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“I’ll talk to Liam about getting you something,” David said.

“David, really-” She broke off, seeing his eyes. “Pepper spray sounds like something good to keep in my bag,” she agreed.

“All right. Listen for me to call, please,” he told her.

She nodded. “I’ll just get a bite to eat,” she said.

He went his way.

David didn’t know the man he found working at the ice-cream parlor.

When he asked about Danny Zigler, the man exploded, issuing a barrage of Spanish that David didn’t really follow. But he knew enough to understand that Danny Zigler was being cursed.

“I’m sorry-he didn’t show up for work?” David asked.

“The little rat bastard just disappeared,” the man said. “He was due in to open up at eight this morning, clean the machines, get it all going. At ten Mrs. Clasky calls me to tell me that the place is not open, and here I am myself, working, when I gave that good-for-nothing a job!” the man said.

“Did you try calling him?” David asked.

The man glared at him as if he was an idiot. “Of course, I call him! His phone is turned off.”

“Have you been to his house?” David asked.

The fellow, a tall, beefy man, leaned on the counter. “Do you see me here? If I’m here, I’m not going by his house!”

“Do you have an address for him?” David asked.

The man looked angry and exasperated. “You the cops or something?” he demanded.

“I’m the ‘something,’” David told him.

The man stared another moment, muttered, then reached under the counter for a memo pad. He wrote down an address off Union Street. David thanked him.

David’s cell rang as he started toward Union. It was Liam.

“Hey,” David said. “Have they brought anyone in for questioning yet?”

“No. Uniforms are out looking for Danny Zigler, I guess he and Stella were an item, and Pete is trying to track down the crowd that was outside O’Hara’s the other night. He thinks one of those college kids has to know something.”

“Zigler didn’t show up for work.”

“We don’t have anything for a search warrant, and he didn’t answer at his place,” Liam told him.

“So-do you have anything?” David asked.

“Yeah. You’d asked me before about tracing down Mike Sanderson-Tanya’s new boyfriend, the guy she was supposed to meet up at Ohio State.”


“We know this much about Mike Sanderson-he used one of his credit cards for gas in St. Augustine on the thirteenth-the day after Tanya was killed,” Liam said.

Katie felt Bartholomew striding along at her side. She cast a sideways glance his way. “Where have you been?” she asked.

“Naturally, I have been using my charm and persuasion to discover the truth,” he told her.

“Oh? So-where have you been seeking this truth?” she asked him.

“I hung around the museum for a long time, just watching the crime-scene folks,” he said.

“And what did you learn there?”

“That they’re not going to get much of anything. Oh, well, I guess everyone knows this-there was no sign of a break-in. They had the owners and managers all gathered in an area, and that lieutenant fellow-Dryer-was pretty hard on them all, demanding to know how many keys were out and around. Two fellows-snowbirds-own the place, but there are three managers, and they’re all local. Dryer wasn’t getting anywhere, but Liam Beckett tried a bit more of an understanding approach, and it turns out that one of the managers left one of the employees to lock the place up a few nights ago, and she managed to lose the keys. They didn’t rekey the place, they just had another set of keys made. Whoever broke into the place used the keys, apparently knew the alarm code and didn’t disturb a thing-other than the Carl Tanzler/Elena de Hoyos exhibit. Oh-they found Elena. The mannequin of Elena, that is. She was just behind one of the other exhibits. So, this is what I know-whoever did it was bright enough to grab the security tapes, use gloves-and find out the alarm code before bringing in Stella Martin’s body.”

“So we are thinking local,” Katie murmured. “Because I’d say whoever did it had to have followed people around. When the employee lost the keys, he had to have found them-and he had to have known what they opened.”

Bartholomew grinned. “That, my dear, was not difficult. There was a medallion on the key chain that advertised the museum.”

“That opens it up, I guess. Hey, did the police hold anyone from the museum?”

“As far as I know, they have a task force going over everything that they have and they’ll be bringing folks in for questioning by this afternoon,” Bartholomew said.

“You were gone overnight,” Katie reminded Bartholomew.

“Ah, yes. I came back to the house, but you were-occupied. I turned on the coffeemaker again this morning. You didn’t even realize it!” He was hurt.

“I’m sorry, Bartholomew,” Katie said. “I really am. I didn’t see you and David had gone down first.”

“David!” Bartholomew said, and sniffed. “You have rushed headfirst into this!” he said.

