High sea murder a kit.., p.4
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       High Sea Murder - A Kit and Kat Mystery 2, p.4

           Chuck Antone, Jr
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  When I said that, she put her hand in her jacket pocket and pulled out the necklace.

  "I knew it was you," she said. "I just happened to be looking at you when they announced that the jewels had been stolen. You had a strange look in your eye, and a little smirk was on your lips. Probably no one else noticed it, but I was sure it was you who had stolen the necklace. And sure enough, here's the evidence."

  I remember how she looked at me while shaking the necklace. I then asked her, "So what are you going to do about it, and how much do you want after I sell it?"

  She said she wanted nothing, and that she was going to take it to the Inspector or the Captain, whichever one she saw first.

  I was standing by the door. I slowly turned around and bolted the door shut.

  She panicked and started to yell, louder and louder. "Let me out of here or you're going to be in big trouble!"

  I moved away from the door. She ran to it and tried to turn the dead bolt. I knew I had to stop her. I had no choice. My golf clubs were next to the door. I picked up a club, it was the nine iron, and swung it at her head. Just one blow and she fell. That's all it took.

  I pried the necklace from her hand and put it back under the bed. I didn't want to panic, so I sat there for a long time trying to figure out what I should do. The same thought kept going over and over in my mind "Throw her into the ocean. Throw her into the ocean. No one will ever find the body."

  I waited with her, lying there until three in the morning, making my plans of how to dispose of Barsha's body where it would never be found. I put on the plastic gloves that were in the bathroom and ventured out. I saw no one there, so I fetched one of the rolling dinner carts that I knew were in the galley, one that had a lower shelf. I put her body on it, put a tablecloth over it, and wheeled her to the elevator.

  I pushed the top floor button. I knew at this hour no one would be on the top deck, so no one would be surprised to see me pushing a cart. It would be cold and windy, and no one was likely to be up there. The elevator stopped on the seventh floor. I was hoping it wouldn't be anyone who recognized me.

  It was a couple who'd had too much to drink. Hey, was I relieved. They most likely wouldn't remember anything. They were holding each other up and didn't even glance at the dinner cart, and got off on the next floor.

  When I got to the top, I walked over to the ledge. That's when I heard someone talking. A couple with their backs to me were looking out over the dark ocean, smoking. I could tell they were arguing about something. If I threw the body over, the splashing sound of it hitting the water would attract their attention. They might even see the body floating, as every once in a while the moon broke through the clouds and shone on the water. I couldn't take any chances, as we were still in the harbor at Istanbul at that time. If they heard the body hitting the water, they might have shouted, "Man overboard." And then her body would be recovered and the police would know they were dealing with a murder. I have to wait, and throw her body over the side when we're out at sea.

  I was standing in a dark place right next to one of the lifeboats and had a great idea. I untied two of the tarp corners quietly, lifted the body over the edge of the boat and laid it down inside. I pulled the canvas back over the boat, pulled the rope through the rings and tied it shut.

  Thanks to the arguing couple, my plan now was even better than the original one. We'd be at sea the next night on our way to Kusadasi, and I could dump the body overboard, and it would never be found. No one would think of searching in a lifeboat for Barsha. They'd assume she jumped ship while in dock, running away with the jewels, and the Inspector would stop looking for them. Fantastic.

  Afterwards, I took the cart back to the deserted kitchen and cleaned it off really good with some bleach I found on a shelf. I finished just in time before I heard the early morning kitchen crew arriving. I would have had no excuse for being there if they saw me.

  Then I quietly slipped back to my room. I took out the necklace from under my bed. It was so beautiful . Was it really worth three million dollars? The lady said that the stones alone were worth more than that, even when taken out of their settings. I could use it like a bank, selling stones from time to time when I needed money. I had to smile to myself. I would soon have enough financial security to disappear. I knew I had to find a better place to hide it, in case the search continued . . . but where?

  I was still wearing the plastic gloves from the bathroom pack. I always wore them when I touched the necklace. I must admit I'm pretty clever. I then put the necklace in a manila envelope and got some scotch tape from my drawer. Luckily I had brought some with me.

