Liz Schaff hadn’t given me any more concrete facts than Snelling, but her short, resentful speech about Salmon Bay had breathed life into the photograph I had in my bag. I finished my wine and slipped into my jacket.

“Have I helped?” Liz asked.

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Will you let me know what you find out?”

“Sure.” I gave her one of my cards. “The first number is where I work-All Souls Legal Cooperative; the other’s my answering service. Call me anytime if you think of anything else.”

Liz scribbled a number on the back of what looked like a grocery list. “And that’s where you can reach me. Please do let me know.”

I told her not to worry, and we left together. Liz headed for her car and I went home to pack for a trip to Salmon Bay.

Chapter 3

I couldn’t decide whether my studio apartment was untidy or it just looked that way in contrast to Jane Anthony’s impeccable room. True, there were unwashed dishes in the sink and rumpled quilts on the bed, but that didn’t necessarily make me a sloven, did it? As I entered the combination living-and-bedroom, my cat, Watney, brushed against my legs, purring as if to reassure me. I scratched him and then sat down cross-legged on the bed, staring at the want ad section that was spread out there.

The ads from the Sunday paper were turned to the heading “Apartments for Rent-S.F.,” and a good number of the boxes were circled in red ink. Unfortunately, most of them had X’s over the circles. When I’d decided it was time to start looking for a new place to live, I hadn’t realized what a short supply of decent apartments there was in the city.

But I’d definitely decided to move. There had been two murders in the building the previous year-which I had been involved with-as well as numerous upheavals in the neighborhood stemming from the crimes. Frankly, coming home depressed me these days. And the apartment really was too small; the sparkles in the acoustical paint on the ceiling were tacky; the old icebox that ran off the compressor in the basement didn’t hold enough or keep things very cold; even the little garden of plastic flowers in the lobby had ceased to amuse me. It was time to move.

Wasn’t it?

But I’d been here for years. I was settled.

Wasn’t I?

Besides, was I really ready to pay over six hundred dollars for a one-bedroom in another neighborhood?

I cut the debate with myself short. Obviously I wasn’t going any place in a hurry; all the apartments I’d looked at yesterday had been rented by the time I’d gotten there.

I reached for the phone and called my answering service. There was a message from my friend Linnea Carraway, who had recently taken a news anchor position with a small TV station in Seattle; she’d just called to chat. Paula Mercer, my artistic friend from the de Young Museum, had heard of an apartment I might like and wanted me to phone her. One of my sisters had called. All she’d said to the operator at the service was, “This is Sharon’s sister,” so I didn’t know which of the two she was. And I was damned if I was going to spend long- distance money to find out. There was no message from Greg.

Well, why should there be? That was over. After a year and a half, Lieutenant Gregory Marcus and I had called it off. We’d had good times-even wonderful times-but our stormy natures had turned our affair into a battleground. I was glad the relationship was over; it was a relief to be without the constant, energy-sapping conflict. But still, you get used to that daily phone call after all that time. You get used to shared laughter and loving and nice moments. Not finding a message left me with a mild sense of depression. I needed to do something. I needed to get out of here. Now.

I got up and took my suitcase from the closet. Watney eyed it suspiciously.

“Yes, I’m leaving you again,” I told him. “Tim will feed you.”

Watney merely turned his back and licked one black-and-white spotted shoulder.

That was another problem, I thought as I threw jeans and sweaters, and a skirt in case I needed to look grown up, into the bag. Where would I ever find another apartment manager who would take such good care of my cat? Maybe I should…

As I drove down the Junipero Serra freeway toward San Jose, I decided to bypass Salmon Bay and take a motel room in Port San Marco. I remembered spending a week there one childhood summer with Linnea and her parents. The memory conjured up images of a boardwalk and amusement park rides, cotton candy and corn dogs.

And the thought of corn dogs made me realize it had been a long time since supper. I fished in my bag for one of my emergency-ration Hershey bars and unwrapped it with one hand. The squares of chocolate lifted those traces of depression that remained.

Port San Marco, as I recalled, had once been a great fishing port. Then, as Liz Schaff had said, the industry had become automated and large companies from the north and south had taken over, putting the individual fisheries out of business. Unlike the village of Salmon Bay, the larger town had made the transition to the modern age, and now so-called smogless industries and expensive housing tracts dotted the hills west of the port. The port itself was given over to tourism; luxurious marinas, restaurants, and hotels lined the waterfront. I’d even heard something about plans for a performing arts center on the site of the old amusement park.

I had liked the town I remembered from my childhood, with its roller coaster and pinball parlors, hot dog stands and beer halls. I would have loved the rough-and-tumble fishing port of yesteryear, but I was quite certain I would not like the shiny new Port San Marco at all. Still, I resolved to get a motel on the waterfront and perhaps recapture some of the holiday feeling of that youthful summer. After all, Snelling was paying my expenses, and he could afford it.

The freeway skirted San Jose and connected with Route 1010. To either side where apartment complexes and housing developments, new and insubstantial. These suburbs always reminded me of the sprawl of Los Angeles, and I was glad when I came to the open country side, with its rolling, oak-dotted hills.

I slipped into a relaxed driving mood and let my mind wander back to my conversation with Liz Schaff. Much as her concern for her friend seemed genuine, I couldn’t quite believe her exaggerated fears. The thought of Abe Snelling killing anyone was ridiculous. But, then, Liz had said she didn’t know the photographer.

But maybe she did. What kind of friend doesn’t have you to her house at least once in six months? Maybe there had been a meeting between Liz and Abe. Maybe there had been some sort of disagreement that led her to dislike and suspect him. Otherwise, why wouldn’t she just come right out and ask about Jane on the phone? Or march up to the front door and demand to know her friend’s whereabouts?

I’d have to ask Snelling about Liz Schaff.

The drive south was going quickly. Salinas was already behind me, and I was high on the ridge heading for Paso Robles and the Port San Marco cutoff. I debated another Hershey bar, but decided I’d be there in time to check into a motel and have a snack before everything closed down for the night.

All right, I thought, Jane and Liz were friends in Salmon Bay. The little village sounded closed off, perhaps hostile. At the very least I’d encounter coldness there. And, if Jane’s relations with her mother were really as bad as Liz claimed, I might have difficulty getting information from her. Label Salmon Bay a possible trouble spot.

And what about this hospice called The Tidepools? What had Liz said? Something about some unpleasantness. And then she’d refused to elaborate. Had she been fired? No, she’d said she’d had an offer from S.F. General. Maybe Jane had been fired. Maybe that was the reason she’d had such trouble finding work in San Francisco. I’d check with the personnel office at The Tidepools…

Caught up in my plans, I almost missed the Port San Marco turnoff. The road climbed into the dark hills, then descended in a sweeping curve. Ahead of me, I spotted the black expanse of the sea. Port San Marco formed a crescent of light along the shore. I followed the main road through town to the boulevard that ran along the beachfront.

The Mission Inn across from the wharf appealed to me. It was Spanish-style stucco, two stories, with an interior courtyard full of palm trees and bougainvillea. A turquoise swimming pool gleamed coldly in the darkness. I registered and was given an upstairs corner room with a view of the harbor. After nodding approvingly at the king-

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