I put my dishes in the dishwasher, turned off the coffeepot and went to brush my teeth. When I came out with my briefcase Elvis was waiting by the front door. Rose came out of her apartment as I was locking my front door.
We walked out to the car. It was another beautiful late August day. Winters in Maine could be challenging but the summer weather more than made up for the dark, snowy January days.
North Harbor sits on the midcoast of Maine, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the south up to the Swift Hills in the north. "Where the hills touch the sea" is the way the town's been described for the past 250 years. It's full of beautiful, old buildings, acclaimed restaurants and intriguing little shops. North Harbor was settled by Alexander Swift back in the late 1760s. It has a year-round population of about thirteen thousand but that number can more than triple in the summer with tourists and summer residents.
I opened the passenger door and Elvis jumped up on the seat. Rose got in beside him.
"Are we picking up Mr. P.?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Thank you, dear, but no. Alfred has to take his glasses to be adjusted. One of the arms is a bit too high. It makes him look a little cockeyed."
I backed out onto the street. I was still waiting for Rose to ask why Nick and I had been arguing. "You missed a very thought-provoking discussion after the movie last night," she said.
Okay, so apparently we weren't going to talk about Nick.
"Ann asked if anyone thought Mr. Hitchcock was sexist. Alfred said yes."
I shot a quick glance in her direction. "And you didn't?"
She folded her hands primly in her lap. "I said if anything, he had mother issues. Look how he portrayed them in his movies. That led to a discussion with a young man with green hair about the causes of an Oedipus complex and what kind of a relationship Hitchcock had with his own mother. It was fascinating."
"Sounds like it," I said. Elvis murped his agreement.
"How do you feel about a man bun?" Rose asked.
Talking to Rose often led to things veering off into the conversational bushes. "Is Mr. P. thinking about a new hairstyle?" I asked.
She started to laugh. "Oh my word, I just got a mental picture of that." She pressed the back of her hand to her mouth for a moment, shoulders shaking. "Please don't tell Alfred I laughed."
"Your secret's safe with me," I said with a smile.
"The young man with the green hair had a man bun. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about them."
Out of the corner of my eye I could see she was frowning. "I've never really thought much about them," I said. Or talked about them, for that matter, although it was better than arguing with Nick. "I guess I don't really have an opinion."
I stopped at the corner, put on my blinker and turned left. Elvis scanned the road the way he always did.
"Well, on the one hand they're very tidy," Rose said.
I nodded. "That's true."
"But on the other hand they're not exactly sexy. Speaking just for myself, they don't make me think, Hmmm, I'd like to get some of that."
I tried to stop the laugh that bubbled up and failed, so I turned it into a cough instead.
"Are you all right, dear?" Rose said.
"Just something in the back of my throat," I managed to choke out.
She reached over and patted my arm. "I think the ragweed is early this year. We should get you a neti pot."
I had no idea what a neti pot was but I had a feeling I was probably going to find out.
When we got to Second Chance I parked and turned to get my briefcase from the backseat. Rose had already gotten out and was reaching for Elvis. "He can walk, Rose," I said.
"The pavement is too hot for his feet." She picked the cat up and Elvis meowed and wrinkled his whiskers at me, cat for "nyah, nyah, nyah."
We found Mac inside at the workbench with the mechanism of a wooden music box spread out in front of him. There was a mug of coffee at his elbow and I wondered how much sleep he'd gotten last night.
"Good morning," he said.
"Good morning," Rose replied. She set Elvis on the bench. Her blue and white canvas tote was over her arm and I hoped she had cookies inside because I needed some sugar. I caught a whiff of Mac's coffee. And I needed more caffeine.
Rose eyed Mac. "How are you connected to the woman who was found dead last night down by the waterfront?" she asked.
© Sofie Ryan