Sudden rain battered Bermuda that morning, pounding the whitewashed roof on its way to the cistern. Rivulets coursed down the windows. Wind bent the old trees that stood in front of the house, survivors of hurricanes of the last fifty years. Beyond the trees, the whitecaps crashed against the grey dock and up onto the white stones stacked along the shore. Anne turned from the window when she saw the car arrived. Usually she took the bus when she went anywhere without her sister, but this was a taxi sort of day.
A sweeping drive led off the street and around an immense ornamental pond to Hamilton's city hall. At the top of the welcoming arms staircase, two-story white pillars guarded the doors. A replica of the ship Discovery decorated the summit of the clock tower, gleaming in the sudden sunshine. Below it the clock with its sea-blue face chimed ten o'clock.
Wide Bermuda cedar stairs, carpeted in deep red, led up from the foyer to an encircling mezzanine. Anne paused to admire the portraits of a young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, copies of the Winterhalter oils that hung in Windsor Castle that flanked the entrance to the National Art Gallery.
She spent a pleasant but solitary two hours in the permanent collection of paintings, furniture and objets d'arte made by Bermuda artists or inspired by the islands. At noon, she thanked the volunteer at the desk and signed the guest book. There was still time to see an exhibition of art by local children that hung in a room at the other end of the mezzanine. She opened the door.
A scene from a movie. The sound effect, a muffled explosion. One man down, the other searching his pockets. She, screaming, frozen for a moment.
He heard her, jerked his head towards her and away and fled through the exit door. She raced across the endless meters that separated her from the young black man crumpled on the floor.
She pulled off her jacket and knelt by his body; blood was spurting from the hole in his navy tee shirt. The wound punctuated the proud words written on his shirt--Bermuda Born. So young she thought. So young. The soft white cotton of her jacket, pressed against his chest, turned red beneath her hands. His fading heart fluttered and stopped; color faded from his lips; the pupils in his dark brown eyes dilated. She started chest compressions, but she knew it was too late. The bullet must have gone straight through his heart.
He had no chance. No chance.
"Help," she screamed again. "Help me!"
Blood seeped from beneath the body and congealed on her yellow linen skirt -- a thickening, dull-red jelly.
A man in a grey uniform, perhaps a security guard, appeared at the top of the staircase, ran towards her along the blue carpet, stopped, his mouth opened to speak, and then he wheeled into the Art Gallery.
Where was he going? Couldn't he see she was in trouble?
A woman appeared in the gallery door, the volunteer from the desk inside, gasped and disappeared.
"Stop. Come back."
Hours passed, or so it seemed. The movements developed an automatic rhythm, useless, but automatic. Sweat dripped into her eyes and her shoulders ached. Her own heart beat a frantic rhythm too, but she couldn't stop; didn't want to let him go. The iron smell of blood, mixed with a fecal stench rose from the body. She gagged and turned aside, afraid she would vomit into the wound, and then started again. At last two paramedics reached her and one took her place on the body. A few people -- the volunteer from the gallery, the security guard, three others -- stood watching from the safety of the gallery door.
Anne sat back against the wall and pulled in her feet, away from the blood that seemed to creep towards her.
The man--the shooter--looked back at her when she shouted at him, wrenched something from his victim's hand and ran to the exit: a strange man-- white skin and white hair beneath a ball cap. Something odd about his walk, not a limp, exactly. His gait was uneven, a slight hesitation with his right leg. She thought she'd seen him before. But where and when?
She watched the familiar routine of intravenous fluids and cardiogram and then the final decision that he was gone. A second crew arrived and another paramedic came to her. Anne stood up to speak to him and then sat down and folded her arms into her suddenly cold body.
"I'm a doctor," she introduced herself. "His heart stopped about 11:47."
A uniformed policeman asked her to come with him. They walked through into the gallery and behind the counter to a small office. Anne sat in an green upholstered chair, opposite a young woman taking notes.
"I'm Deputy-Inspector Spottiswood, of the Serious Crimes Unit," said the woman. "I understand you found the body. May I have your name please?"
