Chapter 16: The Return Of Summer
I looked at the ring closely. Yes, it was hers. The date was engraved inside with our initials. How did this get here? Did she put it there? Or had someone dug up her bones and retrieved it? Whoever put it there left it as a message, but what was it? Was Lacey responsible or could it be…suddenly the thought hit me. Deacon. They were together when she died. He had first access. He could have gotten the ring before she was ever buried. Took it right off her hand. Could he be the one? Plotting out my descent into madness for letting her die? He had all the motives and means, and it’s no secret of our rivalry. I closed my hand around the ring, holding it tight in my fist. If it was him, why kill his own daughter? Did she know too much? Was he the one who blew up Jeff Denning’s house? After all, he’s law enforcement. He knows explosives. It seems like an awful lot to go through just to get revenge. And what about Summer? Did she jump or was she, as I suspect, thrown off that bridge?
Summer. Damn I’d forgotten all about her. I’d sent her to Deacon’s. But now it was time to bring Deacon to me. I went back in my house and placed a phone call to the sheriff’s department. Pretty soon he’d show up to investigate the dead man in the car outside. And I’d be here waiting.
I didn’t have to wait long. The dispatcher must have called him right away the moment they realized who it was calling. Several police cars showed up, as did the man from the coroner’s office, an older fellow named Crews. We were no strangers, Crews and I. He had performed the autopsy on Lacey.
Sheriff Deacon showed up with his usual swagger. Getting out of the car, he hiked up his pants by the belt as if he were a wild west hero arrived for a gunfight. After taking a quick look in the car and conversing with the coroner, he walked over to where I sat on my front porch.
“Why am I not surprised you keep attracting dead people?” he asked.
“I guess I’m popular.”
“A little too popular,” he snorted. “So you want to tell me what happened?”
“I’d spoken to him earlier when I came home. He was waiting for me.”
“He said he needed to speak to me about some deaths that bothered him.”
“Well, he said he couldn’t prove it, but he thought all the old crew were being killed off somehow.”
“Which crew would that be?”
“The crew that worked the Kaleidoscope case.”
Deacon pulled out his notebook and jotted something down. “Did he say who he thought this so called killer was?”
“No, he didn’t. He was just scared he was next.”
“Well, appears like he was.” He looked over at the car. “So how did you find him?”
“I had come out for some air and I saw his car was still there. So I went over to see if maybe he had fallen asleep or something. I found him dead.”
“Did you taint my crime scene?”
I raised an eyebrow.
“You know, move or touch anything?”
“No,” I lied.
“Okay.” He folded up his notebook and put it back in his pocket. “I have to ask you something, Cole. This has nothing to do with this here, but something personal.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“You been in my house lately?”
“In your house? No. What kind of question is that?”
“Some things have turned up missing.”
“What kind of things? What could I possibly want from your house?”
“Things of Lacey’s.”
“Why would I want her stuff?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you’re sick. Maybe you have this fixation where you can’t let her go. After all, you had a hard time letting her go to me.”
I didn’t know if he was trying to get under my skin or what, so I just said what I thought. “I didn’t want her with you because I knew she’d get hurt.”
A dark look came over his face. His eyes narrowed. Now I was under his skin. “What do you mean by that?”
He just glared at me for a minute. “Well, I’ll just say this, if I find evidence you have been in my house or find any of the missing things in your possession, I will lock you up so fast even your own mother won’t know where you went.”
“My mother’s dead, you know that.”
“Everyone around you seems to be dead, Cole.”
– – – – – – –
After everyone was gone and the crime scene reduced to just another spot on the street, I pulled the ring from my pocket. I turned it over in my hand, looking at it over and over. Why didn’t I tell Deacon I had it? Should I have just said, “here I found this in the dead man’s car?”
No, I didn’t trust him. Something was up with Deacon. Something quite not right with his part in all this. I needed to find Summer. See what she could tell me. Did she take Lacey’s things? Or had Lacey been there herself? Was that even important? There were so many things thrown into the light lately I didn’t know what was important and what wasn’t. All I knew was that my client had died and it may have been suicide or it may have been murder. I had to stop worrying about what had happened to my estranged wife and everyone’s role in that tragedy, and focus on helping Summer. She needed my help. She needed to have closure so she could go on. I still didn’t know why Lacey had lingered on long after the Kaleidoscope Killer was apprehended and killed. She should be at peace now. Unless there was something unfinished. But what? Was it me? Was there something there that needed resolved?
