The Mystery of Seagrass Island (Chapter 16)

“Do you have any bright ideas today?” Margie asked Lloyd as soon as they had both settled into a chair on their front porch with their morning coffee.

“Well,” Lloyd began slowly, “now that we know that Richard, Anna and Brandy are all up to something, I guess the next logical step is to try to figure out what it is.”

“True. I am so disappointed in Anna.  How did she ever get mixed up in this? I suspected Richard all along and finding out about Brandy and Bettina doesn’t really surprise me either.  That whole family is dysfunctional.”

“I know, dear, but you can’t let on to her that you know,” Lloyd said.

“That is going to be a challenge. But let’s talk about Rome,” Margie said.

“No, absolutely not,” Lloyd said while giving Margie a sideways look.

“Sweetie…” began Margie.

“Don’t sweetie me, I know you want to go but someone has to keep an eye on Anna and Richard.”

Margie batted her eyelashes and smiled at Lloyd. “You could do that, couldn’t you? And I wouldn’t even be seen.  I can blend into the background just ‘come un Italiano.’ Plus, I don’t think Brandy is that dangerous.”

“Maybe not,” Lloyd said, “but we don’t know who else they’re mixed up with.  They might be dangerous. But your Italian accent still sounds ‘eccellente.’”

“I’ll bring you back a gift,” Margie said, knowing full well that Lloyd loved gifts, especially expensive ones.  It was one of his rare weaknesses. “Perhaps some coffee and chocolates from Castroni, that wonderful cafe near the Vatican?”

“Well, now I want to go. We had a great time in Rome last time, didn’t we?” Lloyd said.

“Yes, we did, and we will again next time but this time please let me go do this?” Margie pleaded.

“Alright,” Lloyd acquiesced. “But you had better be very careful or I’ll be coming over there after you.”

“I will, I promise,” Margie said as she squealed in delight and did a happy dance.  “I’m going to Italy!”

Lloyd smiled in amusement.  “Shall I help you pack?” he asked.

“No, I am perfectly capable,” Margie said primly.

“Well, if I recall correctly, the last trip we took to Italy, you forgot to bring your driver’s license….”

“Well I wasn’t planning on driving,” interjected Margie.

“Which you needed to show as identification at the airport with your passport which you also forgot,” Lloyd added.

“Okay, okay, your point has been made.  I would appreciate your help.”  She smiled sweetly realizing that pushing her luck right now was not the best idea.

While Margie began packing, Lloyd called the police station and asked if they could track the ticket purchases at the Charleston airport and get a ticket for Margie on the same flight but on the opposite side of the plane, preferably in the back.  Within an hour, Lloyd received a call letting him know it was done and the flight was taking off at six that evening.

“Wow, that’s not much notice,” Lloyd said.  “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes, Lloyd, it will be fine.  Stop worrying.  Are you going to be okay here without me?”

“Of course,” Lloyd said.

“You will call me if you hear anything interesting?  And I’ll call you if I do.  Deal?”

“Deal,” Lloyd agreed. “I wish we had enough information to just go ahead and put those three away.  I know they’re up to no good.”

“I know. But we don’t know exactly what they have done that was illegal yet,” Margie said.

“We know that Bettina put some bank account numbers in a mausoleum for Anna to pick up.  We know that Bettina was murdered by jellyfish poison but we don’t know who did it or why.  We know that Anna gave Brandy the bank account numbers and Brandy is going to Rome with the numbers to do something but we don’t know exactly what. We also know that there is a lot of money being moved around in an account in the Vatican Bank under Bettina’s name and the depositor is some person or company named Butyrumpiscis.” Lloyd had to pause to take a breath. “And don’t forget Seth.  We know that Seth was murdered with the jellyfish poison too and he had reported Richard to the EPA for pollution. And the EPA and the FDA are either after Richard or they are protecting him.”

“We know a lot of things,” Margie said.  “The problem is that none of them fit together to solve this puzzle.”

“There’s a time for talk and there’s a time for action,” Lloyd said.  “I think it’s go time. Let’s finish getting you packed.”

Margie looked at Lloyd endearingly, “Go time? You’re such a dork, honey, but I do love you so much.”

After an early dinner, Lloyd drove Margie to the airport.  When they arrived it was teeming with activity. “Where are all these people going?” Margie asked.

“Well, some of them are flying to Italy,” Lloyd said.

“Very funny,” Margie said.  “Keep an eye out for Brandy.  It will be easier to keep her from seeing us if we can watch her.”

Margie showed her badge at the desk and was escorted into a back room where she was able to privately check her luggage in and be cleared for the flight.  Margie tugged at the itchy wig that helped conceal her identity.  “This thing is so uncomfortable,” she said.

“This is the price you pay to get to go gallivanting around Rome without me,” Lloyd said in a teasing voice. “We can’t take a chance on you being spotted.  Don’t forget to keep those tinted glasses on, too.”

“Yes, sir,” Margie said with a fake salute with one hand as she tried to adjust the glasses on her nose with the other.

“Have you been brushing up on your Italian?” Lloyd asked.

Sì, ricordo alcune parole,” Margie said slowly.

“Well, I’m glad you remember some words but you better take this book and practice on the flight.  You’ll have plenty of time,” Lloyd said as he handed Margie a pocket translation book.

“Thank you. I love you!”

“I love you too,” Lloyd said. “Now here comes the nice officer who is going to help you sneak into your seat on the plane.  Have a good flight and call me when you land.”

“I will,” Margie said over her shoulder as she walked away.  “Arrivederci!”

To be continued…