By Jessica Fletcher
Just in time for the upcoming July 4th, here's an excerpt from "Murder, She Wrote" Murder on Parade.
Following my hometown's festivities and a picnic shared with friends, I decided a little exercise was in order. Joining me were former Cabot Cove Sheriff Amos Tupper, back for a visit, and Rick Allcott, an FBI officer, now retired, whom I had met several years ago at a crime conference.
We left the parking lot and strolled back to where we’d witnessed the concert and fireworks. I spotted Mort Metzger issuing orders to some of his uniformed officers, and we went to him.
“Quite a show, huh?” Mort said after dismissing his men.
“Spectacular,” Amos agreed.
“What are you folks still doing here?” our sheriff asked.
“Walking off fried chicken,” I said.
“I never had a chance to have dinner,” Mort said, eyes scanning the diminishing activity. “Fried chicken sounds pretty good just about now.”
Rick Allcott, Amos Tupper and I walked down to the water’s edge and strolled along, away from the Lennon-Diversified building. Light from a waning crescent moon danced off ripples in the water. Because we were outside town and its downtown lights, the sky was especially clear, millions of stars shining against an almost black scrim.“Miss being sheriff here?” Rick asked Amos.
“Once in a while,” said our former top law enforcement official, “but I sure do miss the people in Cabot Cove. Finest bunch of people I’ve ever known."
“How about you, Allcott? You miss being an FBI agent?” Amos said. “You seem a little young for retirement.”
“I put in my years,” Rick said. “Sometimes I miss the action, but on peaceful nights like tonight, I remember what I enjoy most about being retired, Peace! There wasn’t a lot of it when I was with the Bureau. Nothing like in Cabot Cove. I can understand why you choose to live here, Jessica.”
I estimate that we’d gone almost half a mile before Amos suggested we turn back. Now, we were walking toward the Lennon-Diversified building, whose marble façade caught the moonlight, giving it an ethereal aura, like some religious temple in another part of the world, or an imposing marble government building in Washington, D.C., home of many such edifices.
As we started up the gentle hill toward the lot where Amos and Rick had parked, we heard the sound of sirens.
“Some fool must’a had too much to drink and wrapped himself around a pole,” Amos offered.
“Or around someone else’s car,” Rick said.
“Oh, dear,” I said. “I hope not.”
The sound came closer, two sirens now. We were within a hundred feet of Rick’s car when flashing lights came into view. A few seconds later, their source became evident as two marked cars raced down into the lot from the road. One was Mort Metzger’s sheriff’s vehicle. They came to a halt a dozen feet away, and Mort and three deputies exited.
“Got a report of a body down behind Lennon’s building,” Mort said.
“We were just down near there,” I said.
“Did you see anyone?”
“No,” we chorused.
Mort led his men down the hill. We didn’t make a conscious decision to follow them. Amos, Rick and I simply fell in line, our reflexes on auto-pilot. We saw the men disappear around the rear of the office building where exterior lights had come to life, bathing the sweeping veranda, promenade and dock in harsh, white light. Two people stood together on the dock as Mort and his officers narrowed the distance between them. We stopped a respectful distance away, but close enough to hear what was said. I recognized one of the men awaiting the sheriff’s arrival by his uniform, a Lennon-Diversified security guard.
“Where?” Mort asked in a loud voice.
“Down there,” the guard replied.
Flashlights were trained on the object of their focus, and we strained to see what it was.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Is he dead, Sheriff?” Amos asked.
“Afraid so,” Mort responded.
Murder on Parade is number 29 in the "Murder, She Wrote" series. All the books in the series are original mysteries and not based on any of the TV episodes.
We gather with friends every year to have potluck dinner and watch the July 4th fireworks together. How do you spend your Independence Day?