My editorial assistant (and son), Matthew Sketchley, joins us again today for a conversation with Beatrice Rockland (Aunt Bay) from Without Proof. Matthew blogs at Probably Nothing Interesting.
Matthew: We’ve got Beatrice Rockland here, from Without Proof. Beatrice, would you mind telling us a little about yourself?
Aunt Bay: To get us off to a better start, my name is pronounced BAY-a-triss, not the conventional BE-a-triss. If that’s too much of a challenge, you may call me Miss Rockland. I’m Michael’s great aunt, a retired teacher, and active in a variety of volunteer roles. Michael’s parents moved frequently in his youth, so he came to live with me for his high school and college years. When I bought a condo in Halifax, he turned my old house into his art gallery and studio area.
Matthew: And you recently moved back to live with him and Amy, right? What’s it like living in an art gallery?
Aunt Bay: After the plane crash that killed Gilles, Amy needed a place to live while her injuries healed. Gilles’ parents, for reasons known only to themselves, cancelled the lease on his condo while she was still in the hospital. The poor girl had nowhere to go, and she needed to commute to her appointments. Michael has a caring heart and a huge house, so inviting Amy to stay with him was natural. I moved in as well to help.
I wondered about customer traffic in the house, but our bedrooms are upstairs with Michael’s studio. The gallery’s on one end of the main floor, with a separate entrance, and it’s only active during tourist season. It’s actually quite convenient. We can be in the main part of the house, and if a customer comes, we hear the door chime. Nobody has to stay on duty all day if there are no visitors. Of course it’s Michael’s work, and Amy is his assistant, so I’m rarely involved in the business end of things. He does beautiful work, though, if you’d like to buy a painting.
Matthew: I may have to take a look later. My first concern about living in a gallery would have been customer traffic too, but that actually sounds quite nice. How do you feel about having moved in to help take care of Amy? Has it affected your daily life much?
Aunt Bay: We’re on St. Margaret’s Bay, near Peggy’s Cove, and I always loved living here, but truthfully, I do miss living in the city. Especially now that I’m becoming less confident driving after dark. I’m in my seventies, you know. But I do like to drive, so during the day it’s not an issue. I’m on the go a lot.
Of course, Amy doesn’t need care anymore. She’s fully recovered physically, and she seems to be healing from her loss. She’s a fine young woman. Now that she’s working with Michael, it makes sense for her to keep living at the gallery. I’ve only stayed to keep people from talking. Michael and I are Christians, and it’s important not to give the wrong idea about our behaviour.
Matthew: Okay, so you’ve given us a decent picture of your normal life, and I think it’s time for some abnormal talk. Michael and Amy are a bit concerned by this talk about sabotage, albeit for very different reasons. What’s your take on the idea?
Aunt Bay: You’re a direct young man, aren’t you? Much like the reporter who brought up the sabotage notion. I was shocked to think the accident could have been deliberate, and I have to say it’s unlikely. Gilles’ parents would have jumped on any hint of a crime. His mother, especially, wouldn’t have let up on the investigators until they found the truth. I’d like to dismiss the idea, but the reporter, Troy, challenged me to pray about it. After all, God saw what happened that day. I haven’t had any clear answer, but it does seem odd to me that the matter keeps coming up. That may mean something. Do you think it could have been sabotage? And if so, why?
Matthew: I’m direct when it suits me, and in this case being straightforward is the best way to get proper answers. As far as what I think, I’m an outsider to the situation so I don’t know any of the technical details and I never knew Gilles. Even so, I suppose it’s theoretically possible. I think that to be convinced I would have to see a reason for the sabotage. People don’t kill like that for no reason. If there was a logical reason behind sabotaging that plane, I would consider sabotage an option. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, do you think this whole business could be bad for Amy or Michael?
Aunt Bay: It’s definitely affecting them both. Amy’s upset, not knowing what to think, and emotionally on edge, as if it’s thrown her back into grief. Michael says there’s no motive, and he sees it as a waste of time that’s needlessly upsetting Amy. That’s triggering his protective impulses, which of course makes Amy feel closed-in and could cause her to make some less-than-wise choices. What worries me most is, if someone did cause that crash and Amy stirs the pot, will she be putting herself in danger?
Matthew: It almost seems like you understand their relationship better than they do. And I don’t think the question is so much, “will she put herself in danger,” as it is, “if there is danger, what kind is she going to get involved in?” You are in a suspense novel.
Aunt Bay: Child, that is not a comforting thought.
Matthew: No. But if we spent all our time thinking comfortable things we would never accomplish anything. I’m just suggesting care. And besides, no one can be sure about this. There may not even be a problem.
Aunt Bay: My heart says you’re right, though. After all Amy’s been through, and Michael and I have grieved for Gilles too, I’ve been hoping for a happy-ever-after.
Matthew: Well, I think that’s still possible. And happy endings are so much more interesting when they’re preceded by unpleasantness. However, I think we’ve got all we need for this interview. Any parting words you’d like to leave us with, Miss Rockland?
Aunt Bay: Make the most of every day. Sabotage or not, the plane crash taught us how quickly life can end.
Matthew: A good sentiment. Thanks for being here.
Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.
Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.