A Body in the Bay by N. T. Franklin

A Body in the Bay
by N. T. Franklin

The body floated into Razor Bay, but nobody noticed. It was early evening Sunday and the New England Patriots were playing the late game. The face-down body bobbed up and down with the tide and was clearly not watching the football game.

Since her retirement, Jayne had enjoyed being a full-time resident on Hilltop Street on the quiet side of Clam Harbor. The beautiful October day marked the tenth month of her retirement and the tenth month of the rest of her life. She started walking early spring and managed to lose fifteen pounds. The best part was her posse. As much as she didn’t like to, she started walking alone. Within a month, she had invited a neighbor who had been walking, to join her. Soon there was a group of three to eight active-retired women walking Monday through Friday. They walked the same route every day and the group became well recognized. Of course, Friday included a stop at “The Coffee Urn” for a coffee and Bismarck, a treat for walking all week.

They were known locally as the Hilltop Trekkers. Much of the problems of the town, state, and country were solved during these 3.7 mile walks. On Monday, about one mile into their walk, the group rounded the curve along the ocean and all the walkers stopped simultaneously. Not just walking, but talking too.

They all saw a body bobbing in the water. Mary called 911 on her cell phone because she was the first to have it out of a pocket.

“911. What’s your emergency?” came the practiced response.

“A body! A body! There is a body in Razor Bay! It’s floating face down and it’s dead!” Mary blurted out in about one tenth of a second. After the prerequisites of name and location, the practiced response returned.

“Please stay where you are. There is an officer enroute.”

Jed Calhoun, Clam Harbor’s sergeant detective, rolled up in an unmarked car in less than four minutes. Jed was a local boy, born and raised. He was average height, average weight, and average hair color. Never married, and by now assumed he never would be.

Mary had already decided what the circumstances around the death were in that four minutes. “Jed Calhoun, this is a drug deal gone wrong. This person was killed during a drug buy out to sea and just floated in. You need to get tide and current maps to determine where the drug deal went down.” Mary was adamant.

Jayne rolled her eyes. Mary watched every CSI, NCIS, and other police drama show and had decided that every evil was based on illegal drugs. That, combined with her being a major-league busybody, spelled trouble for Jed. The fact that Mary’s nephew was passed over for the promotion to Sergeant Detective in favor of Jed compounded the trouble.

Jed doubted the drug theory as the Coast Guard had stepped up patrols of the waters along mid-coast Maine all summer and fall. Drug transactions had been shut down to the point that suspicious boats had not been spotted in the area for almost three months. Jed knew that while this forced the transactions somewhere else, at least it was not in his jurisdiction and hometown.

“Thank you Mrs. Barter. We will look into that.” said the detective.

“Now Jed, you can call me Mary, we’re not in school anymore.” Mary taught Jed his multiplication tables in fourth grade. She seemed to think that somehow that put her in special standing with him.

The Monday walk was cut short as no one had any interest in continuing after the disturbing sight. It was the first dead body for all four Hilltop Trekkers present. The ladies were not sure if those regular walkers missing today would be disappointed or relieved. Jayne didn’t mind cutting short today’s walk because Mary was going on and on about Jed Calhoun. Her nephew should have the job instead of Jed. Her nephew has been a patrolman for 10 years longer than Jed. Her nephew… on and on. She can’t convince herself that her nephew is as numb as a pounded thumb and should never rise above where he is now.

It only took Jed two days to get the identity of the floater. Robert Cutler was a once-in-a-while deckhand on his brother’s lobster boat, but full-time trouble. His career started early as a juvenile delinquent and quickly progressed to petty crime and constant scrapes with the law. While Cutler would not be missed by many and mourned by fewer yet, it was still Jed’s job to follow up on the details of the death. Not a whole lot was known about Cutler as he lived off the grid in a cash society. Jed did not know how many of these people still existed but it couldn’t be that many.
Off-the-grid people tended to work for cash under the table, and seemed to be willing to do most anything, for a price. Lived wherever, paid cash with a Post Office box serving as a home address, that takes a special type of person. A special type of redneck. Not always hardened criminals, but they populate the gray area between legal and sort of legal. But if you needed something moved, fixed, or generally just taken care of, you called a redneck. He did know someone that floated in and out of that world and would have to reach out to him.

