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Resurrection Diaries Entry 39: Out Of The Frying Pan

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Entry 39: Out Of The Frying Pan: Late Friday Night Aug. 12

An hour went by, and Larter didn’t show. There was a television out in the hallway and I was on the news. A reporter was saying a local man, the janitor of a nearby church, had been charged with the abduction of Meagan Mitchell. The police weren’t giving many details, but that more charges were pending. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Then I realized I was already in a hole.

Finally after three hours of being in the holding cell, an officer came and unlocked the door. “You made bail,” he said.

“Bail?”

“Yeah, somebody bailed you out.”

When I got out front and they gave me my things back, I saw Larter waiting. I sighed in relief. He walked over to me. “I couldn’t let you sit in there all night. It wouldn’t be the Christian thing to do.”

“Thanks,” I said. “But from the look of things, they’ll be throwing me in there again soon anyway.”

He shook his head sadly. “Come on, the car’s out front. Let’s get you out of here.”

We went out to the car, and thankfully there weren’t any reporters waiting like you see in the movies. I guess they were waiting for the big news: that I was being charged with murder. I dreaded that thought and made a quick prayer that the real killer would be caught and I’d be absolved of all this.

“I called the church’s lawyer,” Larter said. “We will help all we can, but if the church gets implicated in all this, it won’t be easy.”

“I didn’t do anything,” I replied.

“I know that, Paul. You seem like too nice of a guy to bring harm to anyone, let alone a defenseless girl.”

“I can’t afford to pay your lawyer.”

“It’s okay, we’ll worry about all that later. He’s on his way to the church now. I told him we’d meet him there.”

“I can’t believe this is happening to me,” I said. “I have lost everything, even my wife. All over a missing girl. I should just kill myself.”

“Hey, don’t talk like that. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll find an end to all this, you’ll see.” He put his hand reassuringly on my shoulder.

“Thanks Larter.”

He smiled and we pulled into the church lot.

“Our lawyer’s not here yet,” Larter said. “You want to go over to your place and change or anything? I’ll wait here at the church for him to show.”

“No, that’s okay. I might as well wait with you.”

He nodded and we both went in the church. I flicked on the lights and closed the door behind me. For a moment, I thought I saw something at the edge of the woods close to my house. It was now dark, so I couldn’t tell what it was, but something out there had moved, I was certain of it.

“Come on, we’ll wait in the office,” Larter said, and I followed him, trying not to think about who was out there moving around. Should I say something to him about it? No, the less he gets involved the better.

I went into the office and he excused himself to use the restroom. I sat down and waited. The secretary’s desk was a little cluttered, a stack of papers sitting on the edge waiting to be signed, another pile of outgoing mail. A paperweight sat on one edge and I reached over and picked it up. It was a photo cube, and inside I could see pictures of the church, the pastor, and what appeared to be a photo of the former staff. Larter was there, as was the secretary and several other gentlemen. But what stood out was a man who clearly had custodian written all over him. Could this be the guy I had replaced?

Larter came back in and sat down beside me. “Did you know this guy very well?” I asked, showing him the cube.

“Not much. He wasn’t with us for long. He died of a stroke.”

“In the church?”

“Outside on the lawn. He was mowing the grass.”

“Oh.”

“We had a lady clean for us for awhile, but she said the church was too big. Personally I think it creeped her out to be working in here by herself, if you know what I mean.”

“Yes I do.”

We sat in silence for a while and then he asked a question. “They said you had some of that girl’s things, is that true?”

I nodded. “Yeah. But I found them.”

“That doesn’t look too good,” he reasoned. “You being the new guy in town and all.”

“I know.”

He stood up and went to the window. Looking out, he said, “I know what it’s like to be the new guy. In small towns like this, they always look at the outsider first…Ahh, there he is.”

“Who?”

“Our lawyer. He just pulled up.”

Larter walked out the office and I followed him. We walked down the hallway towards the front door to greet the legal counsel, and he talked the whole way.

“When I first moved here as a kid, nobody liked me. They looked at me like I didn’t belong.”

I nodded. I certainly didn’t feel like I belonged here anymore either.

“I thought since my uncle was the pastor I’d be readily accepted,” he went on. “But I wasn’t.”

“Your uncle was the pastor?”

“Yes. But no one took that in account. I was thought of as the bad egg. I thought for a while there was one person who understood me, but in the end she didn’t.”

His uncle was the pastor? He lived here in his youth? There was a girl? Something was clicking into place and I didn’t like it much.

“Mischa Boudreaux?”

He grinned and spoke as if he was lost in his own little world. “Yes, pretty little Mischa. She understood me so well she was pregnant with my child. She said it wasn’t mine, but I know it was. Her other boyfriend was too goody goody to get that far. And now he’s legally mad.” He laughed at this.

I swallowed hard. Finally, I knew who the mystery boyfriend was. It was Larter. Eric Larter. But did he kill her? No, there was no Mischa. It had been this girl Meagan the whole time, I thought. Oh my god, could there be two of them? Mischa and Meagan?

“Eric,” I said, speaking his name for the first time. “Did Mischa go away?”

“Yes, I guess she did,” he replied. We stopped at the front door, and he positioned himself in front of it, blocking any means of escape. I was praying the lawyer was on the other side of that door, and with him the police. But I knew he wasn’t there.

