Just joining us? You may want to start from the beginning.
"Holy ... Lord, that's ... that's terrible," JD whispered. Bea nodded slowly and sympathetically.
"Yes," she said sadly. "It was very sad."
"Bea ... just out of curiosity -- my clients are the owners of that house you mentioned. They actually called me and asked me to do some ... research for them. They never mentioned anything about this. Do you know why that might be?"
"Oh, goodness," Bea said. "I have no idea, unless they didn't know about it."
"But ... you said the homeowners found the body outside their home." JD was genuinely confused.
"OH, I understand now," Bea said, nodding her assurance. "I'm afraid I misspoke a moment ago. The people that owned the house at that time didn't stay there very long afterwards. They moved away. The house has been through several owners since then. Several renovations as well, if I'm not mistaken."
"Ah," JD said, a bit relieved. "I see."
"As I recall," Bea said nostalgically, staring off above JD's head reflectively, "it was unoccupied until just a few years ago. No one lived there for a time."
"Do you know why the house has changed hands so many times, by any chance?"
"Well," Bea giggled, "I must confess, it's a bit silly, and town folklore always springs up around such things ..." she leaned forward conspiratorially, blushing.
JD leaned toward her in response, smiling mischievously with her. "Yes? Is it ... strange?"
"Well, no," Bea said, "it's just children's stories and such."
"Oh, please," JD said earnestly, "I'm very interested."
Bea flushed again. "Well ... there is some rumor through town that the previous owners all left because of strange occurrences in and around the house." She softly giggled, covering her mouth.
JD froze. "What ... what sort of strange occurrences?"
Bea sucked her lips in, embarrassed. "Well ... I suppose the children would say the house is ... 'haunted'."
JD blinked, trying to act natural. "Haunted?"
"Yes," she continued, pushing her glasses farther back on her nose, "but as I said, they're only town stories and children's tales told to frighten each other."
"Hmm. I find that fascinating," JD intoned, but his mind was elsewhere.
"What sort of research were you asked to conduct, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Hmm? Oh, they asked me to look into whether the house might be haunted."
Bea stared blankly at JD as he turned toward the door.
"I can't thank you enough for all your help today, Bea," he said sincerely. "I really, really appreciate everything you've done."
"Oh ... of course, always happy to ... help," she said slowly, a bit stunned, while JD moved through the doors into the bright autumn day.
Dillon was leaning on the hood of the car when JD approached.
"'Bout frickin' TIME, dude," he said impatiently. "I'm starvin' an' whatnot out here, y'know."
"Well, let's get you fed and then we can get set up at the house again. Wendy should be joining us there when she gets off work. Please try not to have a panic attack when she does."
"I didn't have a damned panic attack, jack-wad. She scared the hell outta me. AND you. An' she better not do it again or I'm SO through with her."
JD shook his head smiling, and got into the car, then unlocked the door for Dillon. He slumped like a rag doll into the seat and turned to face JD a bit.
"So, whatdja learn?"
"I learned a great deal," JD said factually. "But very little of that would be helpful or interesting to you."
"Because you're not interested in the history, you want the adrenaline."
"How d'ya know?"
"You make it clear."
"By your general demeanor. Nothing but the explanation that this is a ghost will satisfy you. Your mind is made up, and you won't be confused with facts."
"You got facts that this ain't a ghost?"
"Well ... no. Not yet."
"But y'don' believe it is one, right?"
"Not yet, no."
"'Cause yer a knucklehead."
"Because I'm skeptical."
"Does 'skeptical' mean 'stupid'?"
JD scowled at him. "I'm not stupid, thank you."
"Maybe not in school an' shit, but out here inna real world ya sure seem dumb t'me."
"Yeah, really. Look at all you seen an' stuff, dude. What's it gonna take to get you t'believe this is a real, live ghost, man?"
"A 'real, LIVE' ghost? I think that's an oxymoron."
"I think yer a moron."
"Well thank you, Dillon. What else could you think while I bask in the radiance of your genius?"
"I jus' mean ya ain't bein' real 'bout this shit, bro. You got tons o' evidence an' crap all up in yer face an' still won't say it's a ghost. How dumb is that?"
"About as dumb as you leaping to the conclusion that this IS a ghost and never seeking another, more logical explanation. And not quite as dumb as you deciding there was a ghost at the first flicker of a flashlight. Now, who was it you said was a moron?"
"Well, I ... Okay, so maybe y'got me there. But still, you could try t'be more open-minded or whatever."
"I'll be more open-minded when I have reason to be open-minded, Dill," JD said quietly. "Right now, I'm just gathering information."
"An' bein' all closed-minded an' stuff, dude."
"No, I disagree."
"Yeah, there's a shock, huh?"
