by Mike Cooper
EQMM September/October 2011
“He could have put the boat at the cruise terminal in Southie,” said Bobby O’Connell, bumping their unmarked onto the Atlantic Avenue curb. TV news vans crowded the sidewalk, dish antennas pointed to the sky. “Security would’ve been easy over there.”
“The damn thing’s big as a cruise ship, that’s for sure.” Garrick got out and stood a moment, looking over Long Wharf plaza. Uniformed officers stretched a yellow-tape cordon straight across Columbus Park’s small lawn, barely holding the gawkers at bay. Above them loomed the Whiz Bang, five decks of reflective black and dazzling white. A summer breeze blew salt air and jet exhaust from the airport across Boston Harbor. “You own a seagoing colossus like this, I guess you want people to see it.”
They began to shove through the crowd. O’Connell, younger and less patient, broke their path. “What’d the commissioner have to say?” he asked.
“Nothing helpful.” Garrick had listened to a five-minute tirade on his cell phone while they drove over. “Accidental death seems to be what everyone’s hoping for.”
“Better tell the M.E., then.”
At the dock more patrolmen stood with Whiz Bang’s private guards. As they approached, a string of firecrackers went off somewhere along the harbor. Several of the officers flinched. Fourth of July weekend was always noisy, always difficult.
The yacht’s security men looked alert, even nervous. Worried about their jobs, perhaps. Garrick held up his credentials, but the senior guard shook his head.
“I remember you, Detective,” he said. “Go on in. They’re on A Deck, in the atrium.”
“We’ll find it.” Garrick walked up the gangway, running his hand along the mirror finish of its rail.
“You were here before?” said O’Connell, lagging as he squinted at the bridge windows far above them. A white radar antenna rotated slowly on the top roof.
“Courtesy call, last week. You know, VIP security liaison, before Fraxton himself arrived.”
“Yeah.” Garrick shook his head. Nobody was happy about the dead billionaire, and furious buck-passing had already started. “The commissioner seems to think I might have missed something.”
On the main deck, a Harbor Unit sergeant waited, mirror-shades pushed up on his head and an MP5 submachine gun across his chest.
“Expecting terrorists?” asked Garrick.
Before the officer could reply, a voice from behind him broke in.
“That’s what I said!” A young woman stepped forward. She was barefoot, wearing a white beach wrap with Whiz Bang emblazoned across one breast. Her eyes were red from recent tears. “Jake is dead and these soldiers come breaking in like it’s Afghanistan or something—”
“The nine-one-one was garbled,” said the sergeant. “Sir. We did not know what to expect.”
“Detective Garrick,” said Garrick. He looked at the woman and thought, four-hundred-dollar haircut. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“I’m Blakely.” The young woman started to hold out her hand, then pulled it back. “We were just—”
“Now, now, Blakely, you don’t have to say anything.” Another man appeared from the shadows, not much older than she was, dressed in a silk aloha shirt and perfectly faded canvas shorts. “Wait for Pop’s lawyer.”
“Jake’s dead, Harrison!” Blakely started to cry again.
“Who might you be?” Garrick noted that he was also barefoot.
“Harrison Fraxton.” He apparently didn’t get the accustomed look of recognition. “Jake Fraxton’s son.”
“Ah.” Garrick nodded. “So what happened?”
Blakely began keening, and Harrison frowned at her before gesturing Garrick forward. “Over here.”
Heavy, bronzed-glass doors swung open before them, noiseless on counterweight fittings. Garrick glanced at O’Connell, who was separating Blakely and the guard, to avoid story contamination, then followed Harrison.
Inside, the room opened up, spanning the entire width of the vessel and rising several stories. Halogen spotlights illuminated sleek leather furniture and original art. Teak gleamed on the walls, between broad windows. Overhead skylights flooded the interior with natural light. Garrick, whose duties had taken him into Boston’s most expensive hotels and residences, tried not to be impressed.
“He—in the elevator.” Harrison’s voice cracked a bit.
To their left, a glass elevator rose up the side of the atrium. Its doors were offset, toward the interior, so the passengers inside could look out and through the tall exterior windows. Now the elevator cab stood at ground level—deck level? wondered Garrick—with its doors open. Closer, he could see a body on the cab’s floor, blood pooled around it and spattered across the glass. A shape lying in the blood looked like a handgun, a semiautomatic of some sort.
