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Advocate For The Dead Chapter 26: A Different Kind Of Goodbye (Epilogue)

Advocate For The Dead Table Of Contents

Chapter 26: A Different Kind Of Goodbye (Epilogue)

Lacey and I sat on the front porch waiting. Soon the police would be there. Already one of the neighbors had come outside to see what the commotion was. Deacon’s choked screams could be heard loud and clear, even out here on the porch.

“Well,” I said, “I guess it’s finally over now.”

Lacey looked at me sadly. “Yes. I can feel it. I’ll be going soon.”

“Where did you go that last time? You know, when I drove you away again. I thought maybe you had gone forever.”

She smiled. “I went to go see our daughter.”


“Yes.” She looked at me and there was a mix of joy and sorrow in her eyes. “She saw me, Cole. Jessica really saw me. She said, bye mama.” A tear fell and glistening on her cheek. “I think she has your gift.”

I wanted to cry with her. Just knowing that she had some sort of closure with our baby was enough to make everything easier for her to let go.

“Now I have to say goodbye to you,” she said.

“I know.” I pulled her wedding ring out of my pocket. “Here.”

“I don’t need that to remember you, my love. Everything is right here.” She placed her hand over her heart. “The body may be gone, but the heart, that which we are inside, always remains.”

I couldn’t do anything, except smile. “I love you Lacey. I wish you didn’t have to go.”

“I know. Me too, but this isn’t forever. This is..”

And she leaned forward, kissing me. It wasn’t a physical kiss, for she was spirit, and wasn’t trying to pull me back into that plane at the hour of her leaving, but I felt it just the same. I tried to fight back the tears. But they wouldn’t stay put, and instead ran down my face.

“Don’t cry, Cole. We’ll be together again one day. You can give me the ring then.”


“Deal.” I turned back to look at Deacon’s front door. I knew he wouldn’t be coming through there again. Except maybe in a body bag. I wondered what the police would think when they showed up and found him choked to death on colored beads of plastic. I returned my attention to Lacey. “So what am I supposed to do now? How am I to go on without you?”

“Cole, you are special. For whatever reason, the spirit world has chosen you. To help the lost. To help make things right again. For some of us, you are the only bridge that shows the way across to where we need to be.”

“But I killed an innocent man, Lace. I made a ghost where there should have been rest. How can the spirit world trust my judgment?”

She smiled. “Darling, spirits trust you more than you know. After all, you are our advocate.”

“But I can’t do this without you.”

“Sure you can. I know every man needs a woman by his side to keep him on the straight, but it’s time for me to turn the reigns over to someone else now.”


She flashed me a wink. “Just think about it.”

Before I could put much thought into what she said, I heard sirens in the distance. She stood up. “Here they come,” she whispered.

At first I thought she meant the police, but that wasn’t what she was talking about. She was talking about the people in white. They seemed to melt out of the landscape, some from behind trees, others seeming to materialize out of thin air. I saw one come up from the earth itself, while another just seemed to fade in from the corner of the house. Their faces glowed in such a way I couldn’t make out any distinguishing features, but I knew who they were. They were spirits of those who had gone on before. Not disoriented, confused specters, but new creations of peace and light.

Lacey smiled at me. “I have to go now.”

I bit my lip, trying not to let the tears start again. “I’ll see you,” I whispered bravely..

She put her hand on her heart. “Always.”

I put my hand on my own breast. “Forever.”

The figures in white waited out in the yard, and as she stepped off the porch towards them, I saw her body changing. It was as if she were shimmering, like light playing across water. An ethereal glow came over her, enveloping her until she didn’t have a female form but was just a pulsating shade of light. As the figures came to her, all their dazzling shadows blended and came together as one, before fading away back the way they had come.

I stood there watching the beautiful spectacle. I had seen spirits leave this world in peace before, but not in such a display of light or community. It was as if she was getting a big welcome home.

As the last of the spirits faded and I was left alone in the world of the living, I wondered if I’d get a welcome like that one day. Probably not, but as long as Lacey was there to greet me, that was just fine by me.

“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Advocate For The Dead Chapter 25: A Horde Of Ghosts

Advocate For The Dead Table Of Contents

Chapter 25: A Horde Of Ghosts

I drove down the dead end street where Sheriff Deacon lived. I parked the car outside his house and saw he was sitting on the front porch waiting. His police issue pistol sat beside him within reach. I walked up the porch, my eyes never leaving his. My gun, now fully loaded, rested in its holster under my jacket. Maybe I should have shown up with guns blazing, but I’d acted rashly too much lately. This time I had to be sure. I stopped at the foot of the steps leading up to the porch.     Deacon nodded in greeting and sighed. “It was the ring, wasn’t it? That’s what finally gave it away.”

“I killed an innocent man because of you.”

He shook his head. “You killed an innocent man because of yourself. You were like a cannon. A stick of dynamite ready to explode. I just gave you an outlet for all that anger.”

“Why Dexter?”

He shrugged. “Dexter was making my little baby girl unhappy. He was trying to get busy with her friend Summer. Imagine, a man his age..”

