True to his word, Joe called just as Harry and Bertie were finishing lunch. “Guy’s name is Cobb. Meet you here at my place around one-thirty. That good for you?”
“Perfect,” Harry told him and passed the message along to Bertie. “Are you going?”
“Absolutely. I’m very curious about this one.”
They finished lunch and headed out. When they reached Joe’s trailer Harry didn’t bother knocking because he knew Joe was expecting him. When the introductions had been made, Harry looked at Cobb.
Cobb shook his head. “Not mister, just Cobb.”
“Okay, were you at Crocker’s Funeral Parlour last night?”
“Yes sir. I went there early to pay my respects to Doc Goode, a real nice fellow he was. The door of the storage room in back was ajar and I thought it might be a nice place for a nap, ‘cos I knew it would be hard to find a good spot later that night…” He paused.
“I imagine it would be,” Harry agreed. “Go on…”
“I had intended to leave before the place closed but I hadn’t slept well the past couple of nights and I guess I was pretty sound when they locked up. When I woke, it felt like something had woke me but I didn’t know what. It was quiet except for the rain on the roof and then… I heard that awful groaning sound. I was pretty sure there was no one else in the storage room. So I waited and after about ten minutes or so I heard it again. It sure sounded like a groan but it wasn’t in the storage room. The only other person in the place was the Doc and… well, I don’t believe in ghosts but I wasn’t takin’ no chances.”
“What did you do then?”
“I ran, sir, right past the viewing room to the lunch room, and then I remembered the window. It was kind of a tight squeeze but I managed. I lit out of there and didn’t stop no more until I reached the old freight shed near the end of the wharf.”
“And you spent the rest of the night in there?” Bertie’s eyes widened in horror.
“Yes, ma’am. It’s not so bad in there. The back door don’t shut properly, hasn’t been used in years, and you have to squeeze in easy so’s not to jar the door, ‘cos it would likely fall down.”
Harry had been thinking. “That explains the footprints, but what about the groaning? Maybe we should take another look around the place. Let’s go.” As they got into the truck, Harry called Bergman to meet them at the funeral parlour.
Boris was waiting in front of the building when they arrived. “What’s up?”
Harry told him about Cobb. “We need to look around and find out what made those sounds.”
Boris led them away from the front and around the building, walking slowly, looking up and down. When they reached the back corner, where the storage room was located, Cobb stopped. He was looking up. “Up there. See that big branch almost touching the roof? I bet the high wind gusts last night caused it to rub against the edge of the roof.”
They all looked up. “How are we going to check it out?” Boris asked. “We don’t have a ladder to reach that high.”
“I have an idea,” Bertie said. She moved into position and began taking pictures of the lower side of the branch in close to the roof. When she was done, she started flipping through them and then stopped. “There! Look at that.” She held out her phone.