(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
JD was animated and moving again. He wasn't sulking anymore, and the others knew that now he was onto something and would pursue the plan he was forming doggedly.
"Okay," he said, moving to his right, opposite the way they'd gone the night before when they went to investigate the shadow figure they'd seen. "Okay, I have an idea."
"JD, where are you going?" Wendy said, and she had to trot to catch up to him as he moved quickly around the corner of the big house.
"I'm going to go to the backyard. That's where the 'murder' took place last night. I want to be in position to see it this time, from the other side. I'm going to video tape it and not interfere in it -- and neither are you two -- and we'll see if we can get closer to the bottom of these events."
Dillon was jogging a bit to catch up. "Dudes! Don't leave ME out here! Jeez!"
"What're you going to do when you have the story on tape, hon? Go to the police and have them finally close this thing out?"
"No, no," JD said, slowing a bit as he watched the side of the house, one eye wary for the dense and rapid fog. "Nothing like that. I firmly believe the police know what took place out here that night, Wendy. There's no doubt in my mind that this case HAS been closed, and will NOT be reopened. I imagine some very embarrassing things would be discovered -- about the police, and perhaps beyond -- if this were to be reopened. So they're not going to be interested."
"Are you sure? I mean, it's been a long time."
"I know. And maybe you're right, but there's the fact that we have this all ... from a dead man. That's hard ... really hard to sell to the police, you know? I wouldn't listen. Would you?"
"Um ... well, I don't know ... but I see what you mean."
"Dude, I SO wouldn't listen. 'Sides, they wanted ol' Rob to take the fall 'cause the dude was gone. Nobody'd look at what went down anymore if he was the one did all the stuff, y'know?"
"I guess having their primary suspect for all the other stuff going on be dead was very convenient," she nodded.
"Well, they didn't know he was dead ... but they didn't look for that missing person very hard, I'd imagine."
"No, probably not."
"It was all a very nice little package, I'm sure. And by not having anything more happen up here after Robin Brown disappeared, it reinforced the idea that he was the guilty one. Even if he wasn't."
"What do you think? Do you think he was responsible?"
"Well, if that was Robin Brown we spoke to, he seemed resigned to the fact that backup wouldn't help him. Why would he feel that way?"
"Because someone was covering something up. But what?"
"I have no idea."
"Dude, maybe a lotta people were in on it an' stuff."
JD stopped, just beyond the corner of the big house, near the trees where the shadow play occurred the night before. He turned toward Dillon. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, say Robbie's a good guy. He's not doin' squat, 'cept tryin' t'stop the robbery crap happenin'. So, he finds out while he's doin' all that that his partner's a dirty cop. He's in on it. Robbie don' play ball, y'know? Wants to stay clean an' stuff. So he's not part o' the gang. Now what? They can't leave 'im alone t'rat 'em out, right? If there's other cops an' all that in on it, then he might bust 'em all. So, they gotta get rid of 'im. See?"
"Dilly, you're so good at this."
"Thanks. I watch Court TV, y'know?"
JD chuckled and shook his head. "You're a wonder. That's really involved though. How'd you come to that?"
"'Cause the parnter guy whacked 'imself, dude. You don't do that 'less there's somethin' buggin' ya, y'know?"
"Darren Jenkins didn't kill himself until years later, though. Maybe it was depression over the fact that he couldn't convince anyone he didn't have anything to do with his partner's disappearance."
"Hmm. Yeah, maybe. Or maybe he felt all bad an' shit 'cause he was the one that whacked 'im, or knew who whacked 'im."
Wendy looked back at JD. "JD? Back to you."
"Well," he sighed, "both are valid theories. Depression, or guilt? Either way, there was something troubling Darren Jenkins, and it bothered him so much he committed suicide. The fact that he did it here, in this yard, indicates it was absolutely related to Robin Brown's disappearance in some way."
"Yeah, and he probably didn't tell anyone around him what was going on, either."
"Well, even if he did, we'd have no way of finding them or of being sure that they'd tell US anything. We're just ... paranormal investigators. The most we'd get out of the witnesses of an actual crime would be ridicule and maybe, MAYBE, the local legend."
"Dude, paper said he was tryin' t'be mayor or somethin'. Could there be some stuff 'bout him in the paper 'round that time?"
"Maybe. But that would involve the library again, and I'm afraid it's far too late for that."
"Well, DUH, dork-ass. We gotta go tomorrow, but we can still look, right?"
"I think we did, but then, it never hurts to look again."
"I can come help this time." Wendy snaked her arms around one of JD's and held tightly. He smiled down at her.
"Okay. That'd be nice."
"Oh, damn, man -- MORE kissy-face crap?? Ugh."
"Well, if you're gonna be a poop you can just stay home, Dilly. I'll be more than happy to have JD all to myself. For a change." She pouted playfully at Dillon.
"Y'can't do that in the library, dudes, they arrest ya for that crap."
