the heron island mystery (part thirty-seven)

This story started here.

When I was done searching the second cabin, I decided to have another serving of coffee and another sandwich while I considered my next move. It was late afternoon, starting to get darker (and even colder).

And the idea of walking back to the mainland, and probably all the way to the college campus, was not appealing. And, of course, I would be welcome at Heron House…

I returned to the first cabin, where I’d left my knapsack. Coffee and a sandwich would help me figure this out.

As I opened the door, I heard a sound from the other side of the cabin, from the beach. It was a sound I was familiar with, but I was not happy to hear it now. It was the tink, tink, tink of a rope (or whatever holds a sail in place on a sailboat — a “line”?) against an aluminum mast. I rushed into the cabin, grabbed my knapsack from the table, and ducked into a corner, out of sight of the beach.

Wide glass doors that go from the floor to the ceiling are very pleasant when you want to look out at a pleasant scene in your back yard, but not very convenient when you’re worried about somebody in your back yard seeing you.

Counting on the gathering dusk to offer me some concealment in the unlighted cabin, I lay down on the floor, and squirmed forward, keeping well back from the glass.

I saw a young man, muscular and tanned, sailing up to the beach in a small sailboat. He was wearing a faded T-shirt, cutoffs, and flip-flops.

And here I was, lying on the floor of a cabin where I had no right to be. I muttered an imprecation which would have raised my employer’s eyebrows, or at least one of them, if she’d heard it.

Well, maybe this muscular young man was just parking his sailboat here for convenience. Maybe he’d go right past the cabins and head up the road to Mrs. Bannister’s house. or to Heron House. Maybe he’d find me here and call the police (not that either cabin had a telephone). Maybe my situation would be made even worse by the gun in my pocket (although I am licensed to carry).

If I did have to fight this guy, I decided I’d go in as fast and dirty as I could. Those muscles were impressive.

He hopped out of his boat and pulled it up farther onto the sand. He didn’t look at the cabin I was in, but he seemed to glance at the other one.

“Yes,” I thought, “that other cabin is much more interesting than this one, fella. Just head on over that way. Nothing to see here…”

He’d reached the other cabin, out of my line of sight. and I heard a series of noises that, more and more, sounded like someone shimmying under the cabin and pulling out the wooden box that was secreted there.

Okay, that changed everything. Now I was glad that I had my gun, because what I’d found in that box had been a black jacket with silver threads running through it, a matching pair of trousers, black dress shoes, a wig, some stick-on facial hair, and makeup.

In other words, a do-it-yourself Manfred kit.

  To be continued…

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