“There is no lawyer coming is there?”

He smiled, but there was no mirth there, only darkness. “You got me.”

I had to figure a way past him. I had to alert someone that it was Larter. “She came back,” I said.

“Oh really?”

“Yes, she’s here in the church.”

This threw him off a little. “Where in the church?” he asked warily.

“In the baptismal where you drowned her, just like those little cats in the kiddy pool back home.”

He didn’t know what to say. His face turned white, as if I had presented him with a ghost. And I had. I couldn’t stop there either. Something was in motion and I had to know.

“What’s the matter, Eric? Did she spurn your advances? Choose the other boy over you? Or do you just like killing defenseless things?”

I was feeling brave now. I figured if I could be on the offensive, I just might be able to get out of this one. I was wrong. He grabbed me and slammed me up against the door. It shook with the force.

“You don’t know nothing,” he hissed loudly. “You think you know me? You think you can just come here and play detective? Think you’re so smart? You think you have it all sewn up, don’t you, Sherlock?” He slammed me into the door again, his fingers wrapped up in my shirt’s lapel. I tried to push him away, but he was leaned up too close, keeping me pinned to the door. “Oh no, my friend, you don’t know anything,” he whispered in my ear with a quiet menace. He grabbed hold of my shoulder and turned me to the door. “Time for you to get your comeuppance.” And with this he flung the front door open and pushed me out into the night.

I stumbled on the church steps, and he went to grab me again, but there was a sound that made us both turn. From the corner of the building it came, and suddenly I realized what had been out there in the woods earlier watching us…Penny.

The dog growled and came at us running. She lunged at Larter, her jaws catching the wrist he’ d raised to defend himself with. They both went down, Penny on top of the murderer of children. I heard the grinding of her teeth on bone as she bit down hard and he screamed. “Get her off of me!”

I did no such thing. I ran back into the church and slammed the door behind me. I had to get to the phone and call the police. Once in the secretary’s office, I snatched up the phone and managed to glance back out the window. Penny still had Larter and they were rolling in the grass. “Yes, baby, yes,” I smiled. “You get him.”

I stopped smiling. There was no dial tone. Just that damned hissing. The same old sound that had been there times before. Except now there was something else, a voice. And it whispered something. It was ghostly and faint, but I heard it. “I want to go home,” it said.

Then I realized something. Outside there was silence. I went to the window and looked out. Neither Larter nor Penny could be seen. “Damn, where are they?” I muttered.

I heard the front door slam with a bang.

“I killed that damn dog of yours,” Larter’s voice cried out triumphantly. I ran out into the hallway. He had dragged Penny inside by her collar. She wasn’t fighting him as he set her down. “I think I broke her ribs and punctured a lung.” I could see the dog’s chest heaving laboriously up and down. “She doesn’t have long,” he grinned. “And neither do you…”

He stalked towards me, and I noticed he had a gun in his hand. He was done playing. “I could have just shot her, but I won’t waste a bullet on a bitch,” he sneered. “On you however, it’s a different story.”

“Shit,” I realized and turned to run. But no matter how fast you run, it’s hard to outpace a bullet. I had almost made it back into the office when he pulled the trigger. The bullet hit me in the back of my leg. It was hot, and my whole body felt like it was on fire. I collapsed to the floor in a cry of pain .

Larter took his time getting to me. I tried to pull myself across the floor and shut the office door behind me. He stopped it with his hand and leaned over me, the gun trained on my face. “Time for a baptism,” he grinned.

He grabbed my hair with one hand, and with the other he hit me hard in the head with the gun. Everything started to go black. I shook my head, trying to shake off the darkness. He hit me again and I began to slip into oblivion. No, this can’t be happening, I thought. Not like this, dear Jesus, don’t let him kill me.

Mischa, please help me. Then the darkness took me, until I woke up again into a whole new terror…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 38: The Mitchells

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Entry 38: The Mitchell’s: Friday Night Aug. 12

In the most important times in a man’s life he can behave quite stupidly. When others depend on him he does things without thinking how foolish his actions really are. With that said, I wasn’t thinking very clearly when I went to The Mitchell’s. I tried calling first, but lost my nerve the moment someone answered. It was a very feminine voice and I couldn’t bear the thought of delivering the news I had to tell over the phone. If this was Meagan’s mother, I didn’t want to just come out and say I think your daughter is dead.

It took me all afternoon to work up the courage to go to their house, but I finally decided it had to be done. I couldn’t keep it to myself, the knowledge that their missing daughter wasn’t coming home again. They needed closure, and I needed to know for certain that what I felt inside was true. Maybe the girl’s parents could give me the missing link to the whole puzzle.

I arrived at the Mitchell house shortly before dinnertime. It’s a typical two story suburban home, with an enclosed garage and front walk lined with flowers. On the porch is a welcome mat that says “God bless this home.” When I knocked on the door I should have just turned right around and walked away. If I’d known what was coming maybe I would have.

A woman answered the door. Dressed casually with an apron over her clothes, I knew right away this was the missing girl’s mother. And when she spoke, I realized this was the woman whose voice on the phone had caused me to hang up.

“Mrs. Mitchell?” I stammered nervously.

“Yes,” she replied, a cautious tone to her voice. Maybe she thought I was a reporter or something.