"I'm Anne McPhail. I'm a physician. He was alive when I got to him but died moments later."
The woman kept her head down while she scribbled in a black-covered notebook, the kind workmen used to keep track of their hours. Anne gave her sister's address and added that she was visiting Bermuda from Canada.
"What is your address in Canada?"
Still no eye contact. Was it some kind of investigatory technique, or was the detective just a rude woman? She gave the address of her house in Bridgenorth, in Ontario. She focused on the view of blue sky and white roofs visible through the window behind her questioner. Still the woman kept her dark head bent, her gaze on the stubby yellow pencil in her hand and on the words she was adding. Her writing was almost printing. She added a star to one line, then another. What did she say that was so important, Anne wondered.
"And your business address?"
"I said that I've retired."
"Aren't you a little young for retirement?" The woman raised one eyebrow, and her gaze flickered towards the constable standing behind Anne.
"Perhaps." What concern was that to the police? Anne could feel the heat rising in her face and knew it would be flaming red in a few seconds. When was this woman going to get past the irrelevant?
The questions that followed were more of the same: exact details of when she arrived; what pictures she looked at; where she was going when she left, and so on.
"Did you recognize the man who ran away?"
Anne turned to look at the woman and found brown eyes staring into hers. They should have been soft, to match her wide mouth and neatly rounded chin, but they were, not hard, but unyielding.
"No, or rather he reminded me of a man I sat beside on the plane yesterday."
"What did he look like?"
"I can describe the man on the plane, but I had only the briefest glimpse of the one who ran out of here this morning. Certainly not enough to swear that it was the same man. He -- the man on the plane -- was over six feet, average weight for that height, white hair, thick, pale skin. He could have been albino except his eyes were grey, not blue."
"What reminded you?"
"Just his walk, or rather his run. He pushed past me on the gangway from the plane and I watched him walk across the tarmac, and it was the same gait, or so I thought. The man who shot the boy was about the same height and weight, and I think his hair was white, but he was wearing a ball cap, so I'm not sure."
"What was wrong with his gait? Was he crippled in some way? Use a cane?"
"None of that. Just a little hesitation on the right."
"Not really enough."
"As I said."
Anne waited again for the yellow pencil to catch up with what she'd said. The view out the window hadn't changed, except for a tiny spot of orange on one roof. Anne watched it creep across the white tiles. A ginger cat she thought, hunting.
"Did you know the victim?"
"No." She saw a brief change of expression on the other woman's face. She didn't believe her, Anne thought, and felt her chest tighten.
"We'll need to search you, Doctor."
"We have ascertain whether or not anyone on the scene has a gun. Please go with the constable."
Anne handed over her purse and her raincoat. She was wearing a simple short-sleeved blue shirt and pale yellow skirt, or at least it had been yellow. Little room to conceal a weapon, she thought, but a woman constable took her into the gallery of children's art, and waited until she stripped to her underwear and dressed again in a set of hospital greens. At least no body cavity search.
"I need to wash."
"We have to check you hands and fingernails, so no washing right now."
"You have no idea whether this young man had infectious disease."
"Take it up with the Inspector."
The Deputy Inspector started again when they joined her.
"Why are you on Bermuda?"
"Before we go on, I need to clean my hands."
"Now." The Inspector, looked again at the standing male constable, who left and returned with a scene of the crime technician. When he finished, he handed Anne wipes and disinfectant for her hands.
"Why are you on Bermuda?
"Visiting my family."
"So why aren't you visiting them?"
"My sister works mornings, and I wanted to visit the gallery. I'm supposed to meet her for lunch. She's called me several times, I'm sure, but you have my cell phone. She'll come looking for me any moment."
"Is your sister a Bermuda citizen?"
Anne wondered what difference that made, but answered, "Yes." She gave her sister's name and that of her brother-in-law and the name of his business. "I would like my belongings back now, and I would like to call my sister." She stood up.
"You expect me to just take your word for all of it: the man who ran away; the time of death; how long you spent in the gallery." The detective was standing now, leaning over the desk that separated them.
