Can a dead man reach out from the grave to exact revenge against those responsible for his death? Welcome to the twenty-third installment of a story that explores that possibility. If you've not done so, read the story from the beginning HERE.
When Agnes emerged from the shadows and moved in the direction of Eddie's defiled grave and the man who stood there, Catherine did the same. She was certain that Agnes and Sam were probably also reliving that night when one nightmare had ended and another had begun.
Sam remembered well the fear on young Catherine's face when she carried her little brother out to his waiting car that night. He remembered the heartbreaking tears streaming down her cheeks as the confused six-year old began crying. He drove away as she and Agnes carried out the rest of the plan.
Agnes had been haunted by their actions ever since that night, but she had decided it was the right thing to do. More so than the infidelity, George Cooper's out of control abuse had to come to an end. Under her guidance Catherine had performed like a true trooper. She had absconded David and had hidden his favorite toy in the truck. She had also remembered to give her the infant's cap and shoes. Then she had returned to the house, vowing never to speak of that night.
Ever since that night Catherine had been trying to suppress the memory of that night and her role in the drama. She had almost blown the whole plan when her father had started yelling at Jack and beating Steven, but no one had paid attention to her to cries.
As he watched Catherine and his wife approach, Sam was wondering why they had gone so far. His life would have been much less complicated had he not returned that first call from Agnes. Yet, he could not stand by and allow George to continue his reign of terror, especially when it was threatening both families.
It was clear to him that in the final analysis, it was he who was responsible. It was he who had not shown discretion in act of jealous rage. It was he who during a night of drinking had joked with his then best friend George Cooper about the two of them sleeping with each other's wives. When George had boasted that he could bed Sam's wife before Sam could bed his, it was he who had laughed at the thought.It was he who should have realized that George had taken the joke as a serious challenge.
When he'd learned a month later from his tearful wife that she'd been having an affair with George, he'd wanted to kill the bastard. He'd have probably done so had he been home when drove to the Cooper place to confront him. His memory of that visit was clouded. He was certain that he had shamelessly forced himself upon Mildred, but she had not resisted.
It was only a month after Agnes had given birth to Eddie, that the Cooper's announced the arrival of their second son. Sam had not thought of the possibility that George could be Eddie's father or that he might be Steven's father. That fate could be so cruel had never crossed his mind. That fate would again play the same hand was unfathomable.
Agnes tried to avoid eye contact with Sam. She still loved him after all their years of separation. He had never asked for a divorce and she herself had not filed for a legal separation. Yet, when she'd contacted him for his help he had not hesitated and had come to her aid.
She had finally confirmed to him who had fathered whom. He had turned ghost-white when she revealed that George had also fathered Marjorie. Sam had nearly gone berserk when she told him of a meeting with Mildred Cooper wherein she had learned that George was not David's father. So it was that the two of them had finally aired all of their dirty laundry to one another.
Yes, he'd admitted, he had slept with Mildred again. Yes, she had continued her affair with George. Yes, George had fathered both Eddie and Marjorie. Yes, Sam had fathered both Steven and David. Yes, even though he was not without sin , he had packed his bags one day and didn't look back. He would've never returned had it not been for her phone call.
Upon hearing Mildred's accounts of George Cooper's verbal and physical abuse, not only in the Nolan household, but also in the Coopers' lives, Sam at first had refused to get involved. It was only learning that he had been molesting both Marjorie and Catherine, that Sam could not sit back and do nothing.
Steve felt that the truth of that night had to be brought out in the open. He had to restore Eddie's honor. The people of Soddy-Daisy had to know that Eddie had not committed suicide, that his death was an accident. He had to let it be known, that he and the others had been witnesses to his death. He owed Eddie that much.
For nearly a third of his life Steve had been troubled by the fact that he had not helped his best friend. He had long accepted that he could not have helped Eddie at the quarry that night. He had been barely conscious when Eddie had fallen into the quarry.
He placed a finger at the corner of his eye to intercept a tear that had formed there. No, he couldn't have saved him, but he could have prevented him from going to the quarry that night. The truth probably would have ended their friendship that night, but at least he'd still be alive. The others would be still be alive too.
All Eddie had ever wanted was to be accepted, and of course he'd wanted that acceptance to start with Tiffany Blake. He had wanted the others, indeed the whole world, to know that he and Tiffany were an item.
Steve closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. He had known Eddie and Tiffany had been seeing each other. In fact, he'd been jealous. Proud as a peacock, Eddie had even shared with his best friend the details of their love making.
Why hadn't he told Eddie the truth? Why hadn't he told Eddie that he and Tiffany had slept together the night before? Why? It would have destroyed their friendship!
Well, he'd made up his mind. He was going to air his dirty laundry, no matter who might be hurt. He was going to clear his conscience and heal his tortured soul once and for all!
He eased up on the accelerator when the turnoff came into view. He shifted into park on the earthen lot and noted the cars already there. He paused for a moment studying the parked vehicles, especially one in particular with its driver side door standing open. He took a deep breath and started up the path.
Hidden behind several large boulders a lone figure watched his advance up the hill. Behind cold eyes mixed thoughts coursed.
"Why did you have to come back? Why now? I know what you're up to. I cannot allow it. I know you think you're doing the right thing ... for you! But what about me?"
The hand holding the pistol began to shake. It was still shaking as the gun was raised to eye level. The other hand grabbed the wrist behind the one trying to steady the weapon.
"You've been away too long. The past was forgotten. It must remain forgotten."
The hand was steady, its grasp on the cold steel of the gun firm. He was only twenty-five yards away from the figure's hidden position. Ever so slowly, an index finger began squeezing against the trigger.
( to be continued... Echoes of Eddie -24 )