Even though the room was locked from the inside and had no windows the assailant could escape through.
The yeoman on duty hadn’t seen or heard anyone.
And the murder occurred in broad daylight. Even though it wasn’t discovered until the next day when the cleaners came in.
That’s when I got the mission call.
Not that they expected someone with long white-blonde hair to solve their mystery.
But then, I’m used to being underestimated because of my looks.
Meanwhile, the evidence had already started disappearing.
I only had a few hours now to solve this and get the culprit.
Before all the leads went colder than the body…
“Good Morning, Erotika Jones!”
That would be Finn. His usual red-headed cheery self. At least he’d brought coffee.
“And top of the morning to you, Finn. I trust that’s simply straight brew, not the Irish version?”
He smiled at that – my point well taken. That hip flask he carried was more like a St. Bernard would wear a cask. And like it, usually held brandy – or so I was told.
I sipped my coffee through an opening in its plastic lid, and found he’d only added honey. We’d worked together long enough that he knew my preferences. I started us walking again. “So, the briefing today?”
“Body found in the CO’s office. Ruled a suicide. The cleaners unlocked his room this morning and found him. Hanging by single strand of paracord from the air vent.”
“What the report had of interest was the rope burns on his wrists.”
I sipped the coffee thoughtfully. “Locked room murder?”
“Probably. Who would tie up his own hands to then untie them and hang himself?”
“No signs of entry?”
“Not obvious, anyway. Windows were sealed by long disuse and painted shut. Only other doors to the room were a closet and bathroom. Both had no outside windows.”
“Vent in the bathroom only for air flow, not large enough to climb through?”
“Right. And the room was locked with the C.O. and the cleaning crew having the only keys.”
Pausing at the entrance to the Port Operations building, I sized up the reception area before entering. “Reception overnight?”
“Nope. It’s locked up tight then. No signs of forced entry or lock picking.”
“Could have been done, though?”
“Possible. Despite the bright lights of the parking area – there’s no traffic on the street to notice anything.”
I scanned around. The Port Ops building was hardly a dozen yards from the water, with an active mooring dock running past its front. Right on Little Creek itself, with nearby Fishermans Cove.
Finn was watching my eyes scan. “You think maybe they came in by boat?”
Turning on my heel, I went back to the corner of the building and looked off to the west behind it. Rails with rolling freight stood, waiting. “Bet you there’s an access road back there. Meaning that this is more a civilian gig than any naval security scene.”
Finn nodded. “Mostly just what port traffic goes in and out.”
I started us walking back to the front entrance. “Now we know that a fast getaway is possible by water or land, let’s see how they did it.”
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