“And so when Dexter comes back, he gets even with you by hanging your daughter from a tree house.”

“What goes around comes around, I guess. Karma’s a bitch, they say.” He placed both his hands in his lap. “So, did you get him?”

“Yeah, I got him.”

“I knew you would. When I realized he’d come back from the dead for revenge, I tried everything I could to set you on him. I knew nobody else could take him out. You know, I used to think it was crazy, the word on the street that you could see ghosts, but I guess that worked in our favor, didn’t it?”

“Why kill Lacey, Deacon? What did she ever do to you, except turn to you when she needed someone? She didn’t deserve that.”

“Come on Cole, I needed a fall guy. Things were getting too close. It was only a matter of time before you found something to link me to the Kaleidoscope Killings. Dexter was my fall guy, but I needed someone to take him out before he could prove his innocence. You were already distraught over Lacey leaving you. With her dead, I knew that would send you blindly to wherever I pointed the evidence.” He grinned. “You didn’t let me down. You were the perfect killer.”

“You killed Lacey just so you could send me after your dupe?”

“It worked too, didn’t it?”

“You bastard. You are sick. It’s bad enough you were the real Kaleidoscope Killer. You killed all those innocent women. You went around with us as we investigated your own crimes. But worse still was the game you played with those who cared about you.”

“Cared about me? Who? Lacey? Come on man, I was just a replacement for you. Nobody ever gave a damn about me.”

“What about Carla? You put your own daughter in the middle of your game. You had me kill Dex. He killed her. He made her friend Summer jump to her death. He killed off everyone we knew on the force just to work his way back to us. My God, can’t you see the madness and murder you caused?”

“Yeah, cool, isn’t it?”

“I’m taking you in, Deacon. You have to pay for what you have done.”

“I pay, you pay, Cole. After all, YOU are the one who physically pulled the trigger and murdered an innocent man.”

He was right. If he went down, he would take me with him. It was down to just us two. And we were at a stalemate. “Give me your gun, Deacon.”

He laughed and picked it up. He turned it over in his hand and then pointed it at me. I stood my ground.

“Aren’t you going to draw on me, Cole?”

“No, I’m not. This isn’t gunfight at the OK corral.”

“Suit yourself. I can just shoot you where you are for trespassing. Who are they going to believe? The sheriff or a burnt out ex-cop with mental problems?”

“Hello Carla,” I said.


I held up my hand and waved. “I was wondering when you’d show up.”

He turned to look behind him. “What? Where is she?”

“She’s all around you.”

He looked from side to side, trying hard to catch a glimpse of her ghost.

“She’s not very happy either.”

He became frantic, spinning madly, trying to train his gun on something he couldn’t see.

“Oh, hi Summer, it’s good to see the real you finally.”

“What?!” He waved his arms madly as if a swarm of bees were flying around him.

“I see you brought your brother with you. Sorry about your house, man.”

“No!” Deacon screamed and fired off a shot. The bullet struck a porch railing. He fired another into the air as if they were above him. “Get away from me!”

I turned from him to look out to the road. “Here they come, Deacon. Everyone from the force. All the ones you caused to die with your little game.”

He raised the gun towards the road. Unfortunately, I was in the way. I threw myself to the ground as he fired off a shot and then he spun and ran inside the house. I knew he was heading for more ammunition.

I got up and took off after him. After all, no one else would. No one else was there. Not even ghosts.

I closed the front door behind me. “Deacon!” I pulled my gun slowly out of its holster. I walked down the hallway in search of the madman. “Come on out!” I heard a noise from upstairs, so I headed that way. “You up there, Deke?”

He appeared at the top of the stairs. His eyes were wild and frantic. “Did you bring them in with you?”

“No,” I said. “Nobody’s out there.”

“They are. The ghosts.”

“No, they’re not.”

“Where did they go?”

“They were never there, Deacon.”

He looked at me curiously.

“How’s it feel to be played?” I asked.

“You son of a bitch.” He raised his gun to fire, but I drew mine faster. Blam! My gun discharged and the railing beside him exploded in splinters.

“You always were a terrible shot,” he cackled and prepared to fire.

“Hi Lacey,” I suddenly said. “Where you been, honey?”

He threw back his head and laughed. “Oh that’s good, Cole. Trying the ‘ghosts all around you’ routine again. It won’t work twice.”

I grinned. “She is behind you. Just like you crept up behind her in a dark alley.”

“I’m not falling for it.”

“Suit yourself.” I turned away from him. “Go ahead, Lace. He’s all yours.” I turned and started walking back towards the front door.

“Stop!” he shouted. I heard the hammer click back on his pistol. I looked back just in time to see her behind him. She whispered something in his ear and he screamed, spinning around in alarm. He fired the gun and the bullet went through her and hit the wall. His eyes went wild in fear. Somehow he could see her. Maybe whatever she had whispered had given him this ability, or perhaps she was using all the energy available to make herself visible to him. Either way, he knew this was her, and not some kind of trick. And this made him afraid.