Jed parked the unmarked car around back between the vehicles he assumed were owned by workers in the bar. The Lobster Pot was not as fancy as the name sounded. In fact, it was a dive. Tourists never stopped there and only the bravest or those with stomachs accustomed to it could handle the food at the Lobster Pot, at least that was the rumor. Numerous visits had yet to close the place down. In fact, nothing illegal was ever found. Jed wasn’t sure if the constant irritation was the Clam Harbor Police Department or the Lobster Pot.

Jed slid into a grimy booth with his back to the door. Chipped paint on the walls, a broken chair in the corner, and a burned-out bulb in a fixture completed the view. Two of what could be considered “the usual suspects” were drinking at the bar. Nine AM beers for the regulars. The barkeep yelled over “No waitress service and I ain’t going over there. You wanna drink, you gotta come to the bar.” Jed waved him off.

If he kept to his time-honored schedule, Beaver Wilson, if he was in town, should be arriving within the next hour. Thirty-five minutes later, Jed saw Beaver strutting into the room in the reflection of the crooked mirror hanging behind the bar. Jed waited until he heard several noisy slurps of a beer before he sauntered up to the bar.

“Buy the next one, Beaver?”

“Why don’t you buy this one first?” countered Beaver.

A slight nod to the barkeep along with cash sealed the deal and Beaver carried a partial and a full bottle of Bud to the booth with Jed.

“Geezum crow, you look like crap, Beaver.”

“It’s all this good living, Jed, and it hasn’t caught up with me yet.”

“Don’t be too sure, Beaver. It looks like it’s gaining. Enough of the small talk. I need some help.”

“What’s in it for me?” Typical Beaver response.

“What do you need?”

“Nothing. I was just yanking your chain for old time’s sake.” Beaver and Jed had been inseparable as youth. Pete and Repeat their mothers called them. Playground buddies, fishing buddies, exploring buddies. Junior High football and basketball stars; they did everything together. That was until Beaver’s father got drunk and drove a car off the road killing Beaver’s mother. His dad walked away with hardly a scratch. Beaver never recovered. His father never seemed to care much about him or what he did before his mother died. He cared even less after she died. His mother never missed a game he played in, his father never made one. His father didn’t care if Beaver went to school. High school was as good for Jed as it was bad for Beaver. The spiral continues, Jed thought.

Jed explained the situation with the floater to Beaver, or as much as he could. The trail had gone cold. There was no motive for the death of Cutler, or at least no motive that stood out more than any other.

“I know a guy that might know something or someone that might be able to help. It’ll take a few days. Gotta ease into this. I can’t just show up asking cop questions. Some of these guys are pretty squirrelly, you know. I might have to disappear from around here for a few days.”

“I understand.” said Jed.

Jed left Beaver to his two beers and walked out of the Lobster Pot.

By the time Jed returned to the office, he had two messages from Mary. Three if you count the one from the day before he hadn’t returned.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Barter. This is Detective Calhoun returning your calls.”

After a pause, Jed interrupted, “Yes, Mrs. Barter, we are looking into all possibilities and as it is an on-going investigation, I can’t divulge any information about the case.” Phew, that’s done for the week.

But it wasn’t really the end of Mrs. Barter. The Barters and their clan had been established in Clam Harbor for so long there was both a road and a street that bore their name. The chief had received calls from no less than three prominent members of the Barter clan letting him know that their relative would have solved the case by now.

Jed’s folks had moved to Clam Harbor the year before he was born and no roads were named after his family. His parents were just average folk working in businesses that supported the tourist industry. Jed was summoned into the Chief’s office for an old-fashioned chewing out. Jed left the Chief’s office mumbling “Great, more pressure.”