"As to the last, I spoke to the volunteer on the desk in there, when I went in and said good-bye when I left. I was the only visitor so perhaps she'll remember me. As to the time of death, the EMS attempted to resuscitate him. I expect they don't usually try that on the long dead. As to the first, yes you only have my word. When you check on me, you'll find my word is good."
"We'll ask you to surrender your passport, which I see you're not carrying."
"Does Bermuda law require that I carry it at all times?"
"I'll surrender it after I speak to my consulate and a lawyer. I would like my cell phone back, please."
"We've bagged it as evidence."
"Evidence of what? I would like a receipt."
A uniformed police officer spoke to the detective and handed her an evidence bag.
"Do you recognize this, Doctor McPhail?"
Anne could see a gun of some sort, fitted with what she assumed was a silencer, through the dull plastic.
"I know nothing about guns and I certainly don't recognize that one. I'm a physician, Detective. I don't shoot people. My job is to save them."
"It was found just outside the exit door. Why would that mysterious man of yours have left his weapon behind?"
"Again, I have no idea...and he's not my man."
"We'll be checking it for fingerprints and DNA."
"You won't find mine."
A constable whispered into Spottiswood's ear.
"Your sister is at the front door. You can go now, Doctor, but don't leave Bermuda. If you try, we will stop you and we will arrest you."
Anne could sense the other two police in the room watching her, waiting for her reply. She caught a raised-eyebrow glance between the two men.
"Stop threatening me, Deputy Inspector. I did nothing except to find this unfortunate young man. My lawyer will be in touch regarding my passport and my phone."
At that Anne turned and stalked past the other two police, under the yellow tape and down the stairs. She could see Liz beyond the front door. A knot of police and others Anne thought were reporters stood between them. A fair-haired woman stepped forward and the man beside her started his camera recording.
"Doctor McPhail, Doctor McPhail. Can you describe what happened for us? Who was shot? Do you know him?" the English voice demanded.
How the hell did they get her name all ready? Did the police give it to them? Maybe the woman in the gallery?
"No comment," Anne said. She could see Liz again, just a glimpse of her blonde head through the throng of yelling reporters. Anne turned to a policeman who cleared a path through the crowd for her.
"What happened?" Liz began when Anne reached her. "Are you hurt?"
"No. Just get me out of here. I have to talk to you and Dave. I need a lawyer." Anne forced the words out past a constriction in her throat, and willed herself to breathe.
"What happened?" Liz asked again, when the car doors closed them in. Her pale brows knitted above worried blue eyes.
"I found a man shot up there. He died before I could do more than try to stop the bleeding. Just a young man, Liz, no older than Martin." She brushed away tears and leaned forward into her hands.
"Who was he?" Liz took her hand off the key and waited.
"Drive, drive. I don't want to stay here any longer."
"Who was he?" Liz pulled away from the curb and into the airport traffic.
"I don't know. If the police know, they didn't say. And the investigator, a woman called Spottiswood, is threatening me with arrest if I try to leave the island. And she wants me to surrender my passport!"
"Can she do that?"
"I have no idea. That's why I have to go to the consulate and get a lawyer."
"I think we have to talk to Dave and Martin."
"Do you want to go home first? Clean off the blood?"
Anne pulled down the sun visor. Her face was smeared with blood; the platinum streak in her hair thick, brown and matted.
"The police didn't take me to a washroom, even after I was searched. They took scrapings from under my fingernails and swabbed my hands and arms for gunshot residue. They gave me wipes for my hands but said nothing about blood on my face. And then they let me walk out, blood all over me. And someone gave the press my name. The pictures in the newspapers will convict me."
"Don't start, Anne. Don't jump ahead. You're not arrested, after all."
"That woman frightened me."
At Dave's office, the assistant stood up and walked around her desk to shake hands with Liz.
"Madeline, is Dave free? We have to speak to him. This is my sister, Anne McPhail."
"His meeting will be over in a few minutes. I'll tell him that you're here. Can I do anything else for you? Tea?"
Her gaze dropped to Anne's still grubby hands and then her streaked face. "Something stronger?"