“You can’t hurt me this time, monster,” she said.

“No, get away!” he screamed. He aimed for her face and pulled the trigger. Again, the round went through through her, this time shattering a glass picture frame on the wall. Ironically, it was a picture of Deacon himself. Undeterred, he prepared to fire off another shot.

Lacey shoved her hands against his chest, except they went through him, never making physical contact. Still, it was enough to make him react and step backwards. His back pressed against the railing on the landing. There was nowhere to go. He looked to his right at the staircase. Should he try to run? No, in his mind, because he could see her, she was flesh and blood and he would kill her again. With a shout of rage, he pulled the trigger again and it clicked on an empty chamber.

“Karma IS a bitch,” she snarled and leapt at him, arms outstretched for his throat. Her hands and body passed through him until she was hovering in the air in that space beyond the railing. He however, in his need to get away, had flipped over it. He did not hover long, but for a split second it seemed he hung there suspended, as if death itself was savoring the moment. And then he plummeted to the floor below. She followed him down, slowly descending like some dark angel there to administer punishment to the wicked.

He tried crawling away, but he couldn’t move. One leg was twisted underneath him and I knew it was broken. It was possible he’d broken his spine also in the fall from the second floor landing, for he just lay there, trying to will his body to move, yet finding himself helpless.

Lacey touched the ground and leaned over him. “You deserve far worse than I could ever do to you, Deacon. I could drive you mad for the rest of your life, but that just wouldn’t do.”

I stood where I was, watching her lean in close to him. A look of terror was on his face and he shook his head from side to side as if she were a bad dream he was trying to wake up from.

“I am done with you..” she spat in his face. She stepped over him and walked towards me.

I could hear his sigh of relief, see that look of fright leave him. Then Lacey stopped and turned back to him. She pointed to the staircase.

“..But they aren’t.”

I looked up on the landing and it was full of spirits. A horde of ghosts, all the victims of the Kaleidoscope Killer. All the women he had brutally raped and slain. In their mouths, his calling cards still rested, colored glass from a kaleidoscope toy he had shoved in their throats. In unison they all reached up and removed the brightly colored pieces, spitting them out into their open hands. Then they silently marched down the stairs in single file towards him.

All that came out of him was a whimper when the first ghost woman touched him. I saw him shimmer for a brief second and realized what was happening. Just as Lacey had pulled me onto the spiritual plane temporarily, so they were doing to him.

He tried to protest, to say something, but it was too late.

The ghost took the kaleidoscope glass and shoved it in his open mouth. He struggled but she pinned his arms down as another one of his victims stepped forward. She shoved her handful of glass into his mouth as well and then took her place holding him down.

He squirmed and twisted as much as he could, but there was no escape. They came in a line, each taking their turn giving back to him what he’d given to them. He choked and gagged as the colored pieces were shoved farther down his throat.

I couldn’t watch anymore. I closed my eyes. I heard Lacey whisper. “We should go, Cole.”

I couldn’t have agreed more. I opened my eyes, and the last I saw of Deacon was his body underneath all the phantom victims as they piled on top of him to administer their own brand of karmic justice.

I turned from the scene and went out the front door, closing it behind me. Let hell deal with Deacon now.

“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Advocate For The Dead Chapter 24: Conversation With An Immaterial Woman

Advocate For The Dead Table Of Contents

Chapter 24: Conversation With An Immaterial Woman
I woke up in the floor. Lacey was cradling my head in her lap. She looked down at me with a loving smile.

“What happened?” I asked.

“You passed out from exhaustion.”

I could feel her lap beneath my head. Not as a memory, nor as my imagination, but as if she were real flesh and blood. She took her hand and touched my cheek tenderly.

“Am I dead?”

“No, you’re not dead.”

“Then how is it I can feel your touch?” I bit my lip, trying not to cry. To feel her was the most peaceful, wonderful sensation I’d ever experienced. I felt as if I were in the presence of an angel, not a ghost.

“You remember the gun, Cole?”


“I touched a physical object and brought it onto the spiritual plane. And now I have touched you in the same way.”

I sat up. “I’m on the spiritual plane?”

“Yes,” she smiled. “But I can’t hold you here for long. I just wanted to hold you again before I go.”

“You’re leaving?”

“You know the rules, my love. Spirits linger to finish things. Once these things are completed, they have to go on to where they are supposed to. I think my time here is finished.”

“What was it you were supposed to finish? To make sure your killer was gone forever? To see that he never comes back again?”

“No, this was my unfinished task.” She leaned into me; I felt her hand on my beating chest. Her lips touched mine and I could taste her favorite lipstick, catch the scent of her skin. It was like a first kiss, but born more of love than desire. It was a taste of lost years, all the times we were too busy to share a kiss or say I love you, wrapped up in a single act of hearts. I put my hand to her cheek and felt her soft skin against my palm. I couldn’t help but cry. Everything I had ever hoped for, the chance to say goodbye, to kiss her that one last time, it was here.

“I love you,” I whispered in her ear.

