One day. It’s difficult to pick one—nearly all my days in Sea Harbor are filled with interesting things. But there is one I might want to talk about. It was a recent Monday, one worth revisiting, a day that launched all of us into the Sea Harbor summer with a vengeance. Or at least with enough tension and mystery and problems to force a resolve to bring back the peaceful summer for which we wait all winter.
It was a beautiful day, with a scattering of clouds against the blue sky, a harbor alive with activity—whale watching boats, fishing vessels, pleasure boats. The screech of gulls and kids running freely across the harbor green, celebrating the end of another school year. A typical June day in Sea Harbor.
But there was something not quite right that Monday. For starters, there was a mysteriously absent Birdie Favazza. Birdie is one of my dearest friends and our oldest seaside knitter. Occasionally we worry unduly about Birdie, a fact that she is quick to scold us about.
“I am fit as a fiddle,” is how she puts it. And, in truth, she is, though her octogenarian status still worries us now and then.
“She said she’d meet us here,” I told the others as we gathered around a back table at Garozzo’s Deli for lunch.
“Maybe she’s just late?” Cass suggested. Cass sometimes took Mondays off, leaving her brother Pete to bait the traps and check the lines, and having her meet us for lunch was a treat. But she couldn’t stay long, she told us. She had an appointment at the bank.
“Now, Cass—” I began. But Cass stopped my words with a wave of her hand. We all knew the Halloran Lobster Company had fallen on tough times. And Cass, with a streak of Irish stubbornness that rivaled any I’d ever seen, was determined to single-handedly keep it afloat, though we all wondered how. And the lines on her forehead that day told us she wondered, too.
“Birdie mentioned yesterday that she’d be at the City Council meeting tonight,” Izzy offered.
“Maybe two events in one day were too much for her. It’s almost too much for me, but I promised Ben I’d be there tonight. So I will.” Cass swallowed the last bite of a prosciutto sandwich and hurried off.
“Odd,” Izzy said, finishing off a piece of lemon cake and pulling out her wallet. “Birdie thinks those council meetings are boring. I’d have thought she’d pick lunch with her best friends over that.”
“But they’re talking about the community garden Ben is starting up,” I reminded her, a project my husband had drawn us all into. “Birdie will go to support it. Not to mention the fate of her friend Finnegan—also on tonight’s agenda.”
“Ah, Finnegan,” Izzy mused. “I almost forgot that his land is being debated tonight. Poor Finn. It’s certainly true that his land is full of junk, wild weeds, not to mention ugly, but it’s his. Why all these developers think they can take it away from him is mystery.”
But it wasn’t really so much of a mystery (certainly not any more than Birdie’s absence again that night at the council meeting was). His land was an eyesore—but worth a fortune.
Finnegan was a fixture in Sea Harbor, an old fisherman who had turned eccentric in recent years, warning people away from his land with a well-aimed shotgun. About the only people he allowed passed the rusty fence around the seaside property were Cass Halloran and her mother Mary. Finn had once worked with Cass’ dad and loved the family, not to mention Mary’s Irish stew and soda bread. The land was an eyesore. At the least, cleaning it up would please some of the people. But Finnegan would have none of it.
Unbeknownst to all of us, he showed up at the meeting that night, listening to the debate from the back shadows of the room. When the arguing was through, he announced his presence, and told all of us that the developers would get his land over their dead bodies. Or his. We weren’t sure at the time.
Ben suggested dinner at the yacht club after the meeting. Food and good wine calmed emotions, he said. So we gathered there, still concerned that Birdie hadn’t shown up nor answered her phone.
But we were hungry—so Ben got a big table near the veranda doors, big enough for Izzy and her husband, Sam, along with Cass and Danny Brandley. And me, of course. It turned out the yacht club was a good choice, not only because the food was terrific, but also because the mystery of the missing Birdie would be solved. Well, actually only partially solved, with a new one piled on top of it.
When we walked across the restaurant, we spotted her —our Birdie—sitting across from a handsome stranger behind a row of ficus trees.
She was clearly animated and thoroughly enjoying herself. And in the company of a dashing white-haired gentleman none of us had ever seen before.
That Monday was the beginning.
But before the week was over, we’d have a pile of concerns and unknowns as high as Izzy’s new shipment of organic cotton yarn.
A skeleton in Birdie Favazza’s closet. A floundering lobster company. A determined old fisherman. A dead body nearly buried in leaves. A suspicious inheritance. And a charming Italian ten-year-old who would steal our hearts.
The summer of A FATAL FLEECE had begun. To learn how it ends, look for A FATAL FLEECE, available May 1st.
** Thanks to the Sally, I have one (1) copy of A FATAL FLEECE to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends May 10. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **
Meet the author
Sally Goldenbaum has been writing forever, with 30-plus published novels to date. In between, she has taught college English and philosophy, high school Latin, worked in public television (where she had the honor of rubbing shoulders with Mr. Rogers for a brief time), edited a bioethics journal and veterinary medicine publications, and raised three great children. The Seaside Knitters mystery series was born right along with four wonderful grandchildren in need of sweaters and hats and scarves. A match made in heaven. Visit Sally at www.sallygoldenbaum.com.