A Sporting Murder
Lesley A. Diehl
David began running toward Madeleine, his heels
kicking up the sand. Once he was in the water and it was
deep enough, he dove in and began swimming.
“Oh, good. Now the sharks will have two people to dine on,”
Alex grabbed my arm and turned me toward him as if to
reprimand me for such an insensitive remark, but when he
saw the expression on my face, he knew my comment was my
clumsy way of dealing with the horror of what could happen.
“Let’s go,” I said. “We might as well make it a four person
stew.” We both ran in and began swimming for the boat.
Maybe more people would frighten the sharks off or confuse
them. Who knew how their fishy little brains, if they had any
Madeleine, seeing the water turning bloody near her,
panicked and began to flail her arms around as if trying to beat
off whatever was causing the blood. When she spotted David
swimming toward her, she must have assumed he had been
injured and she began to paddle in his direction.
“No, no. Back the other way. To the boat.” David continued
to stroke toward her. Alex and I were not far behind.
A gray fin cut through the water nearer the fishing boat. A
sandy-haired man had joined the other one, and a cheer went
up from them when they spotted the fin.
David and Madeleine collided in the water. He grabbed her
and began swimming her toward the boat. They reached the
dive platform and pulled themselves onto it. Now Alex and I
were the freshest items left on the dinner buffet. The fin swept
past the fishing boat and toward ours. A huge mouth with rows
of sharp teeth erupted from the water, grabbing a large piece
of bloody chum. It then submerged and was lost to our view.
“You think he’s full?” I asked Alex. I was breathless, not from
the exertion of swimming but from the fear that he and I might
end up in the shark’s belly—or at least parts of us. “Where
the hell is it?” It was frightening enough seeing the fin, but
terrifying when I couldn’t, imagining the creature sneaking up
on us from behind. Or below. Dun, dun dun, dun. The theme
from Jaws ran through my head.
A dark red piece of chum floated toward me, and the fin
surfaced behind it, narrowing the distance between eater and
stuff to be eaten. I stopped swimming for a moment, reached
for the bloody piece, and flung it back toward the fishing boat.
The fin turned and followed. The dive platform was now only a
few feet away. We pulled ourselves out of the water.
Safe. We were all safe.
The platform was still too close to the water for my comfort.
I sprung into the stern of the boat and grabbed Alex’s hand to
drag him after me. We were all shaking. I knew my trembling
was from fear, not from the cold, even though my teeth were
also chattering. Madeleine looked like a ghost. Even her
freckles faded into the grayish color of her skin. Her lips were
After throwing us towels, David began yelling at the men in
the fishing boat. “Didn’t you see there was someone swimming
in the water by our boat? What’s wrong with you throwing all
that bait out here?”
This time the sandy-haired man heard him. “Hey, we didn’t
see anybody but the three of you on shore. We figured it was
safe. We wanted to get ourselves a shark.”
“There’s one here now.” The man who dumped the bait spoke
nonchalantly and turned his back on David.
“You almost killed one of us. How can you be so irresponsible
to toss bait around a boat people have to swim to?”
“We weren’t going to be here long,” the man said, his tone
dismissive. “We’d get our shark and clear out. We figured it
would be safe for you to swim out then.” He never turned his
head in our direction but continued to play the fish on the line.
“It’s not going to be safe around here for a long time. Now
the sharks think this is a feeding ground. I ought to—”
“What ought you to do, Mr. Wilson?” The man who was
fishing handed his rod to the other man and came around to
face our boat.
“I should report you.” David spoke calmly, but I could tell
by the red flush beginning to work its way up his neck that he
“Really? You think you have a private claim to these waters,
do you? It was a mistake. Like my man here said, we thought
you were safely on shore. No one got hurt. What’s your
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.
She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. A Sporting Murder follows the first two books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder and Dead in the Water
Visit her on her website: www.lesleyadiehl.com