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       Moon Signs, p.4

           Helen Haught Fanick

  I saw Asbury hanging out at the edge of the room, trying to be inconspicuous. I hurried over to him. “Can you tell me where the kitchen is? Andrea thought we should have some coffee for the officers.”

  “Ivy’s in there right now, making coffee and sandwiches. They keep plenty of stuff on hand here, in case the guests get snowed in and can’t get out to a restaurant.”

  “I’ll see if I can help her. Can you show me the way, please?”

  I followed him through the alcove where the ice machine was located and into a kitchen beyond. A tall, rawboned woman stood at the counter, preparing sandwiches. Asbury introduced us.

  Ivy looked like a no-nonsense woman, and she obviously was. She had whipped Asbury into shape, which must have been no small task. I guessed her age at around forty, considerably younger than Asbury. She went right back to spreading pimento cheese on brown bread.

  “Can I help?” I asked.

  “Styrofoam cups in the cabinet there.” She motioned toward a door. “Get those out, and get some creamer and sugar from the second shelf.”

  I did as she said, and put everything by a twelve-cup coffee maker, which was gurgling away on the counter. “Should I invite the officers and emergency workers in?”

  “Yes, but not the guests. Some of them are moochers and may wander in here anyway, but they should have eaten out earlier. Meals aren’t included here.”

  “I didn’t see any guests in the lobby as I came back here, so we shouldn’t have a problem. I’ll spread the word with the others. And I want you to know I’m sorry about your boss. I didn’t know her, of course, but I’m sure this is a shock to all of you.”

  Ivy gave a curt nod and went right on making sandwiches. Asbury stood in a corner, looking as if he wished he had never mentioned Olga earlier today. I went back to the lobby, where I couldn’t help noticing the man who was just walking in the door. He had a face chiseled out of granite and a physique to die for in spite of his gray hair. He must be the sheriff, I thought. Momentarily forgetting the somber circumstances, I couldn’t help wondering if he were married.

  I wasn’t thinking of myself. John was the love of my life, my childhood sweetheart who remained my sweetheart till he died. My memories are all I need. No, I was thinking of Andrea. She never married, and I wonder at times whether she’s lonely. I was thinking all this as I directed everyone to the kitchen, the sandwiches and the coffee. The big man didn’t have a ring on his left hand.

  Andrea was sitting on the couch by the fireplace, looking at the ice machine. I walked over and joined her. “I don’t think anyone’s going to get ice, with all this chaos going on,” I said.

  “I wonder whether anyone wanted ice in the first place.”

  “I don’t understand.” This was a fairly frequent thing, my not understanding Andrea’s pronouncements.

  “We don’t know yet what happened to Olga, but I noticed a small smear of blood on the floor when I moved her so I could start CPR. It’s possible she was murdered. Maybe someone said he wanted ice, knowing she’d send Maggie . . .”

  “And he’d be able to get Olga by herself in the lobby. But why wouldn’t he just go to her room?”

  Andrea shrugged. “She probably would have her door locked. Maybe he didn’t know her room number, or maybe she has a peephole in her door and wouldn’t open it to just anyone. Of course, all this is conjecture. But I noticed something else. The pen holder and pen that were on the desk when we signed in had been knocked to the floor.”

  “Sounds like there was a struggle. Or maybe she just fainted and knocked it over when she fell.”

  The first deputy to arrive, the short, scrawny one, approached us. “I’m Willard Hill, with the Tucker County Sheriff’s Department. I understand the two of you found the body.”

  “I’m Andrea Flynn and this is my sister, Kathleen Williamson. We found the body at seven thirty-seven when we returned from supper at the Canaan Lodge.”

  “Miss Flynn, the sheriff would like to talk to you upstairs. There’s a sitting area just beyond the stairs. He’s waiting for you.”

  Andrea disappeared up the stairs, and Willard Hill took a note pad and pen from his pocket. “Can you tell me what you saw, Miss Williamson?”

  “That’s Mrs., but you can call me Kathleen if you wish. We came in the door and didn’t see anyone at the desk. I went over, looking for a bell to ring. It was then I saw Olga’s feet and legs sticking out from under the desk. Andrea went behind the desk and started administering CPR. She told me to get help, so I knocked on the door there and a gentleman told me to get Stefan. I went upstairs and got him.”