"Tea." Anne sank into a metal armchair. The dark green fabric of the back and seat felt rough through the thin cotton of the hospital greens.
"Do you want to clean up? There's a full bath attached to the office," Liz asked again.
But cleaning up had to wait. Dave opened the door behind the assistant's desk. He towered over her five-foot-two sister. His dark blue eyes, brilliant in his tanned face, narrowed when he saw Anne.
"What's going on? Anne, are you hurt?"
"In your office," Liz commanded. Dave raised his eyebrows but followed along as she ploughed through the door and along the hall to his expansive corner office. High windows on two sides gave views of the harbor and the city, and let in the light needed for his work. Two junior architects stood over a model of an office building. Dave asked them for a few minutes privacy and after a glimpse of Anne's face, they scuttled out the door.
"What the hell?"
"Anne found another body." Liz collapsed into a black leather visitor's chair near Dave's desk. Anne took another. Dave stood in the window, looking, or so it seemed, across the harbor. He was curly-haired and blue-eyed, tanned and cheerful, middle-height and middle-aged. Took care of himself, Anne saw -- a little midriff spread but not much -- testimony to the benefits of sailing and Bermuda's hilly landscape.
"Where were you?" he asked when he turned around.
"At the art gallery. When I walked out of the gallery I heard something, like a muffled gunshot. There were two men, one lying on the floor, the other rifling through the fallen man's pockets. When I reached the one on the floor, he was gone. There was nothing I could do for him. He'd been shot, straight through the heart it looked like. I called for help and the paramedics and the police came. A woman called Spottiswood is the investigator and she told me not to try to leave the island and said they would want my passport. Can she do that without charging me with anything?"
"You're a witness. She won't want to let you go."
"They found a weapon just outside the exit door. She showed it to me. A gun with a tube attached to the barrel, a silencer, I suppose.
"The gun's not connected to you, so try not to worry," Liz said.
"I need to talk to the consulate."
"Ken Marshall's a good solicitor. I'll call him," said Dave.
"I don't understand why I need one. I've done nothing. They did the test to see if I'd fired a gun."
"Accomplice," Dave said.
"They may think you're an accomplice."
Wind, whipping torrential rain against her bedroom window, woke Anne the next morning. Black clouds and rain, she thought. Perfect. The weather was tracking her mood. She caught a glimpse of the angry sea through a moon gate in the stacked stone wall that surrounded the property. She jerked the drapes closed. She wanted off the island; wanted to go home to Canada, to her safe little house.
Liz knocked and carried in a jaunty orange tray laden with a white china teapot and two cups. She sat it down on a glass-topped table in front of the window and handed Anne a cup decorated with roses and took one, daisies, for herself, then opened the drapes. She looked casually elegant in a soft blue dress and jacket in a darker shade.
Anne scowled at the open window. "You're up early," she said.
"I have to go to work."
"You're not coming to the lawyer, then? I hoped you would be able to." She pushed away her cup and gripped her hands together until the knuckles turned white.
"No, but Dave stayed home. He'll go with you."
"I hope the lawyer believes me."
"Whether he does or doesn't, his job is to give you advice."
"If he doesn't, how can I expect the police to?"
"Come on, Anne. You should wait to worry about whether or not he believes you until after you meet him. The office is in Hamilton, but I'll see you at home afterwards. Try to relax a little. This isn't like you."
"It is though. I had the same reaction in Vermont, the first time."
Anne dressed for her meeting in a dark green skirt, celery-colored cotton sweater and a jacket that matched the skirt. She added a single gold chain, and wore the ruby and diamond engagement ring that Michael had given her, on her right hand. She struggled a little to get it over the knuckle. Her professional self looked back at her from the mirror. A uniform always helped, she thought.
She sat across the breakfast table from Dave, nibbled toast and picked at a dish of mango slices and strawberries. He took care of himself, Anne saw -- a little. He was a man who never sugarcoated anything, so Anne was certain of blunt answers to her questions.
"Is he a criminal lawyer?"
"You mean does he do the courtroom work?"
"No. He briefs the barrister if it were to come to that. He's a very good lawyer, Anne. Tough and well-respected."
