Jackson sat in the brightly lit interrogation room, his right wright hand cuffed to the table he was seated at. A Detective, wearing a pair of blue dress pants, a white button up shirt, with a blue tie, entered the room and sat down on the opposite side of the table.
“Let me tell you what I’ve got,” the Detective said. “I’ve got one huge cluster fuck, and no real good answers, so why don’t you help me clear some of this up?”
“I’ll do what I can, but you might not like all of my answers.”
“I was just out for a drive, when I heard gunshots, and then a girl ran in front of my car. I almost hit her.”
“Bullshit. I know when I’m being lied to. I suggest that you don’t do it again.”
“So why don’t we start out with something easy? Who’s the girl and where did she come from?”
“Her name is Norma Jean and she’s from Warsaw Indiana.”
“Is that where you and Mark Karle took her?” the Detective asked.
“Whoa! Time out! I didn’t take anyone, that was all him.”
“So, he takes’em, and you just play with’em?”
“I don’t play with shit! I was there rescuing Norma Jean. Ask her, she’ll tell you.”
“And you just happened to know she was there?”
“Yeah,” Jackson answered.
“And you didn’t take the time to call 911?”
“There wasn’t any time.”
“Bullshit,” the Detective told him again. “I’ve got two dead bodies, and one tortured young girl, who’s not in any condition to talk right now. So, if you don’t start filling in some blanks, I’ll just throw you into one of our cells, and you can take the fall for it all.”
“Except none of it’ll stick.”
“So, you’re a lawyer now? How’s this Mr. Lawyer. I’ve got you at the crime scene. You right hand tested positive for gunshot residue. Remember that swab we ran across the back of your hand? Which means that you fired the only gun found, and I’m pretty sure that at least one of the other victim’s blood will on your jacket. How am I doing so far?”
Jackson let out a loud sigh. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the truth.”
“Only one way to find that out.”
“Fine, I’m what’s called a…”
“Don’t say psychic,” the Detective warned.
“I can’t read minds,” Jackson replied. “I’m a seer.”
“And what it that you see?”
“You see dead people?”
“I see dead people.”
“Ok, I hope you’re looking forward to spending the rest of your life in prison,” the Detective told him, standing up and walking toward the door.
The Detective stopped a few feet from the door and slowly turned and gave Jackson a skeptical look. “Gotta do better than that. That’s one of the biggest things to ever have happen around here. Everybody knows about her.”
“Well, do you know that Mark Karle killed her twenty years ago, and buried her in his backyard, under his bird bath?”
The Detective narrow his eyes, as Jackson motioned toward the empty chair. “Mark Karle was a serial killer. There’s evidence of this in his bedroom. Look under his bed, and you’ll find a box with lockets of hair from all of his victims.”
“Is that so?” the Detective asked, sitting back down.
“His second victim was Jessica Watkins. He took her from Sault Ste. Marie and buried her in Climax Michigan. Next was Allison Murphey. He took her from Boonsville Indiana, a year later. She’s buried in The Woodbury Wildlife Area, near Warsaw Ohio. He took Laura Elliott, next, from Cincinnati, and buried her in the Sleepy Hollow State Park in Laingsburg Michigan. His fifth victim was Lilly Barnes, from Olivet Michigan, and she was found in Laflamme Ohio.”
The Detective just stared at Jackson, trying to absorb all of the information he had just revealed to him. “They already tried to blame me for her death, when I told them where she was buried, but I was locked up at the time, so they cut me loose. You can call Detective Brandt from Laflamme and ask him.”
“What about Chief Vaughn?”
“He’s the Chief of Oakhill Ohio. That’s where Laura lived with her mother, before she moved to Cincinnati.”
“Yeah, he called here and vouched for you. Said that you weren’t involved in any of this, but yet here you are. Still doesn’t tell me why you didn’t call us, if you knew that Norma Jean was in this guy’s basement.”
“If I’m being honest, it’s like this. All of the ghosts of his victims were stuck here, in a place called Purgatory, and needed to bring Mark Karle to justice in order to cross over. Once I got them all there, I didn’t think Norma Jean had that much time left. Besides, you wouldn’t have believed me then, especially with no evidence, just like I’m sure you don’t believe me now, but it’s the truth.”
The Detective stood up without saying a word and walked out of the room. He came back a few hours later, and undid the handcuff keeping Jackson tethered to the table. “I did some checking, and it seems that all of the victims you named off have been recovered, which to me, means that either you’re telling the truth, or you were working with Mark Karle, but Norma Jean insists that you shot Norma Karle in self-defense, because, and I quote, she was possessed or something. And for the record, I don’t believe in any of that mumbo jumbo shit, so I think you’re full of it, but without any hard evidence linking you to any of the missing girls, and Norma Jean’s testimony, the Prosecuting Attorney has ordered your release.”
* * *
Jackson shifted his car into park, and stared out at Lilly’s house. He took the last drag of his cigarette, and flicked it out the crack of the open window. “Are you ready?” he asked, picking up a note pad and pen.
“I can never thank you for doing this,” Lilly told him from the passenger seat of his car.
“Sure you can. You can show me around when I get up there. Take me to all the interesting places, and introduce me to all the cool people.”
“Deal.” She slid over and slipped into his body and began to write. When she was done, she returned to her side of the car.
“Wow,” Jackson said, taking out another cigarette. “That was so…weird.” He sat there, staring at the house for nearly a half an hour, before finding the courage to get out of the car, and walk up to the front door of the house. The butterflies in his stomach churned hard, as he pushed the doorbell.
“You know you can just leave it in the mail box,” Lilly told him.
“Can I help you,” Lilly’s mother said, opening the door.
“No, but I can help you,” Jackson replied, reaching into his inside jacket pocket and taking out a folded piece of paper. “This is from your daughter, Lilly. We were…friends. She said that I could just leave it in the mail box, but I thought that I should hand deliver it, and tell you that your daughter is an amazing person, and that she’s at peace.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Just read the letter and you will,” Jackson answered, before walking back to his car alone and driving off.
Lilly’s mother watched Jackson walk across the street. She unfolded the piece of paper, and saw that words written upon its surface were in her daughter’s handwriting. She still didn’t understand, but she started to read.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I never thought that my life would end the way that it did. I can only image the pain and grief that I have caused you over the six months in which you had no idea where your little girl was. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to be in your life anymore. Dad, I’m sorry that you won’t be able to walk your little girl walk down the aisle, and Mom I’m sorry that I won’t be able give you any grandkids to spoil. I know how much you were looking forward to that even though I kept telling you that that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
Know that you gave me a good life, and that you taught me how to live a good life. A life filled with hope and kindness. A life filled with a daughter’s love for her parents. A love that I will never lose, and a love that will be reunited one day, far in the future, when we meet again. You both must promise me to move on. To not dwell in the past, or in the what could have beens. Live your life and be happy, and remember that we will be together again. Until then, know that I will always be looking down upon you with a smile on my face, and joy and love in my heart.
Tears began to dot the paper, as Lilly’s mother wiped her eyes. She held the paper to her chest, and fought to breath. Lilly placed a hand upon her mother’s shoulder, before being reborn as tiny embers of light, and being carried away upon an unfelt breeze.
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