"It was the gambling that killed him," she said flatly. "I may look like a homeless bum, but I don't have any weaknesses. I don't smoke, do drugs, eat myself fat, or gamble. I know that stuff always catches up somehow. It has to. I've seen it happen too many times."

John struggled to think of something else to say to keep her talking. If there was too long of a lag in conversation, she would probably up and leave.

"Well, nice talking to you. Gotta go," she said, tipping up the last of her drink to her lips.

"I didn't get your name."

"Sam!" she yelled on her way back to the stage. The drummer had already started warming back up with a steady base beat.

John made his way through the crowd and back to Tammy before Frank had a chance to finally notice him. John had been told about Michael's gambling before when he talked to another detective about the case, but never in reference to the man's death. The redheaded singer made it sound as if the act of gambling itself had something to do with the accident.

John and Tammy drove around for a while after leaving the bar in Norfolk. He finally convinced her go with him down to Sandbridge and walk on the beach for a while. There were mainly summer homes lining the long stretch of shoreline connected to a national wildlife sanctuary. It was a great place to walk and think.

John pulled over at one of the open areas where no houses had been built and turned off the Jeep's engine. There was a grassy path between two dunes leading down to the beach.

"Let's go for a walk," he said after they sat in silence for a few seconds.

"Sure," Tammy said with a shrug.

Advertisement..

Despite the threat of rain earlier in the day, the sky was clear and the stars were plentiful. There was a low hanging quarter moon giving a frost light for them to see their way along the path. She took John's hand and held it as if they had done it a hundred times before. The smell of the night was refreshing to John compared to the bar. The wind off the Atlantic pressed hard against his face and jostled what little hair he had left. The breaking surf was the only sound.

"It's beautiful," she said as they stood with the dune to their back and the beach in front of them, the endless sea only fifty feet away. On up the shore to their left another couple was walking with a golden retriever. To their right, the beach curved around and disappeared into the much darker wildlife sanctuary.