The next day on their walk, Mary stated “I’ve got a good mind to go down to the police station and sit in Jed Calhoun’s office until he looks into the drug angle.” The rest of the Hilltop Trekkers just rolled their eyes. Any comment would send Mary on a rant. Jayne and the ladies thought that Mary watched way too police dramas where crimes were neatly solved in a one hour time slot.

“Oh look, there’s a Great Blue Heron in the tidal flats.” Jayne was hoping to quickly change the subject before Mary worked herself into a frenzy.

Jayne’s tactic worked because Jed did not receive any visitors on the floater case. Jed did visit some of the local lobster boats and talked with the boat captains. Even though Jed grew up in the area, lobstermen are a tight and closed group. The three captains he caught up with were respectful and answered his questions. But the answers were succinct and not very forthcoming. One old salt said something about his ropes but that was all Jed could get out of him. Jed thought that Maine lobstermen as a subgroup may even make the quintessential Mainer look gabby. Jed was focusing on the lobster connection with Robert Cutler rather than the drug angle.

Beaver had been gone for four days. This was really nothing new as Beaver was often gone for periods of time. “Doing business” is all anyone knew. At least it wasn’t being done in his jurisdiction thought Jed.

Answers to the inquiries Jed made to the Coast Guard arrived in an email. The best estimation of the Coast Guard was that the body was dumped 35 to 45 miles up the coast and two to five miles from shore. It was a start anyway.

Jed’s investigation was interrupted by a case about a small payloader stolen from the gravel pit and a suspicious fire at an abandon building, but not by Mary Barter. Jed assumed her energy was being directed to other pursuits.

As Mary Barter was announced at his door, he knew he had assumed wrong.

“Yes, Mrs. Barter, what can I do for you today?”

“You can stop crime in Clam Harbor is what you can do for me today.” Mary said. “My cousin Dana says that someone is messing with lobster traps.”

“Mrs. Barter, this is not the first time that Dana has accused someone of messing with his lobster traps. Are you sure he is not retaliating against the person seeing his ex-wife?”

“Not this time, Jed. He is really serious.”

“I will look into it and get back to you, Mrs. Barter. That is, if Dana comes in, talks with me, and fills some paperwork out.” Jed did not think Dana would come in.

Midmorning Monday, the barkeep called from the Lobster Pot and told Jed that he should stop in for a beer on his way home from work. “I think I can swing it.” Jed replied.

“I guess maybe you better be here. I don’t like talking to cops and I didn’t wanna make this call.” The barkeep stated.

“I will stop in for a beer at 5:30 today. Good bye.” Jed stated just as emphatically. At least that conversation is over.

Jed left the station at 5:20, almost caught up on paperwork. No cop wanted to be completely caught up with paperwork for fear that more would be assigned.

The Lobster Pot was as seedy late in the afternoon as it was in the morning. Jed wondered how long the chair had been broken in the corner and swore the same two individuals from his last visit were still drinking at the bar. Jed wondered if they ever went home. The barkeep did not make eye contact as Jed crossed the floor and slid into a grimy booth.

“Christ, is every booth here grimy?” Jed cursed under his breath. Ten minutes later and still killing time, Jed was getting antsy. He hoped this was not intended to be a funny incident set up by Beaver.

Just then, Beaver comes out of the bathroom and saunters up to the booth. “Afternoon, Jed.”

Jed was either too smart or not brave enough to enter the bathroom at the Lobster Pot. Now he wondered if the bathroom had a window large enough to crawl in or out.

“Beaver.”

“Mighty thirsty here, Jed. How about a beer.”

Jed knew the routine so he walked up the empty end of the bar, ordered and paid for two Buds. His tip was pushed back across the bar.

“I don’t take no tips from cops.”

Pocketing the bills and returning, he set the two longnecks in front of Beaver and waited.