She clung to me and whispered something back. “I will always love you,” she said. “Always.”

We held each other in silence, our tears falling on each other’s shoulders, knowing that the time would be coming soon.

“Hold me until I go,” she said, and we sat there in the floor awaiting the end of her phantom existence.

I don’t know how long we had sat there, wrapped up in each other’s touch, listening to our own heartbeats, feeling our own breaths against our skin. But a thought occurred to me.

“Lacey, can you take things with you from the physical world when you go?”

“I can’t take you,” she answered sadly.

“No, not me. A keepsake, something to remember us by.”


I reached into my pocket and found what I was looking for. I pulled it out, holding the object out to her. Her wedding ring.

“Take this with you. Someone removed it from your grave, but it belongs on your finger.”

She didn’t take it. “It wasn’t in my grave.”

“What do you mean?”

“Deacon took it off my finger right before they closed the casket.”


“Yes, I watched him. I thought he just wanted it as a reminder. Where did you find it?”

“Close to a dead body. A man who thought that the next to die was myself and De…oh crap. Lacey, let me go. I have to get to Deacon.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”


I slipped the ring back in my pocket, as she let me go. I felt disoriented for a moment as I shifted from the spiritual world back to the physical. The room spun in a circle, causing me to wobble on my feet. I had been unconscious when she took me onto her plane of existence, but now I was wide-awake, and the effects were near nauseating.

“You okay?”

“Yes.” I steadied myself and reached out to her. Of course my hand passed through her now.

“What do you mean, everything’s wrong?”

I looked right at her. “Why haven’t you gone yet, Lacey? If it’s over and done with, if a wrong has been made right, you should have left by now. I’ve seen spirits go when their time is through. They don’t stay any longer than they have to. And yet here you are. Unchanged. Unfading.”

“Maybe I’m meant to stay with you.”

I felt the ring in my pocket. Something wasn’t right. She should have faded long ago. Her killer had met his final justice. He..

“No, I don’t think so. I think everyone has been played. We’ve been toyed with and used until it’s down to just two of us.”

“You and I?”

“No. Deacon and I.”

“You’re not making much sense, Cole. And you’re scaring me.”

“Think about it. What happened the night you were killed?”

“Please, I don’t want to think about that.”

“Okay. Let me tell you then. You are walking on a dark street on the way home. Someone comes up behind you. You never see his face, do you?”

“No. It was too fast.”

“He does…what he does to you, and then kills you, but never once do you see who he is.”

“What are you getting at? We all know who it was. Dexter Dean was the Kaleidoscope Killer.”

“No he wasn’t. I thought he was. All this time I’d been sure of it. But even Dexter’s brother had tried to tell me I was wrong. Dex was a dupe and we all fell for it. He’d crossed the killer somehow, and so the real Kaleidoscope saw an opportunity. He set him up to take the fall. He knew my anger would send me over the edge, and I’d be vengeful without question of the hard facts.”

“No Cole, that can’t be. The evidence..”

“It was planted somehow. The real killer was behind it. He even arranged to have Dexter let go, told me where I could find him. He planted the seed for me to take an innocent man’s life, and that’s why Dexter came back in Summer’s form looking for revenge.”

“If Dexter wasn’t the Kaleidoscope Killer, then who was?”

“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Advocate For The Dead Chapter 23: A Sort Of Showdown

Advocate For The Dead Table Of Contents

Chapter 23: A Sort Of Showdown

I don’t remember much about the race home, only the thoughts rushing through my head. If I hadn’t been sitting in a driver’s seat, I would have kicked myself in the ass for being so stupid. Summer had been leading me around blind, pretending to have lost her memory, feeding me just enough to lead me to her victims. But why? If she wanted to kill somebody, why not just do it? Why the ruse? Why string me along for the ride? Was her purpose to drive me mad? What had I ever done to her?     The answer to that was nothing. This wasn’t Summer. This was an illusion. Summer was an innocent face, a mask for something darker, vengeful. It didn’t take much to figure out who was wearing the mask.

I came screeching into the driveway and jumped out of the car. I needed my tools. This had gone beyond a simple case of a ghost. This was a malevolent specter, a possession of someone else’s spiritual form. I was going to have to perform an exorcism of sorts.

I slammed the front door behind me and raced to my bedroom. I flung open the closet door and reached up onto the top shelf. There hidden behind an old hat box, it sat. My mojo bag. A black satchel in which I kept the necessary tools for the most difficult of situations. I opened the drawstring and peered inside. Yes, everything was there. I tied the bag around my belt loop and dashed back out into the hall.

What else was I going to need? My mind raced trying to think. Maybe I better warn Deacon trouble was coming. Into the living room I went, straight to the phone. I picked it up and listened for the tone. I automatically began dialing his number.

“Come on, come on,” I whispered, impatiently waiting for it to connect. It began to ring on the other end. “Pick up Deacon, pick up.”

After five rings, the answering machine kicked in. “Shit,” I growled and slammed the phone down in its cradle. Deacon could already be in trouble; I had to get over there fast.

