4.0 Canvassing

by Matt P.

Chapter 4: Progress

The weekend passed in blissful and uneventful ease. Antigone and Siobhan went to their extra-curricular activities, and Walter spent most of the weekend trying not to pick at his stitches. Monday came and, despite the Marshal’s protests he did not have to, Walter was back in to work at 7:30 AM.

By 11 AM they had not gotten any word on the identification of the body, so they decided to hit the streets on the theory that while it was unlikely anyone would have any information, it was even more unlikely that they would have the solution just drop on their desks. The parts of the Old Market that bordered the river were the first to have been rejuvenated, and they showed a bit of aging. But it was an aging they bore well. The smell of the water and the crispness it brought to the air fit with the feeling of the shops, the chic restaurants selling lunch, and the trendy bars shut down until far later in the day.

The three detectives walked through the growing crowds of meal seekers, walking from shop to shop with pictures of the victim in their hands. Andre walked in crisply pressed slacks and a white oxford shirt, similar to but even more precisely laundered than what Walter wore. Leah was the only one who wore any kind of defining garment, a dark green polo with the Border PD badge on the breast.

“So while we’re down here…” Walter began as they stepped out of a record store, which had caused him to shake his head. “You both went to High School down here, right?” He asked as they walked along to the next block.

“Yeah?” Andre answered with a shrug.

“So where do high schoolers like to ditch?” Walter asked. Andre raised an eyebrow, and Leah laughed—apparently she understood. “If you can convince your children that you have psychic powers and know everything when they’re young, they’ll believe you know everything when they’re older.” He offered with a wry smile. “So if I know where they’re going to ditch and can just be there, they’ll do it less.”

Andre let out a snort. “You and my uncle really are cut from the same cloth, Walt. You figure they’ll skip a lot?”

Walter shrugged as they finished crossing the street and approached the next row of red brick shops. “Not really. Siobhan will do it when she’s too bored, and Antigone will figure out exactly how many times she should ditch to balance expectations from her teachers and the other students.” This drew a reaction from Leah, who blinked slowly. “It’s her thing. Ryan won’t ditch except for on a couple really nice spring days.”

Andre looked at him as they walked to the door of a shop. “Then what are you worried about?”

Walter gave him a grin as he entered. “I’m not. They’re good kids. Mostly, I just want to mess with them.” That drew a round of laughs as they entered. Inside, Walter stopped and blinked. “A milliner? It’s a hat shop?”

“That is what a milliner does.” Leah answered angelically, to which Walter gave an appropriate glare.

“So after Andre and I get our top hats and you get your pretty floral bonnet, should we go to the haberdasher?” He asked.

“Sure, it’s a block further from the river.” Leah responded with a completely even face. Walter stared at them both for a moment before he shook his head to clear away wonder.

“The milliner has been run since the founding of the city.” Leah continued. “The haberdasher is a hipster thing, I think; opened up last year by a young man with more beard than business sense.” Andre snorted at that. “But he does good work.”

Walter walked to the front counter, where an older man and woman were working on what Walter assumed was either a hat or witchcraft. “Good afternoon.”

Both of them looked up at the same time, which Walter decided could either be super creepy or a cute gesture from an old married couple. He filed it away under the second one.

“Ah, the new deputy.” The man said, his weathered face breaking out in to a warm smile. “We heard you’d been hired.” He said, before he reached out and grabbed Walter’s head.

“Hey now…” Walter protested, mostly for something to focus on so he didn’t respond automatically by cracking the old man in the face.

“Got to measure you for the hat.” The older woman said pleasantly as she took a fabric tape and wrapped it around Walter’s head.

“What hat?” Walter asked, looking down at the counter. It was old wood with a glass top, under which had been put generations of pictures of men and women obviously from the same family. The resemblance was too strong, all high brows and big noses.

“Rupert, Jane, we’re out canvasing. Do you happen to know who this gentleman is?” Andre asked in his best ‘talking to old people’ voice. Walter could see him from about mid-chest down, stepping up and showing the picture of the victim.

“Oh my.” The old woman, Jane, said as she pulled the tape back and made a note. “Well that’s old Mr. Arthur. We send him a new fedora every year, like clockwork.”

Walter stood up, and exchanged surprised looks with Leah; this hadn’t been supposed to work, after all. It had just been better than bouncing a ball against the wall. Walter looked between them. “Sent him a hat?”

“Oh yes. He’s got a house up on Spenser Hills. Don’t see him about town, he’s a bit of a recluse. Dear, do you have that address?” Rupert asked as he made a few more notes, and then disappeared in to the back room absently. They waited for a moment to see if he would come back, but then Jane shrugged and fished it out.

“Here you go, officers. And the hat should be done in a day or two.” Jane explained, before she too disappeared in to the back room and did not return. Walter wondered, briefly, if they were about to overhear an AARP afternoon delight, before he looked at the address.

“Spenser Hills is clear on the other side of the city, up in the hills.” Andre explained as he checked his watch. “What do you say to lunch before we go? We’ll show you the cop bar.” He set off as if it were a done deal, and Walter shrugged. It didn’t occur to him until he got out the door he still had a vital question unanswered.

“What hat?”