David L. Golemon Excerpt: In the Still of the Night

In the Still of the Night by David L. Golemon
In the Still of the Night by David L. Golemon
Set in the world of The Supernaturals, one of Riffle’s Ten Best Haunted House Books of All Time, In the Still of the Night is a supernatural thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Event Group series, David L. Golemon, that will make your Halloween extra spooky this year (available October 17, 2017).

Five years ago, the ghost-hunting Supernaturals disbanded after being accused of faking their footage of the haunting at Summer Place. Now, the eccentric, but brilliant, team of scientists and paranormal experts are being asked to join forces once again— this time to save the President.

Through strenuous investigation and mysterious messages about returning home, the team soon discovers the long lost home of the president: a small town in California called Moreno, a modern ghost town.

When the Supernaturals go to Moreno for answers, they find a presence; something came to Moreno after WWII, something that’s still locked in a steel vault in the basement of the town’s old movie theater.

To make matters worse, the thing in the basement is starting to pull them into its time, Halloween of 1963. With the body count rising, it’ll be up to the Supernaturals to find an explanation for what this paranormal being is and how to defeat it.

1

LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

The buzz started once more when the man in the corduroy jacket, blue shirt, and tie walked into the courtroom. The presiding judge had ordered a three-hour lunch recess for more than just dietary reasons. The man was greeted immediately by his three attorneys, but they could see from his demeanor that he had not been swayed by the judge’s earlier threats. As the bearded man with the wire-rimmed glasses took his seat at the counsel table, he locked eyes with the lead attorney across the way. His team of no less than five associates huddled around him, and they all seemed to be convinced the man they had on the hot seat was going to cave in to the court’s demands. Professor Gabriel Kennedy smiled and winked, and the lead attorney immediately lost the confident smile he had shown for most of the morning.

“All rise,” came the order from the large bailiff.

The judge rapped the gavel three times, and they all sat.

“Mr. Johnson, you had your recess. Did you consult with your client?”

“Your Honor, we still respectfully ask for at least a week of continuance before our client makes his decision, especially since that decision involves the personal lives of men and women outside of this trial.”

The fifty-three-year-old judge pushed her glasses back up on her nose and then fixed her eyes not on the attorney but Kennedy himself.

“Counselor, is there a chance that your client’s decision would be any different in a week’s time than the three hours he has been afforded? He was warned last week that those names would be under subpoena.”

The young attorney, the best that the UBC network could attain within the Los Angeles and Hollywood communities, looked from the bench to Kennedy. He took a deep breath as Gabriel sat stoically.

“Your Honor, we ask for this extended period for the reasons of convincing Professor Kennedy to think this over thoroughly. We—”

“Counselor, does your client have an answer to the question asked of him today, not next week or next year?”

“But if you will, Your Honor, we still—”

“Professor Kennedy,” she interrupted, “will you comply with this court’s order to produce the members of your scientific team for the purpose of placing their testimony into the official court record?”

Kennedy stood, buttoned the corduroy jacket, and then placed his right hand on the shoulder of his lawyer, who sat and took a deep breath.

“My answer is still the same as it was last month, last week, and today, Your Honor. I will not produce these people who have nothing to do with the conclusions of these cases that they were only assigned to by me. I am the person responsible for all conclusions on our cases. Not them. So, no, I will not produce my team.” Kennedy nodded in deference to the judge. “With all due respect to the court,” he finished and then sat. His lawyers all closed their eyes, waiting for the wrath of the judge to descend upon them. They didn’t have to wait long.

In the courtroom, all the members of the press started talking at once, and a few even had to get up to leave to make calls, as they had expected the same thing as Kennedy’s counsel. The man was going to go to jail. The judge pounded her gavel several times to get the gallery to settle.

“Before we continue with this, I’ll ask for an opinion from the representatives of the aggrieved parties. Mr. Linden, do you or your clients have an opinion on Professor Kennedy’s statement regarding the producing of his employees?”

The rotund man in the black suit who represented the most powerful producers in LA stood. His team at the table smiled, as they knew they had the ghost professor by the short and curlies on the point.

“Yes. The good professor’s insistence that it was he and he alone who had the final say in the investigations, all seventy-seven of them discussed in these proceedings, is a whitewash of misinformation. I intend to show beyond any doubt that his team, jokingly called the Supernaturals”—here, he snorted, and Kennedy frowned, as he hated the nickname for his investigating team—“have come to many, many differing conclusions than the good professor on the authenticity of their investigations. Many of these team members will corroborate the testimony of the production companies we represent. He must allow us to depose these team members so we can start to get to the truth—the truth that they have conspired to say that there are no such things as hauntings, even though their very claim to fame is the result of the most notorious haunting in history that had been caught on tape—the incident at Summer Place over seven years ago.”

