By Detective Anita McElone
from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED by E.J. Copperman
You ever get a bad vibe off a place?
I'm not a superstitious person, believe me. I've never in my life come across a situation that didn't have a logical explanation, even if it took some doing to find. In fact, that's why I wanted to become a cop to begin with, and why I was thrilled to be promoted to detective--I like to find the explanation.
But I have to admit, this house at 123 Seafront Avenue here in Harbor Haven has me spooked. I mean, I've seen stuff going on there I can't explain. And that's never happened before.
This is a pretty quiet town. We're on the Jersey Shore (but not where they film that TV show with the people who don't do anything but complain and work on their tans), but even during the season, we don't get a lot of loud teenagers or drunks. We have no boardwalk and no amusement pier. The people who come here on vacation are looking for a quiet, relaxing time, and they almost always get it.
Except at that house... The woman who bought the place recently is named Alison Kerby, and from a police standpoint, she's fine. She's fixing up the place to turn it into a guesthouse (and don't let her hear you calling it a B&B!), and not bothering anybody. Even when she's using power tools, nobody can hear--the rest of the block has been bought up by a real estate developer building luxury condos or something, so nobody's living nearby. My guess is Kerby will be the one complaining of noise when they knock down those houses and start constructing.
From a personal perspective, though, something weird is going on over there. And as much as I'd like to, I can't blame it all on Kerby. The trouble started almost a year before she got there, in fact, before I got to Harbor Haven, when two people were found dead--suicides--in the house she eventually bought. Now, that would spook a lot of people, but not Kerby; she went ahead and took the place, then started to gut it for renovations.
And then all of a sudden she starts coming around to the station, asking me questions about the suicides (because the detective who investigated has since retired). And calling me to her house when there are strange goings on. Kerby's wearing a bandage on her head, and a check with the local hospital showed her showing up unconscious with blunt trauma to her head. So maybe that explains some of her behavior.
But when she starts insisting the suicides were murders, and suggesting people who she thinks were responsible--that starts encroaching on my territory, and making me look bad. Not to mention, she's getting in the way of an investigation she doesn't know about. All in all, it's going to be a long October.
And there's a weird vibe coming off that house. I don't want to be there come Halloween, if I can help it.