The Angel of San Diego

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Chapter 31 - The Visitor

Robin hung up the phone. He looked at the books, knickknacks, and other debris strewn all over the floor.

Did someone come in here and ransack the place while I was out?

He chuckled at his own joke. He hadn’t physically left the room, but in psychic terms, that was another matter.

How in the world did this happen?

He began picking things up and putting them where they belonged. He was standing by the bookcase with an armful of books when the door opened.

“Mr. Oracle?” a man said.

Robin turned to him, “Can I help you?”

“My name is…”

“I know you, don’t I?” Robin interrupted.

“I don’t think so,” he said nervously.

The man was tall and skinny with a nose like a bird. He was wearing a tuxedo. On his head was perched a black Top Hat. He reminded Robin of Ichabod Crane.

Of Course! “Yes, I do know you…or rather we’ve met, if only briefly. You’re Mr. Carter the man from the funeral home?”

“Why, yes… yes, I am. I’m surprised you remembered me. Most people don’t. I usually blend into the background so well that people forget me.”

Blend in? Like the Hulk in a crowd of little people. How could anyone forget him? He’s Halloween three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Maybe they make a special effort to forget him so they don’t dream about him at night.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Carter?”

“My friends call me, Jimmy.” He extended a bony hand. Robin shuddered. Shaking hands with a living corpse was last on his list of things to do in this millennium.

He looked at the hand and said, “Forgive me for not shaking hands, but my hands are kind of full.” Boy, am I glad of that!

The scarecrow man dropped his hand to his side. Robin turned to the bookcase and continued to put the books back on the shelf. He spoke to the bookshelf saying, “So, Mr. Carter, what would you like from me?” This guy gives me the creeps. I’ll be glad when he’s left the building.

“I understand, from the morning papers, that you are helping the sheriffs to find the perpetrator of these kidnappings?”

“Yes, I am, in my own small way.” At least he didn’t call me Angel.

“How is that going? Do you have any leads?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“Well, he did put that child in my client’s plot and then they found that ghoulish laboratory in my family’s crypt.”

Robin stopped what he was doing and looked at the scarecrow man.

“That crypt belongs to you?”

“No. That’s a figure of speech. Many of my family are interred in it and I have a plot reserved for me as well. That man was doing horrible things there. It gives the whole funeral business a bad name.”

Is this guy more upset by his reputation or the kids? “Yes, I could see that you might have a problem with it, but what do you want from me?”

“I thought I might offer my services to you to help catch him.”

“I’m not the one you need to talk to about that. You should go to the police.”

“I’ve tried, but they say they have all the help they need right now, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You know… the usual excuses just to get you to go away and leave them alone.”

I know how they feel. I wish I could think of something to say so he would go away and leave me alone. “The thing is, Mr. Carter…” he began.

“Jimmy,” he corrected.

“The thing is…” Robin insisted. If I call him Jimmy Carter I will start to laugh and it will be all over. “I’m not really investigating anything. When the police come to me, they consult my psychic gifts. I tell them things. They go away and I read about it in the paper the next day if I’m correct,” he lied.

“I see. I was most interested in the part of the story that said you could touch things and know about the person who owns it or has used it. The story said that in some cases you are able to come up with names, addresses and even phone numbers?”

Robin replied in his most modest sounding voice he could muster, “On some occasions I have been able to do that, but I assure you it’s not the norm. So, what is your point?”

The longer this guy stayed, the more Robin felt uncomfortable with him. He tried to push that emotion away from his mind, but it kept creeping back.

“How about in this particular case; have you touched any of the surgical instruments or other evidence they gathered from the crypt?”

Robin almost dropped the handful of books he was holding. He froze staring at the scarecrow man and a light went on in Robin’s head. We were so busy making sure little Brittany was going to make it through her ordeal alive that we never thought…why the hell didn’t I think of this. I’m supposed to be the psychic! Robin could only say, “N…no, I haven’t had the chance just yet” as if taken aback.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! I’ve got to go downtown, now!

“What’s wrong, Mr. Oracle? You look distracted.”

“Sorry, Mr…Uh…Jimmy, but I just remembered I have an appointment downtown. Perhaps you could come by another time?” He set the books on his desk and reached for his coat.

“Certainly, if you need me, here is my card. Please feel free to call.”

