Here’s the last part of Chapter 5 of the mermaid story. Eltra, and the rest go out to the island and find that things have been cleaned up. The Boss and Sal discuss Tom’s enigmatic telegram. The Manager is also not very happy with Tooth.
Chapter 4, part 1(Now chapter 5.)
Chapter 5, part 2.
This has been fun. Especially trying to recreate the atmosphere of the early 1930’s. I get to go through my old books and online for research. I’ve also written over 140k and 400 manuscript pages in just over a month. I will post the first part of chapter 6, Mermaid On The Farm on Monday.
I should have gone straight into the harbor that night. If I hadn’t been looking for father I would have. I also should have stationed a sweep near the island that night but I didn’t have one to spare thanks to all my people being exhausted from storm work. So I went back to the bower and got a bunch of little stuff dumped on me while father stayed up top with the harbormaster that night for reasons that should have been obvious. I went into the harbor and there was Jake O’Malley. He had pictures and a potential murder investigation. There were dad and John Warshowski arguing with him. Jake turned and saw me in the water. We worked together on stuff relating to stuff on the water and I and my teams Swam recovery while he handled forensics. This one could be ugly though. I had to head it off.
“Eltra, do you know what’s going on?”
“On that island, yesterday? Yes. We were sweeping for something that might interfere with Tom and Chrissies bonding and we screwed up. Some things did interfere and got their heads shot off for their trouble. I found Tom’s gun and some very strange bodies. What do the pictures show?”
I pulled out of the water and he handed them to me. There were some pictures of Chrissie and then Tom and then some monsters which seemed to be dissolving after being shot, what appeared to a mass of shark fins, some dead sharks with dead bodies in the same places and more dead bodies, none of which were wearing any clothes.
“This pretty much fits what we found yesterday. I actually found Tom’s shotgun in the water. Here it is.”
I handed over the gun.
“It was also apparent that they waited the tide out and left in a hurry. Father, John, he obviously saw you last night. What did he say?”
Father explained about the weresharks and why Tom did what he did. I wished that Tom had known enough to wait for me or come to me afterword but since we never had the chance to meet that was water under the bridge. One thing was clear. Tom had gone to great lengths to make sure that the photos had a wide distribution. He wanted to ensure that whatever happened to him they got to the right eyeballs. He wasn’t thinking murder, he was thinking war.
“The best thing we can do is go back out there and do a thorough going over this time.”
I signaled to my sweeps and we started out while the rest got a boat together. When we got out there everything was more or less as we had seen it yesterday except that all the bodies were gone. The other side had come back and taken them away leaving nothing to investigate except some expended shotgun shells. Father came down to the beach.
“Tom said that this would happen. It looks like he was right.”
“I screwed up, I should have kept a closer eye on them.”
“There was no way you could have known and there is a good chance that had you been tighter in that the monsters would have gone for you first. I think that having been out here now that Tom was right. These weren’t sharks.”
“What about Jake?”
“What do you mean what about Jake?”
There he was.
“Well is it a murder investigation?”
“Without any bodies to ID and only some pictures there’s not much chance there will be anything to prosecute. Eltra we’ve been working the borderlines of the strange and weird for a long time now and this one ends up on your side. There’s also the fact that I‘ve known Josh and Mera since Mera worked in Fisheries and Chrissie since she was a little girl and I’ve only heard good things about Tom. Tom went to great lengths yesterday to keep Chrissie alive if what Noro and John say is true and everything we’ve seen backs that up. We did get more pictures for your report to Josh and we’ll take Tom’s stuff back, but there’s nothing here for us unless somebody has some connection to the big picture. That’s Josh’s territory.”
I walked into the office carrying the Graflex and took it over to Steve’s office.
“Nera was giving dancing lessons. I think that you can expect a lot of requests for prints. I want four sets to start.”
The boss called me over.
“Sal, come here. This telegram came in last night for Mike.”
“Tom Benton. He knows Mike from a case from before your time. Read this, does it make more sense to you than it does me?”
I read down.
“Ok, Chrissie is Mera’s and Josh’s daughter. She’s Ok.
They did the nasty on the beach. Closing the deal.
The post Change Swim had issues.
There was something messing up the beach.
There was some kind of fight in the water.
With sharks who were turned to soup.
He’s taking Chrissie home to his mother.”
“That’s Northern Vermont. A bit tricky for a mermaid.”
“Gun left behind?”
“If it’s the gun I’m thinking of only the tightest situation would force Tom to leave it behind.”
“And he wants Mike and Josh to go and get it?”
“Along with taking their time and bringing special hardware. He’s warning of the potential for our kind of fight.”