I spun around to head for the door and stopped where I was. Someone was in the doorway. Her dress was white lace and her long blonde hair lay across her shoulders as if she had been brushing it for hours. She smiled, and for a moment, the mask held. But I wasn’t being fooled any longer. This wasn’t Summer Dennings.

“Hello Dexter,” I said.

Her smile grew wider and she clapped her hands in slow mock applause. “Well, well, well. It’s about time, Cole. I thought I was going to have to just whisper it in your ear there for a minute. It’s amazing just how stupid you can be.”

“Why the masquerade? Why pretend to be someone else?”

“Now, now, you know if I had shown up at your door as Dexter Dean, where would the fun have been in that? It has been entertaining watching you torture yourself so. Oh poor Lacey, oh woe is me..” The figure pretended to dot her eyes with a handkerchief.

“Where is Summer?”

“How should I know? Maybe heaven. Maybe hell. She was a suicide, you know.”

“You made her jump.”

“She made that choice herself. I was offering her immortality. All I needed was her flesh. To get inside her.”

“To possess her?”

“I needed a flesh and blood body. A way to get at you. What better way than such a pretty young form as this.” She spun around, her dress billowing out at her sides. “But when she wouldn’t let me have her, when she jumped, I just had to settle myself with this. It’s amazing what one can do as a spirit.”

Her shape began to change, and Summer ‘s form seemed to change into an old man, then into a child, and finally into a shape that haunted my every night. Lacey.

“No,” I trembled. Had Dexter mastered the spirit form so much he had played at being my Lacey, too? Lacey and Summer had never been in the same place at the same time. Could every spirit I’d dealt with these days been The Kaleidoscope Killer?

Finally the shape changed again, this time into a tall man, broad of shoulder, a hulking mass of muscle and sinew. “There, this is better. It may not be quite as I was, but it will do, considering the circumstances.”

The face of Dexter Dean leered at me from a bodybuilder’s frame and I put my hand on my mojo bag protectively. He noticed the movement.

“Oh, and what is that, hero? Magic fairy dust?”

I reached into my bag and pulled out a piece of chalk. I dropped to one knee and drew a circle around me. The spirit threw back his head and laughed.

“Oh, that’s rich. Do you really think a circle is going to protect you from me now? I have been practicing a lot of things since I’ve been dead.”

He picked up a chair that sat in front of my computer desk. He physically lifted it as if he had form and held it over his head. “A little hatred can go a long way when you are dead,” he cackled and threw it at me.

There was no way to dodge the chair. It came at me too fast. I threw up my arm to block it but the force was strong enough to knock me off my feet and out of the circle.

“I might not have a physical body anymore thanks to you, but I can still hurt you!” He walked over to the front door and picked up my coat rack. He turned it upside down and shook everything off of it. He stalked towards me, the rack held out like a spear in which to gut me with.

I rolled over and got to my feet. I reached in my mojo bag, but I knew there was nothing there that could hurt him now. He had somehow managed to cross the line between living and dead. He had no physical form, but he could command physical objects.

Wham! The coat rack smashed into the side of my head and the room spun around me.

“You killed me, Cole. Shot me dead in the back. Like a coward!”

Wham! The top of the rack jabbed me in the gut and all the air was pushed out of me. I coughed and clutched my stomach. I was trying to come to my feet.

“You killed all those people,” I sputtered.

Slowly I stood up, while Dexter pranced around me, bouncing on the balls of his feet like a boxer. He swung the coat rack at my legs. Crack! My knees buckled and I went down. He was too fast, moving like the flash from a camera.

I tried scurrying away and this just made him gloat over me more. “It’s different when you’re on the other end of the stick, isn’t it?” I braced myself for the coat rack to come slamming down on my back as I tried to crawl away. But he was content to watch me trying to escape.

Finally, I got to my feet and ran. “Where do you think you’re going?” he called after me. I limped down the hallway trying to get to my bedroom. I had my other gun in there; maybe I could get to it before he caught up with me.

I stumbled into the room and fumbled with my dresser drawer. I finally pulled it open and there it was. I knew there was one bullet in the chamber. I had saved it for those desperate nights when I got to missing Lacey more than most.

I spun around and marched back out into the hallway, where Dexter stood, the coat rack still held like a weapon in his hand. I raised the gun and came right at him. I don’t even know what I was thinking. I knew the gun wouldn’t hurt him. Though he had command of physical objects, I knew they couldn’t hurt him back. But I was desperate.

“Oh please,” he snickered and swung the rack. It hit my wrist and the gun went flying out of my hand, spinning back down the hallway far out of reach. I clutched my wrist. It felt like he may have broke it. I was fighting back the painful tears.

Dexter turned around and went back into the living room, no longer concerned about me. He knew I was helpless. Just as he had been helpless when I gunned him down in a dark back alley.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly, feeling defeated. “I should have let justice take its course. I should have taken you back to jail. but you killed my..”

He reeled around. “Sorry? You’re sorry?” He threw the coat rack down in the middle of the floor. “Don’t be sorry, Cole. You killed me and made me a God!” He threw back his head and laughed madly.