"I'm not contentious. I'm trying to be practical."
"Craptical is more like it, dude. Lighten up."
"I'll lighten up if you smarten up," JD said, turning the car into a parking space a short distance from a greasy spoon store front a few blocks away from the library. He put the car in park and leaned back, twisting to face Dillon.
"An' dude, couldja be nicer? Dang."
"ME?? What about you? All you've done is insult me because I won't just state emphatically this is a haunting!"
"Well ... yeah, but I ain't as mean about it as you, dude."
"I dunno ... I wanna rip on you an' not you rip on me. How's that work for ya?"
"Dang. So now whadda we do? What's next?"
"Next we eat. Then we go to the house and get the equipment ready. We check the weather forecast, too, because I don't want to get caught in another cold snap. Then we get ready to see if the events of last night are repeated. If they are, I'm going to be ready for them this time. If they don't, then we're stuck in observation mode until they do ... if they do."
"So more boring?"
JD shrugged. "Sorry. It's tedious work."
"DUDE ... no shit, man. No frickin' shit."
"This is the part you don't see on those TV shows."
"Jeez, yer tellin' me. So how come ya won't tell me whatcha learned?"
"All right, I will," JD said. "I learned that, some years after the disappearance of Robin Brown, Darren Jenkins committed suicide."
"Dude. Awesome. Who's Darren Jenky?"
"Darren Jenkins. He was Robin Brown's partner, remember?"
"Naw. So, he off's himself?"
"Yes. And he did so at the house we're investigating."
"Yes. And, his body was discovered by the homeowners when they returned home that day."
"I know. Very interesting, isn't it?"
"Well, that's a lot worse 'n findin' dog crap on yer lawn, that's fer sure."
JD chuckled. "Yes."
"Did the cops check it out?"
"I didn't ask."
"Uh ... I don't ... I don't know. I should have, I suppose."
"Well, I don't think it matters, really ... we can still--"
"Don' matter?? Dude, you SO can't say that! He could be the ghost, dude!"
"IF there's a ghost, it identified itself as Robin Brown, remember?"
"Dude, ever heard o' lyin'??"
"Why would a ghost lie?"
"So yer sayin' it's a ghost now?"
"No, I said IF it were a ghost, it would be Robin Brown's ghost. IF it were a ghost, that's how it identified itself."
"So it's a ghost?"
JD slapped his hand over his face. "I don't think so."
"So the dude on the recordin' coulda lied, right?"
JD peeked around his palm. "What?"
"Dude, think about it -- you say we seen a recordin' of the stuff that happened back in the day, right? That whole water recordin' thingy, right?"
"Water tape theory. I was just saying it was one possible explanation aside from an apparition."
"'Kay, fine -- what if? So, the dude says he's Robbie, but what if 'e waddn't? What if 'e jus' says he is?"
"Wait, wait ... why would he do that?"
"Dude, you even got a brain? Think about it. There's all this crap goin' on up in the 'hood, right? Stealin', robberies, junk like that, right? So, Robbie's up there supposed t'be checkin' it out, right? -- but that other dude ain't. So what if Robbie wasn't there, an' this other guy that sez Robbie done it is tryin' t'frame him an' shit?"
"Okay, let me see if I've got this straight," JD said deliberately. "You're suggesting that, in order to frame Robin Brown for the robberies, his own partner is lying about BEING Robin Brown? How does that frame the real Robin Brown?"
"Don'tcha get it, dude? Brown ain't doin' the shit, the other dude's doin' it. So he goes 'round sayin' he's Robbie so any witnesses an' shit'll think it's Robbie, but really it's this other dude."
"But Robin Brown went missing. Jenkins never did. And Jenkins openly accused Brown of doing it after Brown disappeared. Also, we saw the person -- whomever it may have been -- who introduced himself as Brown get beaten with a club in the ... whatever it was we saw."
"Okay, so here it is, dude: Brown ain't doin' it. Ths Jenky dude's doin' it. He's goin' 'round, sayin' he's Brown, in case he gets caught an' shit. So, the real Brown's not supposedta show up, but he does, an' then this Jenky dude's gotta kill 'im to keep 'im from tellin' an' shit. So he kills Robbie and ditches the bod."
"Why would he kill someone with whom he was partnered?"
"I dunno. You're the brainiac -- you figger it out."
"It doesn't make sense, though. If Jenkins was the one that was murdered, how'd he commit suicide later?"
"Dude, I said the dude we SEEN wasn't Robbie-boy; that don' mean the dude that got whacked wasn't."
"But we saw the events transpire ..."
"We seen part of it. Not the whole crock-load, dude."
JD stared into the middle distance. "I have to think about that ... I don't know ..."
"Well frickin' get me some food while ya think, snot-wipe -- I'm starvin'!"