After starting on the second beer, Beaver said “I got almost nothing for you, Jed.” At least not on this trip.”

“OK, what do you have?

“Not much. I’ve been helping an associate with some business about his lobster boat up the coast a ways. Things are going well for him, he hasn’t lost a cage and they all have bugs in them these days. I promised to go back in a few days. Odd thing he did say was that the lobstering is picking up for everyone since Cutler floated up on your shore.” That started Jed to thinking about the old salt that said something about his ropes. Knowing not to push too hard, Jed just waited a little longer.

“Something’s going on, but I don’t know what.” Beaver finally said.

“Beaver, I need to shove off. Thanks for the help and let me know when you are back in town.”

Jed started laying out his plans for the next day on his drive home. He would have to visit with the old salt that said something about his ropes. Maybe even talk with Dana about someone messing with his traps. He hated the thought of that as Mary would expect him to do her bidding all the time.

Next morning, first thing at his desk, Jed called his old college roommate, Edgar St. Onge. Edgar just happened to be a Maine Marine Patrol officer. After the prerequisite small talk, Jed asked Edgar about the boat captain he interviewed that mentioned ropes.

“What are his colors?” Edgar asked.

“Blue over orange from the top. Works out of Clam Harbor.” Jed had made a note of the colors of the buoys on each lobster boat he visited. The fact that lobster buoy colors have to be registered with the state just may turn out to be valuable. Jed heard the clicking of keys on a keyboard over the phone.

“That would be Ron Giggie. Need an address?” Edgar said.

“No, I know where he docks. Do you know what water he traps in?” asked Jed.

“I don’t, but I can ask one of the boys out on the water. I’m sure they have seen his buoys on the water. Give me a day.”

“Great. I’ll look forward to hearing from you, Edgar.

Edgar did not take all day. The call came in about 5 PM.

“Jed, this is Edgar. One of my officers said that Giggie traps up the coast from Clam Harbor, maybe twenty miles. I can get an exact location of Giggie’s traps next time my boys are in that water. He also said that Giggie is a tough nut and that things ‘just seem to happen’ around him. What is this about, Jed?”

“All in due time, Edgar.”

Later that day Jed was waiting at the lobster pound when Ron Giggie piloted in “Fair Lady” for unloading his catch for the day.

“You again.” Was the greeting that Jed received.

“Mr. Giggie, I need to talk with you.”

“There’s no mister in front of it and everyone calls me ‘Gig’.”

“Alright Gig, you had mentioned something about ropes. What about ropes?”

“A short while back I had two traps missing and later I found one of my buoys floating free, dragging rope. Still out two traps and one buoy. That’s it.”

“Do you think the rope was prop cut like from a recreational boater, or sliced off like vandalism?” asked Jed.

“Wasn’t prop cut and wasn’t sliced off. Too clean for one, too rough for the other. I need to unload, so if my local public servant would kindly move out of my way so I can pay his salary, I’d appreciate it.”

Jed rolled the conversations around in his head and knew he had to call Edgar again. Maybe even talk with Dana.

Jed called Edgar from his desk. Before he could say anything, Edgar started in.

“You asked for the exact location of the beginning and end of Giggie’s traps. The patrol officer just stopped by and said 24 to 29 miles up the coast from the eastern edge of the Clam Harbor township line.”

“Edgar, have any lobster thefts or vandalism around?”

“No more than usual but as there’s been a lull and we expect it to resurface.”

“Mostly up the coast, right?”

“Yup. Up the coast from you but not in your area. Interesting question. Now I’ve supplied information. Your turn.”

“OK. You read about the floater, right?”

“Yes, the ne’er-do-well no one seems to care about? Well, except you.”

“So it seems, just me, the Chief, and some locals hassling him.” Jed replied. “Robert Cutler. I think there is a lobster connection. He has a brother up the coast. I think he was dumped in that area and currents took his body to my jursidiction. First suspicious death in Clam Harbor in years and the Chief is all over me to wrap this up. Him and a patrolman’s busy-body shirt-tail relative Mary Barter of the Clam Harbor Barters.”

