Chapter 25 Canfield's City Bus Tours

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The morning before her cousin's memorial, Hattie was standing in front of a tour bus smiling and holding her umbrella high above her head. The canary yellow and spring green scarf around her neck matched the umbrella and the bus. The sides of the bus read: Canfield's City Tours, as did the trim of her yellow hat, so that she resembled an airline stewardess. The sign on the sidewalk informed the small off-season crowd of tourists that Seattle Tour would leave in five minutes.

An elderly couple handed Hattie their tickets and she welcomed them on board with a friendly smile. The job was familiar and Hattie knew what to do. Up to the fish market, back south along the waterfront and over to the international district. As the driver managed the bus, Hattie would recite interesting facts and historical tidbits along the route. From the tour office behind the bus, another young woman, wearing the same yellow and green uniform, hurried out. She was holding a notebook over her head so the drizzle wouldn't ruin her perfectly styled hairdo.

"Hattie," she said quietly, "There's a man on the telephone."

Hattie looked at her watch and frowned. "But the first tour is about to begin."

"But he said it's important," the other girl explained. "He sounded desperate. Go on. I'll take the last tickets and stall them until you get back."

Hattie abandoned her post and ran back to the cheerful tour office. The telephone was laying behind the counter. Compared to the cool dampness outside, the heavy receiver was warm.

"Miss Lake speaking."

A voice was breathing heavily. "Hattie, I've got to talk to you."

She could hear the man breathing and something made her uneasy. "Bernard? Is that you? What's wrong?"

"I figured it out." He panted.

Hattie saw her boss approaching the bus and she lowered her voice. "You don't sound all right. What have you figured out?"

"I know who killed Loretta."

"Oh, my God," Hattie whispered. Her boss was approaching the office. "Bernard, I can't talk now. But if you know something, you have to tell the police."

"Hattie, be careful."

"Me? But I'm not in any danger."

Hattie's boss walked and held up his watch. "Miss Lake, aren't you supposed to be guiding the 10:15 tour?"

"I am sorry, Mr. Canfield," Hattie apologized. "I'll be right there." She held the receiver back to her mouth, "Look Bernard," she said, "I've got to go. Please telephone them and I'll call you back as soon as I can."

She set the receiver down. Her boss shook his head and went into his office. As soon as he had closed the door, Hattie quickly picked up the telephone and dialed.

"Hello Jerry?" she whispered. "It's Hattie. Look, I don't have time to talk, but I just got a telephone call from Bernard. He thinks I'm in danger."

"Are you at work?"

"Yes, I'm off at two o'clock."

"Okay, don't worry. I'll be there at two o'clock to meet you. You can tell me all about it before we go to the memorial, okay?"

Hattie nodded gratefully. "Thank you, Jerry."

She hung up the receiver and scribbled a note. Then she hurried outside and handed the paper to her colleague. "Sylvia, can you do me another favor?"

Her friend took the paper and nodded.

"Telephone this woman," Hattie instructed as she hurried onto the bus. "Her name is Victoria. Telephone her and tell her...."

"Tell her what?"

"I don't exactly know. Just please tell her I need to talk to her as soon as possible."

The other girl nodded.

The bus driver swung the lever and the doors closed. Hattie took a deep breath turned on her microphone and assumed a cheerful demeanor. And as the bus cruised through Pioneer Square to begin the first tour of the day, none of the passengers had the slightest indication that their tour guide's mind was entirely on something else. 


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