Today's Reading

"My wife...she's been shot, killed. Could you call the police?" Saying the words aloud hit Christian hard. His eyes watered and his body quaked, the agonizing reality clawing like a beast at his gut. He sank weak kneed on a bench in the cockpit. Hunched over with his face in his hands, he muttered, "It's my fault, my fault. I'm so sorry, Allie."

For a moment, the three fishermen glanced at one another, apparently too stunned to speak or move. The old man said, "I'll make da call. Drop da fenders and tie his sloop off."

The two men grabbed the Catalina's stern and aft lines, securing Hank's Dream to their fishing boat as the old man stepped onto the dock and shuffled to a pay phone on the street.

Within five minutes, the first squad car arrived, lights flashing and siren blaring. Christian saw the old man point at him while talking to two black police officers. They hustled down the dock with the old man trailing and stepped aboard the trawler.

The police officers climbed aboard his sloop. They stared at him, but their gaze quickly shifted to the blood-stained deck. "Mister, your wife was killed?" one officer asked.

Christian swallowed and glanced at the cabin. "She's on the bed in the front berth."

One officer went below. The other remained beside Christian and asked him preliminary questions: his name, his wife's name, address, if he was the sloop's owner, and why he was in the Bahamas. In a daze, Christian mumbled the answers as the cop wrote on a notepad. The other officer returned to the open deck and whispered into his partner's ear. "Please come with us, Mr. Roberts," the first officer said. "A sergeant will follow up with more questions."

As the two officers escorted Christian down the creaky wooden dock, he felt wobbly, his equilibrium off balance on solid land after days at sea on a rocking boat. He stared at the street that now resembled a carnival. Three more police cars and an ambulance had arrived on the scene. Amid blinking red lights, roughly a dozen policemen awaited him, along with a small crowd of spectators, the commotion drawing the curious out of the local businesses. All eyes focused on Christian. Being a lofty Caucasian, he stood out like a sail on a dusk sea among the Bahamians.

One officer instructed Christian to wait beside a police car. He chewed a thumbnail as he leaned against the fender and watched more officers crawl aboard his boat. He heard the trawler's diesel engine engage and saw the fishing boat motor away from the dock, yielding its space to Christian's sloop. Using the bowline, the police pulled Hank's Dream into the empty slot that gave them easier access to his boat, and Allie.

"Mr. Roberts," said a man's voice, "I'm Sergeant Drake. Could you please come with me?" Drake was a middle-aged black man of medium height with a thin mustache above a full mouth of large bright teeth. His accent was proper British and lacked the heavy Bahamian twang.

Christian followed him to another squad car.

Drake opened its back door and glanced at the growing throngs of tourists and locals that lined the street. "Please get in. I think it would be better to take your statement at headquarters."

Christian put one foot into the car but stopped, watching a white van arrive with CORONER written on its side. He shuddered and slipped into the backseat, grateful he would not be here when Allie's body was offloaded. Drake and a younger officer took the front seats. The trip through town was short, the riders sullen; no one spoke.

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