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Authors: Melanie Jackson

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Shadows on the Train

A Dinah Galloway Mystery
Shadows on the Train

Melanie Jackson


Copyright © 2007 Melanie Jackson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Jackson, Melanie, 1956-
Shadows on the train / written by Melanie Jackson.
(A Dinah Galloway mystery)

Electronic Monograph
Issued also in print format.

I. Title. II. Series: Jackson, Melanie 1956- . Dinah Galloway mystery.

PS8569.A265S53 2007        jC813'.6         C2006-906704-X

First published in the United States, 2007
Library of Congress Control Number
: 2006939250

Dinah is trapped on a cross-country train—in more danger than ever.

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

Cover design by Lynn O'Rourke and John van der Woude
Train photo credit: Michael Tension

In Canada:
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 5626, Station B
Victoria, BC Canada
V8R 6S4

In the United States:
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468
Custer, WA USA
010 09 08 07 • 4 3 2 1

Thank you to the tracks of my life: Bart and Sarah-Nelle
Jackson. What a wonderful journey you give me.

And to Dinah's friends:
Visit Dinah on her blog
—never a blah-g, she promises—


Old sins cast long shadows

— E

Take it from me, Dinah Galloway. You think the past is gone. It isn't. It comes back.

Like the broccoli you stashed under your bed three weeks ago that starts to smell up your room. Or the annoying piano practice tunes from the Edna May Oliver exercise book that soft-shoe into your brain.

Or the jailbird friend of your late dad.


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter One

The Knave of Hearts

I thought I'd met Ardle McBean for the one and only time seven years ago, just before my dad got drunk, crashed his car into a tree and died. Ardle was grizzled, with wispy, pale brown hair almost the color of his scalp. You had to squint to see his hair, as if it were one of those optical illusion tests. Which made Ardle himself seem not quite real, like a dream. Or maybe a nightmare.

When the doorbell rang, I was belting out a kids' song called “Black Socks”—

Black socks, they never get dirty,

The longer you wear them

The blacker they get.

Someday I think I will wash them,

But something keeps telling me

Don't do it yet,

Not yet, not yet.

I ran to the door, even though I wasn't supposed to answer it on my own. At five, I'd already established a firm pattern of not following instructions. I squinted at the man on the front step.

“Somethin' wrong with your eyes, kid?” he asked me and gave the laugh-cough of a heavy smoker.

“I might have to get glasses,” I informed him. (I did, soon after.) “But I'd need a pair of binoculars to see where your hairline begins.”

I was getting lots of talks from Mother and Dad about making personal remarks to people. How these remarks, even if true, can hurt people's feelings. However, the man just laugh-coughed at me. He wasn't the uptight type. “Nuthin' wrong with your voice, though, kid. Sure packs a wallop. Plannin' to sing at Carnegie Hall one day?”

He chuckle-coughed, but I didn't find it funny. I took my singing seriously. My Dad encouraged me to. Besides, I found singing—well, such a
. Through my voice I could use up my energy, which I had a lot of.

“Yes, I
planning to sing at Crumbly Hall,” I said boldly, despite not having heard of the place. I could never resist a challenge. Besides, to me a “hall” was our church hall at St. Cecilia's, a basement where teas and St. Valentine's dinners were held. “I might just go there this week.”

That really set him off. He laugh-coughed so hard he had to back up to our flowerbed and spit into the pink cabbage roses.

“That oughtta cut down on this week's watering,” I commented.

It was a hot, hot summer, the kind where you can see the heat wavering in the still air. As if the world is holding its breath for something to happen. This man was the type to make things happen, I thought. Good or bad things, I wasn't sure.

It was then that Dad's hand landed on my shoulder and whisked me behind him. “Ardle McBean,” he said, “I thought I'd talked you into turning yourself in.”

I peeked round Dad's legs at Ardle. “Turning yourself into what?” I inquired with great interest. I was heavily into fairy tales at that point.

Ardle, whose thin face had grown glum at Dad's remark, cheered up again. He lit a cigarette, took a deep drag on it and laugh-coughed all the time he was exhaling. “To the cops, kid. I pulled a break-and-enter last week and was dumb enough to leave my fingerprints all over the place. Old McBean is slippin'!

“But, see,” he bent down confidingly, “there's somethin' your dad's keeping for me. In an envelope, like. I just need to know it's safe.”

Dad demanded, “You know the dangers of secondhand smoke to a kid?” He pushed me behind him again; I popped right out, like a jack-in-the-box.

