Can a dead man reach out from the grave to exact revenge against those responsible for his death? Welcome to the eighteenth installment of a story that explores that possibility. If you've not done so, read the story from the beginning HERE.
"Damn!" Dobbs exclaimed as he tossed the CB mike into the passenger seat. "Not another accident!" To his chagrin he was the only one on call to drive the tow truck. He rubbed his furrowed brow and eased up on the accelerator to find a place to turn around. "It looks like my trip up to the quarry will have to wait."
The dispatcher had identified the vehicle as one belonging to Brad Sampson. He shook his head in disbelief. "How many does that make now?" He methodically counted on his fingers, "Five? There aren't many of them left now, is there?"
As he sped back to town to retrieve the tow truck he couldn't help but ponder the irony of all the fatal accidents that had been occurring recently. What with that cryptic ad in the paper, his made up tale of the strange blue light, Steve Cooper's return and of course the deaths, was it any wonder that so many of the residents felt the town was haunted?
All they had ever wanted was for the truth to come out once and for all. They just wanted all of their closet doors to be busted wide open. He hadn't counted on all the deaths. They were not part of their plan. No one was supposed to die!
Tiffany pulled back the kitchen curtains overlooking the driveway. Billy was riding back and forth from the sidewalk to the garage on his new bicycle. She smiled warmly and turned back to the table. As she sipped her tea, her thoughts were a tangled web of the past and the present.
Ten-year-old Billy was all that kept her going. Her marriage to Hunter was a sham. She'd only married him to give her baby a name. If Hunter ever knew he was not Billy's father... A shiver ran down her spine as she forced herself to remember the true identity of Billy's father. Many a night she'd laid awake in bed trying to will the hands of time to turn back to that moment of passion.
She fought back her tears as she recalled how Eddie had declared his love for her. She was horrified that night because he'd made his declaration in front of her friends. She still felt the shame of her actions as she had not only verbally, but physically rebuffed him.
They were of different worlds and traveled in different circles. She, the pretty cheerleader belonged to that elite crowd that included only jocks and beautiful people. Eddie and his friend Steve played chess and made straight A's in math and science. They were geeks. She knew and Eddie knew that geeks could not cross the line into the ranks of her crowd.
The guilt began to overcome her and she sighed deeply. She had been attracted to him. She was fascinated with his intelligence. She was just smart enough to realize even then that he would go farther and be more successful than those in her stuffy crowd. As for her jock friends, they would probably end up pumping gas or delivering mail. She had wanted more, much more than that.
She wiped away a few stray tears from her cheek. Then there was the irony that had she not rejected Eddie, not only would she have lost standing with her crowd, she would have still been living a lie. It wasn't Eddie to whom she'd been attracted. It was Steven! She'd been playing Eddie to get closer to Steve.
Steve however, had not accepted her subtle advances. Although she knew Steve had been attracted to her, he would not risk hurting his friend. She'd admired his dedication to his friend and was all the more enamored with him. She allowed a brief smile to form on her lips. Steve was still carrying a torch for her. She sensed it earlier that day when she'd visited him in his room. Maybe, just maybe there was still a chance for them.
That moment of hope quickly passed. There was still the matter of Billy's father. How would Steven handle that?
The perspiration from his forehead was running into his eyes. Despite the sting of the lachrymal droplets Hunter continued to swing the business end of the pick axe into the packed earth of the grave. It was with sheer determination that he was able to ignore the pain in his arms and shoulders while wielding the heavy tool.
Someone was messing with them, of that he was certain. Those idiots, the Soddy-mites as he liked to call them, might believe in ghosts, but not he. When he was finished opening the casket that lie less than four feet below his feet, he would prove to them all that Eddie was not dead. He knew he was going to find either an empty casket or the body of someone other than Eddie. Had they forgotten that it had been a closed-casket funeral? Then they would have to believe him that Eddie and Steve Cooper were working together and had hatched an elaborate plan to eliminate everyone who had been at the quarry that night.
When he pulled up to the scene of the accident he was surprised to see a crew of men operating the Jaws of Life on the passenger side door. When he stepped out of the cab of the tow truck he was greeted by a solemn policeman who'd been directing traffic around the wreck.
"It'll be a little while longer, Mr. Dobbs. We found a second body in the car." He pointed over at the departing ambulance. "The driver was decapitated by a steel beam. It passed clean through the car and into the trunk."
"...And the second body?" he asked the officer.
"A female. We found her ID in her purse. She was ... ah ..." He paused as he skimmed through a small notepad, "Here it is. Her name was Jennifer Pope." He pocketed the pad and motioned toward the car. "Her torso is pinned under the dashboard and against the seat. Her head was crushed by the steering wheel."
Dobbs mused aloud, "Well, well. It appears Mr. Sampson was blown away in more ways than one!"
The deadpan glare from the officer was enough to let him know that his morbid attempt at humor was not in the least appreciated.
"Mommy! Mommy!" She jumped when she heard Billy's excited calls for her. She rushed to the door to find him standing on the front stoop waving a piece of paper. She took the paper from him and slowly unfolded it. Her face grew pale and she sunk to her knees before her son. It was a copy of the newspaper ad that had seemingly heralded all the recent tragedies.
"Billy, where did you get this?" she implored.
"A man gave it to me. He told me to bring it you," he replied in innocent demeanor.
"What man?" she almost shrieked. "Who was it?"
"I don't know," he shrugged.
She stepped outside and looked in all directions but there was no one to be seen. She was trembling so much that she almost didn't hear the rest of Billy's response.
"Why did he call me, 'nephew?'
( to be continued... Echoes of Eddie -19)