“Thank God someone came for her.” The naval man looked shocked to see us. Commodore Tom Billings was indeed an “old guy,” though some of his weathered look was no doubt from his years at sea. He had a shock of white hair and a white beard. I could see when he stood to shake hands that his frame was showing the beginnings of a belly. Billings wore a brightly-colored naval uniform with Commodore’s insignia. The jacket had brass buttons that were so polished that they reflected the afternoon sunlight. His office had displayed a dozen or so finely-crafted models of naval vessels, some of which seemed to be of completely unfamiliar designs. Roland’s eyes widened as he saw them.
“You know where my sister is, sir?”
He nodded grimly. “Oh yes. She’s been involuntarily confined to the local Sanitarium for a few days now. I tried to see her, but I was told family only. I couldn’t even get the staff to ask her who to contact.”
“I can’t say. As best I can piece together, she was in the police station, talking to one of the guards, when she started screaming and throwing a fit. They had to give her a shot to calm her down, then they took her to the women’s ward at the Sanitarium. I only found out because she had my card on her.”
“How did Kathy come to know you?”
He paused for a moment before answering. “Miss Jameson and I go way back.”
“In Oceania?” This was where Kathy lived before coming to Caledon.
The pause was even longer this time. He nodded. “I needed some help, and I thought of her. You see, my nephew, Jason, lives here. He’s a good lad, but a little headstrong, as young people sometimes are. I’m sure you heard of the murder we had?”
“Yes. Only to the extent that we understand the reward for finding the killer is why the town is so crowded.”
“Uh-huh. And the damnable thing is that Jason might be the leading suspect. Unless someone found the real killer, I was afraid Jason would seem a good enough candidate that the police wouldn’t look too hard. And I certainly don’t trust the reward-hunting yahoos in town to get it right. Your sister had some…unique talents when I knew her that made me think she could uncover the right stones.”
“Hmm.” I wondered why she hadn’t asked me for help. I had some prior success at assisting the police in Caledon. Then again, the Commodore was himself not a model of open communication.
“Did she find anything that might have helped your nephew?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t have a chance to talk with her before her…breakdown.”
I rose. “Thank you, Commodore. I appreciate your time. Would you point us toward the Sanitarium?” He gave me detailed directions.
Roland was examining one of the model ships and muttering to himself. “Hmm, yes, I see. Reduce the coefficient of drag just so. Fascinating. And the artillery! Amazing!”
“Come, Roland, let us see if Sister has completely lost her mind.”