Violent, messy death always seemed like an intrusion, but in such opulent surroundings Fraxton’s broken corpse was an outright insult.
Garrick studied the scene, then noticed smudges of blood on the deep-pile carpet. “Who went in?”
“One of the crew—he wanted to see if Pop was really dead.” Harrison’s voice trembled. “I told him to wait in the kitchen.”
The handgun was near Fraxton’s left hand. Smears on the glass suggested he’d fallen forward, striking his head as he went down. Garrick wanted to look more closely, but they couldn’t do anything before Forensics arrived.
He led Harrison back, away from the view. “Can you tell me what you know?”
“I can’t understand why he did it.”
“Was he alone?”
“Yes. I was talking to him, Blakely and me, outside, and then he said he was going to his office, and he came in and we were going back to the outside pool . . .”
“Office?” said Garrick, then stopped. “Oh, you mean on the yacht. Right.”
“He was completely normal, talking about, oh, nothing, whatever. And then he goes and shoots himself? Less than a minute later?”
Harrison seemed calm, but there was an edge, a degree of agitation, in his voice. He folded his arms, then dropped them to his sides, then put one in the pocket of his shorts and one on his hip. His gaze kept moving back toward the atrium, then jerking away.
“Did you know your father well?” Garrick asked.
“What kind of question is that? Of course.”
“Why do you think he killed himself?”
“But . . . who else could have done it?”
“The entry wound appeared to be in his back, just below the neck.” Garrick wondered what Harrison had seen, and what he’d already blocked out. “That would be difficult to accomplish on one’s own.”
Harrison’s face opened, shocked, but he said nothing.
“What did you observe, exactly?” Garrick asked.
“Well, we said goodbye—not goodbye, you know, more like ‘see you later.’ Then he was walking toward the elevator. Blakely and I were leaving, so I didn’t see him go in, but I heard it start to go up. And then—there was a gunshot. A bang. We ran inside and there he was, halfway up, maybe twenty feet off the ground.”
“Wait a minute.” Garrick frowned. “He was in the elevator? Alone?”
“At one of the other fl—decks?”
“In between. It only stops here on the bottom, and on the fourth and fifth levels.”
“Let me get this straight.” Garrick peered at the elevator’s track. “He was alone, inside a glass elevator, with no doors open or even available—and somebody shot him?”
“If he didn’t shoot himself . . .”
“Did you see anyone leaving the elevator?”
“No. How could they? It was still moving.”
“And there was no one inside?”
“I told you.” Harrison’s emotions finally began to crack through. Anger, grief, pain, all mixed up together—in Garrick’s long experience, the usual reaction.
But he was focused on a different problem. “How long between the gunshot and when you ran back?”
“A few seconds. No more.”
Garrick looked at the elevator. None of its glass was broken. No openings of any kind, except the doors. No place to hide.
“That’s impossible,” he said.
“What do you know about Jacob Fraxton?”
Garrick looked at the tall, square-jawed man sitting across from him in one of the Whiz Bang’s innumerable lounges. “Not much, Counselor. What do I need to know?”
“There is much I cannot tell you, I’m afraid.” Clayton Eccles, Esq., wore a deep dark-blue suit with European lapels and a flawlessly tailored drape. “Attorney-client privilege does not die with the client.”
“I’d hate to think you might want to obstruct our investigation.”
“I also represent the incorporated estate, which survives.”
Garrick sighed. “Is Fraxton, Inc. a big client of yours?”
“You could say that. I’ve devoted most of my time to Jacob’s affairs for several years now.”
“Your insight may be useful, then.” Garrick had learned it was impossible to overdo flattery when interviewing the self-absorbed. “Who had reason to want him dead?”
“Jacob was without enemies.” Eccles held up one hand. “No, it’s true. He made his money fifteen years ago—started Whiz Tech in his garage, built it into a three-billion-dollar company without ever going public, and sold out at the peak of the bubble. Helived a life of ease and modesty ever since, donating generously to charity and serving on numerous boards.”
They sat in heavy, padded armchairs at a small table covered in mauve felt, with a glossy mahogany rim in case the ship lost its stabilizers at sea and rolled slightly. Real felt, not baize. Sunlight filtered through the tinted windows.
“A rich man, loved by everyone,” said Garrick. “And yet, a violent death. What did he leave behind?”
