Chapter 17: Graveyard Chit-Chat
Summer had wanted to come with. At first I told her no, but how do you keep a ghost from following you? Lacey may have been mostly bound to our house, but Summer appeared to go wherever she wanted to at whim. So I relented and let her ride with me. “But stay in the car, okay?”
I don’t know exactly why I was going to Dexter Dean’s grave, but something was just not right. Everyone seemed to be connected. Everyone I spoke to was linked somehow with the Kaleidoscope Killer. Maybe he didn’t have anything to do with why my client died, but I was willing to bet she didn’t just jump because she was distraught over her sexuality or choice of lovers. And I know spirits have a way of coming to me for answers, but why did she show up on my doorstep? Had someone subconsciously directed her there? Was she the starting gun for some other spirit’s thirst for revenge?
I parked outside the cemetery. I was going to have to jump the fence. I left my client in the car and scaled the wrought iron structure, landing on the other side in a crouch. I went in search of the grave I had to see for myself. Not everyone knew Dexter was buried here in the town’s cemetery. I guess if they did there would probably be some kind of protest about having a serial killer buried so close to their loved ones. But as it stood, no one had really gone to his funeral anyway . Just his family. A few friends. I had stood in the back trying to blend in. I had to see for myself that the bastard was being laid to rest. The only one who noticed me was Darnell. But that was enough. His anger was apparent.
I shook the memory from my head and went on to where I knew Dexter’s plot was. Ironically I had to pass by where Summer had been buried. I wondered if they’d ever found her body and returned it. It looked like the caretakers had filled her grave back in, but was her body still missing? And if it was, who had it? It made me think of the ouija board conversation with Carla. What was it she had said? HE WANTED HER BODY. But who? THE COLORED MAN. But who was the colored man? Colored? Could it signify his race? Was he an African American or did it mean something else?
I stopped where I was. Not because I figured out some truth, but because someone else was here in the graveyard. At Dexter’s grave. I could see them just a couple yards away. They stood looking down at the killer’s headstone. I ducked down behind another tombstone so I couldn’t be seen.
I could hear the person’s voice as they spoke to the grave. “You were right what you said to me. He’s relentless. And now he’s coming around asking about Summer.”
I peeked around the corner. It was Darnell talking to his brother’s grave. And it sounded like he was talking about me.
“I don’t think he realizes the truth. No, I don’t think he’d believe it either. He has blinders on.”
What was he talking about? The truth about what? Summer?
“Well I have to go, bro. She’s waiting for me at home. I think I might get in her skin tonight.” I could see his lecherous leer from even here. And then he walked away. I watched him as he disappeared in the darkness.
I waited until I thought he was long gone and then came out of hiding. I slowly approached Dexter’s grave as if I thought the man himself would come clawing his way out like something out of a bad zombie movie.
Standing in front of the tombstone I didn’t feel a thing. No remorse for taking his life. No regret that I’d handled justice differently. “You killed my Lacey, damn you,” I said quietly. I waited for something, any kind of response. But there was nothing. I fought back my angry tears and looked around. I was alone.
“You knew Summer, didn’t you,” I asked. “Darnell went to school with her. They were buds. But you..You were something else. She had a crush on you, didn’t she?”
Still there was silence in the graveyard.
“You made her jump, didn’t you? I know you’re not in there, rotting in that body under dirt. You’re out here somewhere.” I glanced around me again in a sweeping gesture. “But you can’t hide forever. I will find your wasted excuse of a spirit and take you down to hell myself if I have to.” I spit on his grave and turned around to walk off.
Sheriff Deacon was leaning against a tombstone in my path. “I don’t think there’s an ordinance for spitting on graves, but it still isn’t very becoming of an adult.”
“Deacon, please, not now. I don’t have time to go round with you again.”
He snorted. “Well, neither do I. So I’ll get straight to the point. I saw your car parked outside the gates, knew you must be in here. I thought maybe you were talking to Lacey’s tombstone or something. That I could understand, but to find you talking to Dexter’s. Now that’s just too weird.”
I didn’t know what to say. He was right. It was weird. But he didn’t see the world as I did. For Deacon, the dead were gone. For me, there were always around us in one way or another.
“Cole, I know we have never been much friends. Even on the force. And especially after Lacey left you.” He held up his hand to tell me to hear him out and not interrupt. “But I worry about you. I really do. Ever since her death, and of course Dexter’s, you seem to have not been your old self. Word on the street has it you talk to the dead and stuff. Personally I think it’s bullshit, but I think you believe it. And if that helps you get over Lacey’s death then I’m all for it, but Jesus man, you have to let it go. She’s gone. She’s not coming back. And I know I have said some cruel things about her before, but I was lashing out at you, not her. Okay, so maybe I didn’t love her like you did, but I tried to fill the void you left her with.”
“I don’t want to talk about this, Deacon.”
“I know you don’t. You never do. But you can’t keep going around talking to graves and ghosts like they are going to talk back. I’m just telling you this for your own good. I don’t want to read in the paper one day you’ve have been carted off to the asylum because you cracked up.”
“I’m not cracking up.”
“Okay,” he said. “You take care then. Don’t stay too long.”
I watched him walk away back in the direction of where I was parked outside the gates. As he disappeared in the darkness I felt a presence behind me. I slowly turned and saw a sight I’d never seen before. A whole group of spirits were huddled around the graves. There had to be at least 6 of them, maybe more. I’d never seen so many at one time. And they were looking right at me. An audience of the dead.
“You heard that, didn’t you? I can’t go on talking to ghosts. Go on, get lost.”
The spirits seemed to dissipate and fade back into the night. And I went to have one last talk with Lacey.
– – – – – –
I hadn’t been to her grave in a long time. It wasn’t that I had avoided it; there was just no point in it with her spirit wandering the halls of my house. Now it was different. I had run off her ghost, and now I was just like everyone else, standing at their loved ones graves and conversing with their own conscience.
“I don’t know why you hung around so long, but I’m sorry. I’m sorry I drove you away again. I’m sorry I failed you in life. I’m sorry I let you down in death. I wish I could change things. I wish there were some way we could start all over from the day you said ‘I do’.” I sighed. “But I know I can’t. Nothing I do will ever change what happened. Deacon is right; I have to let it go. I take my anger out on him all the time, but I’m really angry at myself. Maybe he’s the same way. I know I have to say goodbye to you, but it’s hard.”
A tear traced a line down my cheek, this was tougher than I imagined. “I’m going to go now. I’m not coming back here again. I just wanted you to know that I will always love you and I hope they’ll let me in to heaven to see you someday.” I wiped the tears from my eyes and sobbed. “I miss you. I have to go. Bye now.”
I turned and walked away. I could hardly see from the tears that filled my eyes. But as the cemetery gates loomed ahead I composed myself. It was time to get back in the game. Summer Dennings had died. Carla Deacon had died. So had Jeff Dennings and my old friend from the Police force, Jacobs. And I knew they were all tied together somehow. I had to solve this mystery before any more died. How many did Jacobs say was left? Two? The number of the living was whittling down fast.
“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.