  I went to the dining room, walked over to table nine and crawled underneath it. I then scotch-taped the envelope to the underside of the table top.

  That was when I heard one of the crew members, in charge of getting the dining room ready for the breakfast guests, come walking over to the table. I quickly took off my gloves, and slipped my ring off and placed it under one of the chairs.

  "What are you doing down there" I heard him ask.

  "Hi, I lost my ring earlier today and thought that perhaps I'd lost it around this table."

  "I'll help you find it. What does it look like? Do you happen to have a flashlight with you?"

  "Sorry, but you look on this side, I'll look over here." I pointed him to the side where I'd laid my ring. It didn't take long before I heard him say, "Hey, I think I've found it. Is this it?"

  My plan had worked. "Thanks a lot. You're George aren't you? This ring was a gift from my parents, and it has great sentimental value."

  George was feeling the ring and frowning, as though wondering why it was still warm. I knew right then I'd also have to get rid of him.

  Chapter 9

  Kat and I stood back out of the way. "Who found the body?" Inspector Rashan was asking.

  The Captain answered, "This is Ensign Gallagher, Inspector. He found the body while on watch duty."

  Inspector Rashan shook the Ensign's hand, and asked, "Good work. Why did you look in this lifeboat? Is it your custom to check each lifeboat while you're on duty?"

  "No, sir, I was just walking around the deck observing everything, which is my duty. That's when I noticed that this lifeboat was tied down differently than the rest. The knot was not the way sailors make them. So I walked over, untied the easy knot and threw the canvas over the top expecting to find signs of a stowaway using it. But instead I found the body, sir. Officer Edwards just happened to be passing, so I called him over. He looked inside the lifeboat and then went to find the Captain. I stayed here to make sure no one came close to the boat. I didn't want any pandemonium to take place on my watch."

  "Well done, Ensign," the Captain said.

  "Who's Officer Edwards?" The Inspector was talking to Ensign Gallagher.

  "I am, sir," responded Officer Edwards.

  "Why were you just happening to be passing by?"

  "I was just coming off duty on the port side of the ship, and was walking back to the elevator to go to the mess hall, sir."

  The Inspector looked thoughtful. "Thank you, Officer Edwards, and thanks to all of you. I have a request though. Please let none of this be spoken to anyone other than yourselves, and only then in absolute privacy. We definitely don't want the guests to become panic stricken over this. That could really cause pandemonium on board."

  Turning to the Captain, he continued, "If it's alright with you, Captain, I'll make the announcement after dinner tonight about the body being found in the lifeboat. And since we don't want to give out too much information, I'll make sure my announcement is well planned."

  "Yes, that'd be great, Inspector. Things like this do get spread around, so we have to be careful, yet honest, with our guests. Tonight, after the second dinner sitting, I'll again ask everyone to meet in the Showroom."

  The ship was making good headway through some quite large waves now, but thanks to modern stabilizers Kat and I had no difficulty in walking. We went back in
the dining room, trying to appear as calm as possible. When our table-mates asked Kat and me what happened, I told them that after dinner everyone would meet in the Showroom where Inspector Rashan would explain everything . . . but we'd have to wait until after the second sitting.

  Maria said, "I hope the news is that they've found my necklace."

  The other seven at the table all in unison said, "Yes, that must be what it is."

  There was relief on all of their faces, as if they were saying to each other, "Good, now we're no longer suspects."

  Kat and I said nothing.

  After we had dinner, I returned with Kat to our cabin. We wanted to be alone to talk over the case. We also wanted to know what each other was thinking–such as, did either of us have a suspect in mind? Or did we have any other questions? Or perhaps together we had some input to help Inspector Rashan solve the case. We just needed a special time to talk about all this.

  We each opened a diet cola, took our shoes off and got real comfortable. I sprawled out on the couch. Kat was lying on the bed, with three pillows propped up against the headboard. She had her notebook and pencil in hand.

