Death at the Edge of the Diamond
By: Paul H Raymer
Jon Megquire went to Cape Cod expecting to play baseball in the Cape Cod Baseball League – a stepping stone from college to the big leagues. From the time he could speak people asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. All the years of school – all that prep time was over and now he had to face the question head on.
The year was 1979: oil was being held hostage and major league baseball salaries were about to broach the million dollar per year mark. Microprocessor technology was in its infancy and the internet and cell phones were barely a shadow on the horizon. It was the year that the national housing bubble began and production homebuilding was gearing up. Mortgage rates were over eleven percent. It was the year that “My Sharona” by The Knack was number one and “The Logical Song” by Supertramp was number twenty-seven.
Jon’s Cape Cod adventure begins as he drives his MG Midget he called Maybelline across the Cape Cod Canal and heads down Cape to the Town of Tilley, not far from Chatham. A couple of years before his mother and father had attended a wedding on the Cape. They’d stayed in a motel for the night where his mother had died from carbon monoxide poisoning from the pool heater in the room below. Jon struggles to push those thoughts aside and turn his attention to enjoying a Cape Cod summer. He expected to have fun with his teammates, to build stuff with his contractor host, and simply enjoy himself.
But it doesn’t turn out exactly that way.
Cape Cod is a unique socio-economic environment combining local residents with “wash-a-shores” who arrive and never leave, wealthy summer residents, tourists, and celebrities like the ball players. There are pockets of poverty and alcoholics who have gotten lost in the confusion of their own lives. It is a tangle of a few highways, development roads, “quaint little villages here and there”, and run down ranch houses and expansive mansions facing the water.
The Salsberg family owns one of the mansions. Salsberg Homes builds developments across the country and the family comes to “Casa Grande” on Jolo Point in the summer to rest from their labors. Garrett Scoles, a Salsberg family member by marriage, does not want to rest. He has no desire to lie around on the beach and soak up the sun. His mother-in-law, Faith Salsberg is in the way of his taking control of the corporation. She always has a theory about everything in the life that surrounded her and is not reluctant to express those thoughts. She has no intention of turning over the reins to her company and retiring and that irritates Garrett who sees a world of new developments and piles of money passing him by.
Prior to this summer, Jon’s only construction experience was an attempt at a tree house that was basically “a board in a tree”. Jon’s boss, Asaph Wentzell, introduces Jon to craftsmanship and pleasures of working with wood and the magic and the science of houses.
Besides construction, Jon is learning about a more intense level of baseball – getting to know his teammates and their drive to get recognized by the scouts and the girls that attend the games. Jon develops a relationship with Lisa Prence – a local resident and daughter of the town’s police officer.
Jon’s team – the Tilley Longliners – is struggling to find its own identity, blending players from different colleges and leagues across the country. Jon is not sure that committing to a professional sports career is how he wants to spend his life.
And then in the midst of the renovation of Faith’s bedroom, she dies in the guest house Ace had built several years before. Garrett claims that it was Ace’s faulty workmanship that caused his mother-in-law’s death.
Jon feels compelled to defend Ace’s reputation. He cannot stand idly by and let Ace take the blame for something Jon is sure he is not responsible for. Jon has to determine what really happened and who was responsible for it. Was suicide or murder? Was it really the house that killed her?
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