Chapter 20: A Lot To Talk About
In hindsight it felt strange being led away from the Dean household in handcuffs. It was a touch of irony in that the last time both Deacon and I were here together was when we had arrested Dexter. I had led the Kaleidoscope Killer away in handcuffs, as Deacon parted the way through reporters and onlookers. Lucky for me, on the night I stole into the Dean household in search of Summer’s body there were no reporters around. Still, as the sheriff’s car pulled away, I felt as if I were in a spotlight. Or worse yet, a deer caught in a car’s oncoming headlights. Sheriff Deacon didn’t say much at first. We just drove quietly a couple blocks down and then he pulled over in the darkness. He turned around in his seat and gave me this serious look.
“I’m going to let you sit up front now, okay? Don’t make me regret my decision.”
He got out of the car and opened up my door. I hesitated for just a minute. I was waiting for Summer to give me more advice. But she just sat there in silence watching me, waiting to see what I would do.
“You going to get out?” Deacon asked.
“Yeah,” I replied and got out of the car. I went around to the front passenger side and got in. He watched me the whole way, and I got the feeling maybe he was testing to see if I was going to run or not. I wonder if he would have shot me if I had tried to sprint off into the darkness.
After I was in and the door was locked, he got behind the wheel and put the cruiser in gear. We hadn’t gone far at all when he asked the question.
“So, you want to tell me what you were doing in the Dean house?”
I sighed. “I don’t know if I should.”
“Cole, look, neither one of us likes the other very much, but I can’t help you if you don’t help me understand what’s going on in that head of yours. I don’t want to see you in jail, I really don’t. Maybe if you tell me, then maybe I can somehow convince that Dean kid to not press charges. But you got to be on the level with me, ok?”
I took a deep breath. With my next exhale I said it. “I thought he was the one who’d stolen Summer Denning’s body. You know, the missing body from the graveyard?”
He raised an eyebrow. “Really. How did you come to that conclusion?”
“I overheard some statements he made lately that made me think he’d done it.”
I thought about it for a minute. “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he just wanted to set me up. Knew I would take the bait.”
I glanced behind me at Summer in the back seat. She was nodding her head. Maybe I was finally on the right track.
Deacon didn’t seem to notice my distraction. He was just looking ahead as if he were thinking something out. “So, he made himself look suspicious in order to get you arrested for trespassing? That seems a bit much.”
“Maybe he thought I’d react differently. Maybe he thought there would be a struggle. Some reason to shoot me legally. Get his revenge or whatever.”
“For his brother, I assume?”
Deacon looked out his window and then back to me. “Well, his brother was the Kaleidoscope Killer. Justice was served. You and I both know that.”
“Yeah, it was.”
“Give me your hands.”
I looked at him. The question must have been in my eyes.
“This is just a courtesy, seeing you are former PD and all. I still haven’t decided whether you are under arrest or not.”
I offered my hands and he used a key to unlock the cuffs. I rubbed my wrists trying to get the circulation going in my hands again.
“Did I put them on too tight?” he asked.
“No. It’s just strange, all the years I told perps not to squirm or the cuffs would tighten and then I can’t sit still myself.”
He grinned. “Yes, I guess it’s a little different from the other side of things, isn’t it?”
I noticed he made a turn down a side street. We weren’t heading directly to the station. “We taking a short cut I don’t know about?”
“No, we’re just going to go the long route. We have things we need to discuss and I don’t want to talk about them at the station.”
“Okay. Well, it’s not like I can go anywhere else right now.”
He ignored my sarcasm. “So let me get this straight. You think Darnell Dean is trying to bring his brother’s spirit back from the grave. Is that so big brother can get revenge on you for shooting him in the back?”
“Listen Sheriff, you know the inquiry into his death said..”
“I know what the inquiry said, I was on the damn panel. I don’t care what happened out there the night he escaped. We all know what went down. Hell, we set it up. Everyone knows he did it, we just rushed the justice process, that’s all.”
“I wouldn’t have done it if not for Lacey. But I couldn’t bear seeing her killer go free. He brutally took her out of this life. I was repaying the favor. I was angry and consumed by revenge. Even though she was your girl then, I felt like someone had taken MY Lacey.”
“Cole, she never was mine. She didn’t love me the way she loved you. I think deep down I knew I was just a replacement. But I liked having her around you know. We had some good times, but I never would have meant to her what you did. You were her world really. She just felt like she was floating out in orbit alone, that’s all.”
“She tell you that?”
“She didn’t have to, Cole. Every time she kissed me, in her mind she was kissing you.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
He chuckled a little under his breath. “Sorry? Whatever for?”
“That you were stuck in the middle between us. That wasn’t very fair.”
“Hey, nothing in life is fair, Cole. It’s not fair my daughter hung herself from a tree house roof. It’s not fair your wife was raped and murdered in a dark alley. It’s not fair that Summer Dennings body was robbed from a graveyard. Which brings me to what I really wanted to ask you, off the record of course.”