“My name is Paul and I work over at the Resurrection Church.”

The cautious look left her face and she smiled brightly. “Hi, how are you?” I could tell she was relieved. “How is Pastor Chiles?”

“Umm, he is fine. He hopes to see you there this Sunday,” I lied.

“He knows we’ll be there. Haven’t missed a service since…”

“Mrs. Mitchell, I need to ask you something,” I interrupted before she could finish. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the anklet I once believed belonged to Mischa. “Does this belong to you?”

A look of complete surprise came over her face, followed by a choked cry from her lips. “It belongs to my daughter. Where did you find it?”

“I found it in the church. I’ve been trying to find the owner based on the initials inside, and well, I saw the news earlier and your daughter’s name was mentioned… so I thought maybe it was hers.”

“Do you know our Meagan?” a voice said from behind her, and she stepped away from the door to let her husband stand with her. Mr. Mitchell was dressed smartly, and I could tell maybe he’d just gotten home from working in a law office or was an accountant or something.

“No sir, I didn’t. I mean I don’t.” This was not going to be easy, I could tell that.

“Where in the church did you find it?” he asked, and I knew he’d been listening all along.

“In the recreation room. I figure she must have lost it there.” I was starting to fidget on the porch.

“Well, thank you for returning it,” he said.

“No problem,” I replied, realizing he had just closed this conversation and dismissed me from my good deed. But I couldn’t stop, I had to tell them. “But I think something bad has happened to your daughter.”

They both looked at me as if they had never considered bad news, like any minute the girl would run around the corner and say, “hi everyone, I’m home.”

“I’ve been seeing some strange things lately, and I’ve come to believe that somebody did something terrible to her.”

“What kind of things have you seen?” the man asked curiously, yet with a hard look in his eye.

Uh-oh, here it goes, I thought. “A girl in a yellow sun dress. I first saw her in the church. No one was supposed to be there, but she was. And then I think she was in my house…”

“Your house!” the woman gasped in alarm.

“Yes, in my house. But I think something happened to her in the baptismal of the church. She keeps trying to tell me something.” I had started talking and then it came out like a runaway freight train. I didn’t realize how all this would sound to them.

“What was she doing in your house?” the man asked angrily, and I realized then I had crossed the line, that I’d made a mistake. Here I was, a grown man, telling them their missing teenage daughter was in my house. I had to ease things real quick.

“I mean she was on the television. In my house.” He knew I was lying; it was all over his face. And his wife was nearly in tears. “I didn’t mean like she was IN my house,” I tried to convince them.

“Would you like to come in for a bit?” the man suddenly asked, and all the alarms went off in my head. I tried to tell them I had to be going, but he insisted I come in and talk with them over coffee. The way I looked at it, I only had two choices: to go inside or run. I should have run…clear out of town.

We’d been sitting in the Mitchell living room talking and drinking for about fifteen minutes when there was a knock at the door. Mrs. Mitchell got up to answer it, and when she returned there were two police officers with her. Her husband must have called them when he went to get us coffee. The officers asked me to step outside for a minute, that they wanted to talk to me. When I got out on the porch, they turned me over to two other officers who were standing in the yard. Then they went back inside, I suppose to talk to the Mitchell’s.

“What’s wrong, guys?” I asked, trying not to sound nervous.

“You tell us,” one of the cops said.

“I was just coming over to return something I thought belonged to the Mitchell girl. I work at the church and…”

“Have you seen Meagan Mitchell?” the other one asked.

“Ummm, no. Like I said, I just…”

“We’d like you to take a ride to the station with us.”

“What for? What did I do?”

“We just want to ask a few questions and take a statement.”

They were lying I could tell it. They thought I’d done something to the girl. So I panicked. I bolted away from them and across the yard. They weren’t expecting it, and I heard them yell my name in alarm. Damn, they knew who I was already. I cut through a couple yards, leaped a fence, and was almost to the next street when they caught up to me. One had a gun drawn and was ordering me to stop. I thought maybe I should.

Things weren’t much better at the station house. They kept me there for hours, asking vague questions, trying to get me to tell them something revealing. I kept telling them I didn’t know Meagan, and finally a runt of a detective showed up and grilled me with questions like, “where is Meagan?” and “where did you get her things?”

“What things?” I asked stupidly.

He grinned. “The things we found in your house.”

“My house?” This wasn’t going good at all.

“In the duffel bag in the closet,” he pushed.

“Oh no,” I mumbled.

“Oh yes.” He smiled as if he had just solved the case of his career. “We found Meagan Mitchell’s clothes in your house. Her parents have already identified the items as being the last things they saw their daughter in.”

“I found those,” I replied.

“Where?”

“In the woods behind my house. There’s an old playground back there and they were in the bushes.”

He wrote something down on a notepad and looked back up at me. “Why didn’t you call the police?”

“I didn’t know they belonged to a missing girl.”

“And so you just decided to keep them?”

“Yes sir.”

“Now why would you do that? Your wife couldn’t wear them. They aren’t her size.”

“My wife?”

“I just finished speaking to your wife, Paul. She says you have been obsessing over a teenage girl lately. And that’s why she left you. Said you even told her the girl’s name. She thought you said Mischa, but I’d be willing to bet it was Meagan, wasn’t it?.”