“Ah. A large and complicated estate, indeed.”
Eccles didn’t shrug, but made the sort of refined hand movement used by mid-century patricians. “A few billion. Much is invested and illiquid. Substantial trusts support his son and ex-wives. The will is confidential, of course.”
“What about his daughter?”
For the first time Eccles looked surprised, even alarmed. “Daughter?”
Eccles cleared his throat, somewhere between a small laugh and a discreet cough. “Blakely is his second ex-wife. I’m sorry, I assumed—”
“Wife.” Garrick shook his head.
“In point of fact, her situation is somewhat more complex.”
Garrick waited. “How so?”
“That is to say, Blakely and Harrison recently announced their enclenchement.”
“They have hopes of a June wedding.”
Garrick sat back in his chair, which was, in fact, very comfortable. Through the window he had a water-side view, where the Harbor Police launch bobbed, warding off paparazzi in powerboats. “Harrison is marrying his ex-stepmother?”
“They appear to have compatible interests.” Eccles considered. “And they are similar in age.”
“What did Fraxton Senior think about that?”
“He was . . . I would say he found it peculiar and distasteful.”
Garrick had his notebook out, and scribbled a meaningless comment while he reevaluated his first impressions of the young couple. He looked up. “When did Fraxton last revise his will?”
“I’m afraid I cannot—”
“The man’s dead,” said Garrick. “Hindering our investigation would be unacceptable to both the state prosecutor and the bar.”
“No need for threats.” Eccles looked unperturbed. “Jacob recently asked me to draft a codicil, though it has not yet been implemented. That is why I came out here today, in fact.”
Garrick waited. “And?”
“Blakely was given a substantial settlement at the time of their divorce, more generous than provided in her prenuptial agreement. Harrison stood to inherit the bulk of his father’s assets. The codicil, however, would have drastically reduced both settlements.” Eccles paused. “That prospect has been made moot by today’s events, of course.”
“I see.” Garrick scribbled again. “The tabloid press owes you a really big favor, Counselor. They’ll be living off this story for weeks.”
Eccles shifted in his chair, adjusting his suit and brushing off some invisible dust. “They cannot assert that Harrison had a hand in his father’s death. Libel and slander—”
“He has a clear motive. Millions of them, apparently.”
“Harrison loved Jacob.”
“And his wife.”
“Ex-wife.” Eccles set one hand on the table’s felt. “You need to understand what it was like for Harrison. It’s not easy to be the scion of such wealth.”
Garrick looked at him. “Many people would be happy to try.”
“He was only eleven when Whiz Tech transacted, and Jacob first appeared in Fortune’s billionaire ranking. I don’t believe he ever had a normal friendship again.”
“Because of the money?”
“Regular people,” said Eccles, “people without that kind of wealth—it’s all they can think about. It twists every relationship.”
“Gold diggers everywhere.”
“More or less. Even if they don’t want to be. The twenty-ton elephant is always there, lurking in the room.”
“Hmm.” Garrick rubbed his jaw. “What about, say, Blakely?”
“Blakely is not my client.” Eccles paused. “Though if the marriage proceeds—”
“What do you think of her?”
“She and Harrison could speak openly with each other. Unlike almost everyone else, her position relative to his wealth is uncomplicated.”
“How do you mean?”
“He could trust her. She could trust him. Neither one was scheming for the other’s wallet—they didn’t have to.”
“So they got along? Family dinners, that sort of thing?”
“Evidently they got along quite well.”
“Yes.” Garrick paused. “Nonetheless, they’re at the top of the suspect list.”
Eccles pondered. “Suspects.”
“In the murder.”
“But surely—in the elevator? Between floors? Surrounded by glass? Really, how could it have been anything but self-inflicted?”
“I don’t know.” Garrick closed his notebook. “Did Jake practice yoga?”
“We never discussed exercise regimens.”
“He’d have to be a contortionist to shoot himself in the back.” He stood up. “You might want to stay on the boat for a few more hours.”
The smallest frown appeared on Eccles’ face. “You can’t hold me here—”
“No.” Garrick gestured toward the window. “But do you really want to run the media gauntlet now? Later, some of them might go home.”
“Ah, good point.”
“Still, we may have to talk again,” said Garrick. “This case is barely open yet.”