“Your Honor, where in the record does it say that my client and his team of investigators have said unequivocally that there are no such things as real hauntings, or ghosts for that matter?”

The judge was about to speak when the opposing attorney stood, shooting to his feet.

“It doesn’t have to be said in those exact words. Through seventy-seven investigations that were bought and paid for by many, many networks, this team has not found evidence of one haunting that actually took place. That means seventy-seven television broadcasts of reality programming were deemed hoaxes when there is actual proof on film that says Kennedy’s team either ignored or overlooked evidence in the summation of their cases. They had an agenda of putting every one of these ghost-hunting shows out of business, regardless of their verifiable evidence.”

“My client’s organization was hired by these shows’ own networks in the hopes that this famous scientific investigation team would verify outright lies and the gullibility of innocent viewers. In other words, the networks and their various heads of programming that hired Professor Kennedy fully expected a whitewash job on their behalf by those who they assumed would be team players in pulling the wool over viewers’ eyes, or at the very least outright fabrications to justify their shows programming.” Kennedy’s attorney sat down and hoped he had swayed the judge as much as he could. He did not.

“Thank you.” The judge nodded and looked at Kennedy instead of his attorneys. “Let’s go through this one name at a time so I can count up the offenses, Professor.” She raised a sheet of paper and then looked it over. “This George Cordero, are you aware of this man’s whereabouts, Professor?”

Kennedy looked at his team of attorneys. Then with a sad nod, the lead counsel told Kennedy to answer.

“George has always been a little flighty. He could be anywhere from Maine to Berlin. Mr. Cordero isn’t well, and my knowledge of his whereabouts has always been limited.”

“So, you deny knowing where we can find George Cordero?” the judge asked as she checked off the first name.

“Not a denial. I just don’t know,” Gabriel said.

“Mr. Leonard Sickles?”

“Leonard is the most brilliant software and practical application engineer in the country. I haven’t a clue as to what he is doing.” Kennedy smiled and looked over at the counsel for the networks. “The last time I spoke to him he mentioned going to the moon to think.”

Again, the judge angrily banged her gavel down, silencing the crowded room of laughing reporters. Again, Kennedy’s legal team all lowered their heads.

“So, you deny knowing where Mr. Sickles is at the current time?”

“Most definitely.”

She checked off another name. “I understand that a deposition has been received from a member of your team, a Ms. Kelly Delaphoy.”

“Which was nothing but lie upon lie, Your Honor.” The counsel for the production companies stood angrily and faced Kennedy. “She was one of the main architects and field producer of the original Summer Place haunting. Of course, she would tell the lies that the good professor here would ask her to tell. After all, it made her quite famous as a producer.”

“Ms. Delaphoy is a rather famous producer. So famous, the woman can no longer find work in her chosen field in film and television production after the revelations at Summer Place. The events in Pennsylvania not only cost her a job, it cost her the future she had fought for. She gave her deposition against my will, but Kelly told you the truth under oath. The people these gentlemen represent are thieves of not only money but of spirit and goodwill toward the home and business owners they were supposedly there to assist, and the viewers that watched them. In most cases, the producers of these so-called reality shows did what is known as ‘tricking out’ the houses and properties before shooting their footage. Hoaxes which my team exposed. We didn’t start out to do this until we saw a pattern of deceit by the varying networks and their contracted producers.”

“You make statements when I ask you to make statements, Professor. Now where are John Lonetree and Dr. Jennifer Tilden?”

Gabriel sat for the briefest of moments thinking about his best friend, John, a man he had gone to Harvard with and a person he would always protect. Lonetree, a former police chief of his reservation in Montana, was linked to Jenny in no uncertain terms, and Kennedy knew he would never interfere with either their personal or their professional lives ever again. Jenny Tilden, a doctor of paleontology, was also one he would never allow to sit in a court of law, explaining her unique abilities. She and John, and their special talents, had to be protected at all costs.

“I lost track of John and Jennifer after June of last year. They are on a sabbatical to Africa, if I’m not mistaken. May I suggest putting out feelers in Kenya or Somalia, perhaps?”

Again, that pen movement as the judge checked off two more names and ignored the small chuckles around the room.

“Can you tell us where Ms. Julie Reilly, former field reporter for the UBC network, is?”