Ardle laugh-coughed. “Okay, I'll git. I just wanted to make sure the king was okay, that's all. Guess you don't want to talk about the king in front o' the kid, though.”

He gestured at me with his cigarette, scattering ashes over the porch Mother had just swept. “That sure is some songbird you got there, Mike. She makes ‘Black Socks' sound like a Broadway show.”

Dad grinned at me. “How do the lyrics to that go?” he teased and crooned:

Dinah's socks,
That she never washes,
You'd hardly notice
One from the next.

“No, no!” I exclaimed, jumping up and down. “Not like
, Dad.”

But Dad was narrowing his eyes at Ardle. “The king is safe, okay? Hidden, so no one will find him. We clear on that?”

“Yeah, we're clear,” Ardle said.

“We can discuss it more at the—” Dad glanced down at me and amended, “downtown.”

At the
, I thought wisely. That was the place Mother and Dad had shouting matches about, late at night. I'd wake up and hear them. I wasn't exactly clear on the bar concept, except that when Dad came home his words fell all over each other, and his breath smelled like cleaning disinfectant. Once he'd come into my room and cried.

It sure was more fun when he
go to this bar place. He and Mother would laugh a lot. He told the funniest stories. My older sister Madge, who worshipped him, would sit and glow. When sober, Dad was magnetic.

And he'd play our ancient piano while I sang.

We'd bought the piano from our church for fifty bucks. Dad had tuned it, which Father Rourke called a miracle because, A, the piano was considered junk and, B, Dad had tuned a guitar before, but never a piano.

Dad had so many talents. He just never seemed to organize them very well.

Anyhow, Ardle McBean shuffled his grizzled gaze from Dad to me. “Okay, Mike. I just wanted to make sure about the king. Y'know, in case I get put away for a while.”

“What king?” I asked. I ransacked my brain. “The King of Hearts?”

I began jumping up and down again. “‘The King of Hearts called for the tarts and beat the Knave full sore.'” Then I repeated the line, only louder, with bigger jumps. “‘…AND BEAT THE KNAVE FULL SORE!'”

Instead of looking irritated, as most adults would've, Ardle regarded me with bemusement. “And folks say there's an energy crisis,” he cracked. I grinned at him.

Dad didn't. “ARDLE.”

Ardle held up hands with fingertips yellow-stained from nicotine. “I'm goin', I'm goin'.”

Backing away, Ardle tripped against the bicycle-plus-training-wheels I'd left to one side of the front path. He spun in a maelstrom of flailing skinny legs and arms before crash-landing in Mother's violets. “Whoa, Nellie,” he exclaimed, and his laugh-cough hacked out merrily.

Ardle sure was a good sport, I marveled. Last week a similar mishap had occurred to a door-to-door entertainment-book salesman.
threatened to sue.

As Ardle laugh-coughed his way down the long Grandview neighborhood hill, I tugged at Dad's hand. And re-tugged. He seemed kind of distracted.

“Is Ardle the Knave of Hearts?” I demanded. I still had the nursery rhyme going through my head.

I was also trying to joke Dad out of his faraway thoughts. Usually I could do this. But this time he looked down and gave me a sad smile.

“I guess if anyone's the Knave of Hearts around here, I am,” Dad said.

That didn't make sense to me, not then.

But I was right about that hot, still summer. Something was waiting to happen, and it did. Within three weeks, Dad was dead.

After that I forgot all about Ardle McBean, except for a comment I overheard at Dad's funeral. One of Dad's friends was talking to someone else: “Ardle? Oh, he's in the slammer again. Once a thief, always a thief. Turned himself in, though, I hear, thanks to Mike.”

I didn't forget about Dad's Knave of Hearts remark, though. It bothered me for a long time. Then, one day this past year, I was in a sound studio, recording a new jingle for Sol's Salami on West Fourth. The sound people were all ready. I opened my mouth to belt my heart out, even if the song
about extra-garlic salami. My dad told me to put my heart into my singing, so I always do.

And all at once, thinking about belting my heart out, I got it. I understood what Dad had meant.
was the Knave of Hearts; that's what he'd been saying. The Knave, the unreliable one, the scoundrel.

Dad must've sensed that, with his drinking, he'd one day disappear and take our hearts with him.

And he did.

Chapter Two

A Discordant Piano Lesson

I thumped the piano keys, PING, PANG,
!! higher and higher up the scale. I liked making the high notes sound like screams.

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