“Enough said. I’m on your side. Just remember me when you wrap this up. You know how the brass is all about public accolades.” Edgar said.

“Not a problem. I was told about a cut trap line. Not a clean cut like with knife, and not shredded like from a prop, but something in between. What would do that?”

“Grease on the rope and it looked a little crushed?” Edgar asked.

“Yes, both.”

“I’d say it was from a trap hauler. Rope was pinched and cut off. Happens with inexperience, especially when hauling in hurry or in poor light. That help?’

“Absolutely. I think that Cutler was stealing lobsters and was killed for it.”

“Can you prove it?”

“Not yet, but soon. I’m going to have to talk to the brother. Have an address for a lobsterman named Cutler?”

With the address punched into his Garmin navigator, Jed was on his way out of Clam Harbor and expected arrive at 411 Backbay Road in Jamesboro in thirty-six minutes. Jamesboro was the “big” place people from Clam Harbor go for a special-occasion meal. It was the rich cousin to poor Clam Harbor with a huge grocery store, a Wal-Mart, a Home Depot, and a Lowes.

The door to Sam Cutler’s house opened in response to Jed’s knock. A middle-aged woman spied the badge Jed was holding up and spoke before Jed could get a word out.

“Is this about that damn brother of my husband?

“I’m Detective Calhoun of the Clam Harbor Police. I am hoping to speak with Sam Cutler.” Stated Jed.

“Sam is my husband and he’s fishing. Is this about his brother?” She couldn’t even say his name.

“I’ll need to speak with Sam Cutler. When do you expect him back?”

“He should dock by three today because we have a birthday party for our daughter today. Look for the ‘Beautiful Sally’ at the town dock. Please don’t delay him. This party is important to Sally.”

Jed had some time to kill; time for a leisurely lunch. He passed a fairly new-looking bar/restaurant called fittingly enough, “Downeaster,” on the edge of town. That place would do Jed thought. Inside was on the classier end of the usual places Jed ate. The Downeaster had a bar side and a restaurant side with servers walking up and down the imaginary division. It was quite a respectable place; was well lit and not all that noisy considering the hubbub of servers and customers. Jed enjoyed sitting amongst the activity and happy voices. The food was quite good, prices reasonable and Jed decided he would have to come back off duty and have a leisurely lunch, one of his few guilty pleasures in life.

Jed rolled up to the Jamesboro town dock about 2:30, lunch still a pleasant memory. The “Beautiful Sally” was in sight and was heading toward pier four. Jed waited for the working boat to tie up before he walked down the pier. As Jed started walking, the boat captain spied him. The captain quickly leaped on the pier and hustled toward Jed asking “Is this about my brother? Do you know what happened?”

Wow, I must broadcast “cop” more than I think.

“Sam Cutler?” Jed asked pulling out his badge and identification.

“Yes, I’m Sam Cutler. Are you here about my brother?”

“Yes. I’m Detective Jed Calhoun of the Clam Harbor Police. I’m following up leads about his death.”

“Well, I’m glad. He wasn’t much but he was my brother.”

“Do you know his last whereabouts?”

“To tell the truth, I’m not even sure where he was staying recently. The only trouble my wife and I have is about my brother. I decided that she and my daughter are more important to me than he is so I’ve made some changes in my life that don’t include him.”

“Understood. Know what he was doing with himself before his death?”

“I heard on the boat radio that he had been seen with Bill Murphy. ‘Murphy’s Law’ is his boat’s name. The least seaworthy boat in the harbor. Shady Bill is how most people refer to him. Do you think he might have had something to do with my brother’s death?”

“Don’t know, but I will look into it. If I need to talk with you, can I leave a message here for you? Might be easier all around for you.”

