"No. One broke last night and I just haven't bothered to clean it up yet."
"Guess I don' need to ask why no other windows broke. Somethin's out to prove a point."
"Yeah, but what?"
Pepper eyed the pattern on the glass again and seemed like he wanted to speak, but didn't. He took a breath several times as if he was going to speak, but he still didn't. Finally, he said what was on his mind. "It looks like a bullet went through the glass. My daddy had a pistol. Made the same pattern when we shot for fun at flat targets, but those bullets haven' been made in fifty years." Pepper pulled out a bullet casing. "Got dis when I hit my firs' target. My good luck charm."
Pepper gave the casing to Jodie and she turned it around and around in her hand, examining every detail of it. Jodie felt strange and uncomfortable. "Nobody has a gun here anyway." She gave the bullet casing back to Pepper.
"Hey, Pepper, could you do me a favor and board up the windows for me, please?"
Pepper started to leave and turned abruptly. "Be careful, mon ami! Somethin's not right!"
With those words echoing in her ears, Jodie went inside.
"Can we finish up this morning. We have to get the hell outta here! Things aren't going to be good until I get to New Mexico."
"An old ranch house on my cousin's land. Don't know who it belonged to."
"You know the nightgowned woman I was telling you about? I finally saw what she was trying to show me before the old man showed up again."
"The old ranch house?"
"Yeah. If you're looking at the house, there are two trees to the right side. I used to climb those whenever my cousins and I explored there and maybe stayed the night. I'm sure I have to go there. I could drop you off at your place or you could come with me." Moira was so anxious to get there that she was sweating, hoping fervently that Jodie would come with her so she wouldn't waste any time getting to New Mexico.
When Jodie saw Moira's pallor and anxiety, she decided quickly. "I think I'll come with you. I get the feeling you're going to need some help."
In a frantic attempt to get rid of whatever was haunting her, Moira sped back up the highway on the way to New Mexico. Jodie hung on for dear life when the turnoff came upon them sooner than Moira had thought and she nearly rolled the Blazer making the sharp turn.
"Easy!" yelled Jodie as her heart jumped from the near accident. "I know you want to give the picture back, but it's not worth getting killed for."
"Sorry," Moira mumbled, but she increased the speed after turning. Gravel flew from under the tires.
Soon, Moira slammed on the brakes, popped out of the Blazer, and grabbed the portrait from the backseat. She stalked toward the man and his friend who were sitting on the porch, enjoying a beer. They were old, yet far from looking grumpy, they seemed to be kindly and honest.
"Here!" She thrust the portrait at one of the men. "Take it back!"
The old Cajun man pushed his baseball cap back further on his head and took his thumb from his overalls strap where he had it hooked. "Well, mon ange, dis is a mighty fine photograph, but I don' take things that don' belong to me."
"What do you mean it doesn't belong to you?" Moira's voice rose with an anger born from fear. "This is your place, isn't it?"
"Okay." Moira looked slightly relieved, thinking she was finally getting somewhere. "What about that yard sale you held last week? That's where I got this picture." Jodie finally caught up with Moira. "And that's where she got her CDs," Moira finished.
"That's right, sir," Jodie confirmed as she dug in her purse, pulled out the CDs, and showed the men on the porch.
The man stared at Moira silently for a moment, wondering at the young stranger. "Didn't have no yard sale here, chere."
Moira's temper boiled over. "Your wife gave me this thing from hell!" She shook the picture.
"Calm down, sugar. Jean Baptiste here's my neighbor. He'll tell you I don' have no wife. Been a bach'lor livin' by myself for forty years."
Unexpectedly, Jean Baptiste chuckled. "Mais yeah! Women, dey chase him instead of t' other way roun'. But Michel, he had his fun den ran. He was too fas' to be caught." Jean Baptiste made a motion with his hands like an alligator jaw snapping shut and chuckled again.
Keeping her eyes on the men's faces, Jodie didn't see what else she and Moira could do. The men weren't drunk and didn't act like they were lying or joking. "Come on," she told Moira. "I think they're telling the truth."
Frightened even more, sober, and with all the anger suddenly drained, Moira let Jodie lead her back to the Blazer.
