Chapter 6

Handsome is as Handsome Does

Mary Sanders


The phone awoke Woody from her nap with a jolt.  She was still shaken from the morning’s discovery of the murdered Lucas.  She nudged her loudly purring cat, Fluffy, away from her side to pick up the phone.  It was Lt. Starboard.  He asked her to come to the station house later that day to discuss the events of the last two days.  It seemed there may have been some discrepancies in the statements made by some of the witnesses.  He wanted to go over the details with her.


She arose from her couch, determined to try to make some sense of the strange and terrible happenings at the boat club.  A normal, fine day of sailing had turned into a nightmare.  Boats were damaged.  People were injured.  The awful Flora apparently had been murdered.  And now the kindly old Lucas was gone as well.  Thinking back on his last words to her, she wondered what he had seen at the marina.  If only she had taken the time to listen to him then.  Now he was gone.


After the discovery of the second body, Lt Starboard had urged her and Knotty to leave the area.  They parted in the parking lot and went their separate ways.  Woody went home in shock and laid down to rest.  Now, she realized, she had to start to think through this horrible sequence of events.  Clearly, a member of the sailing club was the probable murderer.  On sailing day, the marina and dock areas were generally empty of other people.  And, in fact, if strangers were around, they were very conspicuous.  Woody didn’t remember seeing any that day.


She tried to think hard of what little she knew of Flora.  Flora had joined the club last season.  Her unrelenting unpleasantness had kept her fairly isolated from the social activities of the club.  Although the Windlasses were in general a friendly group of women, still one didn’t usually socialize with abrasive people. Had she possibly angered one of the other sailors enough to cause a murder?  Somehow it didn’t seem reasonable.  A damaged sunfish or a damaged Jaguar surely wasn’t grounds for murder.


Anyway, the one most financially harmed was Indigo St Joseph, who was rolling in money.  She was a wealthy trophy wife who lived with a mostly absentee husband in a waterfront mansion.  Surely she had insurance to cover the costs.  Woody tried to think back over the mishaps caused by Flora.  Had Indigo been involved in any of them?  Woody didn’t recall any specific incident involving Flora and Indigo.


Another one who was hit in the pocketbook would be Holly Highland.  Her finances were known to be a serious problem for her.  She never chose to attend any event requiring even a minimal cash outlay.  Also, Woody was sure that there had been bad blood of some type between Holly and Flora.  It had been whispered that the incident the previous week, when Flora bashed into Holly’s boat, had seemed to involve intentional maliciousness on the part of Flora.  Now, who had whispered that?  Woody wasn’t sure.  She needed to pick Knotty’s brain on some of this history.  Maybe she could swing by Knotty’s after her trip to the station house. 


The details of the injury hadn’t been made public as yet.  There still seemed to be the possibility that Flora’s injury might have been made as the result of a fall from the dock.  Woody would try to get that information from Lt Starboard when she saw him later.


As to Lucas Bilge, that was a clear case of murder, Woody theorized.  He had seen something yesterday that may have solved the death of Flora, but before he could tell anyone, he was killed.


Woody decided to visit the marina again before she went to speak to the Lieutenant.  She drove through town and into the marina parking lot.  The yellow crime scene tape still surrounded the slip where the Little Minnow was berthed.  She stood on the dock for some time pondering the cruel fate of a decent old man like Lucas.  He had been so kind to her and the other women sailors.  Tears filled her eyes as she turned to walk out to the parking strip where the boat melee had occurred.  As she turned, she slipped on a dock line coiled on the dock.  She just missed another nasty fall by grabbing on to the rail of a nearby sailboat, the Kelly, too.


A tall, handsome man leapt from the sailboat deck to help steady her.  His strong arms held her firmly.


“Are you okay, miss?”  His strong voice matched his strong arms.  “I’m okay” she replied, in a shaky voice.


He helped her to a seat on his boat and introduced himself. “I’m Booth McMullen.  I’ve seen you here often and wished I could meet you.  I’m sorry it ended up I’m meeting you in this unpleasant situation.  I saw you here earlier with the police.  That was a terrible thing to happen to old Lucas.  Did you know him well?”


Woody responded to his interest by telling him the details of the horrible day with Flora and of discovering Lucas.  Booth listened with evident sympathy.


He said, “Yes, I saw some of the fracas with the sailboats yesterday.   Do you have any ideas about who might have done this?”


“No, not really.  I’m just on my way to the station house to see Lt. Starboard.  Maybe I’ll learn more there.”


He asked, “Are you steady enough to drive?” 


“Oh yes, thanks.”


Booth said,  “Okay, I’ll trust your judgment.  But, I’d love to take you out for a sunset cruise this evening.  It is a glorious day.  And it might help you to chill out after the stress of the last two days.  Any chance you could make it?”


Woody hesitated.  She found Booth very attractive and sympathetic.  She was a young widow and hadn’t dated much after the tragic accident that took her much beloved husband and their young son.  She pretty much avoided the social scene.  Maybe it was time to at least take a sail with a handsome man.


Woody agreed to meet Booth that evening with a picnic supper and then took off for her trip to the station house.

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