“I didn’t do anything to her!” I yelled. “I didn’t do anything to anybody.”

He leaned real close. “Let me tell you something,” he said. “Right now, everything points to you. You had her jewelry, her clothes, and inside a side pocket on that duffel bag, we found something even more interesting.”

“Like what?” I stammered.

“A fingernail. It’s being tested right now, but I’d say offhand it’s Meagan’s, wouldn’t you?”

“I don’t know,” I said and closed my eyes. A thought came into my head, an image of the girl underwater in the baptismal, her fingers scraping across the tile, trying to find something to grab hold of.

“I think it would be best if maybe you called yourself a lawyer,” the detective finally said. He got up. “You’re under arrest for the abduction of Meagan Mitchell. It’s only a matter of time before we find out what happened to her, so when your lawyer gets here I think it would be in your best interest to tell us.”

I got angry and snapped at him. “You couldn’t find Meagan if she was sitting on your desk, asshole.”

He turned around and grinned. “You have anger issues. That’s not going to look good in court.” And then he was gone. As for me, they threw me in a holding cell. They slipped me a phone and allowed me one call. I didn’t know whom to call. I couldn’t afford a lawyer. Donna wasn’t going to be able to help and I don’t know if she would now anyway, so I called my boss, Mr. Larter. Maybe the church could get me some legal help. He said he was on the way and bringing a lawyer friend with. I hung up and waited in my cell for them to arrive. I put my head in my hands and cried. Everyone thinks I killed that girl.

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 37: Help Me

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Entry 37: “Help Me”: Friday Aug. 12

It rained hard last night. I had to let Penny in, but I always enjoy her company anyway. I had tossed and turned, but with her at the foot of the bed I felt a little safer and protected. I wanted to sleep in a little this morning. Still, I found myself waking early with thoughts of Mischa and what she wants me to see. Once again I turned on the TV to watch the morning game shows, still believing there was something there she wanted me to take notice of. But like the day before, I saw nothing to give me great revelations about the ghost of Resurrection Church. I was just going to have to go see Tommy Blaine again and get the answers there.

I turned off the television and was getting ready to go back to the bedroom to get dressed when it happened. I had let Penny outside and usually she would bark if there were an intruder. So when I heard her yapping, I went to the front door. The dog was out in the yard barking at the house. Not in a menacing way, but the way a puppy would if she were excited. But the porch was empty; no one was in the yard with Penny. Maybe she was wanting me to come out and play, I thought.

Then I felt something brush past me in the doorway. It wasn’t a physical brush, as one feels if someone bumps into them, but I felt something different in the air. A change in the temperature. A warmth that one would feel standing close to another person. But there was no one there. I looked around the room and I noticed something moving down the hallway away from me. The only way I can describe what I saw was that it was like heat rising off the pavement in high summer; a haze in the air that blurs everything else around it.

It passed from the hallway into the bathroom, and I heard the water come on. Whatever it was, it had just turned on the bathroom faucet. I walked cautiously down the hall. I didn’t have anything to defend myself with, and though part of me felt fear, another part of me was simply curious. I imagined as I rounded the corner, I would see someone there in the bathroom, staring into the mirror, water overflowing onto the floor. But when I looked in all I found was an empty restroom.

The water was on and running fast. Hot steam had risen from it and nearly fogged up the whole room. I stepped carefully to the sink. The heat coming off the running water met my hand as I reached for the chrome faucet, but I managed to turn it off without burning myself. The steam started to dissipate, and again I felt something move past me and out of the room. I turned to follow, but the bathroom door closed behind it, preventing me from following the hazy apparition. I tried the knob and it wouldn’t turn. It was as if I were locked in.

“Hey!” I yelled. I turned around, looking about to see if there was anything I could pry the door open with, and that’s when I saw the message in the mirror. Steam still lingered on the glass surface, and traced in the humidity were six letters. H…E…L…P…M…E…

“Help Me,” I muttered. “I’m trying to help,” I called out. “Just tell me what to do!”

Other letters began to form on the moisture-laden mirror. A…G…A…N…

I read them all together. “Help Meagan”. Meagan? Who the hell is Meagan? I was puzzled, what did it mean? “Help Meagan,” I repeated, hoping that saying it aloud would help me make sense of the message. I turned back to the door. It was now open.

I heard the television come on in the living room. I could hear the music and credits of the last game show going off. I walked into the living room and picked up the TV remote.

“I don’t want to watch TV,” I said to the haunted room. “I want you to tell me what is going on.” I put my finger on the ‘off’ button, ready to shut it off. Suddenly I froze. On the TV, the news had come on and a face that looked familiar was staring right back at me. A blonde haired teenager, innocent smile, yellow dress. A thought came to me, Tommy’s note: ‘She wants you to watch something other than game shows’. This is what she wanted me to see.

“Oh Mischa,” I whispered, and then the announcer came on.

“Still no word in the disappearance of local teenager Meagan Mitchell,” he said. “For the third month since her disappearance the police say they have no leads in the case. Miss Mitchell was last seen on her way home from a friend’s house. She was wearing a dress similar to the one pictured here.”

And again that face looked out at me from the television. It was not Mischa. It was Meagan. It always had been. The dress Penny dug up from the playground, the anklet with ‘MM’ on it, the “help me” message on the chalkboard. It was all about this missing girl, Meagan.