“I keep telling you, make up your mind. You like him or you don’t like him,” Katie said.

“Since he was with you, he definitely didn’t kill the prostitute,” Bartholomew said. “All right, I like the fellow enough. He reminds me of someone I knew a very long time ago.”


Bartholomew swept aside, as if he were physically there, as a group carrying fresh margaritas came down the street, laughing.

They could have walked through him.

Bartholomew liked to think that there was substance to him.

“Sea captain,” Bartholomew said. “Decent fellow.”

“Maybe he was one of David’s ancestors,” Katie said. “The family dates back to the early years.”

“That’s what I figure,” Bartholomew said.

She didn’t reply; a woman standing with a beer just outside Sloppy Joe’s was staring at her. It was evident that the woman was wondering if Katie was a crazy person talking to herself, or if she had started drinking too early.

Katie turned down Greene Street. Captain Tony’s had been the original Sloppy Joe’s. Sloppy Joe, however, had been a real Key West character. Angry over a hike in his rent, he had simply moved his establishment in the middle of the night, lock, stock and barrel. Now, Sloppy Joe’s was right on Duval, and the space on Greene Street was Captain Tony’s.

She stepped on into the bar.

A large, open doorway led to a setting with the feel of rustic outdoors, but air-conditioning still coursed through the place. The “hanging tree” was in the center of a sitting area, and it had become vogue for visitors to leave behind their bras, elegant and old-fashioned, whatever someone might be wearing.

Katie took a table near the tree. It was impossible to know, through the years, what was authentic and what was legend about the place. Fact or fiction, the stories behind the bar and the building were true Key West legend.

As she took her seat at the table, she closed her eyes and thought about all of the history behind this very spot.

Sloppy Joe, Joe Russell, had become friends with Hemingway when he had cashed a check for him that the banks wouldn’t. He had been larger than life, just like Hemingway, and the two had been good friends. But, before that, the building had been a telegraph station that had first received the news about the Maine, an icehouse doubling as the city morgue, a cigar factory and a bordello.

The hanging tree in the middle of the room was now covered in undergarments. Throughout many years, it had been the place of execution for Key West and its environs. A woman had died here, accused of killing her husband and child, and she supposedly haunted the ladies’ room.

“What can I get you?”

Katie opened her eyes. A perky and very young waitress smiled as she asked the question.

“A giant iced tea and a menu, please,” Katie told her.

She seemed disappointed that Katie hadn’t come in to drown her sorrows with some form of expensive alcohol, but her smile barely cracked. “Coming right up!” she said.

Bartholomew had seated himself next to Katie, extending a booted leg from one chair to another and doffing his hat. He looked disgusted.

“Is there a reason we’re here?” he asked.

“I like the place.”

“You’re hoping that it’s teeming with ghosts who will give you all the answers you want. Well, don’t count on it. They’re all still whining over the past, and they’re not going to help you with anything in the present,” he said.

“You’re wrong,” she said. “Stella Martin’s ghost helped me tremendously.”

“So, she should have told you who killed her, flat out!” Bartholomew said.

“But she doesn’t know. Still, she led me to a clue.”


“A credit card-and it was smudged with ice cream.”

Bartholomew let out a chortle. A few tables up, Katie saw a woman frown and look around. Then she shivered. She had felt that a ghost was near, apparently.

“Behave,” Katie murmured.

“Me? You’re the one who appears to be talking to herself!”

She grimaced and waited for her tea. She thanked the young girl, sipped it and halfway closed her eyes. She tried to open up to anything that might be going on.

“Can you hear the rope swing against the branches?” Bartholomew asked softly. “You can hear it, back and forth, back and forth…swinging with the weight of a man.”

She kept her glass in front of her lips. “You died here.”

“Yes, I died here. I was snatched out of bed and dragged down to the hanging tree-for an act of piracy I did not commit. A bastard pirate named Eli Smith attacked an unarmed American vessel out in the straits, but when he was confronted by the authorities, he swore I was the guilty party, and I was hanged before the truth could be known. I was dead by the time a friend-the original Craig Beckett-came around to decry the act and tell them that I had truly turned merchant when my privateering days were over, and it was Eli Smith who attacked the vessel in the eight-gun sloop Bessie Blue. The true tragedy is that I, of all men, would have never attacked that ship. I was madly in love with Victoria Wyeth, and she died in the attack. Her father became a madman because of her death.”