Days went by without any word from The Parents and no further clues to solve The Secret of the Puzzling Picnic Basket. We had three more cottages filled with families and the restaurant and bar were getting a decent amount of business from the neighboring native Bon Secourians and the RV park down the road. Bridge and I might be able to make enough money to pay for our tuition AND books by the time the fall session of school started. It had been an especially long week. I was looking forward to being off duty and sleeping in tomorrow morning. Maybe some shopping up at the outlet mall in Foley. I was wondering the exact time the Shoe Warehouse opened when Chandra's voice filled the air.
"You could call the police."
I snorted a mouthful of beer back into the bottle, onto my Tshirt and laughed.
"I think if the words drunk and walking aren't involved our Sheriff Taylor won't be interested."
Yes, we have our own Sheriff Taylor here in Bon Secour. Christopher "Skip" Taylor. Sheriff Skippy. Skippity-Do-Da. Skip's claim to fame around here is trolling up and down Highway 180 and arresting our customers for "walking under the influence"/public intoxication. He was also my first kiss the summer I turned 12 years old and he was 15. And, he was my first broken heart when his letters dwindled quickly down to zero that school year. A couple of summers ago he was talking a lot about taking away the restaurant's liquor license and arresting Chandra for serving alcohol to drunk people. I don't know whatever became of that, but we still serve alcohol and Chandra still works here.
It was a little past midnight and our last diners had been gone almost an hour. Our closing time was 1am. and Chandra closed at 1am despite the lack of any business. He was a stickler for the rules and I guess I couldn't blame him much. We had fallen into the habit of sitting on the restaurant's deck looking at the lights of the high rise condos across the bay dancing overtop the water. Chandra had his nightly glass of Macallan scotch straight up and a cigar and, now that I was 21, I was able to drink a beer out here with him.
"Besides, what's the crime? Littering with a picnic basket?" I shook my head. "I don't have anything to go to Skip about. It would be embarrassing. Bridget and I are going to keep calling Mom and Dad. They've got to get phone service somewhere in Canada. Bridgie even has her sorority sisters calling them."
We sat in silence, which wasn't all that silent with the muted music from the restaurant behind us and the cresendos of the tree frogs surrounding us. We watched a motorboat traveling west towards the mouth of the bay.
"Do you think Mark could have left that basket? Maybe Bridget helped him?" I asked quietly in the darkness.
Chandra said nothing for so long I looked over to see if he had fallen asleep. I could see the tip of his cigar flicker and flare and the glint of it in his eyes.
"I think if your sister knew anything about this she would have told everyone she's met."
I waited. Chandra had a talent for giving out the tiniest bits of information and answers that he could.
"What about Mark?"
I waited another long minute before I heard, "A man will do extraordinary things for the woman he loves, not always good things. I think Mark loves you, but I don't see him having the imagination for this."
He was right about Mark's lack of imagination. Well, he was right about both of them. I wasn't sure why I felt so deflated. It felt good to hear that somebody thought Mark still loved me and I felt really guilty about feeling good about it. I was also tired of thinking about that stupid business card. My brain actually felt bruised. My hair hurt. And if this wasn't a practical joke or a romantic ploy what was the point behind an abandoned picnic basket and faked car dealership? I was ready to chalk it up to random strangeness when my cell phone started chirping like birds.