“Ms. Reilly and I have not spoken since our last show airing two years ago.”

Kennedy had just lied to the court for the first time. He knew exactly where Julie was. She was out with Jenny and John trying to find and warn Damian about what was happening in Los Angeles and the court case Gabriel was trying desperately to keep him out of. Another checkmark on the judge’s sheet of paper.

“Now, former Pennsylvania State Police inspector Damian Jackson. Where is Mr. Jackson, Professor?”

“He’s six foot four inches tall, and you can’t find him?” Kennedy chuckled uncomfortably. “He’s probably the only black man in the world who still wears a trench coat and fedora.”

Again, the laughter erupted in the gallery, and again the gavel came down with an angry look from the judge.

“Well, here’s something you also didn’t know, Professor, and after your refusals to answer today, you will be seeing him very soon. We have former inspector Jackson in police custody for refusing to answer a court summons. Counsel found him last week, and he came up with the same excuse as you have. He refused to give a deposition, and now, sir, he is in contempt of this court.”

Kennedy felt his heart skip a beat as he realized his weeks of planning at hiding everyone had failed and now poor Damian was paying for it.

“So, let’s see here, Professor Kennedy. We have one, two, three, four, and now five. One last time. Do you know the whereabouts of these men and women?”

Kennedy stood, and for the first time, he allowed his anger to show as he removed his glasses. He looked at the offending team of lawyers from the combined networks first.

“I was never happy or proud to prove these reality shows as fakes or outright hoaxes, but I was protecting the innocent families who believe in a possible afterlife, and not to let them be used by men in powerful positions. They cared for no one or anything but their bottom line. The houses and properties we investigated showed zero signs of actual paranormal activity, and we refuse to lie to make money.” He turned back to face the judge.

“Answer this court, Professor Kennedy, or you will be charged with contempt.”

Kennedy smiled. “That falls far short of the contempt I have for the leeches these gentlemen represent”—he gestured to the table to his right—“and also the contempt I have for this court.” He sat down as many in the gallery laughed and then applauded.

This time, the judge rapped the gavel so hard that Kennedy’s lawyers thought it would snap in two.

“If that’s the way you want to play this, Professor, that’s fine by me. I hereby order the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to exercise the judgment of this court. You are to be immediately taken into custody for incarceration for contempt of my court. Thirty days in jail for each team member you have protected with your misguided thinking.” The gavel came down again. “This proceeding is in recess until such a time as the good professor starts acting like a responsible citizen.” Whack, whack, the gavel cried as the court was adjourned.

*   *   *

The jail was crowded and loud. The orange jumpsuit with the sandals made Kennedy feel guilty even though he was only in for contempt of court. The looks he received were frightening at best and murderous at worst. He waited at the large cell door for his restraints to be removed from himself and fifteen others as he held his bedsheet, pillow, and blanket closely to his chest.

Gabriel moved down the central aisle, the number of bunk-style beds stacked three high looked as if this place could hold three hundred. It was designed for only fifty-seven inmates. He noticed that most of these sleeping areas were already occupied. He walked down the central aisle until he spied a bed with no sheets or blanket near the far back wall.

“That’s my space, tall and lanky,” came the voice.

Gabriel looked up through his wire-rimmed glasses and saw the largest man he had ever seen in his life. The gentleman looked like the epitome of a biker. The large arms covered in tattoos that bulged from his orange jumpsuit explained to Kennedy in no uncertain terms that, indeed, this was the man’s space.

“Sorry,” he said as he gathered his folded bedding and stood as a few more of the inmates took notice. It was as if the men in the cell could smell blood in the air, and they wanted to witness where that blood was about to emerge from. Before Gabriel could stand up with his sheet, pillow, and blanket, the large hand came down on his shoulder and held him in place.

“That beard reminds me of that sweet spot between my old lady’s legs,” said the brute with the goatee and the piercings throughout his facial area. Gabriel knew he should have shaved his beard.

“Yeah, and if you ever want to see that old lady again, I suggest you start stepping, my fat, bearded, and very artfully colored friend.”

The large man and his cronies turned, and Gabriel caught sight of the second-largest man he had seen that day. Former Pennsylvania police detective Damian Jackson stood looking at the assembled inmates, and Gabriel held his breath. As big as Jackson was, he was still graying in the hair area, and this was not one but many larger men confronting him.

“That right, Buckwheat?” the man said as he faced the smaller Jackson.

Damian looked down at Kennedy, and a smirk etched his lips. “Did you hear that? I believe that was a blatant black-a-phobia-style racist statement.”

