After yesterday’s discovery of a corpse on the north beach the small seaside village of Port Isaac was all abuzz, including the Seagrape Café where P.I. Patricia Ida and her partner Bonita (Bunny) Hopper were at their usual table overlooking the harbor trying to have breakfast.
Port Isaac, located about 50 miles from the nearest major city of Westfalia, is mostly a tourist destination and get away for folks who are fortunate enough to afford second homes. The town has only two full-time police officers and a dispatcher who spend most of their time handling domestics, bar brawls, and DUIs. Occasionally they would call in help from Westfalia but they depended mostly on Pat and Bunny to do any major gumshoe work.
“Hey pi pi, any news yet on the dead guy?” asked a local passing by her table.
“Not yet,” answered Pat.
Everyone in town knew Pat as pi pi owing to the combination of her business as a P.I. and her initials P.I. She didn’t like it much but what could she do, besides it was good for business even if she was the only licensed P.I. around these parts.
Pat and Bunny were no strangers to murder investigations and it didn’t bother them to discuss the details, no matter how grizzly, during their daily meeting over breakfast.
“So let’s review what we know about our John Doe,” said Bunny. “We know he was obviously murdered since the dagger was still stuck in his chest.”
“Not so fast,” said Pat, “We think the body washed up on the beach sometime during the night since it was discovered by some early morning beach walkers and we don’t know how long it had been in the water, also we can’t easily tell if the stabbing was pre or post mortem.”
Pat’s favorite cousin Kathy who waitressed at the Seagrape came by to refill their coffees and asked, “Any progress yet?” Pat remembered her days as a waitress. It was honest hard work but she was glad she was now a P.I.
“No, but we are working on it. By the way, I almost forgot,” handing Kathy a flyer with an artist’s rendition of the victim’s face Pat continued, “could you please post this somewhere. Maybe we’ll get lucky and someone will recognize him and call the police hotline.”
“No problem, anything to help,” Kathy said as she left to continue her rounds.
“Now where we,” Pat said. “Oh yes, there is the issue of his arms and legs which by all indications were devoured by sharks so that leaves out any chance of a fingerprint ID.”
“We still have a chance with the DNA,” Bunny said.
“Yes, but that and the tox screen will take weeks to get back from Westfalia.”
“Wasn’t the shirt he was wearing a hoot?”
“Yes, only the tourists wear those loud Hawaiian shirts around here. But that gives me an idea. What if our dead body went missing from a passing cruise ship or was thrown overboard from one of the boats now docked in our harbor? I think it’s time to pay our harbormaster a visit.”
Leaving the Seagrape they walked the short distance down to the harbor stopping briefly at Josie’s Confectionery to get Bunny her daily fix of a chocolate covered strawberry.
The harbor master’s office consisted of a long bar similar to one found in a tavern that Jake, a slim, energetic old seafaring man, kept smooth and glossy. Local folklore had it that the counter was made of wood salvaged from his handcrafted sailboat. Behind the counter was Jake’s desk which faced out the large front window with a clear view of the entire harbor. Along the back wall was a bank of radio equipment that he used to monitor the constant chatter from boat and ship captains and to radio back any harbor directions.
Completing a phone call Jake said, “Hey pi pi. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Unfortunately, not so much pleasure. It’s about the body, or what was left of one, that washed up on the north beach yesterday.”
“Aye, grizzly business that,” Jake said.
Bunny pulled a copy of the flyer from her satchel, pushed it across the counter and asked, “Do you recognize this man?”
“No, can’t say as I do.”
“We were thinking that maybe you could show it around the boat folks.”
“Will do and I will do you one better. I will fax it to all the cruise ships that have passed by here for say the past two weeks. See if they are missing any passengers.”
Later that day Jake heard a vicious quarrel come over the radio, “you bitch, he may have been a dishonest lecherous lout but you didn’t have to kill him” said one voice. Another said, “What was I going to do? The more he drank the meaner and more abusive he got. You of all people should know what he was like. Besides, he was pawing all over me and I’d had enough.”
Somehow the radio mic must have gotten keyed by accident, Jake thought. Zooming in the lens of the CCTV camera and looking around on his monitor he saw several people apparently involved in an animated argument coming from the yacht Anger Management tied up at buoy 15.
A short while later three people from the Anger Management boarded a zodiac and started toward the docks.
Jake called Pat and filled her in. Pat and Bunny made it to the dock ramp just as the zodiac arrived.
As the three passed them on their way into town Pat showed them the flyer and asked, “Do you recognize this man?”
After they passed by Pat said to Bunny, “Did you see that? They passed us by with their heads down as if we were Hari Krishna asking for a handout.”
Their suspicions raised, Pat and Bunny grabbed a dinghy and went out to the yacht. Bunny dropped Pat off at the stern ladder of the yacht then moved the dinghy out of sight on the far side of the boat where she was hidden but could still be a lookout.
Pat quickly looked around for any evidence of an altercation. Finding none she made her way into the main salon. On one wall she saw a photo of two couples. One of the men in the picture was none other than that of their dead body. Pat quickly took a picture of it with her cell phone.
Returning to the docks Pat and Bunny conferred. “I think it’s time we turned our evidence over to the police,” Pat said.
“Now what do you say we get another chocolate covered strawberry at Josie’s to celebrate?”