I looked at him and suddenly knew real fear. I backed up. I knew this was it. The time had come; he was done with taunting me.

“And you know what the beautiful part is? There is nothing you can do to hurt me!”

From a corner of the room came a voice. “No, but I can.”

Dexter spun around at this new voice, and so did I. We were no longer the only ones in the room.

The figure shimmered and stepped towards us. “I will not allow you to hurt my husband,” Lacey said, an angry glint in her eye.

“You bitch, you can’t hurt me either! I am invincible!”

“Just like a man to think that,” she grinned slyly. “But I will be a lady and give you the choice to leave now. Leave this house, leave this plane.”

“Oh my, you are a tough one, aren’t you?” He laughed, as Lacey walked past him and went down the hall.

I was still clutching my wrist as she went by. “Lacey, what’s going on?”

She didn’t answer, but stopped at the gun that lay there in the floor. “Dexter, I see that you mastered the art of handling material objects.”

He quickly reached down and picked back up the coat rack. “Yes bitch, let me show you.”

“Well I have mastered something as well,” she replied. “In fact, I think I can do you one better.”

Dexter hesitated, suddenly unsure.

“I have learned to take material objects and make them immaterial.”

He sighed in relief and leered at her. “What’s the point in that?”

She reached down. “Because now I can take a solid object and bring it onto the spiritual plane.” She picked up the gun. At her touch it shimmered and gained a transparency. “And by bringing it on the spiritual plane, I can use it against anything there.”

She pointed the gun at Dexter, who suddenly realized he had made a mistake. He was starting to back up, looking around himself for anything to defend himself with.

“One bullet, husband?” Lacey asked me.

“Yes,” I answered.

“You don’t need it,” she stated matter-as-factly. I watched her finger pull the trigger. There was a muffled bang as if the shot were coming from a room far away. The bullet struck Dexter in his chest. He barely had time to register a look of shock before he went down. He clutched his hand to his chest, and though there was no blood to see, I swore it looked like a mist; a sort of ectoplasm was seeping from his chest.

“You haven’t beat me,” he snarled in my direction. “I will find a way to come back again and again until you are dead as she is.” He made a gesture of spitting to the ground at my feet.

“You’re not coming back,” I said, and reached into my bag. In my hand I held a piece of chalk with rune type markings up its side. I knelt down and drew a circle around Dexter’s fallen form.

“What are you doing?” he looked at me frantically.

“This is called a conjuring circle,” I told him.

“What are you conjuring?”

Completing the circle, I muttered the words I had committed to memory, yet never hoped to have to use. With each arcane word, Dexter trembled. He knew what was coming, and I could hear their growls and snarls in the distance.

Lacey turned her face from the scene. She didn’t want to see, but I had to watch. I had to make sure he wasn’t coming back. They materialized within the circle, three black dogs that circled his prone form, salivating from their jaws.

“No wait,” he cried out, right before one of the hounds clamped down on his ankle. He screamed, as the dogs began to drag him away. They weren’t dragging him out of the circle, but further within it. A darkness seemed to slowly envelop them as they faded from the circle. His screams took longer to fade.

Finally gone, I collapsed, a certain darkness enveloping me too. I closed my eyes and welcomed it.
“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Advocate For The Dead Chapter 22: The Bridge

Advocate For The Dead Table Of Contents

Chapter 22: The Bridge

Quarter Mile Bridge has a history. It has long surpassed being just a piece of architecture and has become something of legend. Summer Dennings was not the only tragic figure to go off its side. For as long as I can remember, it has been the place to go to if one wanted to kill themselves. The long fall, coupled with the freezing waters below, would ensure the jumper didn’t survive. Even in the days of my own youth, the place held a morbid fascination. One would think that maybe the bridge was cursed, that if it were a living thing, it planted the seeds of death in one’s mind. But it wasn’t a living thing. It wasn’t evil. It was just a bridge. The lover’s leap of our town it may have been, but it was just metal and concrete. Men had made this place the tragic setting it was.     I parked my car at the very edge of the bridge and decided to walk across to the spot I had last seen Summer’s ghost. From where I was, I didn’t see her. She was gone, but I remembered the place where she had stood. In my mind’s eye I could still see her there, frozen in a moment of having something to show me, and yet Deacon and I had been driving away.

I stopped where I believed she had stood. I ran my hand across the railing. Made of steel, it was cold to my touch and I wondered about the night she had jumped. Had her warm hands gripped this railing in the moments before she threw herself over the side? Or was her whole body cold inside by then, devoid of anything relating to joy or happiness?

I looked at the concrete where I stood. Had her feet been planted exactly here? Had she trembled or hesitated the slightest little bit? I imagined her standing there, shaking and trying to make up her mind what to do.

Peering over the edge of the railing, I couldn’t see the cold waters below, but I could hear its quiet flow beneath me, almost lulling me to sleep. I imagined a siren of the sea down there beckoning the unfortunate ones to jump, or a kelpie from the old country luring one to come join her with cries feigning that of a lost baby or helpless child.

