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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1537073-Detectives-Secret
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Detective · #1537073
Detective comes back from the dead to find his killer and solve his last case.
Dylan sat in the corner of the coffee shop.  He liked this new age of technology. Machines that hissed and spit out coffee drinks he never thought possible.  He hung around watching the Barista’s, as they called themselves, make the magic elixirs. He couldn’t drink his favorite cuppa joe but he could smell the fragrance.  It was enough to get him through the day. 

Today, like every other day for the last week, since he woke in the back room of this establishment, business in the shop was booming.  People crowded around small tables or in clusters of overstuffed chairs, sipped the hot brew.  In his day, the late 1950’s, either a jukebox would have been rocking the joint, or someone sat in a corner strumming a guitar or playing a sax. You could get your favorite martini or just a good cup of coffee.  The air would have been blue with smoke and everyone shared a hand rolled.  This new world he discovered, since his awakening, was filled with devices, but it seemed smoking was a thing of the past.  He really missed having a cigarette. 

Dylan sat above the crowd on the ledge of the service area, where the finished drinks were 'placed for pickup. Since no one could see him he could sit wherever he wanted. Sometimes he sat right on the table amid a large group of people.  He would mimic their talk and move their spoons, sometimes slipping them into their pockets if he could.  He tapped into the minds of the customers, looking for someone who was open to experiencing ghosts and the paranormal. A businessman with his knife pleated pants, sat just below him, turned the page of his newspaper, created a perfect fold of the long page. Over the man’s shoulder, Dylan saw the date: 1996. He'd been dead for thirty-five years.  He sensed it was time to find his killer and finish the jobs he had been working on before he died.

Then SHE walked in the door.  Just like his favorite Bogart movie she was blonde, wore a tan raincoat and went straight to the end of the order line.  That was all that was similar.  She wasn’t pretty. Her mouth was too wide for her face. He couldn’t even tell the color of her eyes since she was staring at her feet the whole time . She shook her short, curly blond hair, damp from the mist outside.  On her shoulder hung a huge bag, it caused her full figure to lean to one side as she shouldered her way in line.  She set the bag on the floor and pushed it with her foot in front of her as the line moved toward the counter. People jostled her, cut in the line in front of her, as if she were invisible but she took the slight as if it were normal recourse. After she placed her order and had her metal cup returned with her beverage, she looked around for someplace to sit. 

Using his limited abilities, he pushed the minds of the people at the table below him to leave.  They got up and started to move away, their cups, crumbs and napkins littered the table.  He gave them a hard push with his mind and made them pick up the trash and dispose of it properly.  This gave the woman time to make her way around the people and sink into one of the chairs, her bag leaned drunkenly in the one adjacent to her.

“Hey can I have this chair?” a man had already taken the vacant chair before the woman could even nod.  Dylan frowned at the man but hopped down to sit across from her.  She didn’t look up as the chair moved away from the table by itself.

Dylan sorted her thoughts and found someone he might be able to make contact with. Her name was Alyssa.  She was a paralegal with aspirations of writing a novel and had the outline already written in her mind.  It was about aliens; at least she was open to the supernatural. 

She set a legal pad on the table, every line was written filled with ink scrawls.  She thumbed through the pages to find a clean sheet and folded the rest back.  Before she began to write, he moved the pad to side and slid the pen from her hand, he wrote;

'Alyssa, don’t be afraid, I need to talk to you.' She looked around and shook her head as she could not see anyone who could have written the message.   

Dylan continued to write, 'I am a ghost.'  He waited for her reaction. 

She froze and stared at the pen standing upright on the pad. She grabbed the pen and wrote, 'Who are you?'

'My name is Dylan Holter. I'm a detective and I was murdered in a fire.  I need to solve the cases I was working on before I was killed so I can leave earth.  I want to find my killer.  Will you help me?' 

"Me?" she said out loud and then wrote the question.

'Alyssa, we can talk like this, or you just think and I can read your mind.' he spoke directly into her mind

She jumped and looked around. 'You can read my mind?' she thought tentatively.

