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Quarantine Mystery, XIII

April 7, 2020

Sergeant Romano finally drives off, leaving me with shattered nerves and an overdose of adrenalin coursing through my veins. I find my nine-year-old retriever, Cody, on the porch and spend a few minutes stroking his fur until I feel myself returning to normal. The feeling doesn’t last long because I soon hear a knock at my door, and find Megan Anderson standing there. She is not happy.

“You’ve really done it this time!” she says.

I steer her toward the porch because, number one, on the porch we can sit ten feet away from each other, and number two, we are surrounded by windows, so if she attacks me, the whole world can see. Megan has never, to my knowledge, attacked anyone, but you never know.

“You’ve just got to bring all this crap up again, don’t you?” Megan’s hands are clamped together on her lap.

“What are you talking about?’

“Sergeant Romano calls me and says he needs to talk to me. Why would he want to talk to me? Why? Could it have something to do with the fact that he just finished talking to you?”

“As Victor’s neighbor, I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to talk to me. As his daughter-in-law, I’m not surprised he’d want to talk to you, too.”

“And you told him Victor was killed by a drug overdose which was undoubtedly administered by a family member with known drug connections.”

“I said no such thing. I only said that Victor would never have taken those drugs, so he should look for someone else who might have done it.”

“Like me.”

“I never mentioned your name—not in connection with drugs. I may have mentioned you as a part of Victor’s family. I believe I did mention that you drove Matt here when he discovered his grandfather lying on the kitchen floor.”

“Did you see me that day?

I try to think. Did I? “I don’t think so. I saw Matt, but the next thing I saw was the ambulance flying up the street.”

After I convince Megan I did not implicate her in any way, I bring out Diet Pepsis for both of us and change the subject to enquire about how Matt is adjusting to the sheltering at home thing. Megan answers briefly, then changes the subject again. I just listen.

“Matt doesn’t know everything about how. . . about how his father died. I’ve never known how to tell him . . . and Victor. . . I could never be sure what Victor was telling him either. You know how Victor was. ‘I cannot tell a lie.’ He would have made a good George Washington.”

I think about this. What would I tell Matt if he were my kid?

Martin Anderson, Victor’s son and Megan’s husband, was always, I thought, a sort of weak-willed, spoiled, brat. He was lazy. He did manage to graduate college but couldn’t abide working for a boss, so he went into the coffee importing business, forming his own small company. Shuttling between home and South America, he found the coffee business plagued by bad weather, by customs regulations, and by price fluctuations. He found another source of income to fill in the gaps: importing heroin and cocaine. It must have been easy to sneak in a bit of those drugs along with the unroasted coffee beans. At some point he dropped the coffee pretense altogether, bought a Cessna single-engine plane, and ferried the drugs into the U.S.A. from somewhere in the Caribbean to a small private airport in the western part of Virginia. Plane crashed, DEA agents retrieved the drugs and the body of Martin Anderson.

Victor must have been anguished by the death of his son, but he cooperated with officials in bringing all the other culpable individuals to justice. Megan was never implicated in any of this but I’ve always wondered: How much did she know? Were all those ties to the drug trade broken when Martin died?

I have no reason to believe that Megan has any connections to her husband’s past, but she certainly is acting touchy.

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