  I began with a question. "What's your gut feeling, Kat? Not only do we have stolen merchandise to investigate, but now we have a homicide. Do you think they're connected in some way?"

  "Most certainly." She said this without any hesitation. "I'm convinced they're related, and I'm hoping our tablemates aren't involved."

  "Me too. Why would anyone at table nine steal and murder? It's a mystery to me. Observing each one tonight, they all looked relieved when they thought Inspector Rashan's news would be that they'd found Maria's necklace."

  Kat nodded. "I noticed that too."

  "At first, the only ones at our table who I thought looked a little guilty were Jason and Marcy. But you can tell they love Maria very much, and I'm sure they wouldn't want to hurt her in any way. I know that Maria is a lot older than Jason, but I can't believe he's planning to run off with Marcy."

  "Running away with your wife's daughter?" Kat sounded shocked.

  "I'm sure it happens, but Jason doesn't look at all interested in Marcy in that way."

  "You're right. I've been watching them," Kat said thoughtfully. "It's the sort of thing women notice. Maybe one of them needs money. The Inspector said Marcy had a gambling habit."

  "Yes, had, not has. Kat, if either of them need money for any reason, I'm also sure that Maria would give it to them. But we still must remember everyone is a potential suspect, as the Inspector said."

  Kat said, "That's my sentiment exactly. Then who? Do you have any other suspects you think might have stolen the necklace and then murdered Barsha – assuming I'm right and the two are connected?"

  "Well, right now I'm thinking of one of the servers, not necessary one of ours, but someone working on the ship. Maybe even in a housekeeper's position. Housekeepers have access to all the rooms and can move around freely. For instance, I'm wondering if any of our servers might have told someone the story Maria told us. All four of them were listening, and might have mentioned the value of the missing necklace."

  "Great idea, Kit. And maybe Barsha told someone. And when it turned up missing, she figured the thief might be the person she'd told. And then perhaps she approached the individual and mentioned her suspicions. Or perhaps somehow she found the necklace and threatened to tell the Captain, and that was it . . . she was dead."

  "I've been thinking the same thing. I'd like us to question our three servers to see if any of them told the 'necklace story' to anyone else."

  "Let's do it, Kit. And since Inspector Rashan told us to snoop around the ship . . . let's go snooping!"

  Chapter 10

  Inspector Rashan agreed that questioning our three remaining servers was a great idea, and said we could use his quarters to do the interviews.

  He added, "I will not be there. I know you both can handle it without me. Anyway, I think the remaining servers, James, Alex and Berta will be more relaxed and honest without me being around. Just tell me what order you'd like them to come in, and I'll let the Captain know."

  The two of us had talked about who we wanted to see first, but decided to talk to all three servers at the same time. We felt they would definitely be more open and honest. And they would feed off each other and not be too guarded in what they would say, knowing one of the others might know if they weren't telling the truth.

  "Inspector, Kat and I want to talk to all three of them together. Your cabin would be great as it's large, roomy and very comfortable. We're hoping to find out if they've told any of their friends about the necklace. Maybe we can even have some punch and goodies there. We don't want them to feel we're interrogating them; just asking for their help in giving us any information they may have."

  Kat joined in. "Inspector, how about in an hour from now? While you're in the Showroom telling the people about finding Barsha's body, we can be breaking the news to the three of them. It might help to bring us all closer together. Besides, Barsha was Berta's best friend. It would be a shame to tell her that her best friend is dead, in a room full of strangers, over the sound system."

  I agreed with Kat. "It'll be the first thing we'll tell them. It'll help, I'm sure for them to want to speak the truth as they'll want to find the person who murdered their friend."

  The inspector agreed again with our plan, and the three of us went to find the Captain. We found him on the bridge. The Inspector quickly explained about our plan to interview the three servers. The Captain agreed, and would check into their availability. He'd send them down to Inspector Rashan's penthouse as soon as possible. In the meantime, we went to the Inspector's room and waited.

  Thirty minutes later the caterers brought in fruit, veggies, sweet rolls and drinks.

