the deacon mystery (part nineteen)

This story started here.

When my employer emerged from the bathroom, trailing clouds of steam, I reported, briefly, on my conversations with the sheriff and the reporter. She listened politely.

I did not mention my final visitor on the deck.

* * *

The back deck of the inn was pleasant, now that I had it to myself. I listened to two cars start up and drive off.

I drank some coffee, wondering if I'd have any assignments today. The cold breeze was a reminder that winter was now very close.

Mostly I was thinking about breakfast.

The kitchen door opened and a woman's voice, not Mrs. Jessup's and not my employer's, said my name.

I rose and turned, and I saw Miss Tamara Nelson, Esq. She was wearing a cream-colored trench coat and a pair of dark slacks. She had a teacup in her hand.

She motioned for me to resume my seat. "Ms. Nelson," I said as I gestured for her to join me, but she demurred.

"'Miss Nelson,' please," she said as she placed her cup on the glass table and sat down. "I am proudly unmarried." She sipped her tea. "Is Jan going to do anything about the Deacon case?"

I shrugged, "I don't think so."

She looked down into her teacup. "Does that bother you?"

I shook my head. "I-"

"That's not your role. I understand." She looked up, her eyes twinkling.

I laughed. "I do draw a salary, but my job description doesn't say I can't have opinions."

"Do you occasionally express those opinions, in the course of your typical working day?"

"I may take the Fifth on that-"

She rapped her spoon briskly on the glass-topped table. "Overruled. Please answer the question."

I was beginning to enjoy this. I leaned back in my chair.

"To be honest, my biggest concern, in very general terms, is getting paid. Getting her paid, of course, which results in, among many other things, me getting paid. That's my main concern – keeping the firm functioning."

"Is that challenging?" She was keeping a smile at bay.

I shrugged. She waited, and then she smiled as she let the question drop.

"I saw the sheriff and Kate Lane driving off a few minutes ago. I imagine they might have been here to 'grill' you about the Deacon case?"

I shrugged. "There was no intense questioning, since I have no information that the sheriff doesn't have, and I have no reason to give any information to Miss Lane."

She nodded, waiting to see if I would say more before she spoke.

"By the way," she said casually, "just in case you were wondering, I try to stay away from trials where sanity is an issue. The Crier will, I'm sure, have an article tomorrow saying that Julie Deacon is a 'sociopath' or a 'psychopath' or some other sensationalist and unscientific term which carries no legal weight. It's... It's messy, or it can be."

She finished her tea.

"So, therefore, in case you were wondering, it is not a problem that you and I are having this conversation now, and it's not a problem that I was present when your employer and the sheriff were discussing the case two days ago.

"Just in case you were wondering."

She stood up. "This was pleasant," she said. She left her cup and saucer on the table, and, after a brisk knock on the kitchen door, she re-entered the inn.

The End

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