After the initial shock, this new revelation, I grabbed a phone book, hurriedly flipping through the M’s. I found the Mitchell’s phone and address. It wasn’t far from here, only five blocks away. Oh my god, I thought, this girl had disappeared shortly before Donna and I got here.

And the dog Penny. Maybe this stray wasn’t a stray at all, but belonged to the Mitchell’s. Maybe it was Meagan’s and she was just following her mistress the best she could.

I ran outside looking for the dog, but she was gone. “Penny!” I called out. She didn’t come around the corner or out of the nearby woods. It was as if now that I’d made the connection, there was no need for her to be there anymore.

I went back inside, got dressed and found the anklet that was Meagan Mitchell’s. I put it in my pocket. I had to let her parents know. I had to tell them I’d seen her. Her ghost haunts the church. I thought it was Mischa, but it had been someone else all this time. How could I have been so wrong?

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 36: Watching Game Shows

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Entry 36: Watching Game Shows: Thursday Aug. 11

I thought about Tommy’s note all last night. What did it mean? The question plagued me. What is it Mischa wants me to see? There has to be something I’ve missed. I’ve been so wrapped up in other things, there has to be a truth out there close by if I’ll just open my eyes. But what is it? Talk to me, Mischa. Show me what you want me to see. What was that in the note about game shows? Maybe there was something in the game shows, I thought. Some clue to what happened to her.

I got up this morning, fixed breakfast and when the ten o’clock hour came, I turned on the TV and settled myself in front of it. For two hours I sat there transfixed, studying the scenes that flickered across the television. I listened to the contestant’s names, where they were from, and the answers they gave to the questions they were asked. Just looking for some clue to leap out at me like a revelation. But nothing came. They were ordinary daytime game shows on just another ordinary day.

I looked at the note again:

“She wants you to open your eyes to things other than game shows.”

The game shows were going off, replaced by the news and soap operas. I turned off the TV and felt it was just best to get on over to the church and work. I walked outside and Penny greeted me with her usual tail wagging self.

“Hey there old girl.” She growled at me and I laughed. “Okay, so maybe you’re not so old.” She barked a high bark and took off after a rabbit that had crossed the churchyard. I smiled, once again marveling over the simplicity of a dog’s life.

I wondered briefly if maybe I should get in the car and try to go see Tommy Blaine. I didn’t think they’d let me in this time, but could it be worth a try? After all, he did send me a note in the mail. Didn’t that mean he wanted to talk to me? I made a mental note to try and see him tomorrow afternoon so he can explain his message to me.

All day long as I worked, I turned over the events of recent times in my head. All the strange happenings, all the things I’d learned. The answer had to be in what I already knew.

Mischa Martin / Boudreaux, age 15, believed by some to have run away, is really dead. Murdered by a killer unknown, quite possibly in the baptismal pool at Resurrection Church. I have her dress, her anklet, and her diaries. I’ve seen her ghost, felt her haunted kisses on my cheek, read her messages on chalkboards, followed clues she left me. She is at unrest. For some reason, she can’t leave this earthly plane until her killer is revealed and the truth of her death is known.

And what of her killer? Is it Mrs. Shiflett’s mysterious nephew, the son of her late husband’s brother? Everything seems to point to him. The entries in Mischa’s diary and rumors of his kitten drowning episode makes me think he drowned her in the baptismal pool, and if not, something very terrible happened in that otherwise peaceful place anyway.

Still with everything I know, there’s much I don’t. There are still questions abound. They flit in and out of my mind, and I wonder if I’ll ever know the truth.

I got home around five. In thinking of Mischa, my thoughts were also on Donna, so I called her at her mom’s. In a couple more days she’d be coming home, but I wanted to hear her voice. Some unspoken thing was nagging at me, as if it might be the last time I’d be talking to my wife for awhile. I don’t know why such a feeling of dread came over me as I entered our house. A morbid thought crossed my mind: what if this were to be my final resting place? What if it is my fate to follow Mischa’s footsteps and go down her tragic path? I shook the thought from my head, trying to allay my fears in the sound of Donna’s voice on the telephone.

We had a nice conversation. She said she was looking forward to coming back home and that she missed me. I told her I was happy she was coming and I missed her too. When I finally hung up, I was smiling, and thankfully had forgotten the dreadful thoughts of earlier.

Now as I write this though, the feeling has returned. I know, without a shred of doubt, the threat of death waits around the corner. The truth of things are going to come to light

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th anniversary edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 35: Nephew Hunting and Tommys Note

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Main Page

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.”

“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.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 34: Martin and Shaedra

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Entry 34: Martin & Shaedra: Tuesday Aug.9

The police didn’t come today either. But someone did. I was still in bed when there came a knocking at the front door. Penny jumped up from her place beside me and began to bark. She certainly is a good security system, I’ll give her that. I hastily dressed and when I got to the door I discovered Mr. Martin was standing on the porch, fidgeting and shuffling from foot to foot. I have to admit I was surprised to see him.

“I didn’t call the police,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“Okay,” I replied, feeling a little more relaxed.

“Maybe it’s because of something you said,” he reasoned. “Maybe I’ve been fooling myself and I just needed someone to point it out.” He looked me square in the eye. “Yesterday when I found you in my house, in her room, I wanted to kill you. I felt like you were violating my world. My little world where Mischa is okay and coming home soon.” He looked down at his shoes, “But she’s not, is she?”