  Kat and I prayed for guidance and wisdom. Fifteen minutes later our three servers were there, looking a little nervous and obviously wondering why we were giving them special attention.

  Kat welcomed them. "Come in, have some snacks and something to drink. Please relax. You're not here because you're suspects, but because we want to pick your brains about who any of you may have told about the stolen necklace."

  The three of them clearly looked relieved. James and Alex went over to the snack table and got something to eat and drink.

  Berta said, "Before we get started, has anyone found out about Barsha? I'm still terribly worried about her. This isn't like her at all. She always lets me know where she'll be, and visa-versa. It's something we always do . . . tell each other if we're not going to be in our room on any given evening. That's why I'm so worried about her."

  After the three sat down, Kat turned to Berta. "Yes, they've found Barsha."

  "Oh thank goodness. Where is she? Is she all right?"

  I told her, "We're so sorry to have to tell all of you, but she's dead."

  "Dead?" The word came out as a whisper from all three of them. "How? What happened?"

  Berta was instantly in tears.

  Kat sat down next to her. I could also see tears in her own eyes as she said, "Barsha's body was found in one of the lifeboats . . . she was murdered."

  Berta let out a gasp. "Murdered? How? Who did it? Why would anyone want to kill Barsha?"

  Alex and James were shaking their heads in disbelief.

  "We're not sure how just yet, and we don't know who did it or why." I continued talking while Kat comforted Berta. "She was found a few hours ago. We believe her death is connected somehow to the stolen necklace. That's why you're all here. We want to know if any of you have heard any scuttlebutt about the theft, or if any of you told anyone the story Maria told us at the table. Especially the value of the necklace."

  The three of them just stared into space. They were silent, and I noticed that James and Alex were wiping their eyes. Berta had gone well past the tears stage and was now sobbing loudly in Kat's arms. The boys kept shaking their heads, clearly trying not to get too emotional.

  We waited, giving t
hem time to get over the shock.

  Alex was the first to speak. "I told Mike, my roommate, about the necklace. I think he then told Ken Andrews from housekeeping."

  James said, "I told George King. There are three Georges on the staff. I hardly know the other two. George King is a good friend. I thought it was a great story."

  Kat asked James, "How about your roommate?"

  "No, my roommate's on leave. He'll be joining us when we get to Venice."

  We all looked at Berta. She'd found her composure, but there were still tears in her eyes. She finally said, "I told Cody and Nancy." She spoke so softly we could hardy hear her. "I didn't know we weren't supposed to tell anyone . . . I'm sorry."

  "That's okay" I said. "It wasn't supposed to be a secret. When Maria told us the history and the value of the necklace, she didn't tell us not to tell anyone.'

  "That's right," Kat said. "At this very moment Inspector Rashan's in the Showroom giving the guests information about Barsha's death. You don't have to go there; just go back to your assignments. In the meantime if either of you can think of anything else that would help us not only to find the thief, but also the murderer of your friend, please let us know. We want you to get hold of us if you do, and any time of the day or night is fine. We can assure you, you won't be disturbing us. We need your help."

  We suggested that they kept their ears open, and passed on to us any gossip they picked up that might be relevant, whether it was from their fellow workers or guests. We hugged each one as they left.

  Kat reminded Berta that she would be available to her if she needed to talk to someone any time, day or night.

  So, now we knew that our three servers had told several people about the necklace. Kat had written their names down, and she handed me the list. I read the names out loud.

  "Mike, Alex's roommate, and Ken Andrews. George King, good friend of James. Cody and Nancy, friends of Berta."

  We didn't know if Barsha had told anyone. We also wondered if any of these new names on the list had told anyone else.

  Kat obviously was reading my mind. "So how many more people will we have to interview before we have a suspect?" she asked.

  Chapter 11

  Kat and I talked about the best way to approach each name on the list. We decided to talk to them one at a time, along with the one who told them about the necklace. We'd do it in the order that Kat had written them down. That is, unless the Captain had another idea. For instance, Alex with Mike and Ken. James with George King. Then last of all Berta with her friends Cody and Nancy.

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