3. All Above Board

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Those horrible minutes before Sheila's death came back. Everyone was silent until the radio started playing Good Golly, Miss Molly. The rock'n roll seemed to draw air back into the room. Viola took a deep breath and picked up the sparkling bracelet.

There must be some reason, some explanation for why Sheila was dead.

"Is there anything else" The policeman asked as he looked around the room at their faces. "Anything that might explain why or how this could have happened?" There was a long silence and the policeman finally put his notebook in his pocket. He checked the clock. 10:20. "Darlene, I need to telephone the station."

Viola leaned over the table and asked quietly, "Do they suspect foul play?" It was a melodramatic phrase that she had learned at the cinema but she couldn't think of a better one.

Barry shook his head. "There are six of us and no one had any opportunity to tamper with the powder. If the coroner confirms that it was poisoning, which he will, there will be only two possibilities; either the chemist gave her the wrong stuff or Sheila did it herself."

"Sheila would never have—"

Barry gently patted Viola's arm. "I know, dear. But we can't expect the police to know her like we know her. It must have been some sort of accident. There's no other explanation."

Clifton brushed a fleck off of his captain's hat. "I'm so sorry for you both. Sheila was a beautiful woman and this is a shocking tragedy. Naturally, our weekend can't go on as planned," he said slowly. "But I will still need to sail Diamond Sea back to Seattle. Viola, if you'd like to accompany me, we could still finish up the cruise."

"It's an overnight trip," Barry objected.

"And the young lady might need a healthy diversion," Clifton said gently. "A little salt air can do wonders for a grieving young woman, and I am a gentleman. Sheila wouldn't have wanted her cousin to miss out."

Viola set the bracelet down and put her hand on Clifton's. "It's nice of you to think of me."

"Speaking of Sheila," Barry said, "Sheila wanted to make sure you could stay in the apartment after she moved out. I had intended to give you a raise anyway, you've earned it. But now that things have changed so suddenly, and I, well, I just don't want you worrying about money. I'll take care of you."

"Thank you, Barry. When I was going through that miserable time last winter, Sheila was there for me. She taught me to make my own choices and to expect good things in life. In many ways, I know she was looking out for me much the same way I know you were looking out for her."

Barry frowned slightly and sat up straighter in his chair. "What do you mean?"

"Nothing in particular," Viola said, "I was only thinking about what Sheila told me about how important it is to plan for the future; security and savings in the bank, and all that. She even said that you had already bought life insurance policies."

The policemen hung up the telephone. "We are finished here. You all free to go."

"So that's it?" Barry demanded. "That's everything?"

"The facts are straight-forward. You fiancé took what she thought was headache powder and she died. It's a horrible thing to have happened, but it appears to have been an accident. We'll have to check the rest of the headache powder to see where the mistake was made. But if the chemists supplies are clean then, of course, it was her mistake."

"Oh, my God," Viola's felt her cheeks heating up. "Sheila didn't kill herself!"

Barry patted her shoulder and said something calming. Then he and Clifton exchanged some words that didn't matter and they he went to the telephone and began making long-distance calls to the city.

The policeman handed Sheila's cheerful yellow handbag to Viola.

That was all there was.

Sheila was gone. Sheila who had rescued her impressionable cousin from heartache and uncertainty. Sheila who had encouraged Viola to embrace her new life without ever considering whether or not she loved her old life.

Because of Sheila, Viola's life had changed forever. In a few short months, Viola had transformed from a hard-working farmer to a fashionable city girl with lovely hats and matching full-skirted dresses. She could type, take dictations, dance in heels, and mix martinis. All Viola needed now was a husband and a house in the suburbs.

Barry was still on the telephone making arrangements. Poor heartbroken Barry. He was so sweet and handsome. And he really had loved Sheila. Viola would go back with him, of course. She would comfort Barry like Sheila comforted her when her heart was frieving. And in time, Barry's heart would heal.

And poor Clifton. He would have to sail alone—this time.

Tom had finished with his inventory and was packing cans of food for his fishing trip. Of course, the locals would go on with their day. Why wouldn't they? Darlene was already getting ready for lunch and old Herman was smoking another pipe and rambling on about boats again.

"Maybe Doc will be willing to part with the Yellow Rose." he said.

"I think Rambler is perfectly sound boat," Darlene said. "Why do you want another one, anyway?"

"Well, like your boy, there, I'd like to be able to set out fishin' fur few days. The Rambler's too small. How long can you stay out on the Salty Dog, Tom?"

Tom glanced up and smiled. "Salty Dog is old lady Miller's boat now. My boat is the Seagull. So far, I've stayed out for three days."

Herman nodded. "That's right, the Seagull. She's a good boat."

Viola looked out the window. The boats were still rocking invitingly in their slips. The seagulls were still flying. The world was still turning. Viola was still staring out the window when Clifton sat down beside her. She could smell his aftershave.

"Viola dea, are you okay?"

She nodded but didn't dare look at him.

Clifton must have thought she was admiring Sea Diamond because he gently took her hand in both his and said, "The Sea Diamond is 75 feet, she has three cabins, a beautiful galley, and plenty of space to just relax. Of course, I understand if you'd prefer to go back with Barry today. That's only natural under the circumstances. But as soon as you're ready for real freedom, I'll be ready for you."

He was proud. He was also a very charming and attractive man with two ex-wives and who knows how many ex-secretaries. But he was certainly proud of his boat.

An icy shudder swept up Viola's spine.

His boat. That was it. His boat.

Viola let go of Clifton's hands and stood up so abruptly that she knocked her chair over. It hit the floor with a thud. Everyone looked at her.

"It wasn't an accident!" Viola yelled at the policeman. "It was murder. Sheila was murdered."

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