Chapter Eight"Okay. We're here. Now what?" Jodie asked as she kicked a rock near her foot. They had driven to New Mexico.
"I don't know." Moira walked around the front of her metallic blue Blazer and leaned against the passenger side, next to Jodie.
"Why are we here, then?"
Moira sighed. "Don't know how to explain it so you can understand it. I don't understand it, either. I just know it feels right for me to be here now, but who knows for what. Am I supposed to see something? Do something?" Moira laughed bitterly and seemed on the verge of tears. "All I can do is go with my gut right now."
"Okay," Jodie said, trying to be steady for Moira's sake. "What is your gut telling you?"
Moira's stomach growled and broke some of the tension. "That it's time to grab a late lunch." Jodie walked around to the back of the Blazer and reached in for the picnic basket Moira's cousin's wife gave them when the ladies had stopped by the main house earlier that morning. "After that, I get the feeling we need to check San Juan, the town's original graveyard."
* * *
The San Juan was now incorporated into a much larger graveyard known as The Valley of Eternal Life, though San Juan was the oldest section. The whole graveyard was square, but it looked like it had just been enlarged and engulfed the San Juan section. San Juan still had its original black wrought iron fence that was six feet tall and spikes on top added another three inches. The rest of the fencing was the same height and same design as the San Juan fencing, but it was white, and the whole thing taken together was distinctly mismatched. Add the modern - day intrusion of security cameras mounted on tall, unpainted steel poles and it was lucky the dead buried there couldn't care.
Jodie and Moira parked a good distance away to the side so as not to disturb the service that was being held that afternoon. They planned to enter through the small, seldom - used side gate that was San Juan's original entrance.
Moira and Jodie got out of the Blazer and strolled towards the gate which was about fifty yards ahead of them. "Geez, I hate these places!" Moira complained.
Jodie ignored it and asked, "So, do you know what we're looking for in there?"
"No. Not yet, but I'm sure it'll be apparent soon. I just know that we have to be - - ouch!"
"I think the ground reached up and tripped me." Moira got up from the ground and brushed the dirt from her knees and palms.
Jodie, a few yards ahead, looked back and down. "Hey. There are weeds, wildflowers, grass, and stuff all around here, but look at that." She sauntered back to Moira, gently grabbed Moira's hand, and tugged her a few feet away. They both made out a big, roughly rectangular patch of bare earth where Moira had tripped. Absolutely nothing grew on it. There were no other patches like that.
"For future reference, don't point those things out to me. I'm creeped out enough as is."
Jodie let go of Moira's hand. "Okay."
"We're gonna go in, look around, and get the hell out of there, okay?"
"Okay, okay." Jodie backed off and followed Moira through the side gate. They started at different sides of a row. Jodie read off the names of some of the individuals and families on her side as Moira scanned the markers on her side. "Hmmm.... Fidelio Cappelli from Italy. The Millenbruchs. Obviously German. Densfords. England. Pyotr Orloff, Russian. Otero. Baca. Navarro. Spain, New Mexico, Mexico."
"Got a real United Nations of the Dead here, don't we?"
Jodie continued with the list, "Oh, here's yours! Griffith. Miller, Tolliver, Turner - - "
"Wait...what? What was that last one?"
Moira scrambled around the end of her row and up the next. She stopped beside Jodie and examined the headstones. There was one small granite memorial for three family members buried in the plots in front of it: Mrs. Mary Ann (Tolliver) Turner, b. Apr. 13, 1850 d. Jul. 16, 1878; Sarah Marie, b. Dec. 15, 1868 d. Jul. 16, 1878; and Rebecca Ann, b. Feb. 7, 1870 d. Jul. 16, 1878. To the left, there were two separate headstones for a couple. The oldest was a weathered granite stone for Mrs. Emma (Richards) Turner, b. March 29, 1819 d. Jan. 12, 1869 In Loving Memory. The one left of Emma's was the newest grave in the Turner family area and had a huge, elaborate marble memorial that had been stained a little over the years. It was a flowing carved angel holding a partially - open scroll that represented the Book of Life. Abraham Moses Turner's name was on the scroll. The base that the angel stood on was pretty large, too. It read: A Beloved Citizen. Loving Husband and Father. Abraham Moses Turner, born May 2, 1809 died November 10, 1889.