I closed my eyes, and could almost feel the open air that one would experience upon leaving that bridge. How far to the bottom? Would you have time to think about what you had done? What waited down there besides the freezing river? Would death immediately envelop you, caress you like a long lost lover, or would it just be sudden blackness?

Before I knew it, I was up on one rung of the railing. I don’t remember stepping there. It was almost automatic. A name left my lips: Lacey. I could end all this misery now. Every piece of guilt I could bring to a close in one movement. A little voice inside my head said jump. My legs shook on the rung. My lips quivered.

“Lacey,” I sobbed. “I’m sorry.”

Then before I could jump, a last thought came to me, an image I had seen when Summer’s ghost had touched me, a voice I had heard from her gloom. “I want your body,” it had said. Summer had jumped trying to get away from it. I had seen her desperation, seen her jump in that brief glimpse inside her memory. I had watched her disappear over the edge and…wait a minute.

I stepped down from the railing, my mind suddenly alert, no longer thinking of my own shortcomings and guilt. No, it was something to do with Summer. When she had touched me in the car. I’d been inside her spirit and seen what she had seen that night. But something about it was wrong. Something about that glimpse inside was off, and it was trying to tell me the truth.

I turned around and put my back to the railing, trying to remember the vision she gave me with that touch. I had seen her standing on the bridge. The voice had said “I want your body” and then an arm reached out. In her final act, she had thrown herself over the bridge and I watched her fall into the darkness. I played the image over and over, like a video on replay. What wasn’t right with the picture? Maybe if I could look at it from another point of view…

Wait, that was it. The point of view. It was wrong. When Summer touched me, I should have seen exactly what she’d seen. I should have seen the person reaching for her. Should have seen him speak. I should never have seen her at all. If I was getting a look at her buried memories, I wouldn’t have seen her jump, could never have watched her fall. She would never have seen herself as she jumped over the railing. She wouldn’t have seen her own body descend. She would only have seen the river as it rushed to meet her. When she touched me, I had gotten a glimpse of a spirit all right, but it wasn’t hers. It wasn’t Summer’s memories at all. It was that of the one who made her jump.

I ran back to the car. This changed everything, this new piece of the puzzle. In the vision I had heard the voice, seen the hand reaching out to take her, followed by her tragic leap. But what did it mean? How could Summer show me this? It was impossible unless….Unless Summer wasn’t Summer at all.

No, that can’t be. Or can it? Had I been duped all along, strung along like a puppet for some unseen purpose? Oh my god, how could I have been so blind? I’ve been leading Summer to all the people to kill. The older brother, the lover Carla, former officer Jacobs. So, who was next? Who was the last person I had contact with? Darnell Dean? No, Sheriff Deacon. Oh Jesus, he was next…

I climbed behind the wheel and started the car. I had to get to Deacon before someone else did. But first, I needed to stop by the house. This was going to take more than a pistol. I was going to need some serious magic.

“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Advocate For The Dead Chapter 21: Driving Through The Pieces Of A Puzzle

Advocate For The Dead Table Of Contents

Chapter 21: Driving Through The Pieces Of A Puzzle
At the station, Deacon asked me the standard questions, taking my statements of what had transpired at the Dean house. I argued that I had not broken or forced my way in. The front door had been unlocked and I just merely opened the door. Once his deputies arrived from questioning Darnell and Andrea, they confirmed I hadn’t picked the lock or made a forced entry, and so I was just charged with trespassing.     “It’s the best I can do,” the sheriff explained. “Maybe we can get Darnell to drop the charges before this goes to court. If you’re right about the ‘setting you up’ thing, it could be he just needs a little time to bask in his success. To know that he got you in trouble.”

“I had a feeling he would rather have killed me than call the police.”

“Well he called the police, so we won’t even consider the other possibilities. Just consider yourself lucky, Cole.”

“So what now? I’m under arrest. Do I need to get up some bail money?”

He got up from his chair. “No, we’ll just go before the magistrate real quick and we’ll get him to set you free on your own recognizance. It’s not like you’ve been in trouble before. And you’re ex PD too, so that’s two good things in your favor.” He grinned.

I grinned back, but I really wasn’t thinking of what he was talking about or what I had done to get in trouble. I was thinking about the last image of Summer’s ghost standing on the bridge looking over the side as we kept on driving. Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something about her and that bridge just wouldn’t leave me be. It’s like I should have known what’s wrong with the picture, and yet it was just on the outside of my vision. I was going to have to go back and take a look for myself. There was something there, some other piece to be found. Summer wanted me to know something. But what?

Sheriff Deacon and I were in the car, driving back to the Dean house, where my own vehicle remained parked. I didn’t know if he was driving me back himself as a courtesy or to keep me from confronting Darnell again.

“Did your deputies ask him about the box in his basement?” I finally asked. “It was big enough for a body.”

Deacon sighed. “Let it rest, Cole. He let them search the house. There was a crate in the basement, yes. But there was no evidence a body had ever lain in it.”