"Oh, you hush. Anyway, that's all tomorrow. What about tonight?"
"For tonight, we sit here and give this a little longer. If the time is that big a factor in this thing, then we probably missed it all. But there IS tomorrow night -- hopefully. We'll just have to wait and see. At least it's not cold out."
"Dude, I'm gonna get bored, ain't I?"
"Aw, man ... why does this crap hafta be so dang boring, Dawg?"
"I don't find it boring, but -- I'm not you ... Cat."
Dillon looked at him bewildered. "Cat?"
"Didn't ... didn't you just call me dog?"
"Uh ... yeah, but ... nevermind, dude."
"Was that ... was that an inappropriate response?"
Dillon shook his head in disappointment.
"Okay," Wendy chuckled, "so we wait. How long do we wait? I mean, when're we going to know it's not going to happen again?"
"Well, it's already been longer than the break we had between the two events as it is. If the pace of the replay was set, and everything was time-triggered, we should have already started to see something. As it is, though, we're not dealing with an event that can be quantified that way, so we have to see if the 'ghost' is going to continue trying to ... live. I guess."
"Dude, do ghosts have watches, man?"
"Uh ... how would I know?"
"Well, y'keep sayin' all this crap's timed an' stuff, right?"
"Yes, time-triggered. At this time of the day, the events happen. At this time of the day, those events happen. That sort of thing."
"So ... if all this stuff hasta happen at a certain time, and this other crap's gotta happen at another time ... don'tcha think they all END at a certain time, too?"
"OH! Good point, Dilly. I bet they end at the same time every night too, lover. What time do you think that was?"
"Uh ... well, I don't know. Last night was a bit different. We ... I'd guess we've already been out here longer than we were yesterday."
"So dude -- think it's over?"
"If Robin Brown was the one attacked last night --"
"Dude, it was SO him, can the 'if' shit."
"-- then it probably all ends around the time he died. I would be willing to believe that's the case. He probably didn't die immediately from his head wounds. He would have died from a subdural hematoma, or blunt force trauma. It could have taken a while."
"'Less those goons came back t'finish 'im off."
JD froze. "What?"
"You said we didn't see the whole thing last night, right?"
"So, maybe when we see all of it, we'll see 'em come back an' finish ol' Robbie off."
"Wow. That's ... interesting. What makes you think that?"
"'Cause Homes don' know he's dead an' stuff."
"Oh, Dilly! That's brilliant!"
"Pff. You said I wuddn't smart as him an' stuff. I ain't gonna letcha be nice an' shit NOW."
"Aww, I wasn't trying to hurt your feelings, Dilly," Wendy said and hugged him, then whispered loud enough for JD to hear, exaggerating the cupping of her mouth with her hand, "I just wanted JD to feel smart."
"You expect me t'fall fer all that bunk now, dude? No way. I'm so not huggin' you back."
Wendy squeezed him tighter. "Mmm! You're a cuddle bunny and you know it! You WANT to hug me! You HAVE to hug me! It's a compulsion!" She hugged harder.
"Naw, man, naw ... I don' play that way ... I don' ... aw, crap." He embraced her. She laughed genuinely.
"That really WAS brilliant, you know."
"Can it, big guy. I'm so not gonna let you hug me like this."
"That's fine," JD said slowly, staring up, "because I think we're about to see more of the play."
"Holy crap, dude --"
"JD, is it ...?"
In a silent tide, the fog crashed down over them like a white tsunami and blanketed the entire world around them again in that murky, misty, gray veil that hid the truth within its abysmal depths.
In a moment the mist swirled to a stop, and JD noticed then that the position they were in hadn't changed.
"All right," he said softly, "this time, we should get it all."
"Dude, it's still off, man."
"The ghost -- he's late now 'cause o' the other stuff we done. He might not finish it all."
"Damn. GOod point."
JD raised the camera, and turned it back on. All he could see in the viewer was the gray shroud hovering in the dark. He snapped open the little LCD screen, but it showed the same smoky mist swirling to a stop.
JD sighed. "Well, I still may not be able to record much but sound. Dillon, do you still have the recorder?"
"Uh ... I dunno."
"Could ... could you check, please?"
He could hear Dillon rustling around in his clothes, looking in pockets. "Ha! Dude! I DO have it!"
"Great! Now, when we start hearing voices, you need to record, okay?"
"Sure ... um ... how do I turn it on again?"
"Don't screw this up, Dillon."
"Press that big button two times, Dilly."
"Oh, right! Right! Press, press. ON. Got it."
"Pressing it a THIRD time will stop it, though. So don't do that, okay?"
"Gotcha. Only two."
"How ... how long, JD?"
"Not very long. Only as long as it took Robin Brown to get from the gate, back here. A few seconds."
"Dude. I so hope we're ready."
"Well ... as much as we ..."
They all fell silent as the sounds of voices began to carry softly, furtively, barely audible whispers deadened by the heavy fog.
"Someone's coming," JD whispered. "This is it."