Chapter 7 starts off with Archie in pursuit of Gil Haight, inside the police station.
It started at 9:55 Saturday morning when he arrives at the Presto gas station (which is a real company http://www.gassigns.org/prestocorp.htm ) where Gil works. He went in and after a short chat and Gil reading the “To Whom It May Concern” over twice asks if they can talk. Gil suggests the his fathers office at the police station and that they go in Miss Rowan’s car.
Archie tells us that Gil’s father owns the station, as Gil tells his colleague that he was leaving for a while. We are also told that the service station is about half a mile from the police station. Since he has his “credentials” and is transporting a Haight he parked in the OFFICIAL CARS ONLY lot at the back of the court house. They go in and as Archie is crossing the lobby he notices that Gil isn’t behind him any longer. An interesting scene here. And as usual, read the book. 😉 He enters the office.
This next paragraph is pure Archie:
You haven’t met Sheriff Morley Haight, which is fair enough, because he hadn’t met himself. Lily and I, having had occasion to discuss him, had done so. His basic idea of a Western sheriff was Wyatt Earp, so that was how he dressed, but obviously the modern way to tote a gun was on a belt like a state trooper’s, so he did, though he knew he shouldn’t. An even bigger difficulty was that he was a born loudmouth, a natural roof-raiser, and of course that wouldn’t do at all for a Wyatt Earp. As if that wasn’t enough, he had told various people, two of whom I had met, that when there was a problem to handle he always asked himself what J. Edgar Hoover would do. The product was a personality mess that couldn’t have been made any worse even by a trained psychoanalyst.
They exchange a few words and the sheriff hands him Gil’s statement, signed and witnessed and given on July 27, 1968, two days after the murder. It gave his whereabouts from 12:50 to 6:00.
Archie folds the paper, puts it in his pocket and then says to the sheriff:
“That seems to account for him, subject to a check, but what about you? Where were you from two p.m. to six p.m. on Thursday, July twenty-fifth?”
Which gets a better reaction than he had expected as the sheriff hollers and thinks about drawing down on him as Archie beats a hasty retreat.
He goes to Miss Bessie Boughton’s house as it’s on Gil’s list of places that he was that day. She is waiting for him, as Gil had called her. She explains that she was Gil’s mother figure and he had come by to talk to her about what to do about Philip Brodell. He wanted to fight a duel but she made him think things through and they decided that taring and feathering was the right thing to do. Archie gets a few more glints here as the other places that Gil had gone after leaving Miss Boughton’s was the roofing supply and a chicken farm. They exchange a few more words and he leaves. Leaving out Archie thinks about going to Dowd Roofing Company but decides against it and heads to Woody’s to call Saul who is out, so he heads back to the cabin and lunch.
Here he finds Wade opening a can of clam chowder for lunch. Archie asks where everybody else is, and Wade tells him that the women have all gone fishing, so Mrs. Greve can fix Wolfe a real Montana trout deal and he heard Wolfe in the kitchen and store room around 10 a.m. but didn’t know where he went after that.
They eat and Archie wants to tell him that Saul is checking up on him but used will power to keep from saying it.
After cleaning up after themselves, Wade goes to his room and Archie heads outside to hunt Wolfe. He finds him at their spot at the creek with his pants legs rolled up to his knees, sitting on a boulder with his feet in the water.
He checks to see that Wolfe hasn’t lost the Muso emerald cuff links which a man had offered 35,000 for a year ago, and tells Wolfe that they can forget Gil. Wolfe has him report, which he does, saying he was a little rusty with the word for word recall since he hadn’t had any practice since June but:
“By the time I got to the tar and feathers it was coming as smooth as a tape recorder, though the conditions were unprecedented. I had never before reported with him sitting on a slab of granite barefooted, wiggling his toes.”
After deciding that Archie is right and that they forget Gil, Wolfe, while getting dressed, asks about the Montana trout deal.
Archie wise-cracks a bit and goes on to explain it’s history and describes the ingredients and tells how to cook it. It’s in the book. Sounds good too. 😉
Wolfe tells Archie he’s needed there and not in St. Louis and then asks if Mr. Peacock would be at the ranch at that time. When Archie says no, Wolfe then asks if Sam would be at the gathering at Mr. Stepanian’s place that evening. When Archie says that he always was, Wolfe says:
“Then we’ll meet him there.”
“We? You’re going?”
My brows didn’t go up; I was too impressed. I just stared.
“I’m thirsty,” Wolfe said. “There are two cans of beer in the creek.”
I rose and went to get them.
And thus we come to the end of todays chapter. I left out a few important things this time, but you if are reading along you already know that. If you aren’t, sorry… 😉
Comments, corrections, criticism requested.