’s a good thing she’s not here to hear you being disloyal like this.”

I laughed a loud laugh. “It’s nothing I haven’t said to her, often in frustration.”

She smiled, but then she got serious again. She put her hand on my arm. “Yes,” she said. “That’s in answer to the question you’re about to ask. I’ve thought about it, and I think I should tell the truth, about what I saw last night. About who I saw. But then you’ll need to protect me, all night, until the police can get here in the morning.” She raised one eyebrow. “If that’s not a problem…”

I leaned forward and kissed her, at length.

“Try to keep me at a distance,” I said.

To be continued…

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