"Somebody shelled out a pretty penny for this thing," Jodie said as she patted the angel lightly. She looked around and didn't find any more Turners after Sarah and Rebecca. "And by the looks of things, could've been Mr. Turner himself." She dug a pen and an old spiral notepad out of her purse and started writing the information from the headstones.
"Hmm?" Jodie asked, still busy scribbling.
"Look at this plot. What's missing?"
Jodie looked at the Turner family section. "There are only three generations here?"
"Uh - huh, but that's not it."
Jodie looked again. "The father's missing. There's the mother, the children. The father isn't buried here. But his parents are."
"Maybe he died away from home."
"Yeah. But they'd probably ship his body back."
"Where else could he be buried?"
"In unholy ground."
"What?" Moira asked.
"Suicides. It's a sin against God so they weren't supposed to be buried in consecrated ground. They weren't even supposed to have a funeral. All that is if the family was Catholic, but I've heard of Protestants practicing it, too, sometimes."
The ladies' eyes wandered to the rectangular patch of bare earth. They didn't speak what they thought, just shivered at what the bare patch might mean.
"Where to now, Batman?" Jodie asked.
"The library. Might still have old records in the basement there."
Golden late afternoon sunlight streamed into the basement through the ground - level window. Half - dead bushes that hadn't been watered properly and lost their leaves made beautiful dappled patterns on the table in front of Jodie and Moira. Musty - smelling books and papers reminded them fondly of their student days, but unlike the university library, the basement of the ancient public library building spooked them both.
Moira had borrowed a pencil and a few sheets of paper from the librarian. She quickly sketched a map of the area they might be interested in as it looked today. Then, the ladies donned white cotton gloves to protect the old yellowed map of Lincoln County and the written land records and studied the old map first.
Moira said, "Yeah, I thought so. This area used to be part of Lincoln County. And back then, Lincoln County was about the size - - or larger - - than Ireland!"
"Which is why the only lawmen available weren't strictly law abiding," Jodie concluded.
"Not to mention the fact that in that era, there was a good ol' boy network known as the Santa Fe Ring. Politicians, businessmen, attorneys, people like that covered for each other. If you weren't part of the Ring, God help you if you wanted to give a Ring member a little business competition. That's what the Lincoln County War was basically about."
They found the written description of the original Griffith homestead and wondered if the old boundaries were still correct, if the course of the river bordering the north had changed or if such and such trees and landmarks on the east, west, and south boundaries still existed. Some of it didn't matter because throughout the years, the Griffiths slowly incorporated some of the other farms or farmland as their neighbors fell on hard times and had to sell off their properties.
Jodie hovered over the old map. "Your family has been here all that time?"
"Yup." Moira looked at the old map. "Those roads still exist. I figure they're probably about there and there." She traced her finger along her sketch before she penciled them in and drew other familiar landmarks, boulders, trees struck by lightning, and odd geologic formations. The old homestead they were interested in was in the north - central part of modern day Griffith land. The Griffith home was in the south - central part of their and the original homestead sat sheltered in some foothills a mile to the east where it used to be easier to get water.
Jodie and Moira went back and forth between the land records, the old map, and Moira's sketch, carefully filling in where each homestead was. When they came to the ranch house they were interested in, it came as no surprise to either of them that it belonged to the Turners.
"Almost closing." The librarian's gentle voice startled them after the relative unnatural quiet of the creepy basement world. They didn't even hear her come downstairs.
"Okay," Moira and Jodie replied in unison.
Moira paused. "Ma'am," she asked as the librarian turned away, "Would you mind having a look at a portrait I have? I think he was a rancher around this town in the 1870s. Maybe you know something about local history or have a book on it?"
The little old librarian in her prim gray dress smiled her assent.
"Great! Thanks. Just lemme run to the truck real quick and get it."
Moira returned a little out of breath from doing a wind sprint to the truck and back. She carried the portrait under her arm as the librarian led them to her office. She sat down, invited the ladies to sit in the chairs in front of her desk, and carefully took the portrait from Moira. She thoughtfully studied the face for a minute and looked back up. "Be back." With that, the librarian was out the door.