'Yes.'

'I don’t think I like that.' she stiffened and glared at the pad.

'At this point we don’t have a choice. I don’t know how much time I have to solve these crimes.  I have been drawn to the light twice before and have resisted until I can finish here.  I need help and you're the first person who hasn’t turned into a psycho, when I made contact.'

"I like reading about the paranormal.  I guess I always thought it possible, but not probable.  How can I help?" she spoke aloud continuing to stare hard at the tablet, as if it were speaking to her.

'I am sitting beside you. I am not on the table.'

She turned her head slowly and looked at the empty chair beside her. A napkin slid across the surface and dropped on the seat.

Dylan continued talking to her, 'I can’t leave this building. Thirty-five years ago I had an office here.  When I got too close to finding the truth about a missing family, I was knocked unconscious and the building was set on fire.  All my files and paperwork were burned along with me. The building was demolished and I was in limbo for awhile.  When I came to, I was in this building they rebuilt on the same spot.  Where do you work?'

'I work upstairs in a lawyer’s office.'

'Yeah and we all know how loveable lawyers are,' he retorted.

'I like Mr. Alan Brentwood. He is a fair man and does a lot of pro bono work so I would appreciate not hearing negative remarks about him.'  She folded the pages and put the notebook back into her bag.

'Hold on, I'm sorry. Brentwood, Judge David Brentwood?  Is he still alive?'

'That is Alan’s grandfather.  His father is an attorney also, William Brentwood. The Judge is retired.'

'Hmmm.  We're on to something here. I believe my murder may have involved the Brentwood family. Does Alan have his father’s papers at his office?'

'I guess so.  His father, Mr. William, works there too.'

'Baby you have made my day. What are you doing the rest of the day?'

'Working!' She gathered her things and made her way through the crowded tables to the door, that led to the foyer of the office building.  She stopped in front of the elevators, waiting for one of them to open.

Dylan shrugged at her independent attitude but followed a few steps behind her.  He admired her curves; she wasn’t skinny like most of the women who came into the coffee shop. They looked like dressed up scarecrows. He liked his women soft and full figured; Alyssa fit that mold perfectly.  It was too bad he was a ghost and there was too little time to indulge in an affair, even if he could. When the elevator doors opened, he slid in to stand beside her.

"No more elevator operators I see." He watched her press the button that caused the doors to close.

“This is a do-it-yourself world.” she stared at the blinking numbers above the door.

In her office a small TV and what looked like a typewriter pad sat on her desk.  Dylan walked around the room, lifting things and looking in drawers.  Things were so different in this time.

"Stop it." She said out loud when the headphones on her desk floated up into the air twisting and turning.

'What's this? Funny dictation headphone.'

"You put them over your ears and listen to music or books read aloud."

"Alyssa, is that you?  Who are you talking to?"  A short balding man stepped into the doorway.

"No one, just myself, Mr. William.  I think Kathy will be in later.  Didn’t you have court today?"

"They postponed the hearing.  The judge was sick and they had to scramble to reschedule the cases on his docket."  He frowned as a pen stood up on top of a pad.  Alyssa grabbed it and moved toward William.

"Sir, I'll make some coffee and bring you a warm muffin."  She put her hand on his arm and led him away from her office.

Dylan followed.  He wanted to see where William Brentwood lurked.  Forty years ago, Dylan had been suspicious of the Brentwood family and their connection with the Mob.  He was killed before he could prove anything.  He couldn’t just open drawers and go through them while William was there.  He walked further down the hall.  In a locked room, well locked to anyone who couldn’t just walk through walls, was the file room.  A quick glance at the labels on the drawers indicated they were case files. He found the drawers were in a number order rather than a name order.  He took a quick look through a few drawers to see if there were any familiar names.  None.  In fact, most of the dates were less than seven years old.  He went back to Alyssa’s office.

'Hey.'  Dylan broke into her thoughts.

She jumped.  Her hand knocked some papers to the floor.

'Sorry. I guess I had better find some other way of beginning a conversation.'  He picked up a letter opener and tapped the metal to her coffee cup. The ting wasn’t loud but she nodded.