Garrick met O’Connell back in the atrium, where they watched the crime-scene technicians. Two were in Tyvek bunny suits, dusting and measuring and collecting, while another woman stood to the side holding a video camera. A fourth took notes, occasionally dictating into her cell phone.
“It’s almost like they’re trying not to screw this one up,” said O’Connell.
“Maybe CSU got a call from the commissioner, too.” Garrick pulled out his notebook. “What’d the steward have to say?”
“Second mate. This dinghy has seventeen crew, you know that?”
“Perhaps one of them saw something.”
“Well, not this guy. Claims he ran in, smelled cordite, checked the body, and ran right out again.”
“Cordite.” Garrick rolled his eyes.
“Yeah,” said O’Connell. “But get this. There was blood on his cell phone.” He pulled out a paper evidence bag and glanced at the techs. “I’ll sign this over if one of them ever looks my way.”
“I thought Blakely put in the nine-one-one.”
“Oh.” Garrick had to smile. “The mate had more important things on his mind, did he?”
“He seems to have made a half-dozen calls, shopping the story.”
“How much you figure he got for the tip?”
“Nothing.” O’Connell waved the bag at the woman with the video camera, who nodded back. “But for the inside story I’m sure he’s planning to sell later? A few grand, at least.”
“Civic-minded of him.”
O’Connell handed off the evidence bag. As the woman went back to her camcorder, he stared up at the elevator’s roof.
“Think the killer went through the maintenance hatch?”
“It was bolted shut, from the inside. And there was hardly time.”
“Too bad we don’t have surveillance video.”
“It’s not a public venue. Would you put a camera in your living room?”
“I have one in my bedroom.”
Garrick decided he didn’t really want to know. “Any luck on the handgun?”
“Fraxton has a collection. Or a gun cabinet, anyway, in his stateroom. The captain says there might be one missing.”
“Was it locked?”
“We’ll have to get the licensing records.”
“Dunno—wouldn’t it depend on where the boat’s registered?”
“Good question. Maybe the Harbor Unit can help us with that. They must find weapons on boats all summer.”
“Uh-huh.” After a few moments: “We know it was murder. No one shoots themselves behind the neck. So why would the gunman set it up like, you know, mystery of the week?”
Garrick nodded. “My guess is, reasonable doubt.”
“Say we find the guy. In court, the first thing his lawyer’s going to say is, ‘impossible.’ Doesn’t matter what other evidence we have, if the crime requires a teleporter or time travel or something, the jury’ll have to acquit.”
“Huh.” O’Connell looked back at the elevator. “Where’s Monk when you need him?”
They found Blakely in the library, one level up on B-deck. Bookshelves rising to the ceiling held shiny hardbacks, clean as a Barnes & Noble row. A four-foot plasma flatscreen on one wall silently displayed an extreme-skiing documentary.
Blakely sat in an armchair, more fully dressed now, holding an empty crystal tumbler and staring blankly at the soundless video.
“I apologize for bothering you,” Garrick said. O’Connell drifted to the background. Garrick wouldn’t have had him there at all, since two-on-one made a sympathetic interview more difficult, but department rules and common sense both precluded being alone with a suspect.
“No, no.” She shrugged, then abruptly started to cry.
“I’m sorry.” Garrick looked around, but O’Connell was already handing over a pocket pack of tissues. “Thanks.”
Another minute, some nose-blowing, some hiccups.
“I just can’t believe it,” Blakely said finally.
“How did Jacob Fraxton appear?” asked Garrick. “When you last spoke?”
“Like himself.” She looked at the screen again. “I mean, it’s been awkward this weekend. Harrison invited me, for the Fourth, so we could watch the fireworks from the harbor. I thought . . . I thought this boat was big enough, maybe we wouldn’t run into each other too much.”
“You mean Jacob?” Garrick wondered if Blakely was really that dumb. Or had it been deliberate? A provocation?
She glanced at him, eyes starting to brim again. “He tried to act all, like, normal and everything, but, you know.”
“Had you been separated long?”
“Oh, we got divorced last year. And it wasn’t—we just grew apart. He . . . I think he got bored with me. That’s how I felt, anyway. So it was all like, what the lawyer kept saying, amicable.” She stopped. “The truth? I think he just wanted someone even younger.”
On the screen, a helmeted skier went off a vertical slope, skidding down past spruce trees and granite outcrops in a glittering spray of snow. The absence of sound made the action seem unreal.