“No sir, I don’t think so.”

He nodded. “What of her letters then?”

I stepped outside and Penny followed me. She went down the steps to go out in the yard, while I motioned Mr. Martin to sit on the porch. I sat down next to him. “Do you really get them every year?” I asked him.

“Yes. They are typed, printed off a computer. She says she doesn’t have time to sit down and write a real letter.”

“Does she sign them?”

“Yes”.

“Maybe it’s not her,” I suggested warily.

He didn’t say anything, only nodding to let me know he understood what I was saying. Finally after a moment, he spoke. “I want to know. I have to know what happened to my her. I know she’s just my stepdaughter, but I raised her as my own. When her momma ran off and abandoned us, we were all we had left. I love her just as much as if she was my own blood. Can you understand that?”

I said that I could.

“I’ve gone nearly twenty years believing she was still out there, and then you come along telling me you believe she’s dead.”

It was more of a question than a statement, so I answered it. “Yes, I believe she is.”

He nodded. “If you have guesses or theories, I don’t want to know. I only want proof. I want to help if I can, but I don’t want to hear a thing about it until it’s the positive truth. I can’t deal with just wondering if that’s the way things really happened. That would drive me crazy. That’s why it’s been easier for me to believe she’s alive.”

I understood that, too.

“But when you have the truth, please come to me and tell me. Promise you’ll tell me first. I don’t want to hear it from the papers or the police.”

“Okay, I promise.”

He smiled slightly and I saw a different man from the one who had once punched me on his front lawn. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a bundle of envelopes with a rubber band around them. “Her letters,” he said, handing them to me.

I looked at the envelopes. His address was typed across the face of them. I wanted to look at the letters right away, but I didn’t.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll give them back to you.”

“If they aren’t really hers, I don’t want them back.”

“Do you believe they are from her, Mr. Martin?”

He weighed the answer in his head. “I’m starting to see things differently. Things I thought sounded like her, I’m not so sure about now. Maybe someone else will see what I have refused to.” He got up and stepped down off the porch. “Come see me,” he said. “Just don’t break in next time.”

I grinned a little until I realized he was serious. “Thanks for not calling the police.”

“Don’t make me regret it,” he said, and then went to his car, driving away as fast as he could. Something told me he didn’t like it here so close to the church his daughter loved.

I looked at the envelopes in my hand. “Okay Mischa, let’s see what you grew up to be…”

The typed letters painted a pretty picture of a runaway girl who became a successful dress designer. So successful she didn’t have time for a husband or a visit with the man she knew as her father. But the promise to visit was always there, “if I can find the time.” There was the mention throughout the yearly missives of personal things. She asked about Tommy Blaine, but not of Eric. Only once did she mention him in her letters. “I miss Eric too, but I know no one liked him. He was still a nice boy.” She never mentioned her mother either, as if the woman was dead to her, if she had even existed at all. She talked of Mr. Martin as if he were the only family she had. For all intents and purposes, to her he was her real dad. Her discourses to him were long ramblings that at times seemed to me to be a case of a daughter buttering her father up before asking for something. But she never asked him for a cent. Maybe these ramblings were to keep him from wondering about where she’d gone.

The one thing I had noticed right away was she never included a return address. Yes, there was a New York postmark, but never a way to write her back. I found myself wondering why Mr. Martin never tried to find her. After that many years a concerned father would have hired a detective, or tried to discover her whereabouts somehow. But I guess he was blinded by what he wanted to believe. I’m the one who had to stir things up.

I had every intention of going over to the church and asking the secretary to view the old church records, to try and find out something about the Shifletts, and their strange nephew Eric, but I was sidetracked by yet another visitor. Shaedra.

She came by shortly after Mr. Martin had left, and the suspicious part of me wondered if maybe she had been waiting for him to leave before she paid me a visit. There was something different about her today though. No longer did she wear alluring clothing and walk in the sexually confident manner she had once displayed. Now she wore a long black dress, the top nearly buttoned up to her neck. No leg, no cleavage. Now she was asexual as possible.

“Morning Shaedra,” I said standing in the doorway. “Would you like to come in?”

She looked over at the repaired picture window and shook her head. “No, I just came over to tell you goodbye.”

“Goodbye?”

“Yes, I quit my job as Mrs. Shifflett’s assistant. I’m leaving.”

I was kind of surprised at the news. “Why?” I asked.

She didn’t give me an answer, and I assumed what she did have to say had been rehearsed on the way over.

“I wanted to apologize for the other day. Trying to seduce you like that. And you being a married man. I am truly sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I replied, wondering where she was going with all this.

“I know you are a good man, and that you love your wife. She will come back to you; of this I’m sure.” She hesitated as if gauging what she was going to say next. “But you have forces swirling around you and this place.”

“Forces?”

“Paul, I have always had an insight into things. I feel things that others don’t. I’m empathetic, for lack of a better word. And I feel there is something going on here that I do not want to be a part of. Not even as a bystander.”

“What do you mean?”

“There is an evil at work in this town. And there’s an evil somewhere over there.” She pointed at the church. “I don’t know if it’s this Mischa you talked about, but there’s something dark and evil here. I feel it was here when she was a child, and it’s still here preying on the innocent.”