Hardly two minutes later, Jodie and Moira were surprised to find the librarian back with a spiral - bound book that looked like it had been published locally. She sat down behind her desk again and flipped through the pages as she said, "Clem. Wrote this book." She scooted the book over to Moira and proceeded to look at the portrait closer under the magnifying glass attached to an arm that stretched out over her desk.
Moira saw that the man in her portrait was Ezra John "Jack" Turner who also died July 16, 1878. Her stomach did a quick flip when she remembered the rectangular patch of bare ground just outside San Juan's gate. When she turned the page, her heart nearly jumped into her throat and she felt queasy. She slowly looked at Jodie with her eyes wide open. Jodie grabbed the book and looked. She knew without asking that one was the old man and the other was the nightgowned woman in Moira's dreams. Abraham Moses Turner and Mary Ann Turner. They read a short paragraph about the family, basically ending with the murders of Mary Ann, Sarah, and Rebecca Turner by the husband and father, Jack Turner, and Jack's subsequent suicide.
"Faces," the librarian said quietly and brought Moira out of her shock.
The librarian pointed to the stains that appeared on the picture. She nodded at the magnifying glass, inviting Moira to have a look. Moira shivered involuntarily when she clearly saw the faces of two sad little girls. When Moira finished, both women moved to return the magnifying glass to its place. When they accidentally brushed hands, Moira hastily withdrew, apologized, and checked the name plate on the desk. She asked, "You're Maddie Wilson?"
The woman nodded.
Moira introduced them quickly. "Moira Griffith and Jodie Benoit. Thank you so much for your help Mrs. Wilson."
Moira grabbed the picture and Jodie's hand and bolted for the door, which bewildered Jodie. Behind them, Mrs. Wilson smiled benevolently.
Mitch Griffith's brow furrowed in puzzlement. "All right, Moira, but you and Jodie are more than welcome to stay here," he said after Moira thanked him for his offer of hospitality, but declined. She told him they would be camping out at the old ranch homestead up north for old times' sake, although she secretly, desperately wanted to stay at the Griffith house.
"Thanks, Mitch, but it was my idea," Jodie chimed in. "It sounded like fun."
"Okay, but at least take some more food and water with you," he offered. "I'll go have Jane dig up some more goodies for you."
"Thanks!" Moira replied. Then, as casually as she could, she said, "Oh, by the way, we found some really good stuff at the library today."
Mitch frowned. "Don't know what you're talking about. The library isn't open today. Our librarian died two months ago and you know small towns. Never do anything fast. Clem Tolliver opens it up a few days each week, but we haven't gotten around to replacing Maddie Wilson." Mitch chuckled at some memory or other. "Good ol' Maddie! She worked there for forty years and loved every minute of it."
Surprise registered on Jodie's face although Mitch was too caught up in remembering Maddie to notice. "How come you didn't tell me?" she whispered harshly when Mitch had left the room.
Moira grinned evilly. "I told you not to tell me about any creepy stuff you find. I thought you might like the same courtesy."
"Geez. I thought you were spooked because of the faces on the photograph."
"I was," Moira admitted. "But when I touched its hand, wow! This place would be a freakin' Disneyland for ghost hunters!"
Their camp was hidden in a small stand of pines forty yards from the back of the house, the only such copse for at least two miles in every direction and one of the landmarks mentioned in the written land records. It wasn't dark enough or cold enough for them to want a campfire, so they didn't bother. They just talked a little by the light of the three - quarters moon and waited for the air to cool a bit so they could sleep easier. Jodie was the last one to get settled into a sleeping bag. She deeply inhaled a heady mix of pine and wildflower scents that she loved and that cleansed her soul after a long day and an unpredictable night to come.
"What now?" Jodie asked Moira.
"Your guess is as good as mine."
"Okay. Why don't we just hang out and try to get a little sleep."
"Fine by me. Hope it's quiet!"
"Yeah, but on the other hand, it'd be nice to finally figure out what's going on and get it over with tonight."
With Jodie's last words, the women quieted and drifted off to sleep.