“And Harrison?” Garrick asked.
“He’s so nice. We can talk about anything, and he understands me, and we love each other so much.”
O’Connell shifted behind them, a small choking noise.
“Yes,” said Garrick. “What were you talking about with Mr. Fraxton, this morning?”
“I don’t know. Whether it might rain on the fireworks tomorrow. Nothing important.”
“This was outside the, uh, atrium? On the deck?”
“Yes. Harrison and I were going to the pool, and Jacob happened to come out, and, you know, we couldn’t just ignore each other. And then I went up the stairs, and that was the last I ever . . . I ever . . .”
The waterworks started again, but Garrick leaned forward. “You left Harrison with Jacob?”
“Not with him.” Blakely snuffled. “We sort of all left at the same time. Harrison was going to ring the steward for pool towels.”
“Did you hear the shot?”
“Yes! I was already on C-deck, but near the windows—you can’t see in, hardly, they’re so dark, but I heard the bang and ran back down and there was still cordite in the air and the elevator up there and all bloody—”
“Not cordite,” said O’Connell from behind them, apparently unable to let this pass again.
“Cordite hasn’t been used as an ammunition propellant for decades,” said Garrick.
“Well, whatever. Gunsmoke. You could still smell the shot.”
“Who else was there?”
“Harrison, of course, he ran back even faster than me, and the steward. They were pressing the button, bringing the elevator back down.”
“Second ma—” O’Connell started, but Garrick overrode him.
“No one else? Did you see anyone on the upper decks, inside the atrium?”
“No. I mean, all I remember is thinking, what happened? And staring at the elevator.”
Garrick couldn’t tell how much of Blakely’s affect was contrived, though this didn’t bother him as much as it had when he was just starting as a detective. Everyone lied about something, and grief struck everyone differently. Still, he needed a better sense of her.
“Before you met Jacob Fraxton,” he asked, “were you employed?”
“I used to work for the Massachusetts Bay Foundation. That’s where we met—one of their fundraising galas. He gave them a million dollars.” A sob broke through again. “Maybe we were divorced, but he was special.”
Direct questions about Fraxton only brought tears. Garrick tacked.
“The family lawyer is here—Mr. Eccles. Did you see him this morning?”
“Sure. He was waiting for Jake.”
“I don’t know. Around. On deck, maybe?” She waved the hand holding her glass, then looked at it, surprised.
“Did you speak with him?”
“Oh, no. Not at all. Just—no.”
“Uh-huh.” Garrick studied Blakely’s face, and she looked away. “Has Mr. Eccles been helpful to you? After the divorce?”
“He’s Jake’s lawyer, not mine.”
“No.” She hesitated. “I don’t know. I thought Jake wasn’t very happy with him. But, you know, we didn’t talk much.” Tears began again. “Jake and me. After the divorce, I mean.”
Garrick wondered again why they’d all come to the yacht, but asking wasn’t getting him anywhere. “How is Harrison doing?” he said.
“I don’t know.” A note of accusation. “You told us not to talk to each other.”
Garrick glanced back at O’Connell, who shrugged slightly.
“I’m sorry, that must have been a misunderstanding. No one’s in custody.”
“He’s around somewhere, calling everyone he can think of.”
“We have a few questions for him,” said Garrick. “But I’ll make sure he comes to find you after that.”
“Jake loved skiing.” Blakely, staring at the plasma screen, might not have heard him.
“He was going to New Zealand next week,” she said. “It’s winter down there, did you know that?”
Looking for the bowling alley, they got lost, wandering around the first subdeck.
“Jeez, look at that,” said O’Connell, as they pushed through a cherrywood-and-brass hatchway. The room in front of them opened wide, with a ceiling of translucent, wavering blue. Light patterns refracted through the glass.
Garrick finished a call on his mobile. “We’re under the pool,” he said.
“So you can watch babes splash around up there?” O’Connell leaned on the zinc-covered bar along one wall, peering upward.
“Seems like you’d get a crick in your neck.” Garrick dialed another call. “Harrison? Where are you again? We’re not sure . . . okay, yeah.” He described their location, and a few minutes later Harrison came in, flicking a light switch by the door. Cove lighting came on above the bar, illuminating glass shelves of liquor. Each bottle was held neatly in a padded silver harness clip.