“What kind of evil are we talking about?”

“I do not know, but it frightens me, Paul. It frightens me enough to want to change every aspect of my life and get as far away from here as possible. I do not want to be its next victim.”

“You’re not making much sense,” I said, trying to be respectful. “If there’s an evil here, why doesn’t it come forth? I can’t imagine it’s Mischa. So what is it?”

“Maybe she is connected to it. Hopelessly tied here until it’s gone. But it’s not without form. Sometimes evil walks in the hearts of men. Please remember that.”

She turned to go, but I grabbed her arm. She spun and tried to pull away, before seeing I wasn’t going to harm her. “Please Shaedra, tell me what you are thinking.”

She placed her hand over mine. “I am thinking you are a good man, but not all men are good. I have seen his face and I fear what lies in his eyes.”

“What do you mean you’ve seen his face?”

She removed her hand from mine and gently pulled away. “Listen to everything that Mischa has to tell you. Follow her signs.” She stepped off the porch and looked up at me. “In my Bible reading this morning, it said there shall be a resurrection of the dead.”

I got ready to ask her what she thought that means, but then Penny came around the house. Seeing Shaedra she barked in alarm. The woman looked at the dog and smiled. “Keep an eye on your master, would you?”

Then she was walking to her car. I came off the porch in a trot and caught up to her just as she’d opened her door and got in. “I can’t do this alone. Please help me find out what happened.”

She looked up at me sadly. “I can’t help you, Paul. Once, I was very attracted to you, and I thought the allure was physical, sexual, but I know now what drew me to you was her. She’s all around you. She’s around all of us. She draws us all into her sorrow. I thought it was you who was so sad and lonely, but it’s her. I don’t want to feel that anymore.”

She tried to close the door but my hand was on it. Still I knew I couldn’t talk her into staying. Escape was in her eyes. She wanted distance between herself and this whole town. “I wish you the best of things, Shaedra. I wish I could leave just like you, but I can’t.”

“I know. You are connected to her now. And for that you must be wary. Don’t let the evil that took her take you, too.”

She got out of the car suddenly, and flung her arms around me. She kissed me on the cheek and whispered, “for luck.” Then without another word she was back in the car, closing the door, and speeding away.

I stood there on the lawn, watching her go, and a thought occurred to me. Maybe this is what they mean by the one that got away. If that’s the case, I wish her Godspeed and safety, for I have a dread feeling something bad is about to happen…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 33: Headache And A Bible

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Entry 33: Headache And A Bible: Monday Aug. 8

I woke up with an excruciating headache. I was still on the floor. I struggled to my feet, my head swimming in dizziness. After some initial disorientation, I felt the back of my head with my hand. I could feel the rawness where I’d been hit and I winced for a second. I looked at my hand to see if I was bleeding. Then I heard his familiar voice.

“You’re not bleeding. I didn’t hit you that hard.”

I looked over at Mr. Martin. He was sitting at the writing desk, flipping through his daughter’s diary as if it were the Sunday newspaper. He pushed the diary to the side and looked hard at me.

“Do you want to give me a good reason why I shouldn’t call the law and have you arrested?” he asked.

I shook my head, I had no excuse. I knew I’d done wrong. I had broken into his house and went through his daughter’s private things.

“The only reason I haven’t called them yet is because of Mischa,” he said. “I think you know something I don’t.”

I looked up, almost wishing he’d call the police instead. Then I could tell them what I know. But I imagine they would find me crazy without any hard evidence. I’d be locked up and unable to help anyone.

“Why are you so interested in my daughter?”

I hesitated. What should I tell him? I tried the truth. “I think she was murdered.”

He seemed to think on this a minute, and then he shook his head, unbelieving. “No, she left home. She’s fine. I get letters from her every Christmas. She’s a designer in New York.”

I couldn’t believe this. It couldn’t be. She couldn’t be alive. I knew she was dead, and he was just in denial. “Then why do you keep her room like a shrine?” I asked, casting a look around us both.

“It’s not a shrine,” he protested, and I detected a hint of anger rising in his voice. I decided it was best to let that go. I was in enough trouble. “I keep her room for her,” he explained.

“What for?” I asked. “Has she been home to visit since she left?”

“No, she’s too busy.”

“And yet you still wash her clothes,” I said, glancing over at the bureau.

He looked at me sharply.

I kept going. “Clothes that she would have outgrown after being away for twenty years.”

There was something hurt and dangerous in his eyes. I really needed to watch myself here.

“You should go home now,” he said, a dejected look on his face.

“You’re not going to call the police?”

He gave me a shrug. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. Now get out of here.”

He didn’t move. He just sat there at the writing desk, as if he wanted to be left alone with his stepdaughter’s memories. As for myself, I didn’t waste much time heading for the door. Still I turned back.

“I’m sorry for breaking in and invading your privacy, Mr. Martin. I just wanted to know the truth.”

He looked up at me with tears in his eyes. “The truth is she’s coming home.”

I felt like telling him she already had. Instead I left, the pain in my head starting to fade a little. I went home to wait on the police.

