Craig M. Sampson
Of all the things Orville had done and experienced in his life, none of them had ever prepared him for this. He had traveled to many countries and been exposed to a variety of cultures, beliefs, and alternative ways of living and understanding the mysteries of the world, but as he now sat on the deck behind his little cottage retreat in the woods of rural Tennessee thinking back on all that has happened in the last few months, Orville was at a loss for a rational or scientific explanation. If anyone had asked him before all of this went down, Orville would likely have assured them that he was as open-minded and accepting of oddities in the universe as the next guy, but initially he was resistant to what he was sure was a hallucination or some other bizarre trick his mind was playing on him.
In the end it came down to simply releasing and surrendering a lot of what Orville used to believe was impossible and let his mind, as resistant as it was to the idea, accept the seemingly irrational and inconceivable. Especially challenging for Orville was any idea even tangentially touching on anything supernatural and paranormal. The idea of the existence of ghosts and spirits and beings from a non-physical plane were entertaining to some degree, but Orville had never ever taken any of it seriously. These were things for the movies and television and talented writers of that genre such as Peter Stroub, Dean Koontz, or Stephen King. And even though the reality of what had happened was not in doubt at all, Orville still wondered in some small, very recalcitrant lobe of his brain if it had not all been just some fever-induced dream.
But that was nonsense…he had not been ill during any of the events in question nor was he prone to nightmares of any kind. Until he had bought that curious little decorative urn for his living room, Orville would have to say his life had contained about as much of anything that could not be explained by a simple scientific examination as anyone. His life was not boring….he would never admit to that….his financial success in life had allowed him the means with which to travel extensively and the people he had met and things he had seen on those adventures would attest to that. But there had never been anything even remotely close during any of those travels that compared to where this simple, yet somehow ornate porcelain urn had taken him.
When it was all over, he had tried to relate the whole story to his friend, Kathryn, who had a strong penchant for such things, sure that she would find it intriguing and finally an experience that would make him a true believer in all things supernatural at last….she was, for sure. But when he thought back to that incident with her and La Mala Hora he had second thoughts. Even though this new one had been directly responsible for bringing the actual murderers of his old friend Joe to justice. He thought maybe that under those constraints Kathryn might not think him mad, but then again…
When the revelation had been brought to Orville in the middle of the night, his first inclination was to go to the police, but when he gave that more thought he realized that was even more risky than sharing it with Kathryn. The police were, in general, a group not open to explanations of crimes from sources other than their own traditional means….other than the few who occasionally utilized the services of a psychic when all else failed. But here in Laconia, a small inconspicuous town about an hour or so east of Memphis, Orville could not in his wildest imagination imagine the local authorities calling in a psychic for help, regardless of how desperate they might be to clear an unsolved murder. It was just was not on the menu, as far as Orville could see. And if he had told them the real story of how he had come to know who had killed Joe Garrity...well…in comparison, Orville figured it would make psychics suddenly a mainstream tool.
He sat on his deck and sipped at his beer as he looked out over the dense, thick forest behind the bungalow, home as far as Orville knew, to just deer, birds, raccoons, and perhaps the occasional black bear. Kathryn’s concerns aside and knowing he had entered into a new belief system for himself, Orville smiled knowing he had the information that would exonerate his friend, Sarah. He just wished she had not had to go through all that the police had put her through when investigating Joe’s murder. It seemed beyond belief now that Sarah could have ever been considered capable of such a thing. They had been friends for more years than Orville could count on his hands and it seemed as out of character for her to have done such a thing as if Orville had suddenly sprouted wings and flown off over the tall hawthorn, sycamore, and southern red oak trees that abutted his property out back.
Sarah and Joe had been friends as well….very good friends, actually. And now Joe was gone for good. Sarah was in jail and facing the death penalty for Joe’s murder. Even despite how insane it would all sound to make this new evidence known, Orville could never have lived with himself if he had not intervened once he knew the truth. And it all came back to that pretty but inconspicuous green urn he had picked up at the community garage sale on a whim….that and what had begun in the small Guatemalan village of El Zapote years before, he mused ,as he picked up the phone to call Alberto Winter, Sarah’s defense attorney. Hopefully Alberto and his ingenious investigator, Harry Doyle, would help him get Sarah out of jail and the guilty murderers arrested without him having to reveal how he had exactly come up with this information.
If not, and he had to come clean, Orville knew there were several potential bad outcomes. One…Sarah would be executed for a murder she had not committed, and two…Orville might find himself shuttled off to a facility to determine if he had lost his mind. He thought maybe he could live with the second, but not getting Sarah out of her predicament was just not an option…