I got up from the porch and went inside the house. It was deathly quiet. I was missing Lacey’s ghostly presence already. I went into the kitchen to fix me a cup of coffee when I caught a scent. It was familiar and female. But it wasn’t the wife.
“Oh hi,” she said, coming around the corner.
“What are you doing here? How did you find where I lived?”
“The address was at Deacon’s. I figured maybe I should check on you.”
“How did you figure that?”
“Well, I heard him say ‘I’ll kill that damn Cole’ the last time he walked out the door.”
I grinned. “Yes, I reckon you had reason to check then.”
“You have a nice house,” she said, looking about the room. “A little too big for one person though. Maybe you should think about remarrying.”
I gave her a stern look.
“Or maybe not,” she added with a shrug.
“So what’s he like at home?” I asked.
“Deacon? He’s weird. For a cop especially.”
“Like weird how?”
“Well, in his den he has newspapers everywhere. And there’s clippings taped to the wall. I saw a picture of your wife by the way. She’s very pretty. She was in one of the clippings.”
I thought of my own clippings. The ones I hung on the wall in the den as I hunted the Kaleidoscope Killer, before he’d gotten Lacey. We were together then. They used to bother her. She’d close the door so she wouldn’t have to look at all the gruesome details. ‘I hope you guys catch him soon,’ I remember her saying every time I mentioned the case. ‘We will baby’, was always my reply. I didn’t realize at the time I would catch him too late.
“Do you miss her?” Summer asked, as if she could read my mind.
“Yes I do.”
She smiled. “I used to dream of having a house like this when I got older and married. Sharing a life, loving someone forever. Stuff like that. Dexter said he’d marry me if I had just been a little older.”
I stopped in my tracks. “What did you say?”
“I said I used to dream of houses like this.”
“No, not that. About Dexter.”
“Did I say Dexter? Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m positive. Did you know Dexter Dean?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know why I said Dexter. I meant Darnell, his brother.”
“Darnell is about the same age as you. Why would you need to be older for him to marry you?”
“I don’t know. I’m sorry. Just forget it. I say things I don’t realize I’m saying half the time.”
“Summer, listen to me closely, okay. This is important. Did you know Dexter?”
“No, really I don’t remember. You know how my memory is. I don’t remember much about my life.”
“But you are starting to, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” she agreed.
“So when you hung out with Darnell or whatever, did you ever see his older brother Dexter?”
“I..really don’t know, Cole. I’m sorry.”
Something wasn’t right. After awhile you get a nose for these things. Either she was lying or it was still hazy for her. But something told me she was holding back. I had to press her.
“Summer, I can’t help you if you won’t help me. This is important. Try to remember for me. If you knew or had any kind of contact with Dexter Dean, this could really mean something.”
“He was the Kaleidoscope Killer, wasn’t he?”
“Yes, he was.”
“I saw the clippings in Deacon’s house. It mentioned him a lot. I think that’s where I got the Dexter name. It was everywhere. I think he wanted to catch him too.”
“Probably so,” I reasoned. She was changing the subject on me, stringing me away from Dexter and onto the subject of Deacon.
“He misses her too, you know. Just like he misses Carla. The funeral was hard for him. I watched him cry. I wonder if I was expected to cry since I was her girlfriend? I think seeing Carla in her casket made the sheriff think of Lacey. I wanted to comfort him, but the only thing I knew to do was remove her.”
“All her things he had. I took Lacey’s stuff and hid them in the attic, so he wouldn’t have to look at them anymore.”
This made me think of something. “Did you take a ring?”
“A ring? No, I didn’t see one.”
“Okay.” I decided to let it rest. I needed to think. So many thoughts were running through my head. But the biggest thing was Dexter. He was dead, I knew. I killed him myself. Shot him dead in a dark alley. But what if there was a connection between the past and the present? Or no..wait..no I couldn’t think this..but who’s to say Dexter had left this world completely? Lacey came back as spirit. Summer was here. Could Dexter be here too, orchestrating everything as a vengeful spirit?
“Summer, stay here. I’ll be right back.”
She looked at me with a curious eye. “Where are you going?” she asked.
“I’m going to pay Dean another visit.”
“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.