“First thing, I’m going to sell this ship,” said Harrison. He’d also changed, into summer-weight flannel slacks and a purple cotton pullover with the sleeves pushed up his forearms.
“That’s understandable,” said Garrick.
“What do you think? Will this . . . event . . . make people more interested, or less?”
“In buying?” Garrick watched Harrison drop into one of the upholstered chairs by the bar. “I couldn’t say.”
A blare of noise from Harrison’s pocket, the opening chords to “Smoke on the Water.” He pulled out his phone, silenced the ringer, and put it away. “What a day.”
“Mr. Fraxton, were you and your father close?”
“I apologize for asking, but your relationship with his former wife may appear odd to some people.”
“Well, screw them.” Harrison rubbed his eyes. “Pop never cared what anybody thought. Neither do I.”
“Did you speak with Mr. Eccles this morning?”
“Nah. He must have had a meeting scheduled, because he was hanging around the salon, waiting for Pop. Kind of surprised me, since I thought Pop was changing law firms.”
“Maybe not. But Eccles, he’s kind of slick, you notice? And his fees, it’s like he thought we were the Lottery Commission or something.”
“I’m sure your father’s legal affairs were complex.”
“Not that complicated.”
A cloud must have passed over the sun, because the light coming through the pool dimmed. “There’s something I’d like to clear up,” said Garrick. “When you described the events this morning, I thought that after talking with your father, you and Blakely walked off together.”
“What?” Harrison shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. Blakely was going to the pool, but I needed to get a drink.”
“And some towels. But I didn’t go far. I couldn’t have been halfway down the deck when I heard the shot.”
“And then you ran back?”
The sunlight abruptly returned, dappling the zinc bar. Garrick heard a faint rushing hum as the air circulation kicked on again.
“You understand that your father’s death makes the disposition of his assets uncertain.”
“What do you mean? Blakely and I are both heirs.” Harrison shrugged. “There’s plenty of money lying around. We could live the rest of our lives just from selling this stupid boat.”
“Perhaps it won’t come to that.”
“Can I go now? I got to talk to the funeral home.”
“Certainly.” They watched him leave, pulling out his cell phone as he went. O’Connell waited until the door closed, then stood up.
“I was him, I wouldn’t talk on the phone so much.”
“It’s all digital now—not so easy to scan.”
“If our guys have the equipment, you know the paparazzi have it, too. Difference is, they don’t have to wait for a warrant.”
“Then maybe they’ll make our job easier,” said Garrick. “We’ll just read it on TMZ tomorrow.”
They went out the same doorway and found a stairwell going up. O’Connell went first, while Garrick palmed his own phone and clicked the screen.
“The commissioner’s been calling—must want results.” He stopped. “Wait a minute, I need to call this one back.”
But Garrick ignored him. The call lasted less than a minute, and when he hung up he couldn’t help nodding in satisfaction.
O’Connell looked down at him from the stairs. “What’s up?”
“Come on,” Garrick said. “We might be getting somewhere.”
It took fewer than ten minutes, and most of that was finding the right room. It was small, on the main deck and several doors forward of the atrium. A polished, fully functional pinball machine stood opposite the portholes, an odd counterpoint to the old-fashioned writing desk and leather chair alongside it.
“No one here?” Garrick was surprised. “I thought we might be in for an argument.”
“Nope.” O’Connell studied the pinball machine. “That’s some kind of antique, isn’t it?”
“No older than my car.”
They found a leather case sitting beside the desk. Garrick pulled on latex gloves while O’Connell took a cell phone snapshot.
“It’s not even locked.”
“We can’t be this lucky. Someone’s running a double bluff.”
“Maybe.” Garrick gently opened the case and poked around inside. “But—aha.”
He lifted out a matte-black tube, six inches long, collared at one end.
“You were right.” O’Connell was almost impressed.
“So far,” said Garrick.
No one answered Garrick’s next phone calls. In the end he had to enlist the ship’s captain, who ordered several crew members to scout around. Eventually they found Eccles and Blakely in the forward salon. When Garrick and O’Connell arrived, Harrison had just come in from the bow deck, in front of them.
“You all don’t have to be here,” said Garrick. “We only need—”
“Never mind that,” said Harrison. “The steward told me the whole ship was trying to find us. What’s going on?”
