Before Body in the Pond there was Murder at St. Max.
“Christ,” he suddenly exclaimed. “Do you feel it?”
“Feel what?” I asked.
“The cold wind, Benschloss. My God.”
I felt no wind. “Quit being creepy, Smitty.”
He made a gargling kind of sigh and leaned suddenly far back, so far back that my grip slipped.
“Smitty, hold on,” I told him, but he slipped away.
He splashed heavily. I couldn’t see a thing except the line where the charcoal float met the black water, but I heard Smitty making the sounds of a wool blanket struggling to swim.
“Oh for God’s sake, Smitty, give me your hand.”
He then made breathy noises that sounded exactly like the sounds of an old country vicar drowning in an English pond.
“Grab the side of the float, will you? It’s right beside you,” I insisted.
I lay prone on the old wood and sought him again with my arms. He wasn’t really thrashing about, merely waving his limbs ineffectively in slow motion. Maybe there wasn’t enough strength left in his old body for thrashing.
He didn’t reply.
I was going to have to jump in. I had just started to rise when I heard him say softly and resignedly, “She’s got me, John.”