“Black-a-what?” the large biker said as even more interested parties joined the growing circle of fandom.

“Is this big, ugly pile of shit bothering you, Doc?”

“Uh, no, not really, at least not yet,” Kennedy said as he studied his exit strategy. There was none.

“You’re either awfully stupid or crazy. Can you count, Buckwheat?”

“Can you?” Damian countered.

The large men looked behind Jackson and saw at least five other black men and six angry-looking Mexicans. The man could count. With his three bikers in tow, they were quite outnumbered and in a bad spot for defensive purposes being in a corner. Gabriel hoped they went on the attack and didn’t go to a fallback position, which of course would be right on top of him. The large biker examined the man confronting him and decided he spoke from the position of power. The eyes went from the missing fingers on Damian’s left hand as it curled into a large fist and then to the fierceness in his brown eyes. The decision was quickly reached.

“We’ll talk later, Buckwheat,” he said as he sidestepped Jackson and his gang and moved off with his own group.

Damian looked back and then tossed the largest man of the black group behind him a wadded-up bill. Then he did the same with the leader of the Mexicans. Each unwadded the offering, and Gabriel saw the hundred-dollar bills Damian had just paid. He shook his head as the men moved off. Damian stood over Gabriel and then shook his head.

“Mind if I sit on your bed?” he asked as he sat anyway. “You owe me two hundred dollars.”

“How in the hell did you get that money in here?” Kennedy asked as he slid over on the unmade bunk.

“You don’t want to know, Doc.”

“Oh.”

“Not even five minutes and you almost get yourself raped and murdered by Los Angeles citizenry. Has to be some kinda record.”

“And I thought you made a nice group of friends, winning them over with your sparkling personality.”

Damian looked at Kennedy and smiled. “If someone in this joint finds out I was a state police officer, no amount of money in the world would get us out of that trouble. So, here we sit, the final act in your little morality play.”

“I had no idea you were arrested before the judge told me this morning. You’re the cop here,” he said in a low tone. “I thought you could evade justice until this thing blew over.”

“It was a private detective with the summons that got me. I was in a bar up in San Francisco.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t smell a private detective, even in a bar.”

“Yeah, well, you should have seen the legs on this detective.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, someone did their homework. They knows my weakness, Master Gabriel. It’s always the womenfolk that bring me down,” he said mockingly in his slave impersonation. “So, what now? It’s only a matter of time until the rest are rounded up.” Damian looked away and then back at Kennedy. “Doc, you can’t protect the group anymore. We’re grown-ups. If they think that we defrauded the networks, they won’t rest until they get us all. You throwing yourself on your sword isn’t going to stop them. Although a noble act some of us would love to see, it’s one that won’t help in the end.”

“I never thought we would get into trouble by telling people the truth. It’s my fault for outing those production companies the way I did. It was my morals and holier-than-thou attitude that got us here.”

“Well, we all turned down the extra money in lieu of the truth, Doc, so we’re all cursed with that particular and distasteful moral dilemma.” Damian looked around him and then at his orange jumpsuit. He took a deep breath and then glanced at Gabriel. “I’ll tell you, though, the money is looking pretty damn good right about now.”

Kennedy sniffed, and then he got a crooked grin on his lips. “Yeah, orange isn’t exactly your color, is it?”

Damian ignored the dig and stood and looked out over the vastness of the cell and its captured humanity. He turned and faced the professor.

“The others?”

“Kelly was caught in San Antonio at her cousin’s house. The others, though, are still hiding.”

“Would it be enough if we three took the blame? Would they let the others off?” Damian asked with hope.

“We pissed off some pretty powerful people in this city. And you know who runs this city, right?”

“Yeah, it’s like going after Wall Street in New York—it just isn’t going to happen.”

“Exactly,” Kennedy agreed.

“Well, I do know they’ll have a hard time finding the rest. They’re a little better at hiding than we are. The smartest man in the world with a computer? They’ll never even get a whiff of that little gangster Sickles. He’ll know before the arresting officers that they are coming. Unless he does something stupid,” Jackson added.

They heard the cell doors open again, and several other inmates were herded inside. Gabriel sat silently as Damian glanced over at the new prisoners. His face fell as he saw the third man in line.

“I take that back. I guess he isn’t as smart as I thought he was.”

Gabriel looked up and then had to stand. His face, just as Damian’s had, fell as he saw the small black man as his leg restraints were removed. They watched as he greeted several men he had known in his past life and had grown up with; they were all Crips from his old neighborhood. He saw Jackson and Kennedy staring at him, and he waved as if he were nothing but a visitor saying hi. Kennedy rolled his eyes and then sat hard onto the bunk.

