Chapter 10

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The drive across the Golden Gate Bridge was as beautiful as Mike could remember, though he couldn't recall the last time he had actually done it. That was the irony of living in the Bay Area, he thought. You don't really appreciate some of the cool things about it. Mike rarely visited San Francisco, hadn't gone wine tasting in Napa in years, nor relaxed on the beach in Santa Cruz. Heck, he lived five miles from Winchester Mystery House for the majority of his life and had never stepped inside.

It was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning, except Mike wasn't sightseeing. He was on his way up to Tiburon to meet with Ms. Whitney Murphy, otherwise known as ex-Mrs. Brad Coleman. He only hoped she would be home.

Mike had only been to Tiburon once in his life, for his cousin's wedding twenty years ago. He remembered the view of the bay was exceptional, and that a lot of sailboats came and went from the wharf.

Mike started winding up a suburban road off the water and stopped at 81 Stewart Drive. It was a nondescript white house on a slight hill overlooking the entire bay. While the home itself didn't look like much, the view and location were worth millions in the Bay Area market.

It was early, not even eight in the morning, and the fog was rolling off the outlying islands and hilltops. It was April, so not too cold out, though the condensation had brought out a slight mist that forced Mike zipped up his black fleece jacket as he admired the view. He figured unless Whitney had a tee time at dawn or was out of town, this would be the most likely time she would be home.

Mike reached into the backseat of his car and grabbed his backpack. Pat had someone go back to Mike's house to fetch his BMW and a few extra belongings. It felt good to have his car back; being stuck in a hotel without transportation made him feel too isolated. Luckily driving a BMW in the Bay Area was about as nondescript as a driving a yellow taxicab in Manhattan.

Mike didn't exactly have a plan in place and had been contemplating what he was going to say if Wendy did actually open the door. He decided to bring the documents Pat gave him in case he needed ammunition. Here goes the most awkward greeting I've ever done, Mike thought as he lumbered up the front steps.

Mike knocked lightly once, then wondered if it was loud enough, so he rapped the door three times solidly. He turned to the street for no reason and waited. He cleared his throat in anticipation. What the hell am I doing here? he wondered with regret.

He heard a rustle from behind the door. "Who is it?" a female voice asked.

"Ms. Murphy?" Mike responded into the wood. "You don't know me but I have some questions about your husband. I mean, your ex-husband." That's great, Mike, he thought. For an hour and a half you practiced your introduction and this is what you came up with?

"Not interested," was the reply, and Mike could hear footsteps walking away. For a second Mike considered giving up but decided to give it another try. He knocked hard again.

"I don't want to talk to reporters, thank you very much," the woman barked at the door.

"I'm not a reporter," Mike replied, then hesitating as he wondered what to say next. "I'm Mike Thomas. I'm, well, I'm the neighbor."

When in doubt, Mike shrugged, tell the truth.

There was nothing but quiet from the other side of the door, as Mike looked directly at the peephole. "I'm the guy who is being framed for killing Brad's wife."

Again, more silence. Mike waited, knowing Whitney or whoever was behind the door heard and saw who he was. He gave it ten seconds and turned back towards the street. He was almost to the curb when he heard the door open.

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