the deacon mystery (part ten)

This story started here.

“So, for you, right now: research, at the office of the Crier. They have a complete back issue file — more complete than the one the town library had, but not as easy to access. However, you can talk to the editor, Mr. Merchant. Tell him that you work for me. He owes me a favor.” She shrugged. “If he insists that, on balance, I owe him a favor, tell him that I said he’s wrong.

“Once you’ve demonstrated that you’re serious about the research, it is possible that he will loosen up and answer a question or two himself, depending on his mood. He knows many, many things about this town, including some interesting items which have never appeared in the pages of the Crier.” She held up a long, bony finger. “Don’t try to initiate any questioning of him if anybody else is around.”

“Particularly if it’s Kate Lane.”

She smiled. “Let’s just keep it as ‘anybody else.'” She raised an eyebrow and waited.

I nodded. I was there to receive instructions, after all, not to write my own.

“Check with me around dinner time. I may or may not be available.”

She squeezed my forearm and turned to go. I was tempted to say something, but I didn’t.

“Needless to say,” she said over her shoulder as she waited at the corner for a car to pass, “I know what I’m doing.”

I stuck out my tongue, half expecting her to comment on this as she limped across Main Street, not looking back at me. She was moving in the direction of our home, but I would not have placed a cash bet on that being her actual destination.

I watched her cross the street, then I turned and walked down Main Street, mostly so I wouldn’t be standing there at the corner if she turned around to check on me.

I strolled slowly, though. I wouldn’t have minded talking to someone at that moment, but nobody appropriate came to mind, and in any case what I was thinking was not to be shared.

Well, it was time for me to get to work and carry out my assignment. It was at that moment, as I quickened my pace, that I realized I was walking in the wrong direction.

I turned around and retraced my steps.

To be continued…

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