Chapter 7: A Life In Rewind
I woke up to the blinding whiteness of the room. Everything seemed to be hazy, unfocused. Was I in a hospital bed? On a gurney? A morgue slab? Lacey’s face came into focus above me. She had an uncertain smile across her features. “Am I dead?” I asked her.
“No,” she replied, “but I wish you were.”
Coming from a ghost that wasn’t such a bad thing to say. After all, it just meant she missed me. Or at least I hoped that’s what it meant. I turned my head to one side. An IV bottle was attached to my arm. I could see the steady drip of its contents.
“How bad is it?” I asked her gravely.
“The other guy is a lot worse,” she tried to reassure me.
“Is he dead?”
“Yes. He’s gone.”
“Damn,” I muttered. “Is he really gone? I mean you haven’t seen him lingering around?” She knew what I meant.
“No, I think he went on.”
“Probably thought his sister was on the other side.”
“So what happened? Do you know?”
Lacey grinned a little mischievously. “You know I don’t eavesdrop…”
“But I did hear some of the officers talking. They don’t know if it was a gas leak or a bomb. Maybe a little of both.”
“Why would anyone want to blow the house up?”
“Maybe you’re close to something big again,” she offered. “You remember how it was with me.”
I nodded. Yes I remembered, though I didn’t like to be reminded.
“Anything left of the house?” I asked.
“Not much. Just rubble. It was a big explosion. You’re lucky to be alive. Rescue workers barely had time to get you out before the place collapsed.” She looked at me curiously. She knew my mind was at work. “What are you thinking?”
“There was something in that house someone didn’t want me to see.”
Just then a nurse, pretty and in her mid thirties, came into the room, clipboard in hand. “Ah, Mr. Winter I see you are awake.”
Lacey backed up from the bed. I noticed she pointed to her ring finger before she passed through the wall and into the next room, that mischievous smile of hers in place. The nurse took hold of my wrist with her hand and began to check my pulse. I noticed she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. That damn Lacey…
There isn’t much to do when you’re confined to the hospital and your only visitors are ghosts. I was getting restless. I always hated hospitals and I was seriously considering ripping the IV out of my arm and going home. Lacey hadn’t come back. I guess she figured I needed my rest and who knows how else she spends her time? I wondered if she visits Sheriff Deacon like she does me. They’d only been dating several months when she died, and she and I had been married seven years, so maybe the connection is stronger with me. Maybe she was sorry over how she left. Or maybe she felt like she owed me. Why did she come back to haunt me when she died? She should have gone on. There was no unfinished business I could see. We’d said everything we wanted to say, her killer had been brought to justice, and I just couldn’t see what else she was lingering around for. Could it be that deep down she really loved me and that if she could do it all over again, we’d still be together? Given a rewind, perhaps she’d never have left and crossed paths with the Kaleidoscope Killer.
I didn’t want to think about this anymore. I turned on the television. The house explosion had made the news and was on every channel.
“In Local News, A house explosion in the suburb of Kingston Court today killed one man and left another hospitalized. 25-year-old Jeff Dennings was killed in the blast and authorities are still investigating how the explosion occurred. Also injured in the incident was 35 yr old Cole Winter, a former police officer and freelance investigator. Many may remember Mr. Winter as the officer who in 2001 arrested and won a conviction against serial killer Dexter Dean, who terrorized the local community in a six month killing spree that claimed 15 victims, ending with the brutal slaying of the officer’s own wife, 32 yr old Lacey Winter. Dexter Dean, after an inexplicable jailbreak, was later found shot to death just three blocks from the police station. The shooter was never found.
No one knows what Mr. Winter was doing at the residence of Mr. Dennings, and a Police spokesman did confirm that he was no longer involved in police work. They have yet to question him and an investigation into the incident has begun.
In other news, Sheriff Deacon has announced he will not be running for office next term. He says that his daughter’s recent disappearance had no bearing on his decision and he recommended several deputies as possible candidates for the position…”
I turned off the television. I didn’t want to see images of Lacey, or Dexter Dean, or Sheriff Deacon, or anyone. I just wanted to go to sleep and forget everything. I couldn’t be dwelling on the past anymore. I had to keep moving on. Summer still needed my help, and I needed to focus on that. Where was Summer anyway? Had she somehow caused the explosion? I knew she wasn’t in the room when it happened, so where had she gone?
As if in answer to my question, she showed up. She passed through the door and was at my bedside. The thing about ghosts is they always look the same, so she looked none the worse for wear. Even her white burial dress looked as if just came back from the cleaners.
“Are you okay, Mr. Winter?” she asked.
“The doctors say I may live,” I answered. “Where did you go?”
“I got so scared. I thought you were dead.”
“Well it looks like someone wanted me that way.”
“I saw him,” she whispered quietly.
She looked around the room as if to see if anyone were listening.
“He was in the basement. He opened up the gas valves. At first I thought he was a service guy or something because he had on a uniform.”
“You saw someone in the basement?”
“Yes. He was in a hurry, too. He ran up the steps and threw something back into the basement. I was trying to follow him, and he went outside and down the street. He was getting in his car when the house blew up. I was right there. I saw the house collapse on itself. I thought everyone was dead.”
“Your brother is, I’m afraid.”.
She got quiet for a moment, as if gauging how she was supposed to feel about that. “Is he coming back? You know, like me?”
“I don’t think so.”
She nodded her head as if she understood.
“Who was the man, Summer? What did he look like?”
She looked beside my bed at the little nightstand there. She picked something up and handed it to me. It was the newspaper. Someone must have brought it to me while I was sleeping. But that isn’t what mattered. What mattered was the small headline that screamed at me: ‘Sheriff Deacon won’t run again’.
I looked up at Summer. “It was him,” she whispered…
“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.