"That would be helpful."

"What!?  Were you talking to me?" a female voice called from the next room.

"No, Kathy.  I am just muttering to myself.  Don’t pay me any attention." To Dylan she thought, 'I am going to have to find some way to remember not to talk out loud.'

"You could just write things." He pulled the yellow pad toward her.

'Okay.  What do you want and where have you been?' she wrote.

"I found the file room and was looking for information on some of the people who were connected to the Brentwoods."

Forgetting the pad she thought, 'Why would you think there'd be a connection between the Brentwood family and any of your cases?'

'I know you aren’t going to like hearing this but Old Man Brentwood, David, had some connection to the Mob.' He held up his hand to stop her response and then realized she couldn’t see him. 'It was a known fact he ate dinner with gangsters and hung out with casino owners from Las Vegas.  He even helped them get  permission for a casino on Sophie’s Island.  If it hadn’t rained for the four days the Kingpin was here, I'm sure there'd be a casino just outside of town now.'  At her look, he asked, 'Is there one on the Island now?'

'No, but I heard that the Indians are trying to get casinos built on their land because they consider their land not under the U.S. government control.'

He tried to whistle but no sound came out.  He changed the topic, 'Where are all the old files kept?'

'What old files?'

'Older than seven years ago.'

'Kathy and I are transferring them to the computer. We're scanning all the documents. Actually we're almost finished with the project.  I've been at it for almost two years now.'

'Scanning? What’s a computer?' Dylan was confused in this new era.

She frowned and pointed to the TV on her desk and explained the magic of technology and what scanning meant. 

'Was there anything in the files about mob cases?'  Dylan asked.  'I know David Brentwood had just been appointed a judge and William Brentwood was in college. '

'True, but it’s not a crime and the fact David Brentwood may have had dinner with a member of the mob doesn’t make him a crook.'

'If you walk like a duck…'

'I know the saying.' She interrupted.

"Alyssa, I'm leaving now.  I have left some paperwork for you on my desk."  William Brentwood spoke to Alyssa before moving on down the hall.

'Great, I’ll be back.  I want to check out his office.'  Dylan moved to the door.

'You can’t do that!' she countered quickly not knowing if he was already gone.

'Why not? He won’t know. ' He didn’t wait for her response and headed to the office.

Dylan looked at the framed certificates along the wall behind the big leather desk chair.  On a sidewall were photos of William taken with political and social celebrities.  There was a photo of the Brentwood men taken in an office.  David Brentwood sat in the chair behind a desk.  Lined behind him were four men.  He recognized William Brentwood,one was William’s brother and the other two were their sons, he'd guess from the family resemblence. He moved on to the next frame.

This was a picture of a group of young men on a beach.  He looked at each one, and then checked the back of the picture.  The names of all the boys were listed. To his surprise the name Colin Stevenson jumped out at him.  Scanning the front of the picture he at last found the familiar face. Behind William and one of his frat buddies, was the pretty face of Colin.  There was the connection!  Colin had been hanging with the frat boys the summer previous to the disappearance of his family.

Back in Alyssa’s office he started to say something and remembered the signal.  He picked up the letter opener.

"What is it?" she sighed, as she saw the opener float toward the cup.

'How friendly are you with Alan Brentwood?'  He remembered the name from the gold plate on one of the office doors he passed.

"Why?" she ducked her head to hide the rising heat in her face.

'Has he ever asked you out?'  He hadn’t been going to ask that particular question but her reaction prompted this deviation from his purpose.

‘No.  He wouldn’t notice me.  I just work here and type up briefs and stuff for him and his father.'

'So you have never been to their house?'

"Whose house?"

'William and Alan Brentwood’s house.' he would have shouted if he could.

"Look Mr. P.I., William Brentwood and his wife Ginny live in the West Hills, Alan lives in a condo downtown."

'What’s a condo?'

"An apartment that you buy instead of rent."

'I need you to get into William’s house. I need you to find out if he and Colin Stevenson were friends or if Colin was friends with someone else in his group.'