* * *
Moira wasn't quite sure what woke her up. She blinked her eyes and pressed the button on her wristwatch that backlit the digits. It was 4:15 AM. Moira looked over at Jodie who slept soundly and Moira plumped her pillow, rolled over, and closed her eyes again. Then she heard it. A low rumbling noise echoed in the plain. Jodie woke up and they both went looking for the sound's source. A small band of midnight black mustangs circled the house once and headed off towards the plains again, and then two golden palominos with riders - - one a big burly man and the other a small wiry man - - disappeared around the front of the house. The ladies dashed the forty yards to the house and plastered themselves against the house's back wall, one on either side of the window. They heard the front door slam. Jodie was the first one to get up the courage to peek into the house. "Aw, geez!" she whispered harshly and quickly jumped back from the window. She put her hand to her chest and Moira noticed how pale Jodie was and how quickly she breathed.
"What's happening? Who's in there?" Moira whispered back.
"A real creepfest starring our friends," Jodie said in a very low voice.
Unwilling to look yet unable to turn away, Moira peered into the house and saw a horrifying tableau. Jodie peeked inside again and she and Moira could only watch as the various ghosts' mouths moved and no sound came out. It was as if the very air swallowed the sound inside. Jack Turner, swayed a little on his feet, obviously drunk. The bigger man, Abraham Turner, shouted, but Jodie and Moira had no idea why he was so angry. Mary Ann Turner stood in the middle of the room shielding her two daughters while they huddled together behind her and wailed. After a passionate - yet - silent argument, Abraham furiously pulled a pistol from his holster and pointed it at Mary Ann and the girls. Tears freely flowed down Mary Ann's face as she appeared to plead for her and her daughter's lives. Jack, in a drunken state, swatted at Abraham's arm just as Abraham fired. The window on the other side of the house exploded when the stray bullet hit it and Jodie gasped. The bullet hit the window in the same spot where there were bullet holes in the two windows that shattered at Uncle Etienne's home. Jodie finally understood that part of the strange happenings.
Abraham viciously backhanded Jack, knocking him out, his body crumpling to the floor. Abraham's attention swung back to Mary Ann and the girls and Abraham fired a kill shot into Mary Ann's heart. Blood quickly drenched the front of her gingham dress. The two girls broke and ran, but Abraham cut them down; first a quick shot to one's head and then two shots in the other girl's back. There was a puff of smoke and a flare of fire from the pistol every time it went off, and with every soundless shot, Moira and Jodie felt as if they'd been punched in the gut.
Abraham wasn't done yet; he focused on Jack. He grabbed Jack by the collar and roughly shoved Jack onto a kitchen chair. He held the pistol against Jack's temple, aiming carefully, and fired. Jack's head rolled to the side and he slumped backwards. Satisfied with the job, Abraham cautiously placed the empty pistol into Jack's hand, positioning Jack's index finger on the trigger, and wrapping the rest of Jack's fingers and his thumb around the butt of the gun. The last Moira and Jodie saw of Abraham, he pulled his other gun and left through the front door.
Jodie and Moira turned their backs against the ranch house wall and slid down it to sit in the dirt. They each felt sick to their stomachs.
"Well, that clears up a lot," Moira began.
"Jack didn't kill everybody. His father did!"
"What the - - "
Abraham suddenly exited through the back door. He quickly scanned the area to his left and when his gaze turned to the right, he saw Moira and Jodie. The ladies scrambled to their feet. Abraham's face was nothing more than a black shadow under his cowboy hat. His eyes glowed a hellish red and at that moment, Moira and Jodie believed in the existence of evil like they had never believed before. Not only were they frightened for their lives, they were frightened for their souls.
Abraham wasn't pleased and spoke to them telepathically. They could hear a male voice growl, "You shouldn't be here." He pointed his pistol at them.
Still, Jodie defied him. "Why did you do it?"
Abraham nodded towards the land. This time in their minds, the ladies heard insane rage rock his voice. "SHOULDA BEEN MY RANCH!!!!" He yelled and roared just like in Moira's dreams and aimed the pistol carefully at Jodie, but his hand shook with emotion.
"What are you gonna do?" Jodie taunted the ghost. "Shoot me?"
Abraham pulled the trigger and a big red stain spread on Jodie's shirt. She grabbed her gut and stared in surprise at Moira before she sank to her knees and doubled over. Moira shrieked and ran to kneel next to Jodie. When she looked up at the ghost and screamed, "DAMN YOU!!!!!!", he shot her, too. She felt a burning pain in her chest and collapsed over Jodie.
