Bob sighed. “Monty and I were old school pals. I hadn’t spoken to him in at least five years when we talked about the Founders’ Day celebration.”
“And what did the conversation entail?” Tricia asked.
“We talked about him flying the banner over the village. He wanted to supply it, too, but I nixed that. The Chamber gave the job to one of our members, Stan Berry, the guy with the sign shop in his garage over on Pine Avenue.”
“I met him at one of the Chamber breakfasts,” Tricia said, mentally putting a face to the name.
“He did a real good job on it. Too bad it got torn all to shreds. We could’ve used it at other functions.”
Tricia had to bite her tongue not to chastise Bob for being so cheap. Losing the banner was the least of the losses from that plane crash. She let it go. “Tell me about Monty,” she said, her voice soft.
Bob shrugged. “He had a little puddle jumper outside of Milford. He told me he needed the work. I guess things hadn’t been going well in the air transport business of late.”
“What kind of services did he offer?”
“Mainly picking up parts or contracts and ferrying them to nearby cities. Back in the day, he flew to Boston on a regular basis, taking off from all the little strips around here. He was based outside of Milford but flew to Rochester and Concord all the time. Then the market tanked and . . . well, you know how it goes.”
She sure did. Too many people lost their livelihoods when the economy took a nosedive. Tricia had been among the few who had not only hung on but somehow made a profit. Angelica had done the same. Sadly, not all their fellow Chamber members had been so lucky.
“Did you know much about Mr. Capshaw’s experience? I mean, you did check his references and the like, right?”
Bob’s gaze dipped once again. “He was an old school pal. I hadn’t heard anything bad about him—and believe me, I hear all the dirt. As far as I knew, everything was on the up-and-up. This was just a tragic accident, Tricia. And I’m sure the NTSB is going to rule it as such.”
Then why had he been intently going over contracts and insurance forms?
Tricia saw the letterhead for CAPSHAW AERONAUTICS on the top pile of papers. Oh, how she longed to just snatch up the papers and run with them, but even she wasn’t that eager to suffer Bob’s ire. She tried another tack.
“I’m sorry, Bob. I didn’t know Mr. Capshaw was your friend. You’re probably suffering just as much as the rest of us who are mourning Deborah’s death.”
“She was my friend, too, you know.” Bob actually sounded hurt, as though no one had considered his feelings. The fact that he seldom showed any emotion might have had something to do with that, but Tricia decided to be charitable. “The funeral is tomorrow morning at nine.”
He nodded. “I’ll make a point to be there.”
There didn’t seem to be much more to add to the decidedly one-sided conversation. Bob could be tight-lipped when he wanted—and now seemed like one of those times.
Tricia stood. “I’d better get back to my store. Elizabeth needs help over at the Happy Domestic, and I promised to loan her Mr. Everett.”
“That’s very generous of you Tricia. You’ve always been a kind person.”
Tricia swallowed. It wasn’t like Bob to hand out compliments. Part of her was willing to take his words at face value. The other part . . . wasn’t so sure.
Mr. Everett had arrived by the time Tricia made it back to Haven’t Got a Clue. Ginny was busy helping a customer, and Tricia made her way to the back of the store and the biographical shelves, where Mr. Everett was busy with what seemed like his favorite pursuit: dusting.
“Good morning, Ms. Miles. And how are you this lovely day?”
“Still sad, I’m afraid.”
Mr. Everett nodded. “Yes, as am I and Grace. Mrs. Black was a lovely woman.”
“Yes, she was.” Tricia waited a moment before continuing. “Mr. Everett, back in June we talked about you helping out at the Happy Domestic. Would you still be willing to do so? Mrs. Crane, Deborah’s mother, could really use your help.”
“I’d be very happy to help out.”
He looked like he was about to say something more, when the woman Ginny had been speaking with raised her purse and waved it at Tricia and Mr. Everett. “Yoo-hoo! William Everett! May I speak to you for a moment? It’s about my son.” She hurried forward, her face flushed, her eyes gleaming like those of a rabid raccoon. “He’s a brilliant boy—and his scholarship money was canceled. Those idiots at Avery Metal Fabricators decided to yank the financial rug right out from under him, and—”
Mr. Everett sighed. He listened for a moment more and then interrupted the woman, handing her a business card. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you’ll have to make your request in writing. There are forms on our Website.”
“But I want to tell you in person just how deserving my boy is—”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I don’t make the determination of who gets how much. The chairman of our gift-giving committee makes the decision based on need. Now, please, unless you wish to make a purchase here at Haven’t Got a Clue, I’m afraid I cannot help you.”
The woman took the card with bad grace, shoving it into her purse. “Well, of all the selfish, hard-hearted bastards,” she growled, turned on her heel, and stalked toward the exit.
A dejected Mr. Everett sighed. “Ms. Miles, I’m sorry that all these . . . these money grubbers keep showing up here at Haven’t Got a Clue. Since the newspapers and TV stations reported where I live and work, I can’t get away from them. Winning that lottery money was the worst thing that could have happened to us.”
People looking for a handout had become more than a slight inconvenience, and Tricia felt sorry for Mr. Everett and his wife, Grace. They’d been the victims of boorish behavior far more than she had. It was Grace who’d set up the Everett Charitable Foundation, took care of the Website, and gave out the grants, while Mr. Everett did his best to keep a low profile.
“Don’t worry about it. Now, getting back to the subject of the Happy Domestic, would you mind going over there right now?”
“Not at all.” He surrendered his Haven’t Got a Clue apron, put away his lambs’-wool duster, and grabbed the Red Sox baseball cap he’d recently taken to wearing. “If anyone asks for me, please don’t tell them where I’ve gone—unless it’s Grace, of course.”
“You have my word,” Tricia promised, and smiled. “But I can’t guarantee people won’t go looking for you. It’s happened before.”
Mr. Everett sighed. “That’s true. I do wish I could don a disguise. I wonder, should I grow a moustache?”
“How about one like Hercule Poirot’s,” Tricia suggested as she walked him toward the exit.
Mr. Everett scowled. “I was thinking more like Tom Selleck.”
“That would look good, too,” Tricia agreed, and tried not to laugh.
“I think I should have started back in June.” He paused at the doorway. “Would you like me to report in here at Haven’t Got a Clue this evening after I leave the Happy Domestic?”
“That won’t be necessary.”
“Then I shall have Mrs. Crane verify my work time.”
“Very good,” Tricia agreed.
“I’d be happy to work there tomorrow, too,” he said.
“Deborah’s funeral is planned for tomorrow. I don’t think they’ll be opening.”
“So soon?” Mr. Everett asked. Tricia nodded. “What about Sunday?” he asked.
“If Elizabeth decides to open, I can always ask Ginny to work here, and if she can’t, I’m sure I can manage on my own for a day. I’ll call you later should anything change.”
Mr. Everett nodded and then pulled his ball cap down low on his brow and opened the door. He poked his head outside, took a furtive glance around, gave her a quick good-bye, and then exited the store, pulling the door shut behind him.
“Sorry about that,” Ginny apologized. “I tried to steer that woman toward Grace’s Website, but when she saw Mr. Everett standing there . . .”
“I’m sure it’s not the last time it’ll happen. I feel so sorry for both of them. All Mr. Everett wanted to do was pay off his debts. And now he’s being hounded night and day by a bunch of deadbeats.”