"Who's Colin Stevenson?"

'The Christmas before I was killed, the Stevenson family went missing. Mother, father, and three young girls ages fourteen, twelve, and ten.  Their brother, Colin, was in the service and stationed on the east coast at the time. Later I found a connection between Colin and the local Frat Pack that included William Brentwood. On behalf of Mr. Stevenson’s sister, my client, I began asking questions about who Colin had been hanging around.  Before I could get all the boys questioned, I was snuffed.

"So you think there may be a connection between Mr. William and this Colin?"

'Go into William’s office, I’ll show you.'

In the office Dylan directed her to the picture. 'See the guy just over William’s left shoulder? That's Colin.'

"That just says he was there at the same time, not that he was a friend of Mr. Brentwood's."

"Who was my friend?" William spoke from the doorway.  He was frowning.

Alyssa’s heart pounded at his words, "I-I was just coming in to get the paperwork.  I-I was looking at your photographs.  Did your case get canceled?"

"No, I forgot one of my files."  He picked up the folder from the pile on the desk and slipped it into the leather briefcase. "Now who were you wondering about?"

"I just was trying to guess who these young men were with you in this picture."  She turned back to the photograph.

'Ask him about Colin.' Dylan prompted in her mind.  He sounded as if he were standing next to her ear.

William moved to stand by Alyssa, which was right on top of Dylan. Dylan snapped open the clasp on William’s briefcase and let it fall open, partially spilling the papers out of the case.

"Damn, look at that."  William bent and grasped the errant pages slipping them back into the case. "Now where were we?"

'Stop that!' Alyssa mentally sent the order to Dylan then continued speaking to William. "I guess this is Stanley Ferguson, the furniture magnate."  Alyssa pointed to the boy on the end.

"Yes that's old Stan. Who would have guessed he would take the small furniture store his dad owned and build it into an empire that included not just furniture stores, but appliance stores. I heard he bought a mattress factory and will be adding that to the lineup of TV ads."

'Ask him about Colin.'  Dylan prodded mor persistantly.

"Who is this standing just behind you?" Alyssa leaned closer to get a better look at the face.

"Oh, just is a young man I met that summer.  I felt sorry for him.  He wasn’t in our class, but we let him tag along with us for awhile. He joined the Air Force and we didn’t see him again."  William continued to look at the picture for a moment then turned to another frame.

"What was his name?" she inserted quietly as she moved away from the photo and picked up the papers from his inbox.  Looking at them as if the answer was of no importance she waited for William to answer.

"Colin."  William spoke curtly then strode out the door and down the hall.

'See I told you he knew Colin.'  Dylan hissed.

'That doesn’t mean he had anything to do with the disappearance of Colin’s family.' Her mind retorted.

Dylan made a rude sound. Then one of William’s shoes kept just under his desk, for emergencies, flew into the air and was slammed on the desktop.

'I get the point.' Alyssa walked away, 'Put the shoe back.'

"Did something fall?" Kathy came into the hallway.

"Yes, one of the books I was putting away fell."  Kathy nodded but gave her a frown as she went back to her desk.

Dylan removed the picture from the wall beside William’s.  Careful not to let Kathy see a floating picture, he brought it into Alyssa’s office.  On the pad she had for him, he wrote all the names listed on the back.

'What happened to all these other boys in the picture?' His voice harsh in her mind.

'Let me have that. You can’t be floating pictures around this office.'  She took the frame from him and laid it on the desk.

Dylan had placed the pad in front of her.  She looked at the names on the list and pointed to the first one.

'He's dead.'

'How?'

'He had cancer.'

'Okay that one's legit. I don’t think the mob could give someone cancer.'
 
Alyssa pointed to the next name.  'He's a senator.'

'Probably bought the votes.' Dylan retorted snidely.

She went on, ignoring his comments, 'These two brothers are also attorneys.  Stan you know about, and the last one I have never heard of.'

'That’s because he is a retired cop.'

'How do you know?'