"I still can't believe I'm in this position. What is wrong with that woman? Why did she leap to the conclusion that I must be involved, without knowing the first thing about me?"
"I don't know anything about her, but the lawyer might. We should get going."
Sunshine replaced the wind and rain by the time they left the house. Anne loved the quirky streets in Bermuda: the circular mirrors mounted at intersections; the stone walls, draped in flowers; the morning glories climbing the telephone poles and creeping out along the wires. The street names intrigued her--Flowercote Lane was a favorite. That morning she didn't see any of them.
The lawyer's office inhabited the penthouse level of a four-story building on Church Street. The architect must have been striving for a Caribbean look, Anne thought, judging by the balconies that punctuated the facade, and the deep-set windows,. Small projections from the roofline, on the other hand, suggested a gesture towards the crenulations of English castles. Perhaps it was a new school, Interpretive Caribbean Architecture, or some such.
They took the elevator to the third floor and walked up to the fourth. The foyer, guarded by a single receptionist, opened into a large room, filled with light and sunshine from the tall windows on three sides. Low partitions separated the space into cubicles. Law books lined the walls between and under the windows. The four partners' offices were along the remaining side, with the two seniors in the corners and the juniors in the center.
The lawyer, Ken Marshall, furnished his space in the old-fashioned way -- dark wood furniture and bookshelves, comfortable leather chairs for himself and the client. Pictures of his family occupied a shelf in one corner, visible from his spot behind the desk.
He took the details in the old way too, longhand on a legal-sized yellow pad. Was there a whole industry devoted to creating these pads for lawyers all over the world, Anne wondered, or just Western ones? She liked him: his handshake; his reading glasses, pulled from a desk drawer when she started her story; his deep voice.
"Can they legally take my passport? And should I speak to the consulate?"
"Yes, they can take your passport, but let's wait for an official request. The consulate should know about the trouble. Their office in New York handles Bermuda, but there is an on-island Honorary Consul. I'll call her. If she wants or needs to see you, I'll let you know."
He was taking charge in his lawyerly way, but that just meant she would get her money's worth, not that she would be safe.
"I told the detective you would be in touch."
"Clients say and do many things without discussing it with us first. We can ignore that. Don't speak to them again without me there."
"Do I have the right to ask that you be contacted if they arrest me or take me in for questioning?"
"Yes, you do, if you were arrested. If they ask you to come in for questioning, call me before you go. If they take you, but don't give you time to call, say nothing whatsoever but to ask that I be called."
"Won't they think I'm guilty of something if I behave like that." Yhere was that case of the nurse in Ontario, accused of murdering babies. The press and the crown attorney used the fact that she asked for a lawyer immediately as evidence of guilt. And her roommate was a lawyer! Kafka would have understood.
"Answering questions without advice is dangerous, I urge you to call me."
"I will." He handed her his card, wrote a night phone number on the back, and got down to the business of a retainer, which they paid at the desk. Anne's hand shook a little as she signed the credit card slip for the five-figure fee.
"Do I get some of this back it were to turn out that I don't need much legal help?" she asked.
"Oh, certainly," said clerk.
On the way down in the elevator, Dave told Anne not to expect to see much of the ten thousand again. His son Martin met them at the door when they reached home.
"Dad, the dead guy is Nathan Smith."
"You remember, we looked at his paintings last weekend at the fair. The news said the police thought the death was drug-related. He was a good guy. He didn't do drugs." Anne could hear the outrage in his voice.
"You know they always say that now. Was he a good friend? I don't remember you talking about him."
"No. We just knew some of the same people. He lived at home with his mother and worked on one of the big estates as a gardener and he painted."
Martin had dark curly hair and sea-blue eyes like his father and a mouth that was serious most of the time. His smiles were rare, sudden and dazzling. Not that day.
"I should visit his mother. I'm sure she would want to know that he didn't suffer," Anne said.
"I don't think the police would like that," Dave said.
"Collusion between witnesses."
"For God's sake, Dave. His mother and the woman who held him as he died. You can't be serious." Anne started pacing the length of the room, pausing to look at the Sound for a few seconds, then turning back towards the others.