“Do you think it’s really possible to resurrect a dead spirit? Could someone really bring a spirit back and place it in a body? I mean you think that’s what Darnell was trying to do, so is there some truth in that?”
“Well, I’ve heard of instances of spirits possessing live bodies and sort of pushing another’s personality or soul to the side. But I’ve never heard of anyone throwing a spirit into dead flesh and reanimating it. I’m not saying it’s impossible. Maybe someone has found a way.”
He put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it. He offered the pack to me and for a moment I almost took one. I hadn’t smoked in years. I declined his offer politely.
He took a drag off his smoke. “You know, I have to admit I don’t believe in all that ghost and spirit junk that you do. I believe when you die, you go to heaven or hell. There’s no other options.”
“A lot of people believe like that. I used to also.”
“What do you believe now?”
“You ever read Shakespeare, sheriff?”
“A little bit in college. Why?”
“In Hamlet he wrote, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’. That’s what I believe. There are things around us that I don’t quite understand. Forces at work that transcend the physical world.”
“So in other words, you believe some people become ghosts after death.”
“It’s not that they become ghosts. Not in the traditional sense. It’s that their souls can’t quite let go of their attachments to the living. So something of them lingers here. Sometimes it’s just a feeling that gets left behind; sometimes it’s an event in their life playing over and over like a movie. Sometimes it’s a disembodied voice, or a shadow we catch out of the corner of our eye. Only in rare cases do we see ghosts as a direct mirror of their former self.”
“So they don’t walk around like people?”
I glanced in the back seat at Summer. She had stuck her fingers in the corners of her mouth and was sticking her tongue out at me. I laughed.
“No they don’t,” I lied.
“But you help ghosts right? I mean, the word around town is you help spirits. You communicate with them somehow?”
“I would like to think I help the living more than the dead. Help others go on without their loved ones. Find out what happened to make them go from this life.”
“Ahhh,” he said. “Like the train track kid.”
“Yeah, like him.” I knew what he was referring to. One of my first ‘cases’, a young boy dead, his body lying by the train tracks. At first everyone thought he had just wandered across the tracks right into the path of the oncoming locomotive. But then the boy’s ghost had come to me. Like Summer, He couldn’t remember what happened, but over the course of the next couple days we pieced together the last hours of his life. In the end, another boy was arrested for his murder and disposing of his guilt by throwing the body into the train’s path. All because the one boy coveted the other boy’s bicycle. They found the bicycle in the boy killer’s basement, halfway repainted so no one would know it was stolen. The case of the train track kid made the papers, though no mention of ghosts appeared in print. Still the word in certain circles on the street had circulated: a man had communicated with a spirit and discovered the truth of the boy’s death.
Sheriff Deacon brought me back to the present. “So what makes a person so special that they become ghosts?”
“Often it’s a traumatic experience. Or maybe it wasn’t really their turn to die. Perhaps something was left undone that they were destined to do, if they were still alive. A ghost is basically here to finish something. They don’t always know how, and very rarely can do anything about it, even if they do know.”
He looked out his window, and we turned down another street. This one was a long road that wound out by the river. I knew where we were going. Quarter Mile Bridge. I glanced behind me at Summer. If she knew where we were going she didn’t show it.
I got the feeling Deacon was working the nerve to ask me something. Finally, he turned back to me. “Do you think my daughter’s ghost is out there somewhere? I mean, Carla’s death was traumatic, right?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes it’s best to think of these things as if everyone we know leaves the world in peace. If we dwell on the particulars of death too much, we’ll just end up torturing ourselves in all the things we never said or didn’t do.”
This seemed to satisfy him. “You ever thought of being a priest, Cole?” he grinned.
I laughed. “I’d be excommunicated for sure.”
We came to Quarter Mile Bridge and I thought to myself how nice it was to grin next to Sheriff Deacon. There had been so much bad blood between us it felt like a new door was opening, like maybe there was a possibility we could be friends.
As we crossed the ill-fated bridge, I heard a laugh from the back seat. I turned around and Summer was looking at a spot of railing. I guess it was where she went over. But why laugh about it?
“Something back there?” Deacon asked, noticing my distraction.
“No,” I replied, as Summer slid across the back seat and slipped out of the car. She stood on the bridge at the spot and looked over the side down into the murky depths. I watched her as Deacon and I kept driving until we were too far away to see. Maybe it was best she was alone for a little while. I know if it was me and I’d just passed the place of my passing, I’d be freaked out too.
“Something wrong?” asked Deacon, noticing my attention to the bridge we’d left behind.
“I think that’s where Summer Dennings fell,” I explained.
“You mean jumped?”
I didn’t want him to know I thought she was forced to go over. “Yeah, jumped,” I agreed.
We drove back onto the main road and were heading to the Police station. Our long ride and conversation was over. Now it was time for the sheriff to do his job. But what was it time for me to do?
“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.