“Very well.” Garrick stepped to a side table and crossed his arms, drawing everyone’s attention. O’Connell remained at the door. Through the steeply angled windows, he could see the foredeck, with two spotless anchor winches and scuttles along the gleaming teak deck. Over the rail was Long Wharf and Columbus Park. Even their car was just visible, past the crowds.
“It was murder,” he said.
Three voices at once:
“How do you know?”
Garrick looked at Eccles. “Counselor, you have a concealed-carry permit.”
“That’s no secret. It’s public record.”
“They’re hard to get in Massachusetts. Really hard. We don’t live in Texas.”
“It means substantial certification requirements, including firearms training.”
“Pfft.” Eccles made a dismissive gesture.
“Was there really a codicil? Because neither Harrison nor Blakely seemed to know about it.”
“If they didn’t, then they had no motive.” Garrick stared him down.
Harrison spoke up. “Are you saying—why would he want Jake dead?”
“You told me yourself.” Garrick turned to him. “Jacob Fraxton planned to fire Eccles. Too expensive, maybe there were other problems, we don’t know. But Eccles’ gravy train was leaving the station.” He looked around. “Gravy boat?—no, never mind.”
“That’s nothing more than groundless, scurrilous speculation.”
“CSU found two prints on the handgun.”
“Impossible!” Eccles caught himself and blanched. “That is, what fingerprints could . . . Jacob showed me his weapons collection, I may have picked one up. Any further inference would be meaningless.”
Blakely moved to sit alongside Harrison, who put his arm around her.
“The elevator was closed,” she said. “Moving, between floors. How could anyone have been in there with Jake?”
“No one was,” Garrick said.
They gaped at him.
“But you said it was murder.” Harrison spoke first.
“Yes.” Garrick let the moment stretch. “The ‘cordite.’ Gunsmoke. That was the clue.”
O’Connell’s head jerked up, and he stared at Eccles. “Damn,” he said.
“Right,” said Garrick. “Everyone agrees that when they ran into the atrium, the elevator was still moving, between decks, with the doors shut. If the gunshot they heard had been inside, the smoke would have been inside too.”
“But there were no holes in the glass,” said Harrison. “He was definitely shot inside.”
“It’s the Fourth of July.” Garrick waited. “We’ve been hearing firecrackers go off all weekend.”
Blakely shook her head. “I still don’t get it.”
Garrick stepped away from the table. “Eccles didn’t want to lose his position overseeing the Fraxton billions. He came to the Whiz Bang early this morning, waited until Fraxton was somewhere else, and took the pistol from his suite. I have no idea if the elevator setting was planned, or just a convenient opportunity. But after you spoke—” he looked at Harrison and Blakely—“Eccles slipped in and fired at Fraxton, just as he stepped into the elevator.”
At this point Garrick pulled the evidence bag from his pocket and held it up. “Using this—a suppressor.”
Blakely audibly gasped. No one else moved.
Garrick looked at Eccles. “We found it in your file case, Counselor. I assume you planned to dispose of it as soon as possible—too many crew around, perhaps?”
Still no response, so he continued, “After that, Eccles simply let the elevator doors close. A few seconds later, when it was twenty feet up, he set off a firecracker. That was the smell everyone noticed when they came running in, and by then Eccles had made himself scarce.”
Harrison jumped up and lunged at Eccles, who tumbled backward off his chair. O’Connell moved in, trying to separate them. Garrick called into his radio and a moment later the Harbor Unit officer came rushing through the door, still holding his MP5.
“Thank you, Sergeant.” Garrick nodded as O’Connell pulled Eccles to his feet, hands behind him. “I think we have it under control now.”
They stood on the afterdeck, watching as Eccles was walked into a custody van by three uniformed officers. The crowd line was still fifty yards back, but camera crews were filming and a news helicopter buzzed overhead. The lawyer would be getting far more than his fifteen minutes.
“Hard to see someone like that doing something so dumb,” said O’Connell.
“What’s funny is, he told me himself.” Garrick sighed. “When people are around that kind of money—on the outside, looking in—they change. You can’t trust anybody.”
“Some way to live.”
A seagull landed on the rail and looked around, but every surface was scrubbed and shined, offering not even the smallest crumb or snack. After a moment, the bird squawked and flew off.
“Come on,” said Garrick. “Back to the real world.”