'He comes in the coffee shop almost every afternoon.  You need to go talk to him for me.  Tell him you are writing about the missing Stevenson family and you found out that he knew Colin. Come on, he should be there by now.'

'Now? I have work to do.' she tapped on the keys, ignoring him.

'You haven’t taken a break since you got in here. Let’s go.'  Dylan persisted.

It was no use fighting him.  She snagged her cup, rinsed it out in the sink and told Kathy where she was going.

In the coffee shop she ordered a coffee. While they waited for it to be made, Dylan spotted the cop at a table in the corner, his back to the wall, reading a book.

Dylan guided Alyssa to the table, but she stopped just short of the table, 'What’s his name?'

'Grant Walters.'

"Mr. Walters?"  The man looked up at Alyssa.

"Yes."

"Are you a retired policeman?"

"Yes." his brows bunched like a furry cattipllar crawling across his lined forehead.

"May I sit down?"

He motioned to the chair across from him.  "What can I do for you?"

"You hung around some pretty prominent men when you were young." Alyssa nervously sipped her drink.

"How do you know who I hung around with when I was young?" he set the book down and leaned back in his chair.

"I…"

'Ask him if he remembers Colin.'

"Do you remember a young man that was in your group named Colin Stevenson?"

'Tell him you saw a picture of his gang and Colin was in the picture.  Don’t tell him where you saw it.'

Grant frowned at her, “Who've you been talking to?”

"I came across a picture with you and some other boys at a beach.  I knew the other men, but one of them was listed as Colin.  Was it Colin Stevenson?" she ran her finger around the rim of the cup and played with the handle.

He nodded. "Colin showed up with William Brentwood.  They met somewhere and William felt sorry for him." He stopped talking and picked up his book.

"That was it?"

"What more do you want?"  He glared at her.

'Who paid his way when you all went out?' Dylan prompted and Alyssa repeated the question to Grant.

"William."  Grant eyed her a little suspiciously. "What do you want to know all this for?"

"I might want to write a story based on Colin's missing family."

"You might want to rethink that idea if you value your life." Grant muttered.

Dylan pushed Grant’s mind and memories,  some pretty interesting stuff flitted through. There was a party with naked girls around a pool and open sex. There was a scene where Grant and the guys played Peeping Toms to one of the guys and his girlfriend having sex. The picture was cut when Alyssa asked another question.  Dylan grit his teeth in frustration.

"Would there have been any reason to connect your friends to what happened to the Stevenson family?"

"Now, why would you ask that?"  Grant’s eyes were slits.

"Any good detective would ask that." She wrote a few characters in shorthand on her pad, something she learned just for fun.

"The fall before the family disappeared, I went into the academy.  I didn’t have much to do with the gang after that, we all went our separate ways."  His eyes went back to the open book.

"So no one questioned you about your connection to the family?"

"No."

Alyssa was quiet.  Dylan knew Grant was hiding something.

'Ask him if he knew who I was.'

"Did you know a detective back then named Dylan Holter?" 

There was a pause and Dylan read Grant’s mind.  Grant ran through some faces from his memory but none matched Dylan’s.

"The name sounds familiar."

"He was asking questions about the Stevenson family and then ended up dead in a fire that burnt this building down."

"I remember now.  I didn’t know him but I did hear about his death.  I never talked to him personally."

Dylan read Grant’s memories. There was a meeting of the gang and Stan told the guys what to say if they were questioned by this Dylan guy. 

'Tell him I think someone in his gang had something to do with my murder and the missing family’s death,' Dylan continued to coach her with questions.

"What if I told you there is a thought that someone in your group had something to do with the missing Stevenson family and the murder of Dylan Holter?"

"What proof do you have?" Stan whispered as he leaned forward, folding his arms on the table.

"I notice you didn’t deny the possibility," she persisted.

"How would I know if they did or didn’t?  I wasn’t there or anywhere near." He sat back and his folded hands across his wide chest.

"Who was close to Colin besides William Brentwood?"