Robin didn’t reach for the card so Jimmy placed it on the desk.

He tipped his hat and said, “Good day, Mr. Oracle.”

He was out of the door. What a creepy individual he is. When I die, I definitely don’t want him presiding over the burial. Robin shivered. He picked up the phone and dialed Lt. Hawk.

“Hawk here,” said the gruff voice on the line, “What can I do for you?”

“It’s me, Hawk, Robin.”

“Robin?” His voice changed immediately from business-like to friendly. “I’m sorry about the newspapers. We tried to keep your name out of it, but yesterday Mrs. Stanton told Brittany’s story to some reporters.”

“Yes, and now I’m getting calls from people wanting to talk to God, as if I had a direct line, but that’s not why I called you.”

“What’s up, Robin?”

“We’ve over looked something really important.”

“What do you mean?”

“In our hurry to get Brittany to the hospital alive and then worrying whether she would survive or not, we forgot one of my gifts.”

“Which one would that be?”

“As you know I touch things and they tell me about themselves.”

Lt. Hawk interrupted him, “What’s the problem, Robin? I know all this.”

“Well, with all the excitement I never got to touch any of the evidence gathered from the crypt.”

There was a dead silence on the phone. Lt. Hawk finally said, “I don’t believe it. Forty years on the force and it totally slipped my mind.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over it, Hawk; we were more concerned over whether Little Brittany would live or not, so I think we all have a valid excuse for being distracted. However, I should have been the one to remember it.”

“How soon can you be here?”

“About an hour, I have to pick Malissa up. She has to be there.”

“Why?”

“Because she keeps me from overload,” he said simply.

“Overload…?” Lt. Hawk suddenly had a vision of the department being overrun by a psychic tornado. “Oh. By all means, call her – bring her … Nancy too.”

“See you in a bit.”

Robin hung up the phone. He picked it up again to dial Malissa’s cell phone, “Hi, darling. I hope I’m not interrupting a class.”

“No, Dear. I’m having lunch with the College Crew. You’ll never believe it…Mac’s engaged! Her name is Patrice and she’s an absolute doll!”

“You have to admit, Mac does have good taste in women.”

“Thank you Sweetie. What’s up?”

He explained what was happening. The restaurant was only five minutes away from the Sheriff’s station so he told her to finish her lunch and meet him there in an hour.

He dialed Nancy’s number and told her he’d pick her up in a few minutes.

“Okay Robin, I’ll be ready and waiting on the porch when you get here,” she said.

He hung up the phone again, set the answering machine, put his gloves on, and switched off the lights. The last thing I want to do is touch anything that scarecrow touched. Robin locked the office door. Shaking hands with a mortician for me would be like staring death in the face. He shuddered at the thought as he descended the stairs to the street.

He turned right and passed the coffeehouse. The stage was empty, but the place was full of customers having lunch.

Too early for entertainment…

At the corner he made a right and headed to the back of the building.

Walking into the parking lot, he could see the little blue Pacer waiting for him. One good thing about driving a Pacer – nobody wants to steal it. He turned the key and it purred. Nothing like Lt. Hawk’s souped up model, he mused as he put the car in gear and headed into the street, but it does get me from here to there.

Traffic was mild this time of day, so he stopped in front of a drug store to buy a paper. He left the door ajar and the car running. As he put his thirty-five cents into the machine, there was a huge explosion behind him. He was thrown against the brick wall and he fell to the sidewalk dazed. Glass shattered all around him. Robin was shaken, but still conscious. He rolled over and sat upright against the wall with his legs on the cement in a “V” position facing the parking lot. Robin ran his hand over his forehead and rubbed his eyes. He couldn’t believe what he saw at the curb. Where the Pacer had stood, there was now a pile of flaming rubble.

A store manager ran over to him, “Are you okay? Oh, my God! Don’t move. Just stay right there!” he commanded. Taking a cell phone from his pocket, he called nine-one-one, “We need the police, fire department and an ambulance…”

Robin didn’t pay attention to the rest. He was still trying to figure out what happened. Why does my shoulder hurt so much? He looked at it and noticed a piece of the Pacer was sticking out of it about eighteen inches. It looked like a tie rod. Well, no wonder it hurts… That was the last thought he had before he lost consciousness.

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