Wayward gulls

jetty and seagulls

More of Andrew’s story...

A handful of breadcrumbs cast in the air brought a screech of gulls swooping down on the jetty. The birds always congregated on the narrow finger of shells and sand that jutted out into the bay feasting on mussels and tiny hermit crabs, and scraps from tourists and fishermen.

Nori zipped up her windbreaker, the hood flipped over her head, shielding her face from the birds. She saw the angler at the tip of the breakwater. Intent on his line, he ignored her and the raucous birds.

Another fisherman navigated his rubber watercraft down the waterway between the jetty and the pedestrian park road that ran parallel to the sea wall. The jetty angler lifted his head slightly toward the raft as it passed him. A gesture Nori missed, but the other fisherman acknowledged with a tip of his hat.

A small lighthouse sat in the cul-de-sac at the top of the park road. A tourist had climbed the metal ladder to the catwalk surrounding the turret. From that vantage point, she could see the deep-sea boats tacking out into deep water, watching them from a coin-operated tower viewer. She also had an unobstructed perspective of the jetty.

The noisy seaside fishing spot was a favorite of Nori’s. She welcomed the distractions. The background commotion helped drown out all other thoughts, and let her clear her mind. She had a lot to think about.

The nightmares that brought her to a psychic had abated. She didn’t wake in terror sweats any longer, but there was a lingering feeling of dread. She was missing something, some message was eluding her.

The psychic, Madam Weronika Nagy, asked Nori for a childhood memento, something connected to the most significant event in her life. Without question, that event was the shocking death of her best friend, Ashley Ransom. Nori handed over a rusty skeleton key, a trinket found among Ashley’s childhood treasures that were given to Nori after her friend’s death. The key was a gift from Ashley’s father and had meaning known only to the two of them.

Nori traced the onset of her nightmares to a news report on the pending release from prison of Clay Grainger, a reputed gangster. Andrew Ransom, Ashley’s father, had been Grainger’s attorney. Ransom represented Grainger when he was charged with extortion and money laundering.

Rumor had it that Ransom leaked privileged information to the prosecution that lead to Grainger’s conviction and 20-year prison sentence. Two days after the court decision, Ashley and her step-mother Annalise were killed in a car bombing. Andrew went missing the same day.

Initially a suspect in the bombing, Ransom was eventually cleared, and the investigation turned to Grainger. With him in custody during the court case, without access to send orders to his associates, the murder case against the crime boss went cold. Ransom’s disappearance also remained a mystery for the ensuring two decades.

While she ambled along the jetty, feeding the gulls, Nori was unaware that she was being watched by the two fishermen and the lighthouse tourist. A fourth man, sitting on a park bench across from the jetty, kept Nori in his sights. His boss wanted to know if she was contacted by Ransom.

Nori walked to the edge of the jetty. She pulled back her hood to take a deep breath of sea air. Eyes closed, she listened to the lapping waves and bird calls. Oblivious to the intrigue surrounding her, Nori didn’t hear the muffled report of a sniper rifle equipped with a suppressor. She didn’t see the man on the bench across the waterway slump down, nor did she see the tourist running along the lighthouse catwalk toss a duffel bag to the captain of a fishing raft.

What she did catch was the furtive look the angler on the jetty turned on her. He looked away a second too late and a flash of recognition flickered across his face. It wasn’t until she reached her car and was leaving the parking lot near the jetty that she realized she just saw Andrew Ransom.

WIP: Andrew 1/30
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Inspiration: Jetty

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