Dylan pushed Grant’s memory.  Grant’s thoughts were in a fast mode but stopped at a scene where six of the guys were in a boathouse of some kind and smoking pot.  The scene changed to sexual acts between the boys.  Colin nude and fully erect was egging them on to do things to him, then he spoke clearly to William, "Just pretend it’s my sister." The scene went blank as Grant shut down the memory.

"I guess we included him because he was fun and we were all about fun.  We were young boys doing what young boys did in those days.  It didn’t have anything to do with his family."

'I think it did.  Ask him if Colin ever spent time at William’s house?'  Dylan prompted.

Alyssa repeated the question to Grant.

"Colin was living with William in his apartment over the garage in back of the Brentwood family home."  Grant watched Alyssa through veiled eyes.

'Bingo!'  Dylan shouted and Alyssa jumped.

"What is wrong?" Grant asked.

"Nothing I just have a headache.  Mr. Walters thank you for your information."

"I don’t see how it helped; I didn’t tell you anything that you couldn’t have found out from anyone else."

"You gave me more than you think."

Grant leaned forward again speaking in a low voice after checking the people around him, "Missy, I will warn you not to dig too deep.  You say you think that detective was killed.  If he was digging too deep into something he shouldn’t have been and got killed, you may have the same end."

"Are you saying I could be killed?"  She was shocked, adrenaline pumped through her body and a mental picture of her sprawled by her desk with fire burning around her was imprinted from Alyssa to Dylan’s mind.

'Don’t think about that, Alyssa,' Dylan cautioned.  'It isn’t going to happen while I am here.'

She leaned closer to Grant and whispered, "Are you threatening me?"

"No, ma'am, just a warning." Grant picked up his closed his book and left the coffee shop. 

Back in her office she held out her shaking hand.

'He won’t do anything to you.' Dylan tried to reassure her.

'How do you know?  He could be calling someone right now and I could be dead on my way home.' even her mental communication was biting.

'Alyssa, there is no connection between him and Colin.  Other than some good ole’ boys pranks, he's as straight as they come.  He was just making you aware that you are asking questions about some very well connected men.'

'I hope you're right because if I'm killed I will come back and haunt your sorry spirit!'  she promised.

'I wouldn’t complain. Then we could get to the bottom of this murder.' He'd like her to hang around if they both were spirits.  Could spirits--? he grinned at the possibility.

She stuffed her notepads into her bag with force and hefted it over her shoulder. "Good night!"  She left the office with a quick word of goodbye to Kathy.

Dylan sat at the desk looking at the pad with all the names listed. He connected the first two names and then added a line from Stan to the single line that connected the first two.  Somewhere there was a connection, he just had to find it.

The outer door opened and a figure walked into the darkened office. The light from the small wall sconces illuminated the hall as the man made his way to one of the offices.

William Brentwood turned on the green bankers lamp and sat heavily in the leather chair.  He rubbed his eyes and pushed thoughts of the trial out of his mind.  He stood and went to the small bar hidden in the bookcase and poured himself a drink. 

Dylan rocked the picture on the wall causing William to turn quickly. He stared at the tilted frame and went to straighten it.

Colin, Dylan whispered into William’s mind.

William looked at the picture and walked back to the chair.

Colin, boathouse, he pushed a little harder this time.

This time William began thinking about the boathouse. The erotic pictures flashed quickly through his mind. He pushed them quickly away as his body began to respond to the memories.  Dylan pushed a little harder, adding the words pot, sex and laughter to William’s subconscious.  The scenes flew by fast. When William's mind stopped the rapid flash of memories, the scene was an apartment.  The young girl, Dylan recognized from photos he had from his case files, as Colin's sister, sat next to William; holding the drink, he had doctored.  Her eyes had a hard time focusing on him.

"Becky, how are you feeling?" He held a joint to her lips, she took a pull "swallow it." When she did as he ordered he placed it to his own lips and took a hit.

"Just fine.  I am a little tired but I'll be okay." She slurred her words, leaned back on the couch and pulled at the buttons of her sweater.

"If you are hot, you can take off your sweater.  I am just a friend of your brother’s."