“My brothers!” Leonard said as he slapped the palm of the large ex-cop. He held up his hand to Gabriel, but Kennedy didn’t move an inch to greet him.

“Didn’t I tell you to disappear?”

Leonard looked hurt and taken back. He adjusted the collar of his new orange jumpsuit and then gave Gabriel a tough look.

“I get arrested trying to get this big-ass motherfucker out of jail, and then here I am. How did I know they had tracers on their computer system?”

“Tracers?” Damian asked as he also sat on the bunk.

Leonard looked at the large man and then shook his head. “They set a trap for me is what they did. I never thought the LAPD and the sheriffs were that damn smart.”

“It’s because of punks like you that they had to get smart, dumbass.”

“Oh, is that it?” Sickles said as he rolled his eyes at the former Pennsylvania detective.

“Wait … wait a minute.” Gabriel stood and faced Leonard. “You’re only here for contempt of court, right?”

Leonard saw the empty space on the bunk, tossed his own bedding down and then sat. He used Kennedy’s pillow and placed it against the wall and then laid back with his tiny feet dangling from the bed. “Uh, yeah, man, contempt.”

“Leonard?” Gabriel insisted far more angrily than he wanted. He felt responsible for the twenty-seven-year-old genius and knew he had gotten the boy into serious trouble.

Leonard sat up and then rubbed his hands over his face. “Okay, contempt and attempted break-in of a secured governmental computer system.”

“What are the charges, Leonard?” Gabriel persisted.

“You tried to get us out by hacking the county court system, didn’t you?” Damian asked, and not too kindly.

“Uh, no.” Leonard stood and then faced both men. “I didn’t try to get you out of here.”

“Thank God,” Damian said. “They’d throw away the key on that one.”

“I hacked the judge and the law firm of the networks and the county sheriff’s office. I was going to get all charges dropped for lack of evidence.”

“So, you hacked them and got caught. That’s not like you,” Kennedy said as he faced the small black computer genius.

“I was stupid. I thought there was no one smarter than me and overlooked the obvious. They knew from my background that I would be coming.”

Damian watched as Leonard hung his head and then placed one sandaled foot over the other and then shuffled again as he lay on the bed.

“Oh, shit, what else?” the large black man asked, looking down on the diminutive prodigy.

“Uh, I drained the bank accounts of the law firm the networks hired.” He looked up and gave them both a false smile. “I thought it would be a kick, you know?”

“Shit, computer fraud, embezzlement, corruption of the county computer system for criminal gain, and harassment,” Kennedy said.

“Don’t forget contempt of court, which would have just cost you a few weeks. Now you’re looking at least twenty-five years,” Jackson said, slamming his hand down on his own thigh, making Leonard jump.

The three men were silent as they stood and sat around in the loud cell. Finally, Gabriel sat and then slapped Leonard on his leg as he sat next to him.

“I’m sorry, Dr. Gabe. I know I am a major screwup, but I thought I was helping.” Sickles’s pain was similar to Kennedy’s when he was disappointed in the prodigy he’d saved from the very gangs that had taken the life of his brother and several cousins. If it weren’t for Kennedy giving the young criminal psych evaluations when he was involved in the gangs while he was the chair of the Psych Department at USC, he would have gone down the same road and ended up like all other members of the gang—dead. He owed the man everything, and now he had disappointed him again.

“Well, Leonard, what did you do with the money you embezzled from the law firm?” Kennedy asked.

Sickles smiled and then sat up and leaned over to make sure they heard.

“You mean the six-point-seven-five million dollars I discovered in the Cayman Islands? That money that was illegally sent abroad for tax evasion purposes? That money?”

“Yes, that money,” Gabriel said in exasperation.

“Let’s just say the seventeen boys’ clubs in the Los Angeles area and the thirty-five youth baseball leagues within the city limits won’t be seeking donations for a while. And the great thing about all of it is the fact that I confessed to stealing only ten thousand dollars, which I promised to pay back, of course.”

“And the crooked attorneys can’t argue the amount, now can they?” Damian said with a growing smile.

“I wouldn’t think so,” Leonard answered with his own smile.

The three men drew looks from the ruffians in the large cell block when they all laughed as they sat on the bunk.

You found the strangest people in jail these days.