They laid there in a heap and as the sun came up, the buzzards started circling, wondering if they were going to get such a feast as they haven't had in a long time. As one judged it to be safe and swooped down for a closer look, Moira's eyes fluttered open. She found herself sleeping on something soft and hard at the same time, something lumpy. She pushed herself up and realized she'd been laying crosswise over Jodie, then the events of the night flooded her mind like a nightmare. She quickly reached under her shirt to where she remembered being shot, but didn't find any extra holes in her and felt no sticky blood. Then, she remembered Jodie had been shot, too. Frantically, she flopped Jodie over.
"Uhhhhhhhh," Jodie protested, not being fully awake. Full realization crept upon her and she moved fast to check the front of her shirt. Where she'd once seen blood, there was none now. She and Moira both sighed with relief.
"That was some nightmare I had last night!" Moira said.
"Me, too. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure it was a dream because I think I had the same one."
Both women sat on the ground and compared notes. They both remembered the main sequence of events in exact detail and their stories matched up.
"Then what happened to us?" Moira ended up asking.
"I don't know, but there are a couple of theories."
"And what would those be?"
Jodie ticked off each theory on one of her fingers. "One, it was mass hallucination, which doesn't seem to me to be very likely. Two, I've read about wormhole theories, some sort of tunnel through time that has a door at each end. When the angle is just right and the doors are open, people from the present look through the doors and see events in the past as they are actually happening in the past. I'm not sure if that theory allows for interaction between people in the present and in the past, though." Jodie's brow wrinkled in puzzlement for a moment. "Don't quite fully understand it myself. Three, the one thing that's pretty obvious to me is that they were ghosts who relived their traumatic death. Why? I don't know yet."
"That wasn't what possibly happened, right? That was the actual story of their deaths?"
"It would seem so, yes."
"If so, why did we see it? If we were meant to figure out that Abraham was the murderer and Jack didn't commit suicide, what could we do about it now? The police wouldn't believe us and the murderer couldn't be brought to justice anyway."
"Like I said, I don't know. Yet."
Moira felt compelled to drive by the flower shop in town and buy a dozen yellow roses, so she and Jodie pulled up to a parking place in front of the shop and listened to music as they waited half an hour for the shop to open, which it did promptly at 9:00. After that, there was not much for them to do except stop at Mitch and Jane's place for a leisurely late breakfast and some family moments until it was time to visit the cemetery again and leave their offerings of flowers and Jack Turner's portrait.
* * *
Sometime around 11:00, the Blazer rolled up to the cemetery's main parking lot and they parked next to the only other car in the visitors' lot, a police cruiser. Since there weren't any graveside services going on that morning, Moira and Jodie strolled through the front gate and admired the various gleaming marble memorials in the newer section of the graveyard. A balding middle aged man in a short - sleeved blue shirt with a plaid pattern and brown dress slacks on talked to the burly policeman at the side of the path. The man was obviously the caretaker since he had gardening gloves on and a trowel in his hand, forgotten in his desire to talk to the policeman. When he turned around, Moira and Jodie saw the thick - framed black glasses he had on and his ridiculous little wisp of hair combed over nearly at the crown of his head.
"There they are, officer," he accused in a whiny voice. "Those two were here in the San Juan section yesterday."
"Oh?" the officer asked and raised his eyebrows at the ladies. They stopped when they were addressed.
"Yes, sir," Moira replied.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to detain you ladies."
"I'm sorry, officer," Jodie responded. "Last time I checked, it wasn't illegal to visit a graveyard."
"No, but defacing graveyard property is another matter, ma'am."
"But we didn't!" Moira protested.
"We'll see about that!" the caretaker whined.
He led the way to the graveyard's small office with Moira and Jodie following and the policeman bringing up the rear. The caretaker brought out a large ring of keys, found the right one, and fumbled around opening the door, unsteady because of his righteous indignation. He politely pointed to the chair in front of his desk, an invitation for the officer to sit down and curtly pulled two more chairs up for Moira and Jodie. He dragged over the TV/VCR cart and popped last night's security video into the machine. He then grabbed the controller and sat on his desk.
