Secret of the Puzzling Picnic Basket...Part 2


Bridget leaned over the faded and stained oak bar and asked the back of the bartender again,
"Oh,come on, Chandra.
You haven't seen anybody carrying this picnic basket around? Some mysterious stranger wandering by?"

He stopped stocking the glasses to turn all 5 feet 6 inches of swarthy head and belly around to look at her and the picnic basket in question, both sitting next to a half eaten plate of pizza rolls and watery glass of soda floating in a pool of its own sweat.
"I haven't seen anybody but the regulars, you two run-abouts, and the couple in room 12 from Corbin, Kentucky--your piece of country," as he pointed a crooked finger in my direction. "This place has been dead. And, if there were any fingerprints on that card you've worn them down to a nub now."
Bridget dropped the business card she'd been turning over and over in her hand like it was a lit match.

"Look, why don't you just call your mum and dad?" Chandra asked.

"They're not answering," I said. "They left on Friday for their vacation to Canada and then they're taking some train to somewhere. I can't get a hold of the neighbors either."

I drummed my fingers on the bar top out of synch with the ceiling fan blades beating overhead and looked at the bottle of Corona sitting before me like it held the answers to questions I kept repeating in my head. What was going on here? Granted, I watched way too much Law and Order, but what else are you going to do after the bars close in a tourist dump like this? Besides, crime shows or not, something didn't feel right. This has to be some kind of a joke, but I just wasn't getting it.

I don't even have any friends left to pull a joke on me since I broke up with Mark six weeks ago. His sister had been my best friend for the past eight years. She's the one who introduced us. Nobody from that family's talking to me, and my own family is grudgingly on speaking terms with me. Like on a need to know basis. Mark was the son they never had. "But, Evie, he's such a good man," my mother moaned. "You've put so much time in this and your father and I were counting on a wedding."

A wedding. That was the stone sticking in my craw. Mark graduated from business college this May and thought it was time for us to get married. "Get married or break-up," was how he put it once we were in the middle of our third fight on the subject. He said he didn't mean it that way, but to be honest, that was really the way things were. He wanted to get on with a "real life." He'd gotten a job at National City, wanted to talk about getting a house, and being a family.

Me--I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up, don't know where I want to live, but it sure as hell is not Dayton, Ohio. I'm the one that just changed majors in the middle of my junior year at Eastern Kentucky University. Criminal Justice to Nursing. Maybe someone might notice that I'm not exactly stable in my decision making abilities right now.

So, no friends. No boyfriend. No family talking to me except Bridgie. Just me and the happy guests and the barebones not-so-happy staff at the fabulous Calloway Cottages in Bon Secour Bay, Alabama. What I wanted to do was to get in my Jeep Cherokee and drive straight through to home to find out what was going on. Call Mark to help me. But then I thought about the gas money I'd need and don't have and then I started thinking maybe somebody wants me to leave Alabama right now. They want me out of the way for some reason. Where does that leave my sister and who could take over my waitressing shifts here? Why would someone want me gone?


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