Chapter 27 Hattie's Discovery

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It was just after one-thirty when Hattie hung up the telephone.

The other tour guide, Sylvia, walked into the tour office and pulled off her silk scarf. "Boy, that last group was a nightmare; seven unruly children. Seven! And the adults talked to each other the whole time, instead of listening to the tour. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why some of these people even bother."

Hattie didn't look up.

"Hey kid, are you all right?" Sylvia asked.

"What do you mean?"'

Sylvia shrugged. "You were all excited after that telephone call and now you don't look well. Are you sure you're feeling okay?"

"I'm scared; no I don't mean that. I'm anxious. I don't know what's wrong with me."

Sylvia frowned. "Well, listen. I telephoned that lady for you, Victoria. But she wasn't there. I had to leave a message. You sure you're not sick or something?"

"No, but I have to go somewhere."

Her friend looked at her watch. "You're not off until two. Mr. Canfield will have a fit if he finds out."

A newspaper was lying on the counter. Hattie opened it up to the third page. There was a photograph of Loretta Newcastle. She pushed the newspaper over to her friend. "Do you know her?"

Sylvia nodded. "Sure. She's the lady that was murdered last week out in Magnolia."

"She was my cousin," Hattie admitted quietly.

The other woman's jaw dropped. "No kidding?"

Hattie grabbed her hat and coat.

"I'm sorry kid, I didn't know," Sylvia stammered. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't know what Mr. Canfield would say," Hattie explained. "I'm sorry, Sylvia, but I've got to go. There's somewhere I need to be."

"Sure thing," Sylvia agreed. "I'll take care of Mr. Canfield." She glanced down at the newspaper and frowned. "The police haven't arrested anyone yet, have they?"

Hattie shook her head and grabbed her handbag.

Sylvia reached out and held Hattie's arm. "You'll be careful, right?"

Hattie promised and a moment later she was on the sidewalk heading north on 3rd avenue.

It was sprinkling lightly. She looked at her watch: twenty minutes to two. Hattie had just missed a bus but it only took her a good 15 minutes to walk Bell town. She wouldn't be back before Jerry got there, but she could telephone Sylvia from Bernard's apartment. Sylvia could give him the message and they could meet somewhere else before the memorial service. Hattie passed the market and the smell of salty fish filled the air. She walked quickly, hardly noticing anything around her until she reached Bell town.

She went to Bell town Manor and stepped into the elegant hall. Her stomach quivered and she decided to take the stairs. It was only four flights. She'd been to Bernard's apartment before but always with Loretta. It felt strange to go there now.

Bernard had said he knew who killed Loretta. Hattie's heart began to beat harder as she walked up the steps. Every step looked the same. Bernard lived on the fourth floor. Every floor looked the same. When Hattie got to his door, she realized that her heart was pounding and her hands were clammy. Silly.

She took a deep breath and knocked.

There was no answer and she started to feel scared. Hattie looked at her watch. It was five minutes to two.

She knocked again, loudly.

"Bernard, it's me, Hattie," she called out. She banged on the door.

Nothing.

Then she reached out and touched the knob. With a twist, it opened and Hattie leaned in cautiously. "Bernard? Are you home, Bernard? It's Hattie. Hello?" His loft was open and airy. Bernard's keys were on the table by the door and there was a half-eaten apple on the coffee table.

"Bernard?"

Silence.

Hattie stepped in and was about to called out again when she saw Bernard.

He was on the floor.

His eyes were open and he was laying unnaturally limp and motionless. His lifeless body was lying in a puddle of blood.


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