"You are so nice and you are cute too."  Her inhibitions were gone.  She took off the sweater.  William smiled.

"You think so?" he leaned closer to her and slid his arm around her shoulders. She relaxed her head on his arm.  He lifted the glass to her lips and she finished the drink, grimacing at the taste.  He set the glass on the table and began to kiss her, slowly seducing her. 

The scene in William’s head ran like a porn movie, for Dylan. His anger grew, that this perv would take advantage of a young inexperienced girl and the sister to his roommate.

When the seduction was complete, William cleaned and dressed the girl who was now sleeping. Dylan read William's feelings, he almost felt bad, but she was young and a virgin, that was heady stuff.  He opened a bedroom door off the livingroom and sayw two young men lying naked on the bed.  One got up and got dressed, Dylan recognized him as Colin.  The two of them lifted the girl and took her to a car.  William watched as Colin drove down the driveway.  He turned to the young man standing inside the room behind him.  It was Stan, wearing nothing but a smile.  Dylan watched William reach to unbutton his own fly as he walked back to the apartment.

William shook his head to clear the memory.  He grabbed the leather briefcase and headed out the door as if the Hounds of Baskerville were after him.

Dylan went to Alyssa’s office and in the soft light of her desk he wrote what he had seen in William’s memory.  Dylan knew the young girl was the Stevenson girl.  He had seen enough pictures of her and knew her name was Rebecca Stevenson, and often referred to as Becky.

The next day at the coffee shop, Dylan was waiting by the door for Alyssa.  'Grant's here,' he informed her. 

'So?' she continued to face forward.

'I want you to talk to him.' Dylan pushed.

'Stop it! I don't want to do this any more. I could get in trouble and killed.' she took a step and bumped into the person in front of her. The man turned and she apologized. He smiled, "No harm." and turned away.

'I'll have to keep hanging out in your office until I find out what happened.'

Alyssa sighed. 'okay.'

'Good girl.' But Alyssa grimaced at the compliment.

She looked around the room and saw Grant sitting at a table in the corner. When she got her drink she headed to his table.

"Hello" she greeted him and sat without asking permission. "You're early today."

"Are you really writing about the missing Stevenson family?" Grant asked Alyssa without preamble.

"Yes in a way.  Why?"

"You could be putting your life in danger," he whispered.

"From whom?" she whispered back

Ask him if he knew about Stan’s affair?  Dylan interjected.  She did.

"Which one?  He had many when we were in college."

"The one he had the summer you all were at the boathouse.  Not with girls," she added in a low voice.

"How do you know about the boathouse?  Who told you what went on there?"  Grant’s face whitened a little under his tan.

"Let’s just say someone whispered it to me."

"I don’t want to talk about it. We were young and foolish and experimenting with pot.  It's something I never want to remember.  I've lived this long and I value my life.  If you know about the boathouse, then you know it all."

"I know that you all smoked pot and indulged in some pretty elicit sex that didn’t always include the opposite sex.  What I want to know is how did William’s seduction of Colin’s little sister result in their deaths?"  She whispered the last.

Grant looked shocked.  Dylan knew he wasn’t faking it.  He really had no idea that William had taken Becky’s virginity.  That little secret was kept between the three men at the apartment that night.  It narrowed the suspect list.

"I have no idea what you are talking about.  When Colin left for the service, I was at the academy.  When I heard that the Stevenson family had disappeared, I had met up with John and Michael, they were home from William Mitchell Law School.  Roger was going to the University so he was around too and the rest were out of town.  We were surprised and followed the investigation.  I heard from the local cops that William had been questioned, but there was no connection to the family other than he had befriended Colin, who wasn’t telling anything.  Colin never revealed anything about his summer with us or anything that happened.  David Brentwood must have made sure no reference of that ever was leaked to the press."

"What is the chance you could get Mr. Stan Ferguson to meet you here for coffee?"

"Why would I do that?"

"Mr. Walters, what if I told you that I talk to a ghost?"

"Like a medium?" he scoffed.