“That’d be great. Either the Harbormaster, that’s Roger Hirt, or Ben Ferguson at the lobster coop – that’s him there,” Sam said, pointing to a middle-aged man handling today’s catch outside the warehouse building at the end of the dock. “I would get the message faster from Ben than Roger.”

“I really have to go, it is my daughter’s 11th birthday today and I have to be home soon.”

“Enjoy your daughter’s party and I will leave a message with Ben for you to get ahold of me if I need to speak with you again.”

Jed introduced himself to Ben and asked about when the “Murphy’s Law” usually arrives.

“Can’t say Bill is regular about anything but his dogs. Seems to come and go at different times. He hasn’t been in or out for a week or more. Just doesn’t make sense. But his sled dogs, those two teams are his pride and joy and just maybe, the only thing Bill values and is kind to. Races them up north in the winter, you know.”

Jed hadn’t known that, but filed it away. Who knows when a tidbit of information would be of value.

After a radio call to dispatch, Jed had Bill Murphy’s address and pertinent information.

Jed pulled up to the house and exited the car to the sound of barking dogs. He identified himself to the man splitting wood.

“Yup, I’m Bill Murphy.”

“I need to talk to you about Robert Cutler.”

“Never heard of him.” Was the too-quick response.

“Are you sure? Radio talk was that he was on your boat.”

“Never heard of him. You may leave my property now.”

Jed nodded and left the property far enough to be out of sight. He made a mutual aid call to the Jamesboro Police Department. Two officers in a black and white were dispatched to pick up Bill Murphy for questioning while Jed made his way to the Jamesboro headquarters where an open interview room was waiting for him.

In the interview room, Bill Murphy looked small. Jed thought most people did as the room is not designed to be a comfortable place. After 45 minutes of questioning, Bill started wearing down.
Yes, he knew Robert Cutler. Yes, Robert Cutler had been on his boat. No, he did not kill Robert. Jed thought things were going right according to script.

“OK, back to the beginning.” Started Jed.

“Did you know Robert Cutler?”

“I already answered that question.”

“Great, shouldn’t be too hard to answer again. Just answer the question.”

“Yes, I knew Robert Cutler.”

“Did you kill Robert Cutler?”

“NO! Nobody killed him.”

Bingo. “If nobody killed him, what happened to him?”

“He’s dead, that is all I know.” Murphy was becoming very nervous.

“Bill, I hate to tell you this, but you are looking suspicious. You have already lied to me about not knowing Robert Cutler. You’ve lied to a police officer and impeded an investigation, neither of which are helping you.”

“I don’t know anything.”

“Bill, I can write up some charges and you will have to stay here or in lockup for quite a few days. If that happens, I need to make a call. I’m a dog person and I’d hate to see the dogs left alone for all those days. Animal welfare will pick them up. Who knows where they will end up.”

“You can’t do that. I didn’t do anything.”

“Can and will make that call. You don’t want to force me to make that call, do you?”

“It was an accident. Honest it was.”

“Okay Bill, let’s start over from the last time Robert Cutler was on your boat.”

“We were out lobstering in the dark when it happened.”

“In the dark? Any chance the traps you were hauling weren’t yours?”

“Yes, we were stealing lobsters from traps. Fact was Robert was a really bad deckhand. Couldn’t run the hauler. He pinched ropes and sometimes cut them off. We’ve been stealing lobster for a month but people were getting suspicious. It was going to be our last run. I was at the helm and Robert had pulled the first trap of the night. I was heading toward the second one, looked back, and he was gone. Had to have gone overboard. I spent the rest of the time looking for him but couldn’t find him. I headed back at daybreak. I couldn’t be out there looking for him when others would arrive. You’re not going to take my dogs are you?”

“Bill, write it out on this pad of paper, sign it, and I’ll see what I can do about your dogs. The death and lobsters are different issues. I’ll be back in about twenty minutes.”

On the phone, Jed told Edgar St. Onge he could have the lobster theft collar, wrapped up with a bow and a written confession. Fair is Fair.