All six sets of eyes watched the dark-haired man who looked as if he had lost his razor along with the rest of his toiletries. The scrub of beard was sparse in places, and his odor was none too pleasing. The bloodred whites of his eyes told the watchers that this man had not slept in quite some time. He was small in stature and had a sadness to him that made his companions somewhat apprehensive. But now they were more interested in his prowess at cards—Texas Hold ’em in particular. The man had started out losing at least ten thousand, and now as his pile of chips was examined, they could see he had earned back five times that. The men exchanged looks of suspicion. When these men suspected they were being taken, someone was in trouble.

George Cordero looked at his two hole cards as his other senses became aware that his fellow poker players were starting to suspect they were being taken for a ride. Their thoughts came to him in jumbled waves of anger and frustration at not being able to find out how this small Mexican was taking them. He thought about turning over the seven and ten of spades and dropping out of the hand. He smiled inwardly and thought, But what would the fun in that be?

George looked at the four cards sitting on the table in front of the house-supplied dealer. He saw the seven of hearts and the two fours, one each of diamonds and clubs. So, he had two small pairs. But the rather large Italian gentleman across the way had looked to be leaning into a third four, or did he have a pair of aces? George smiled and hesitated when the other four players dropped out one by one when the Italian man’s bet skyrocketed to $10,000.

“Let’s see how brave you are now, my friend.”

George smiled and looked closely at the rotund man in the nice suit. His eyes went to his own wrinkled and filthy white jacket and shirt. His eyes went to the man again, and he concentrated. He saw into his mind. He saw how his equally rotund wife spoke to the man when at home. She was a cowed and silent woman who feared her husband’s wrath. His kids, three in all, despised their father. His feeling was that this man was not very well received as a father. George was getting ready to turn over his cards and cry uncle when another vision filled his mind—the man silently slipping into the room of his daughter. As he watched the man creep into the bedroom, he saw a door close, blocking his view. He could mentally get past this roadblock, but knew what he would see. Before the door closed on him, he heard the soft voice of the man’s daughter as she whimpered and said, “No, Daddy.”

George allowed his right hand to hover over his hole cards, and then the man across the way smirked as he saw hesitation in Cordero’s actions. He exchanged looks with his fellow players who weren’t very pleased with the smile that slowly crossed the Mexican’s lips. The Italian gentleman lost his own smile when Cordero pulled his hand away from his cards and instead went to his pile of chips.

“How much do you have there?” he asked the fat man in the nice suit.

“Twenty-five thousand, give or take.”

George counted his chips. With a smile, he pushed all his chips to the center of the table. He smiled broadly and looked to the man he now knew was a pedophile of his own twelve-year-old daughter. If this didn’t meet the requirement for murder, or in his case, suicide by mobster, nothing would.

“I’m all in.”

The fat man lost all semblance of composure at the brazen call. He reluctantly turned over his two hole cards, and George allowed the smile to grow as he turned his own over.

George then flipped his four cards over. “Fours and sevens.” George, just to rub it in, looked pointedly at the man’s cards. “And you have, oh, nothing.”

“Another bluff call?” one of the men observing said loudly. “That’s just a little too much.”

“I would say that myself.” The fat man stood so suddenly that the chair he was sitting in fell backward.

The other men slowly stood as George slid his winnings toward him. He stopped when he saw the angry looks surrounding him. He looked up and raised his brows. He was now expecting the bullet that would end his miserable life. Just in case it wasn’t enough of a push, he decided to ask for that bullet.

“Oh,” he said and then tossed a black $1,000 chip toward the fat man, who was busy glaring at him. “That’s for the therapy you seriously need to get.”

All six men plus the dealer stood and backed away from the table. They were confused as to just what in the hell that statement was supposed to mean.

George collected his chips and then slid them over to the dealer, who made no move to cash him out of the game. He suspected Cordero was about to be cashed out, but not in the way the winner was expecting. Cordero let out a breath and then sat as he realized these men were what he had suspected all along, very sore losers that would accomplish the thing he longed for—to kill him. His power of mind deduction had finally driven George Cordero to the edge. He didn’t want to see the new day when the sun came up.

Again, the smile as he leaned back and relaxed. His next move was to force the fat, balding mobster into action. He had been searching for something to use all night against one of the ruthless punks he had chosen for his self-destruction.

“Yes, therapy,” George said as he looked from man to man. “Did you know that this man sneaks into his twelve-year-old daughter’s room several nights a week?”

The other men moved their eyes from George to the man who had suddenly gone white-faced.

“Now I know who you are!” a small, well-dressed man said as he took a step back as if George had the plague. “You’re that psychic guy from that Halloween spook show a few years ago. I thought you looked familiar.”