They fast forwarded rapidly through the first few hours of night vision camera footage of the San Juan section since the caretaker had stayed until midnight and swore he never heard anything. Then the caretaker fast forwarded slower through footage filmed after midnight. When they got to the 4:00 hour's film, the officer sighed impatiently.
"Hang on," the caretaker responded. "There's only four more hours to go."
The officer almost stood up and called it off when everyone saw something unusual around the 5:00 hour footage. They all watched the same thing, but they couldn't believe it at first. They watched it again. It confused them. They watched it a third, slower time. It scared them. Even though the picture was slightly grainy, it was much better than most security camera film. Even if it had been grainier, they still would've expected to see some sort of human form. Instead, they saw a ball of light come through the side gate and watched as rock exploded as if tiny sticks of dynamite had cleared it. The ball of light then exited the side gate.
The caretaker blanched and couldn't say anything.
Jodie and Moira were a little scared, but not surprised in the least. Mostly, they were intensely curious about the property that was defaced.
"M - - my apologies, ladies," the officer stammered, still stunned. He cleared his throat and glared at the three people he turned to face. "Listen to me! Do what you have to do, ladies, and go, but don't ever call anyone and tell them what happened here," he growled, testy because he hated things he had no explanation for. "Do you all understand me?"
The caretaker nodded vigorously, knowing that the officer had a very good idea.
"Who am I gonna call?" Moira asked sarcastically. "Ghostbusters?"
Jodie laid a hand on Moira's shoulder and pushed her way in between the officer and Moira. "No problem," Jodie said soberly. She shook her head softly. "I, for one, wouldn't care to be labeled as crazy."
The officer stared for a second at the three and nodded once, signifying that he believed they'd keep silent. The caretaker took it as his sign to open the door and let everyone out.
Jodie and Moira toted the flowers and the re - framed portrait toward the San Juan section of the graveyard. When Moira was sure they were out of earshot, she harshly whispered, "Who did that twerp think he is, anyway! Going around accusing people when he didn't see them do a thing!"
"He was just doing his job."
"Yeah, well - - " Moira cut her rant off when they'd gotten to the Turner section of the graveyard. Now she saw what all of the fuss was about.
Jodie continued on to Abraham Moses Turner's large memorial and saw that the scroll representing the Book of Life and that had Abraham's name on it was ripped out of the angel's hand, though strangely enough, the angel - - including its hand - - was completely intact. The area that once contained the inscription, "A Beloved Citizen. Loving Husband and Father." was completely chipped away. A shining layer of blank white marble underneath took its place. Finally, in a large uncarved area, the word MURDERER was scrawled deeply into the marble, glowing against its stained rock background.
At last, it hit Jodie why they went through the strange happenings. "Hey, Moira! Even though we can't get justice for the Turners, they needed us to see what really happened so they could move on. Not only do we know, everyone else who ever stops by this grave will know, too. They'll know as long as this place is here."
Moira nodded, but didn't say anything. She'd figured it out, too, once she saw Abraham Turner's defaced memorial.
Moira took one yellow rose for herself and gave one to Jodie. Then she took two yellow roses and placed them in a cross formation on Mary Ann's grave. She did the same for Sarah and Rebecca, too. Finally, she and Jodie exited the side gate and stood at the patch of bare earth. Although there was an outline still barely visible, beautiful purple and red wildflowers mixed with green grass and grew in a beautiful thick carpet, almost like a colorful quilt covering the patch. It had literally grown overnight.
Moira looked down at the portrait to see Jack once more. "Hey, look at this!" She pointed to where the stains that turned out to be faces used to be and handed the picture to Jodie so she could see, too.
"Uh - huh. They're gone."
"And look. Jack looks happy now, too."
Jodie didn't reply. She saw that the eyes had turned gentle and happy, and the edges of Jack's mouth curled slightly in a half - relief, half - smile countenance. Jodie couldn't help answering with a smile of her own.
Moira put two yellow roses in a cross on Jack's grave, took the portrait from Jodie, and lovingly placed it near the head of the grave. She raised herself and spoke to it. "It's okay, Jack. We know you didn't hurt anyone and everyone who passes by your father's grave will know the truth. If you want to thank me, I'll meet you in Heaven soon enough. But until then, rest peacefully, Turner family."