Entry 35: Nephew Hunting & Tommy’s Note: Wednesday Aug. 10
I wanted to talk to Mrs. Shiflett today. I couldn’t put off direct confrontation, no matter how heated, any longer. I know the key to Mischa’s death and subsequent ghost is the nephew. I have to find him, and the only way is through her. But I imagine, like most families, she will go to great lengths to protect him. I’m not looking for an admission of guilt from her though, just his whereabouts.
But first things first. I went to the church this morning and asked the secretary to have a look at the membership records of years past. She asked me several questions as to why, but I think it was just her natural curiosity, not a need to protect anyone. She let me have access to the locked file cabinet in her office when she went to lunch. I immediately dug in, searching for the information I wanted.
Pastor Shiflett was the first I found, of course. He and his doting Sunday School teaching wife. I read about how long they had been members and what offices they both held, but there was nothing about a nephew. They were the only two Shifletts found in the files. I ran across other familiar faces though, people I had seen in the church on Sunday, sitting dutifully in the pews listening to the service. I even saw the membership file on Mr. Larter. I barely glanced at it, as I was in search of other things, but there was a picture in there, a younger version of the man smiling for the camera. I liked him. There was something warm about his smile, the kind of man others would easily gravitate to. No wonder he was a church elder. But still no sign of the Shiflett’s nephew. If anything had ever been in the files, it was gone now. Not even a bare mention. It was almost as if he never even existed as far as the church was concerned. I had no choice; I was going to have to go to see the old woman again.
When I arrived at her house, she was already gone. A moving van was sitting out front, and across the street sat a car I recognized. Larter. He was loading some boxes in the car seat. When I pulled in front of the house and got out of my car, he saw me and waved.
“Hello Paul,” he smiled. He walked over and shook my hand vigorously. “Come to see Mrs. Shiflett?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I wanted to ask her something.”
“Well, I think you’re just a little late. She’s gone.”
“Yes. Moved into the nursing home. Her assistant quit and she really needs to have someone around her. The church is helping her move.”
“Is the nursing home close?”
“Yes, it’s just across town, but she’s not really settled in yet. I’d give it a couple days. What was it you was wanting to talk to her about, if I may ask?”
“I wanted to ask her about her nephew.”
He looked at me strangely. “Her nephew?”
“Yes. I was doing some research into the church history, and well, he seems to be missing from the church records. His name has come up several times in talking to locals, but I can’t find anything about him anywhere.”
“Well, church history isn’t exactly my interest, I’m more rooted in the here and now,” he grinned. “But since it’s her nephew you’re wanting to know about, you got the right idea coming to her.” He looked at me curiously. “Is he important to the church’s past? Something we should know?”
“I’m not sure. But there was a girl who went missing years ago and I’ve heard that he knew her. I was kind of curious what happened to her and thought maybe she told him if she was running away or something.”
“Sounds interesting. Like a real mystery.”
I grinned. “Yes it’s proving to be.”
“I could take you to see her at the nursing home in a few days if you like.”
“That would be great.”
“Let’s see, today is Wednesday.” He pulled a little book out of his coat pocket and began to flip through it. “How bout Monday? Give her time to get settled.”
I thought for a minute. I was hoping to talk to her sooner. Donna was supposed to be coming home on Monday. I should be home for her that day. “Well I really didn’t want to wait that long. I’ll just go over there myself and see her this weekend.”
He nodded. “Okay. Yes, she should be settled by then. I have other plans this weekend, otherwise I’d take you. Can you find it yourself?”
“Yeah I’m getting used to driving around town.”
“Fitting right in, huh?”
“Trying to,” I smiled.
“Well Paul, I have to get a few more things from her house and help the movers put her stuff in storage. It was good to see you again.”
“Yes, you too,” I smiled and we shook hands goodbye. As I got in the car I noticed something on the palm of my hand. Make up. Women’s makeup. Larter must have been packing up cosmetics from Mrs. Shiflett’s bathroom. I’m glad Donna doesn’t wear all that much makeup. Man, I miss her.
When I got home I collected the mail from the front porch and noticed I’d gotten a letter from Tommy Blaine. It had the hospital’s return address on it, so I knew he was still there. I sat on the porch and Penny sat down at my feet. I opened the envelope and looked at the small note inside. It was only one sentence long:
“She wants you to open your eyes and watch more than game shows.”
I find this odd. What does it mean? How does he know I watch game shows? And I can only assume the “she” is Mischa. What is it then she wants me to see? There is obviously something important I am missing.
“Penny, what do you think she wants?”
The dog looked up at me and playfully wagged her tail. I laughed and patted her head. “Oh, but if only life was as simple for humans as it is for dogs. All you have to worry about is chasing rabbits and where to bury your bones.”
Bury your bones. That thought troubles me now as I write this. Somewhere Mischa’s bones are buried. And somewhere hides the one who killed her. I have to find them both…
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th anniversary edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.