The Chief was pleased with Jed’s effort on the arrest, but likely as pleased that local pressure would back off, for at least a while.

Sam Cutler called Jed after a message was passed though Ben. An accident is always easier to accept than foul play. Jed thought Sam was sad and relived at the same time. Jed was pleased he was able to provide closure around Robert’s death to Sam.

Closing the case was news in the weekly paper for only two issues, then it was gone. It did not last that long for the Hilltop Trekkers. Jayne brought up the successful closure of the case on one of their walks and Mary was uncharacteristically quiet. Jayne hoped it would be the end of “my nephew could do better comments” forever.

With the case solved, the Chief happy, Mary Barter quiet, Jed thought it was past time to treat himself to a leisurely lunch. He knew just the place in Jamesboro.

As Jed was passing through a nice new development on the outskirts of Jamesboro proper, he saw Beaver’s truck entering the road from an upscale house. The unmistakable vehicle looked like it barely passed inspection every year. Jed slowed down to allow a car to enter the road putting a vehicle between him and Beaver’s truck.

Beaver pulled into the classy bar/restaurant Jed ate at the previous week. Actually, quite classy by Beaver and the Lobster Pot standards. Jed drove by and after three miles, turned around in a shopping center parking lot.

Jed pulled up to the Downeaster, and with some difficulty found a parking place. He thought Beaver must have parked in the rear. Jed’s mind was racing trying to figure out what Beaver was doing inside. It certainly did not look like the kind of place Beaver would frequent.

The Downeaster had several families eating lunch and the bar side has groups of what looked like businessmen in booths and two pairs of blue collar workers sitting at the bar. Quite an eclectic mix, thought Jed. But no Beaver. Jed went to the bar side as he assumed that was where Beaver would be.

Jed sat at the bar looking at a menu and thinking of a Ruben sandwich. From the back emerged Beaver, looking good in khakis and a button down shirt. Jed wasn’t sure who was more surprised, he or Beaver.

“Yes sir.” Was the response when Beaver told the bartender to make sure Jed received the law enforcement discount.

“What the…”

“I saw you following me, Jed. I thought you might be in.”

“You manage this place?” Jed asked incredulously.

“Roger, bring this gentleman’s meal to the booth, please.”

Another “Yes sir.”

“Let’s sit and catch up for a bit, Jed.”

Jed followed Beaver to the booth, still reeling from shock.

“Jed, I manage this place because I own this place. And the Lobster Pot, too. I know people and I know what people want. This place would never make it in Clam Harbor; the Lobster Pot would never make it here. I run both places the same. Good to the workers and a safe place. All the visits the Clam Harbor police have made to the Lobster pot, never one ounce of drugs or any other contraband found. Not permitted. My employees may have a checkered past but they all want to leave it behind. I give them that chance, but under strict rules. No drugs, no violence, keep your nose clean in and out of work. It is working. I don’t have staff turnover. See that waitress over there?”

“Yes, she seems to be able to keep nine tables of customers happy.”

“I paid her child care for the first year so she could work. She now covers it and has a place of her own. I would have to hire two to replace her if she would ever take a day off. Every one of these people have a similar story, even the barkeep from the Lobster Pot that called you. He now can have his kids part of the time because he has a job. Trust me, he doesn’t want to quit.”

“Wow, I never knew any of that.”

“And you still don’t. Please, for my sake. A few lucky breaks came my way and I took advantage of them. “I keep my Mom’s old trailer in Clam Harbor and use it when I am there. It brings back the good memories I have for Clam Harbor. That and fireworks.”

“Fireworks?” Jed asked.

Watching fireworks with my Mom are some the best memories I have of her. Who do you think is the anonymous donor that comes through and funds the Fourth of July fireworks every year?”

Beaver rose and went into the back room. Jed finished his Rueben. It was surprisingly good, along with everything else that day.

* * * * THE END * * * *
Copyright NT Franklin 2017

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