“Did they ask him what had been in it?”

“Jesus man, don’t you understand? Darnell hasn’t done anything to break the law. But you have.” He glanced over at me. “You need to start getting your own life in order before worrying about what others might be doing.”

He was right and I knew it. I had let things get out of control. Instead of sorting out my own demons, I was creating other ones where they may not even exist.

“My suggestion, Cole, is that you go home. Go home and remove all of Lacey’s things you may have there. It’s driving you crazy what happened to her. You were doing real well for a while. We thought you were going to make it. But here lately I don’t know. It’s not looking good.”

“I know.”

“You just need to start over. Without her shadow hanging over you. She’s dead, and as much as I wish for you that she wasn’t, she’s gone and she’s not coming back. You have to decide what you’re going to do, Cole. Lay down and join her or get back up into the world of the living.”

We pulled up behind my car parked in front of the Dean house. The lights were no longer on. Darnell and Andrea must have gone on to bed, the night’s intrusion forgotten. Maybe he was getting into her skin, as he liked to call it. I can’t believe I had misread what he meant. What an idiot I can be sometimes.

“Cole, I’m telling you this as a friend would. There is more at stake here than just you. You have a little girl. She’s already lost her mom. Her father snapped once and it’s looking like he’s going to snap again. Do you want her growing up knowing that you just lost it? That you had a choice between the living and the dead, and you chose the dead? Get your life in order, Cole, and then get your daughter back. Believe me you, you don’t want a miss a minute of her life.”

I didn’t know what to say. I felt like I was seeing a part of Deacon I’d never seen before. The father, the family man, the tender side that he shows no one. I thought I saw his eyes begin to tear up, but he turned away from me and looked out the window up at the Dean house.

“The Dean’s role in our lives are over,” he whispered. “Let it go.”

“Okay,” I answered. What else was I to say? We had come to this place by a hard road, and now I was beginning to think I had brought myself here, not ghosts or the dead, just me. If anyone was to blame for my misery it was myself.

I left Deacon in the car and went to my own. I didn’t stick around, though he waited for me to pull away before he too left the scene of the Dean house. He didn’t follow me, and so instead I found myself driving aimlessly, wondering how I could find my own peace. But I knew peace wouldn’t come until all the parts of the puzzle were in their correct place. I had to know about Summer. What happened and why it happened. Why did this young girl in her prime fall from the bridge? I already suspected she was pushed, forced. Murdered. But for what reason? And what did it have to do with me?

I found myself driving past places I had been before in the course of my investigation into her death. And there in those places, missing pieces seemed to wink at me, taunting me, daring me to find the truth and where they fit.

The cemetery offered up one of the strangest pieces, the case of Summer’s missing body. Why was it taken and who took it?

Driving by her parent’s house, I recalled my visit there and how upset they had seemed about their daughter’s friend, Carla. What kind of things had been said in that house about the two of them? How much anger and resentment had been offered up behind those doors?

The ruin of her brother’s house, though mostly hauled away now, was like a ghost in itself. Why burn down this house with us in it? What was I not supposed to find out? What was it her brother could have told me? Did he have some vital piece of information that would have brought me to the truth?

And what of Deacon’s tragic daughter? Did she hang herself from the tree house, or did someone help her long? And was there any significance in the fact it was the same tree house I had built for my beloved Lacey?

Lacey. What did she have to do with all this? Why did she linger around for so long before allowing herself to be chased away by me? Is it possible she had known Summer? She knew Carla from when she was living with Deacon, so had she met Summer then? Maybe she had told Summer about me and that’s why the girl had come to me when she died.

And why had everyone I knew on the force died off? I would be a fool not to admit it seemed strange everyone connected with the Kaleidoscope Killer case was now dead. Everyone except Deacon and I. Was some special kind of vengeance being saved for us?

Would we go out like Jacobs, slowly bleeding to death and helpless to do anything but write a message on a dirty window? What had it been? DEAD END. Some message that was. And the ring. What of Lacey’s wedding ring on the dash? What did it mean? Was it a message? A taunting? If it was buried with her, how did it make its way from her grave to end up in the car of a murdered man connected to her case?

I pulled my car to the side of the road. Closing my eyes, I tried to chase all these mind twisting thoughts from my head. It was just too much to digest. It was like a mystery where there were so many clues and all of them lead in different directions. It’s almost like someone is trying to deliberately send me down all these paths. But are all these paths legitimate clues? Or do some of them lead nowhere? How did I know which clue to follow?

I took a deep breath, and in that moment I thought of where it all began. Summer Dennings. All this came about in an effort to find out how she died.

I’d learned she’d went off the Quarter Mile Bridge, either pushed by someone or by jumping herself. The answers lay with her and that bridge. It was time to go back there, to see if she was still standing by the railing, peering down into the watery depths below. Something tells me the bridge and what happened there holds all the answers.
“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Advocate For The Dead Chapter 20: A Lot To Talk About

Advocate For The Dead Table Of Contents

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.”

“Okay. Shoot.”

“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.