by Mike Crawmer
Summer was coming to an end, the perfect time for my partner and me to leave town for an eight-day driving tour of Maine and New Hampshire. (Look in future posts for stories from my day job, where I edit the clumsy creations of writers for whom English is a Gumby toy to be twisted to fit their own inscrutable needs.)
Ah, Maine! As predicted, the rocky coastline and lighthouses were postcard perfect…its towns, quaint and charming…its rivers and mountains pulled from a painting…its people, friendly and easygoing. Taking advantage of a stay in Bar Harbor, I looked for inspiration at the site of the former home of our chapter’s namesake. The house was destroyed in a 1947 fire that ravaged Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. But Mary Roberts Rinehart was a formidable woman--maybe, just maybe, I could pick up some vibes from the grand dame while taking in the vista from where her house once stood. Alas, the view of Bar Harbor and the islands beyond was just too beautiful to conjure up thoughts of nefarious deeds and heinous crimes. Stories of Nature’s beauty and wonder, yes, but murder and mayhem, no. Obviously, I’d have to look elsewhere for inspiration.
It wasn’t going to be in our next stop, the Androscoggin River area, where the litany of “quaint,” “charming,” “beautiful,” and “enchanting” continued unabated. The rare dark thought faded quickly, overwhelmed by the warm glow emanating from the historic towns, babbling streams, covered bridges and dreamy white birch forests. We were trapped in a postcard vacation. There was no escape until our flight back to Pittsburgh.
As it happened, we were in the midst of all the inspiration a mystery writer would need (for at least the next book). A couple days after returning home, news reports out of Maine told of an inexplicable murder spree. The victims: the owner of a Sunday River area B&B, the owner’s daughter, a friend of the daughter, a male guest at the inn--and three dogs! The suspect: A young cook at a Bethel B&B, who, according to police, dismembered some of his victims, leaving the women at the inn and dumping the male victim in a nearby state park.
OMIGOD! I squealed as I read about the crime. We ate at the Bethel B&B where the suspect worked. Did he make my pizza? My partner’s sandwich? We drove past the B&B where the women’s bodies lay. And we picnicked and hiked in the park were the male victim was dumped. Just how close were we to that poor man’s scattered remains?
This suspect is now in custody, and I hope the people of the area do not for long carry the scars of this horrific, grisly, unexpected crime.
But, deep inside, I couldn’t help thinking: Inspiration at last!