The Medera- an ultra-luxury floating hotel was on a slow automated course for home after a four day sojourn along the US coast. With just one hundred rich, spoilt, vain and mostly drunk passengers to look after ( and two dozen hired companions) the three deck, four hundred feet long Medera was sculpted to perfection to cater to the exclusive. Unaware that one of its royal passenger had just died, Commander Haylee Saolt was sulking with an E-cigarette dangling from her mouth sprawled in one of the leather chairs in the command room. Haylee was in charge of running the ship; Captian Mervain was just a figurehead who mingled with the passengers and robbed them blind at cards.
One of the reasons Haylee sulked was that, even after doing all the work herself; the captain got paid more than twice what Haylee earned. The other was that her contract would end when the Medera docked at San Fransisco. Her intercom buzzed to life. It was an emergency the purser said and the captain was unavailable, as usual. Commander Haylee muttered not a few colorful words as she stalked to the top deck infirmary.
The first glance was enough to jolt Haylee into caution. There was a body covered in a white sheet. Branson, the purser greeted her with a nod and explained.
"That is Jerry Clammer." He went on to lift the sheet, so Haylee could see the face and the bashed-in temple. "He was drunk and trying to push the lady- Gayle Mosley. Yeah the singer. She pushed him, he stumbled down a staircase and struck his head on a corner. We have the stumble on CC TV but the actual altercation we don't. She says it was outside The Star Lounge."
Haylee pictured the place. "That's just around the corner, 200 meters at most. OK anything else Branson. Who did she call and how many people know already."
"Just me. I was the first person she ran into. And the doctor here whom I roused." He pointed to Dr. Iman Deranni and Chief Jordan, he is in the next examination room with Gayle Mosley."
"OK keep it quite for now. Mr. Clammer suffered an awkward fall, He's under care." She turned to the doctor.
"OK doc. How did he die?"
"I would need to autopsy..but I think it will be a stroke."
"So it was brought on by the fall?"
"I would not venture to say "triggered" but that seems to be the case."
"Wait for me, please. Branson call for strong coffee- the brazilian. But take the tray yourself. No one comes in."
Haylee knocked on the door to the other room and entered. Gayle was sitting quietly, even breaths but her hands were still shaking. Chief Jordan was sitting a few feet away.
"Mrs.Mosley." Haylee greeted and continued. "Chief. He is dead. Stroke. Brought on by the fall. Any idea of his next of kin, insurance and all."
Chief Jordan brought up a page on his phone and spoke. "Survived by only one child, a daughter, married. On our papers we have him insured for half a million with Diamond Insurance."
"What do we require of Mrs. Mosley"
"We can record her statement but since there is no corroboration of the altercation they had the insurance will ask the inquest to hand it over to the police as a suspected crime."
"No. No. No. I have a tour coming up next month. I can't afford .."
Chief Jordan explained further. "They will probably not detain you more than a day. And they will call you for the inquest in maybe a weeks time, then the case will be handed over to the homicide squad."
"Please help me. I just did not .. He was drunk. It's not my fault."
There was a soft knock on the door and Branson entered with a tray laden with steaming mugs of coffee, followed by the doctor.
"Let me think a bit." Haylee picked up a mug and went to stand in a corner. The small room seemed packed as everyone waited for Haylee to speak.
"This is not legal. But since the victim is dead we don't do him any harm. The goal is to help Gayle. And earn a bit." Haylee's blunt approach received nods all around so she faced Gayle. "A Hundred Thousand for each of us."
Gayle nodded assent. "I have about two hundred thousand in cash. The rest I can wire to you right now."
"Chief you remember that discreet taxi service. Online booking no questions asked. Ok book it for the morning. From the pier to Yosemite Village Resort. It's in the hills. A three hour journey to there. You will bundle the doctor in - that's as Mr. Clammer."
"Doctor you will make your way back after the cab leaves. Carry a change of clothes."
"Branson you and me will clean up his room and dump the body. First I got to go a bit off course for deeper water and if are lucky -sharks."
Three hours later Commander Haylee Saolt was sitting in the command room with an E-cigarette dangling from her mouth. She was at peace, she loved her job. Clammer's room had yielded a further hundred thousand and almost as much in personal jewelry. With Branson taking half it was still a sweet amount.
PICTURE CREDIT: PIXABAY.COM