The other men saw that the large man regained his color as his anger replaced the shock.

“A known liar and cheat!” the man said overly loudly as the others were torn between their friend and Cordero, who sat with that creepy smile on his face. “Now we know how he cheated us at cards!”

“Fake, cheat, liar—I’ve been called all of those, but I have never once been labeled a pedophile, my friend.”

“This man is nuts,” the fat man said as his eyes finally left the psychic and went to those other now-accusing eyes staring at him. The fat man made a quick movement toward his chair, where he reached for something in the pocket of his coat, which was hanging on the chair’s back. George closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable conclusion to his story of hating who and what he was. The gun was pulled.

The door to the private residence was bashed in, and a hail of shouts sounded as George opened his eyes. Police were everywhere. The men were being pushed and shoved against the walls of the living room, and the fat man with the gun was brutally subdued.

“Frankie DeLuca, you are under arrest!”

The fat man was thrown up against the wall with his associates, and his hate-filled eyes turned to a shocked George Cordero, who was also being handcuffed.

“I’ll kill you!”

“You ain’t killing anyone, fatty, at least not where you’re going. You are all under arrest for trafficking in prostitution and money laundering,” the man with the black suit said as he examined all the faces in the room.

“What about this fella?” a uniformed Atlantic City police officer asked as George was roughly turned around to face the detective in charge.

The man walked up to Cordero and then cocked his head in thought. “What’s your name? You famous or something?”

“He’s a fucking mind-readin’ freak, man!” one of the handcuffed men said as he was led out of the house.

George remained silent as he was held by the arm. He looked away from the detective as much as he could until the man reached out and pulled his chin around. The smile came on slowly but surely. The cop reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a notepad and flipped through the pages until he stopped and went back two, and then the smile grew.

“I saw that show you were on”—he looked at the notepad—“Mr. Cordero.”

George felt as if he wanted to cry at his failure to dramatically end his own life.

“I’m a fan,” the detective said as he slapped the notebook on his other hand and then slid it back into his coat. “But we do have an arrest warrant on you. I think a judge out west is waiting to discuss your exploits with the rest of … of … what is it they called your little spook-hunting group?” He turned away and then snapped his fingers. “That’s right, the Supernaturals. As I said, I’m a huge fan.”

The twentieth day of October dawned cold and blustery in the small city east of Seattle. The day before, the weather had been as near perfect as anyone could remember for late September or October. Lights across the city started to come on and people prepared for their day. The occupants of one house in particular, a recent rental, had never turned off their lights from the night before, and neighbors had noticed only because the lights in the one-hundred-year-old house had not gone dark since the very strange people had moved in three weeks before.

The large man pulled the curtain back and spied the cold morning from the warmth of the immense living room. Nearly unrecognizable with his long black hair trimmed short, John Lonetree raised a brow as a milkman—yes, he was surprised that any major city still had milkmen—watched the house as he made his local deliveries. Lonetree watched the man in the blue uniform quickly move past the house.

“When did milkmen stop wearing white?” he asked, his words fogging the leaded glass window as the curtain fell back into place.

John didn’t receive an answer, so he turned and looked and saw that he was alone in the living room. He moved to the fireplace and stirred the embers alight and then, frustrated, allowed the cast-iron poker to fall to the bricks that made up the hearth. He slapped his large hand against the mantel and then angrily turned and left the room.

It didn’t take long to find her. She sat at the kitchen table. She had both her small hands wrapped firmly around a large mug of coffee. Her eyes stared straight ahead, and she didn’t react when John entered the kitchen. He started to say something but stopped, as he didn’t want his words to come out as an angry rebuke. Instead he walked to the counter and poured himself a cup of the overheated and old coffee and then turned and faced the diminutive woman who sat with her sweater pulled tightly around her chest.

Dr. Jennifer Tilden, renowned for her forensic anthropology work, didn’t raise her eyes as John pulled out an old yellow art deco chair that had lost its argyle pattern right around the time that Ike was president, and sat down. Jenny’s eyes still didn’t move. John reached out and forcibly removed her left hand from the mug and held it gently. She finally looked up with the barest trace of a smile. He was about to speak when he heard a loud crack as wood someplace in the old house separated from a nail. The moans and groans of old houses never ceased.

“This place alone would have given all those ghost-hunting rags a thrill of a lifetime.”