The police didn’t come. But the guys came to fix the window that had broken the other day. While Penny and I watched them work, I got to thinking of Mischa’s dress. The one in her closet at home had been labeled, “MB”. I got up and went to my own closet. I had put the duffel in there after Donna left me. I opened the bag and pulled the dress right off the top. Yes, it was the same dress. Same color, same design, same manufacturer. But looking at the label I saw it wasn’t the same dress at all. This one was labeled “MM”. What was going on here? Before I could dwell on it, the workers finished with the window. I put the dress back and paid them.

I went out to sit on the front porch. Penny lay at my feel and let me scratch her behind the ears. She was starting to get used to that. I looked over at the church and saw the pastor’s car in the lot. I got up and walked over there.

I found Chiles in his office, and he was very cordial. “Hi Paul,” he greeted me with a smile. “How are you?”

My head still had a dull ache, but I told him I was doing fine.

“Is there something I can help you with?”

“Well, it’s not a spiritual matter, but I did want to ask you something.”

“Okay,” he nodded, clasping his hands in front of him on the desk.

“Did you know Pastor Shiflett when he was here?”

He seemed to think for a moment. “The name’s familiar, but he wasn’t here when I came on board. I replaced a Pastor Denton. I think Shiflett was here years before that.”

I nodded. “Yes, he was here in the seventies. His wife was a Sunday school teacher here, too.”

“Well, if it were the seventies, that was way before my time here. You’ll have to ask one of the church elders.”

“Do you know if there would be church records from that time? I’d like to get in touch with him if he’s still living.”

“The office keeps records for about thirty years if I’m not mistaken,” he replied.

“Do you think I could get a look at them?”

“Well, the secretary keeps them locked in the file cabinet, Paul. She’s gone for the day, I’m afraid. But you could see her tomorrow about it. I really don’t see where it would be a problem.”

I nodded, just a little disappointed I couldn’t get a look at them today. I might be locked up myself later.

“Why do you want to get in touch with this old pastor? Are my sermons too boring?” He laughed.

“Oh no sir,” I laughed back. “Your sermons are fine.” I thought for a minute, trying to think of a believable excuse, but nothing would come. He waited for me to answer. Instead, I just said, “I enjoyed your last sermon.”

He smiled. “Maybe you should join the church.”

“I’ve been thinking about it.”

“Good. Well, you just turn those thoughts into conviction,” he replied with a little smile. “We’d love to have you as a permanent member.”

I thought of another permanent member, Mischa. She was really permanent. Even after death, she couldn’t leave.

“In fact,” Pastor Chiles said, oblivious to my thoughts, “I’ve been meaning to give you a Bible. Can’t have you working here and you not owning one,” he grinned. He reached behind him on a bookshelf and took a black leatherbound volume down. He handed it to me. “There you go. We usually wait until someone is baptized, but maybe you’ll do that too before long.” He winked.

“I shouldn’t take your bible,” I lightly protested. I didn’t like people just giving me things. I always feel like I owe them something in return.

“Oh no, you go right ahead. These bibles are donated by church members just for this purpose.”

“Oh okay, well in that case,” I finally reasoned. I put the book under my arm. “Well Pastor, I better go. I’m expecting company soon.”

“Alright,” he said. “I’ll be seeing you Sunday?”

“Yes,” I replied, hoping I was still around Sunday.

“You are doing a fine job here at Resurrection, Paul.”

“Thank you sir,” I replied. I then begged my leave and turned to go. But I stopped, thinking of something else I wanted to discuss. “Pastor, I do have a biblical question maybe you could help with me.”

He leaned back in his chair. “Sure, fire away.”

“Does the phrase ‘cover not thou my blood’ mean anything to you?”

He raised an eyebrow. I could tell he was curious, but I wasn’t about to tell him it had been scrawled across my office wall in crayon. “I saw it in a novel I was reading the other night and just wondered if it was from the Bible.”

He put his elbows up on his desk and laced his fingers together. “O Earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.”

A chill went through me. Clearly the message on my wall had been a plea for help from Mischa.

“It’s from the Old Testament book of Job.”

“What does it mean?”

“Well, Job was a very pious and patient man. God set all kinds of troubles and trials upon him in order to test his faith. Here Job was speaking about the wrong he felt had been done to him.”

“Cover not thou my blood sounds like it was serious.”

“Well, to him it was. He used the word blood to compare his suffering with that of someone who had been murdered. He calls on the earth not to conceal the crime but to reveal it, so that his injuries or affliction may not be hidden but be avenged. You must have been reading a crime novel.”

“Excuse me?”

“You said you saw this in a book you were reading. Sounds like it’s a good mystery yarn.”

“Yes, it is. Thank you Pastor for your help.”

He smiled and spread his arms wide. “That’s what I’m here for, to guide the flock. You can find the verse in that Bible I just gave you,” he winked. “Job chapter 16, verse 18, I think.”

 

When I went home the police still weren’t there. I sat down and waited on the front porch until dark. Either Mr. Martin hadn’t called them yet or they were waiting until morning to get the arrest papers in order. I looked down at Penny resting at my feet.

“Well girl, guess ole Paul has gotten himself in a mess.”

She barked twice in response. “Yeah I know. I should have left things alone.”

I looked at the Bible Chiles had given me. “Maybe I should turn to the Word, huh,” I grinned.

She barked twice again, and I opened the book to the front page. Inscribed just inside the cover in a familiar feminine hand were the words “Mischa was here…”

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.