Liz came in from the kitchen and said, "What's all this uproar about?"
"I want to talk to the boy's mother and Dave thinks the police wouldn't like it."
"You have to be careful, Anne. You're not at home."
"I'm beginning to understand that."
"A bike just turned into the driveway," Martin said. "Are we expecting someone?"
A tiny black woman parked her bike and stood for a moment, looking away from the house towards the Sound, letting the onshore wind blow into her face. She turned and walked up the stairs to the front door. Liz waited for the doorbell to ring and then a few seconds more before she opened it.
"I'm Margaret Smith, Nathan's mother. Could I speak to Doctor McPhail?"
"Yes, of course."
She sat on the sofa, a dark figure in sweater and slacks, a pair of red barrettes in the corn rows that marched across her fine-boned head betraying a taste for color. Perhaps these were her only clothes that weren't vibrant, Anne thought. She sat down beside her and waited in silence. Liz brought in tea and only then did Mrs. Smith speak, her voice heavy, weighed with sadness and tears.
"The police said you were with my boy when he died."
"Yes, I was."
"That detective, Spottiswood, she told me not to talk to you. Why did she say that? Does she think you killed Nathan." Her voice trembled and her eyes searched Anne's face.
"I didn't, Mrs. Smith. I'm a doctor from Canada. I just got here to visit my family. I was only at the gallery to look at the art." Anne leaned forward and touched the woman's large-knuckled hand.
"So was Nathan," she said, and tears overflowed her eyes and coursed down her cheeks. Anne waited.
When Mrs. Smith was calmer, Anne said, "Tell me what happened."
"I came out of the art gallery and saw two men on the mezzanine. One of them slumped to the floor and the other ran out through the exit. I saw that Nathan was bleeding badly from the wound in his chest, and I tried to help him. He wasn't conscious and if he suffered it was only for a moment.
A guard came and looked and a woman from the gallery. They must have called the emergency services because the paramedics came and then the police."
"You don't know who did it?"
"No. I only had a brief glimpse of his face."
"Was he a white man?"
The image of the man's face, dead white skin under a navy-blue ball cap with its New York Yankees logo came into focus in her memory.
"Yes. Yes he was."
"Do you have any idea who would want to kill him?"
"No. There's a girl at Tucker's Point."
Anne knew that the ultra-rich from many countries kept homes in the exclusive enclave of Tucker's Point.
"How did he meet her?" Anne asked.
"He works on her family's estate. He wanted to have some connection to land that should have been ours." She lifted her head to look at Dave, as though he would understand.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Nathan and I have been searching the land records and the genealogy records for years, trying to find what happened to the land our ancestors owned here."
"Sold?" Dave asked.
"No. No. We couldn't find anything about a sale, and my grandmother told me the land was stolen from us. I'm not very good at this research and Nathan was more interested in his art. After he met Candice, he told me not to worry, that the land would be ours when he married her. He was such a dreamer."
"Was he seeing Candice Wainwright?" Martin said.
"He was dreaming. Her father wouldn't let her marry a local."
"How could he stop it?" Liz asked.
"He'd cut her off. Money is very important to Candice. She would never marry anyone without her daddy's approval."
"Nathan told me they were in love," Nathan's mother said.
Anne saw Liz give Martin a little kick and a look that told him to stop talking.
"Maybe Anne could help you with your research," Dave said. "She has a lot of experience."
"I don't know anything about Bermuda genealogy," Anne said.
"You know how to dig."
"That would be wonderful. I just want to know," Margaret said, "I just want to know if Nathan and I were right. I don't expect to get any land back. Could you help me?"
"Perhaps. I'll let you know," Anne said.
Margaret was satisfied with that. Dave called her a taxi and waited outside with her until it arrived.
"What were you thinking?" Anne asked Dave when he came back in the house. "When I start to look at someone else's genealogy, I always get into some kind of trouble."
"If the land should belong to her, it would be helpful to know that."
"Helpful to whom?"
"To you. As a motive for murder that doesn't involve you."