“Except to be friends of Dino’s, no. We were in Florida, briefly, after our wedding. We sailed with Dino to the Bahamas and back.”
“Didn’t Father Charlie die in his sleep?” Deacon asked.
“Yes, after a long illness. It was not unexpected,” Joan McDermitt announced. “So in effect, it wasn’t an accident. It was an anticipated occurrence.”
“Could that be the angle?” Deacon stood up, pacing back and forth as he thought. “Maybe the three things aren’t really related in any normal sense. Taken literally, and at face value, none of these things was accidental. Even Pete’s incident, that could very well have been deliberate. The playhouse paint job certainly wasn’t accidental, and neither was Charlie’s death.”
“None of us had thought of it that way, Deacon. I think you’ve hit on something,” Reyes said contemplatively.
Kacy touched the photograph of Pete’s accident tenderly. “How could anyone have got this?”
“Film footage maybe? Lots of odd things get put on the Internet.”
Kacy shook her head adamantly. “No, it’s really not possible. This particular shot never made it to the movie. In fact, I had all the copies of the actual explosion confiscated by law, and destroyed. I didn’t even keep any of the negatives. They had access to private documentation, the original film or something else.”
“This can’t be a clever forgery?” Reyes asked.
Kacy and Deacon both looked at the photo again with a professional eye.
“It’s possible,” Deacon conceded, “but unlikely. With computers you can get a pretty credible looking photograph, but there are telltale signs if you know what to look for. I’m not an expert, but I’ve done some montages from time to time. That looks genuine, not enhanced. You’d have to have it analyzed by an expert to know for sure.”
“We’re back to where we started,” Kacy groaned.
“Not entirely,” Ms. McDermitt spoke up abruptly. “We have a relationship, of sorts, between incidents, however convoluted it might be.”
“Have you got a motive yet?” Deacon asked.
“After talking to the florist and the bakery owner, we’ve decided it comes down to money. Lots of it. Still doesn’t give me a perpetrator.”
“If Charlie had been married, we would be able to suspect the wife. As he was a priest, that’s one less suspect.” Ms. McDermitt gave a wry smile.
“Any other relatives besides Mr. Sawyer?” this from Reyes.
“Not in the Sawyer line,” Kacy answered. “Just Dino. His aunt died childless and there were just the three, Sophie, Charlie and Dino’s father. Dino is an only child and has no children.”
“One of the ex’s?” Deacon had to ask, considering that was foremost in his mind at the moment.
“Not likely. We checked into them first, of course. All of them married rich men, and most of them divorced quite well.”
“I gather Ms. Du Champs and I aren’t suspects then, since you are discussing this so openly with us.”
Reyes laughed. “You barely know Mr. Sawyer, a very recent acquaintance. Although the suspicious incidents occurred after your arrival, it’s unlikely. Ms. Du Champs has been a close friend for many years, also unlikely.”
“Well in movies and books, it’s always the person you least expect it to be, isn’t it?” Deacon said testily.
McDermitt smiled. “That’s fiction, Mr. Stewart. If police based their theories on Agatha Christie, we’d be in sorry shape. You’re right, normally we don’t discuss a case with those we question. However, there’s something to be said for being candid.”
Deacon suspected that part of their visit was to judge their reactions, and further eliminate suspects. They were being critically scrutinized by both officers and he had an even stronger suspicion that the McDermitt woman was more than she seemed. She was a keen observer of body language and was careful to portray a casual, open mien. Deacon was a better than fair observer himself. She and Reyes were concealing something.
“I hope you don’t seriously consider Dino a suspect.”
Deacon could play mind games as well as anyone. Being in theater for years, even backstage, you learned a lot about people and acting. He knew what to look for, and how to portray a specific role. These two police officers were playing the role of blissful ignorance, and Deacon didn’t appreciate it.
Ms. McDermitt nearly gave it away. She glanced briefly at Reyes whose lips pursed. The faintest shake of his head was hardly discernible, and probably wouldn’t have been, if Deacon hadn’t been looking so carefully.
“Because it would be a gross misuse of the police resources to even consider him. Although, it would be a perfect blind. I mean, he’s filthy rich, gains little from insurance if the old place burns, but if he could acquire the properties next to him, it would be a multi-million dollar proposition. The question is, how badly does he need the money, and do you seriously believe he would do anything so unscrupulous?”
McDermitt paled ever so slightly under her makeup, but Reyes held up better. He had known Dino for years. It was quite possible that this was the department’s theory, but not his.
©2021 Dellani Oakes