“I like the way you ladies think,” said Skipper Bowline, appreciative of being included in the pow-wow. Ibis arrived soon after, and the four women were seated at one of the high top tables with a view of the pedestrian traffic on the Pinellas Trail and of the activity on Main Street.
“You know, we have many women in Windlasses with connections,” Ibis said, “Skipper, you've been a member for quite a few years. You must know several people with interests that would be important for our investigation.”
Skipper thought a moment. “I remember Shelly Sandstone taking pictures. We can ask her to show us what she has developed. Maybe she’s captured something important in one of her frames.”
“I think she may be close to having them all up on the web site,” Knotty offered, “She’s pretty good about being timely.”
“That is helpful, we might be able to zoom in to get a good look at something that might help us clear Woody,” Ibis hoped.
Just then a person tripping over a parking stop caught the collective attention of the women at the table. A man, in his 40s, obviously embarrassed by his lack of sure-footing, was trying to regain his composure.
Booth McMillan stopped himself from swearing at the pain in his injured foot. Instead he casually turned to his companion, Limey King. “Oops! I have to get myself together, but did you see that hottie in the restaurant?”
“The one with the nearly perfect bod?”
“Yeah, she’s sitting with a few other ladies at that table. Uh, I had better wave, one of them needs to be my new girlfriend.” Booth recognized Skipper, Woody, and Knotty as being members of the Windlasses. “These ladies gather every Thursday at the Marina.” He explained to his old friend Limey that they were all involved in the project he was presenting to Limey. He had forgotten, however the natural, striking beauty of Ibis Lagoon. She would be a project for another time.
Booth was having difficulty completing his assignment of extricating Patsy’s very decayed body (or remains thereof) from beneath the pram shed in a covert manner. Limey had been one of their cohorts that day 25 years ago when a raucous and unfortunate turn of events rendered the most popular and desired among them dead. He had been part of the problem, part of the plan, and now Booth needed Limey to be part of the solution.
Getting his cooperation was turning out to be harder than Booth had anticipated. The two men had not spoken in many years, since they couldn't stand the awkwardness of being together after that fateful night, and the orchestrated aftermath.
To Limey, it was more like a blur now -- the awful conglomeration of lawyers, court dates, parole officers, meetings, and community service projects. He preferred not to think about it. It had been safety tucked away in a dark corner of his brain. Limey had a successful dock installation, maintenance, and repair business. He was married with kids. He had a lot to be proud of, and a lot to lose, as Booth had so eloquently reminded him.
Limey and Booth had been wrestling teammates at Sloop Harbor High School, and friends outside of school. Booth didn't know why it had taken him so long to think of Limey to help him with his situation. Limey had all the equipment and under the guise of dock repair, could come and go from the Marina without suspicion. Perfect. They needed to complete their business quickly and dispose of their problem once and for all.
In between dates with Woody, meetings and work days ( more likely, nights ) with Limey, plus clandestine phone calls with Keene, Booth would also have to coordinate time with Indigo St. John. She was pivotal to the BIG PROJECT.
As devoted as she was to the Windlasses, she was just as careless with her money. Unbeknownst to Indigo (many items flew by her in life), her husband had signed papers for her to be the name connected to the also-reluctant-to-be-named-partner, Keene Eastbay, in the biggest marina/condo project known to man (or so it seemed).
“Hope those guys can keep their eyes in their heads!” Knotty remarked as the better-looking of the pair struggled with his footing. “You must be used to it by now, huh, Ibis?”
“Sorry, it does happen frequently,” Ibis answered, casually checking her look in the window.
All business, Skipper said, "I just remembered another Windlass is an assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner of Pinellas County. Sadly, both Flora and Lucas are likely to be passing through her office soon. I'll consult the roster for her phone number, but any information that could help Woody would be useful. We'll make sure the lawyer Woody eventually chooses speaks with her."
“Good Idea. Let’s also think about people with money -- Woody’s defense won't come cheap,” said Knotty.
“But she seems to have the services of a fine lawyer,” Skipper said.
Woody was busy trying to rid the flush that rose to her cheeks at the recognition of Booth. She hoped the girls didn't notice his smile and wave. “Well,” as she came back from her reverie, “I might not be keeping him. I just don't get a good vibe. My judgment of character has generally been good. I'm feeling a little shaky about him at the moment.”
“We should talk to Indigo,” Knotty suggested, “I'm sure with all of her husband’s business dealings, they must have some hot-shot lawyers on their team.”
Woody pondered, “On the other hand, it might be good to retain this Mr. Eastbay because of his successful past, and to see if we can find out what he’s up to. I’m still not convinced our meeting was an accident.”
At the subject of “accident” the ladies’ thoughts returned to Flora and Lucas. Flora’s demise may have been accidental -- she certainly was klutzy enough. But with the presentation of the tainted oar, the explanation was obviously more sinister in nature. Lucas’s death was clearly NOT an accident, with his hands and feet tied and a gash in his head. Who else but a boater would know how to tie a bowline knot? And would Sloop Harbor’s finest be astute enough to notice such a detail?
“It was nice brunching with all of you.” Woody said. “We have a lot to think about. Now I have to get my boat over to Cleat’s to see if it can be fixed. He'll be very busy with all the business lately.”
“We should all meet again soon,” said Knotty, “I’ll call you later. Tomorrow’s Sunday, so your lawyer friend shouldn't be bugging you, and hopefully we can get some research done.”
Woody was also thinking of her next meeting with Booth.
She was intrigued.