the deacon mystery (part nine)

This story started here.

My employer lit a cigarette. There was an ashtray on a small table near her.

"Miss Deacon," she said slowly, "please outline, in general terms, what happened yesterday. I saw your father at the book sale. Did anything unusual happen before that? Did you see your father in the morning?"

"We had brunch together. We usually do that on Saturday. Then I did the dishes while he read the newspaper."

"The Crier?"

"And the Globe. Yesterday's Globe. He said he was going for a walk, and then he'd go to the book sale, to see Uncle A. And maybe buy some books."

"Was there anything special about the way he left?"

She frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Did he say or do anything unusual? Did he seem preoccupied, or worried?"

"No, just like normal. 'Stay out of trouble, kitten.' And he said he'd try to find some good books at the sale." She smiled. "We both like mysteries."

"As well you should. Did you see or hear anything from him after that?"

"No. I thought he'd be back for supper, but he wasn't. So, I heated up some leftovers, then I studied for a while, then I got ready for bed."

"Was... Is it unusual for your father to be away like that, not letting you know his plans?"

"I asked him once... Anyway, he said that a father needs to keep track of his daughter – not the other way around."

My employer drew deeply on her cigarette. She was suppressing a smile.

"I had a theory," Miss Deacon said hesitantly. "I... A lot of people were probably at the book sale. He might have run into some of his friends and they decided to go out afterwards..." Her voice trailed off.

"Forgive me for being blunt, but does your father often go out on Saturday night?" She held up a hand. "I'm conducting an investigation – I'm not moralizing. I need to know the facts."

My employer was aware that announcing that she herself was a teetotaler – even apart from it not being strictly accurate – would not have been helpful at this moment.

"Yes, he sometimes goes out drinking with his friends. Usually on Saturday night, or Friday... 'A man has a drink.'"

"What happened next?"

"I was getting ready for bed, and I heard the phone ring. I ran downstairs, but I wasn't fast enough, and it stopped. But then it rang again and I picked it up. It was a man's voice, and he – he didn't say hello or anything, he just said that my father was..."


She shook her head. "He didn't say that, not that word. He said they wanted money and then I'd get him back. Then he hung up."

"And you called the police."

She looked uncomfortable. "I don't have any money, or I don't know where there is any."

"What about your sister?"

"I didn't know where she was."

"Any more phone calls, last night or today?"

"The sheriff has called a couple of times, to check in. Nobody else."

To be continued...

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