Jenny looked as if she wanted to say something, but she lowered her eyes instead. She never lost her smile, which to John was a reasonable start. Ever since they had been on the run, only because Gabriel Kennedy wanted them on the run, Jenny had been having bad dreams about Bobby Lee McKinnon. The songwriter had been murdered by mobsters in the very early sixties, and while investigating his death many years before, the ghost of the musical composer was sewn to her soul like a patch on a ripped coat. Bobby’s ghost had come in handy in their efforts to stop the horrid haunting in Pennsylvania years before and had been blessedly absent for the many years hence. Now it was apparent, with no real evidence other than whispered thoughts and confusing dreams, that Bobby Lee McKinnon had made a silent and hidden return.

“I’m going to ask you something, and I don’t want that famous eye-rolling you do, okay?”

Jennifer rolled her eyes to make light of John’s remark.

“Do you think your subconscious mind wants a return of Bobby Lee?” John swallowed and then plowed ahead. “Or maybe … maybe you miss him in some form or other?”

A shocked look came to Jenny’s soft features. She was about to say something but stopped short. Instead of the angry rebuke she had primed and ready to fire, she deflated.

“Maybe. I just don’t know. It’s like he never left but has decided for courtesy’s sake to leave me alone, at least in my waking hours.” Catching John off guard, she smiled, and for the first time in months, he saw the real Dr. Jennifer Tilden inside those tired eyes.

He smiled back.

“Now are you, my Indian guide to the nether reaches, asking because you’re worried about your insane girlfriend, or could it be that Mr. Wonderful Dreamwalker is jealous?”

John lost his smile and became falsely indignant. “Worried? Of course. Why, I—” Lonetree saw her smile grow larger, and he stopped. “Jealous, I guess.”

Jenny pushed her now-cold coffee away and stood and went to Lonetree and then slid up onto his lap. She kissed him deeply and then ran her small hand through his now-short-cropped hair.

“You know, for a former chief of police and dreamwalker extraordinaire, you sure can be silly sometimes.”

“Let’s just say concerned, then, and keep it at that.” This time, it was John who kissed her.

With a wink, he stood up and was about to offer to make breakfast when the front door opened. John instinctively reached for a sidearm that had not been on his hip for seven years. Jenny smiled and then stood from his lap and adjusted her green sweater. They heard the shrill greeting from the living room. Soon the image of former UBC field reporter Julie Reilly stood in the kitchen doorway.

“All they had was The Seattle Times; the Los Angeles papers hadn’t arrived yet, and I waited so long it felt like everyone at the newsstand knew who I was, so retreat being the better part of valor, I came home. Is that coffee still hot?”

John watched as Jenny poured Julie a cup of the burned coffee and then relieved her of the newspaper.

“Call it paranoia, but it feels like everyone in town knows who we are.”

“As long as we keep Sitting Bull here out of public view, we should be fine,” Jenny said, patting John on the arm as he skimmed through the Seattle morning paper. His smile slowly left and Jenny removed her hand.

“Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t notice the anti-Indian sentiment in that remark.” His face fell as he came to page 4. “Damn. They arrested Gabriel on contempt charges.”

“Read on; they also have Damian and Leonard. Kelly was arrested in San Antonio.”

Julie was about to say something when a knock sounded on the front door. At the same moment, they heard movement out on the old back porch as someone pulled open the raggedy screen door, challenging the old and rusty spring. John winced as he nodded at Julie and Jenny.

“Mr. John Lonetree, Ms. Julie Reilly, and Ms. Jennifer Tilden, this is the Spokane Police Department. We have warrants for your arrests.”

“It’s my fault for insisting we get some news. I must have been spotted. Someone had to have recognized me from my UBC reporting days,” Julie said as she stood to open the back door, preparing to let Spokane’s finest in. “We may as well get this over with.”

*   *   *

Neighbors watched as the three were led out of the rented house in handcuffs. They saw the large Indian bringing up the rear with three of Spokane’s finest watching the six-foot-five John Lonetree. Later Julie would be surprised to find out that it wasn’t her life as a reporter that was their undoing but the mere fact that a little seventy-two-year-old neighbor lady had mistakenly thought the new out-of-place renters were at the very least the heads of Al Queda and ISIS, all living in Spokane and plotting evil deeds against the citizenry.

*   *   *

At seven thirty on the twentieth day of October, the scientific group known to the world as the Supernaturals were all taken into custody. A very sad ending to a group of men and women who had changed the face of parapsychology forever, an ending that opened a whole new world to come—a world where anything was again possible.

 

Copyright © 2017 David L. Golemon.

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David L. Golemon is the author of the Event Group Thrillers. Legend, the second book in the series, was nominated for a RITA award for paranormal fiction.

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