1. The Boathouse on the Cove

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May, 23 1959. Apple Tree Cove, Kingston, WA

Viola watched the doctor pull the sheet over the dead woman's body. The stone-faced policeman nodded, and the medics lifted the gurney and carried it down the stairs, through the little tackle shop, and out to the narrow street.

Here on the edge of town, several dozen moored boats swayed gently in the marina. The morning sunshine danced and flickered off the deep blue water. Normally a picturesque spot, the single lane road between the cove and the Boathouse was blocked by a van; a white van with bold red cross.

From the café above the fishing shop, seven people could hear the ambulance doors opening and closing. Viola was sitting by one of the two large windows. The view was charming, but she kept her eyes closed. Peggy Sue was playing on the little wireless behind the sandwich counter. When Buddy Holly's plane had crashed four months ago, Viola couldn't bear to listen to her favorite song, but now she clung desperately to every bopping note. Buddy sang the familiar last line and Viola focused on the seagulls; the waves, anything except the ambulance driving away.

"I'll need to know exactly what happened," the stone-faced policeman said. He was wearing a fedora and a brown overcoat. It seemed out-of-place in the little town, especially in summer time. Most of the locals were dressed in jeans and work clothes and any city folks who ventured out this far were dressed for holiday. The policeman glanced at his notepad before turning to the three out-of-towners. "So, her name was Sheila Waters, 27 years old, and she was from Seattle, is that right?"

Viola could barely grasp the words. But it was too soon for tears.

When Buddy Holly's plane crashed in February, Viola had cried like a schoolgirl, which she practically was, but when her auntie, the woman who'd raised Viola and her brother, had died only a month later, Viola hadn't cry for days. Her brother had said it was normal to feel shocked and numb, but Viola had still felt guilty.

"How did it happen?" the policeman asked calmly.

Six people had watched Sheila die. Viola and the two remaining out-of-towners were still sitting at the table with Sheila's knocked-over chair. The three locals were by the lunch counter.

Viola pointed to the small medicine tin in the middle of the table.

The little unfolded papers were still laying by Sheila's empty coffee cup and her dazzling diamond bracelet. The expensive bracelet was elegant twenty minutes ago, but now it looked absurd.

"Sheila had just taken her headache powder," Viola explained. "Two packets."

The policeman leaned over Viola in order to pick up the tin. Godfrey's Headache Powders, he muttered quietly. He sniffed it carefully then he put the tin and paper squares in a paper bag. He looked at Viola. "And you are?"

"Viola Langford." She took a deep breath and pointed to Barry. "I work for Mr. Blackwell, and Sheila is---Sheila was my cousin. We lived together."

The policeman made a note in his notebook. "So Miss Langford, you're telling me that your cousin deliberately took the stuff that killed her?"

"No!" Barry looked up sharply, his festive Hawaiian shirt was nearly as out of place as Sheila's glitzy bracelet. "Of course not! Sheila suffered from headaches. She only just bought that tin. She never would have deliberately—" his voice trailed off. Under the table, Viola could see that Barry was clenching his straw stetson hat.

The policeman's voice softened. "She was your wife?"

Barry shook his head. "Sheila was my fiancé. We were planning to get married in September. Sheila, Viola and I drove up this morning to meet Clifton." He indicated the other man who was sitting with them. "We are going, I mean we were planning to go yachting for the weekend."

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