Hey, Heidy, and Howdy! It’s your old pal Harry Handy here at internet wonder WOFT, The Old Fart, spinning tunes for you geritol guys and gals…
Online radio is a wonder. Just music with only an occasional scream from the “talent”. Better than the on-air stations where its commercials 24/7. I always hated this part of I-75 when the fog would form in the fields on either side of the road. Lights flashed dimly in the distance, saying conditions were right for a complete whiteout. Singing along made for a good diversion as I drive the tree lined tunnel.
“…next up is that novelty hit from Brooklyn-“The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”…
A semi is ahead of me, trailer listing to the left. It doesn’t look like it would take much for it to go over. Bad spring or a bad load? I don’t want to find out. A glance in my sideview shows the lane is clear and I move on over. A State Trooper is doing a county fundraiser on the right shoulder. Some things never change on this road.
The dealer in Cross Creek had given me the story on the boat. Apparently, a guy about 50 with short blond hair and wore a loud Hawaiian shirt dropped by asking if he would be interested in buying . He claimed it was docked at Lake Orange and had a Florida registration. The dealer asked if there were any pictures and the guy said no. The dealer knew it was a fraud and tried to play it cool. But something spooked Hawaiian Shirt and he took off. The dealer didn’t think much more about it until the Marion County cops had called him to see if he knew anything.
“In the jungle, the mighty jungle…”
The County Mountie handling the case was named McMillan and he was originally from Atlanta. When I called to follow up on the boat, we spent a couple of minutes chitchatting. It turned out we had a couple of mutual acquaintances, but none germane to the Bartlett case. Might be worth meeting him for a beer after this case is over. He confirmed what the dealer said. Hawaiian Shirt called himself George Harvey. I smiled. A new variation on an old alias. That’d be Jerry, alright. But I didn’t say anything. After a little more talk, it was apparent I’d need to come in for an interview. I understood and cleared my calendar. Another bill for the lawyers.
“A wemoweh, a wemoweh. a wemoweh…”
I shut off the radio and and let my mind drift. I brought the case file with me. I knew the cops would be very interested in his past. There was something strange, though. Usually the scam involved scuttling the boat so it wouldn’t be found. Burning a big boat in a way that doesn’t raise suspicion is not an easy task. I imagine the Arson folks have already scoured the wreck to see where the flames started and how. There a lot places to look.
Why would he destroy the boat in the first place? It wasn’t worth much, maybe $25,000 in insurance, assuming they paid at all. Whereas the right sucker might pay double that as a floater. The only thing I could think of would have been to spite Donna, but this was several weeks after her death. I’m getting goofy.
I see the sign saying 20 miles to Valdosta, a little over half way there. Good. The gas gauge is inching toward empty and I need stretch. A billboard for a 24 hour strip bar glows eeriely out of the fog. A scantily clad girl holds a plate deep fried alligator tail in her hand beckoning the travelers to stop. Tail serving tail? I’ll pass. This case is looney enough without Crystal Amber complicating things. The only question would be would I stay the night or go on to Ocala. It didn’t matter. The meeting with McMillan wasn’t until 2 tomorrow. I had time either way.
Motel 6 has left the light on. I need some sleep.
Pic guesses: Editor’s Desk, tools, ready to write, Royal, Typist, Need coffee, organization