  “He was in his room?”

  “Yes. He went downstairs right away, and when I came back down he was working with Olga and Andrea was on the phone.”

  “Did you notice anything unusual?”

  “Other than Olga on the floor and Maggie not behind the desk, no. Maggie came in later with a bag of ice. Olga sent her for it. There’s something else I should mention, although I don’t know if it’s of any importance. As we were driving back from the restaurant over at the Canaan Lodge, we saw a woman walking along the road. She was coming from the direction of the Alpenhof. She turned in at a house just down the way.”

  “That was Eva Weiss. She and her husband are renting that house for the winter. I understand they’re from Germany. They’re always out walking in the evenings. Of course, they ski during the day. It’s not unusual to see her out after dark. We’ve mentioned to her that it’s not entirely safe, but she keeps doing it.”

  “I don’t know anything else, but if I think of anything, I’ll let you know.”

  “Thank you, ma’am. That’ll be all for now.” He handed me a card, and I put it in my purse. “If you think of anything else, be sure to call me.”

  I went to the kitchen for coffee. An EMS technician and the tall man in a suit who had been behind the desk earlier were standing by the coffeepot, chatting. The tall fellow must be the medical examiner, I thought. They stopped talking when I walked in.

  “How do you do?” I said. “I’m Kathleen Williamson, a guest here.”

  They introduced themselves, and sure enough, the man in the suit was Harvey Davis, the local doctor and medical examiner. He looked like a competent type who could handle everything from legs broken on the slopes to determining cause of death.

  I decided to be bold. “Do you know what happened to Olga?”

  Dr. Davis smiled the same kind of smile I get from Andrea when she’s being mysterious. “Not till we do the autopsy. Well, I must go. Tell Ivy thanks for the coffee and sandwich. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, with a sprain and a broken leg in addition to my usual patients today.”

  I helped myself to coffee and went back to my seat on the couch by the fireplace. Andrea joined me right away. “What did the sheriff have to say?” I asked.

  “He simply asked me what we had seen when we came back from supper, and I told him everything I could remember. I also mentioned the woman we saw walking along the highway as we were approaching the hotel.”

  “I talked with the deputy. I told him everything, too. He said the woman we saw was undoubtedly Eva Weiss. She and her husband are renting the house down the road. They must be the Germans Maggie mentioned.” I took a sip from my cup. “The sheriff’s a good-looking man, isn’t he?”

  “I suppose so.” Andrea got up and took the last log from the tub by the fireplace. She stood there for a moment with the log in her hand. “I wonder how many guests are staying here.” She tossed the log on the fire.

  I sighed. It really is no surprise to me at times that Andrea’s remained a spinster. “I have no idea. I don’t even know how many rooms they have here.”

  No one was near the desk. “I’m going to check the register.” Andrea went to the desk and started leafing through the guest register on the counter. When she came back: “There’s a man named Gunter Bosch, a couple named Wes and Staci Nicholson, and another guest with such flamboya
nt handwriting, I couldn’t make out the name.”

  Andrea was starting to solve a crime when we didn’t even know if one had been committed. Maybe Olga hit her head on the desk when she collapsed, and that accounted for the blood. But I’d let Andrea have her way; she has a will of steel and can’t be deterred. I did talk her into going to our room. I was exhausted; as usual, she was full of energy, as if she hadn’t driven into the mountains and then spent the evening dealing with the death of our hotel keeper.

  As we went down the hall, I said, “If Olga was murdered, I’m sure that fanatic from the lodge had time to get here between the time he was thrown out of the restaurant and our discovery of her body. He would have had plenty of time to murder her and get away. After all, she was one of the foreigners he hates so much.”

  Andrea nodded. “Yes, he would have had time. And then there’s Eva Weiss, who was walking down the highway, away from the hotel.”

  “Still, we don’t even know Olga was murdered.”

  When we were finally in bed in our flannel pajamas, snuggling under comforters, and Andrea had just turned out the light, I sat up in bed. “You know what we forgot?”


  “We forgot to talk to Maggie about what she discovered in Grandpa Flynn’s papers. We completely forgot about the Monets!”

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