“Photographs left at Joe’s”
“We’ll have to ask Mike or Josh.”
“You don’t think he got photos? The photos that we have been trying to get, forever.”
“It looks like we’ll be finding out. Tell the mail room to keep an eye out. This could be big.”
“Replaced gun at Bannerman’s?”
“Who buys from Bannerman’s?”
“Countries going to war. I think that young Tom is announcing that he is about to go to war. How bad could that be. He’s about my age?”
“He’s also Royal Fae, just come into his powers and bonded with another one. Look at what your dad did the other day. I think the question won’t be what he can do, but what he can’t do. Take this down to Josh. I think that he and Mike will be making a trip back up to the Cape. I’ll be down later with Mary.”
“It’s Saturday. Her new boyfriend is taking her for flying lessons.
When I came back down from the Cape my goals had seemed simple. Collect Mera and perhaps Mike and Nera and go home. I couldn’t shake the feeling though, that I had been rushing around too much and not really stopping long enough to actually get a grip on the big picture. Sort of like that weather spell of Dad’s. Along with the feeling that I had just made a big mistake. Was I right to maroon Tom with Chrissie? It had all seemed like a good idea at the time but that was before I had heard about the shark attacks on the other couples “closing the deal.” The fact was that “closing the deal ” put all sort of stuff in the water and sharks had very good noses. Tom and Chrissie were a long way from Fire Island though. Would the sharks move to Cape Cod?
Mera and Mike were sure that there was some hidden hand working against the fae and Roscoe’s report on the fate of the fae in Europe was more than a little chilling. Mera told me about her plans for a big get together up at the Cape for Chrissie’s and Nera’s weddings and I was thinking that getting at least some of the fae leadership together was becoming crucial. We needed to stand together or there was a good chance we would all die separately.
Mera and I joined Mike and Nera for a Swim with Sillia’s parents before going to bed. Tara was pressuring Dom for a pool and Mike and Nera were waxing eloquent about the bedpool that Sal’s dad had setup. Mike was also talking to Dom about maybe setting up one of his waterfront properties near the navy yard as a discreet residence for merfolk. Apparently the navy had quite a number of Swimmer staff who were tired of having to come down here to be with their wives and were looking for a better setup. All in all it was an enjoyable evening.
The next morning we all made the trek back to Bennies as various people showed up. Anton Shinn from Fordham came in and dropped off a report on water samples as he Swam off to collect his team and more samples. He said that he had a paper working about chemical dispersion from the various samples. He also said that there hadn’t been any new toxins dumped in the water. Then Sal came in with Tom’s rather cryptic telegram.
“The boss is bringing Mary and coming down to talk about this.”
I handed the telegram to Mera.
“Do you think that I should make another run up to the Cape?”
“Whatever happened is over, for now. Tom is going up to Vermont with Chrissie. It’s Saturday, the train out on the Cape doesn’t run on Sunday this time of year and Tom is saying to take our time. Eltra, Joe and Noro haven’t sent anything yet, so we only have this to go on and it looks like Tom is sending a follow up. Mike, what do you think?”
“My father. He has been more than a little out of it recently with grief over my mother. From what Josh has said the harbormaster beat him up about it. It’s about time.”
“My youngest sister. She handles security, what little policing we need and related things for Josh. She’s a bit like Al with magic instead of guns, though if guns worked underwater she would have them too . She was really shook up over mother’s death.”
“About pictures, what do you think he got. We’ve been trying for pictures for years now and we still have almost nothing, right Mike.”
“Is that why you lug that big Graflex around, Sal?”
“Yes, primarily. We’ve found that all too frequently we’ve had to almost have the camera shooting at the same time as the real shooting to get anything at all. That’s why I was right up front at the warehouse. These people have been big on destroying evidence and themselves to cover their tracks.
One thing, though is that we have, or soon will have concrete evidence about these shark attacks. This isn’t speculation anymore, we now know what’s really going on. And we can warn people. I’m going out to the Gold Coast and check out the families of the other three victims that I found yesterday. I want to know more about just what was going on and maybe start to spread the word.”
Sal left. It looked as if things were starting to heat up.
This was annoying. Perhaps I had pressed too hard. Or Tooth had been overconfident. On the other hand what kind of person brings a gun loaded with special shells to the beach? The worst part of it was that there were probably pictures. The enemy now had evidence of our activities. And we now had yet another potentially powerful adversary. Well at least one problem could be dealt with right away. I reached into the Twist and pulled. Tooth collapsed as his Change was ripped from him.
“Dispose of this.”
The former Tooth screamed as his former pod mates started to feed.