"Sort of.  It is Dylan Holter.  He can’t leave this world until he has solved the cases he was working on when he was killed."

"Is he here now?"  Grant whispered sarcastically.

"Yes, but whispering doesn’t help, he reads your mind."  Alyssa told him.

Dylan pushed the coffee cup closer to Grant.  Then took the pen from Alyssa and wrote on the pad.

Grant’s eyes were huge as he saw the pen begin to write on the pad all by itself.  He didn’t even read the words until the pad was turned and pushed his way.

"If you want to talk to Stan you will have to do it yourself.  I can’t be involved.  He has connections that I wouldn’t mess with."

'Are you saying that he has mob connections?' Dylan wrote, this time Alyssa was holding the pen not to attract unwanted attention.

"You didn’t hear that from me.  How do you think he opened all these stores?  I'd just be careful if I were you."  Grant left the shop without a backward glance.

In her office, Dylan handed her a note he wrote to send to Stan anonymously.  She posted it on her lunch hour and Dylan waited in the coffee shop every day for the rest of the week.  On Friday, Stan Ferguson walked into the coffee shop. He wore a sharp tan raincoat and a hat. No one paid any attention to him. He bought his coffee and sat at a table.  Dylan sat across from him and read his mind.

Stan's mind was full of questions:  Who had sent the letter?  When was he going to be contacted?  As the minutes ticked by, he became more impatient.  After another glance at his watch he started to get up.

'Stan you don’t have to sit here too much longer.' Dylan telepathed.

"Who said that?"  Stan said and looked around.  A woman at the next table turned to watch him.

'Don’t talk out loud.  Just think what you want to say.' Dylan returned.

"Who are you?" he was staring at the chair across from him that moved as if someone had just sat down.

'Just someone you had killed.  In this very building as a matter of fact.'

Stan’s eyes narrowed as he scanned the room. 

'You can’t see me.  No one can.'  Dylan moved the coffee cup away from Stan’s hand and around the table.  Stan stared at the cup and the empty chair.  He made a move to leave.

'I wouldn’t do that,'  Dylan spoke into his mind. 'I sent you that letter and I can send a letter to the police and the papers about your part in my death.'

"You can’t prove a thing," he muttered as he sat down again, and glared at the woman who was looking at him with a frown on her face.  "What do you want, lady?"  She raised her eyebrows and looked him up and down then went back to reading her book.

'Don’t be so sure,'  Dylan persisted, 'A letter to a local paper or TV news reporter about your proclivity to the same sex and the names of the men who torched the building, along with your connection to them might be interesting news nowadays.  Anything goes to sell papers or get people to watch the news, especially when it is about a high profile person as you.'

Stan’s hands curled into a ball.  His jaw was so tight he couldn’t speak if he'd wanted to. 'You don’t know what you are talking about.  How can you do anything? You're a ghost.'

'I have my ways. And there is nothing you can do to stop me.  I’m already dead.'  Dylan went on speaking into Stan’s mind, 'You were there the night William raped the Stevenson girl.  You had sex with her brother, then William the same night.  How many times did that happen?  The girl hadn’t started school yet.  It was still summer and that summer anything went, sex, booze and pot.  It must have happened a few times with the girl.  Was Colin pimping for you too?'

Stan’s lips looked like he had just sucked a persimmon, but he couldn’t shut down his mind. "William gave Colin money and whatever he wanted that summer as long as he brought his sister to some of the parties.  She was shy at first, but after a couple of times having all that male attention, the bitch ate it up and loved every minute of it."

'What happened to change all that?' Dylan tried unsuccessfully to keep the bite out of the question.

"William came crying to me telling me that the girl was pregnant.  Her father had called his father and William was in big trouble.  He wanted to just kill himself. He was engaged to Ginny by then and any talk of infidelity would have put an end to that. Not that he really loved Ginny; it was a political match.  I told him that I would see what I could do to fix it, but not to do anything rash."

'He was your best lover.  He would do anything you asked because you brought the dope.'  Dylan’s voice became falsely sympathetic. 'I bet it made him an even better lover.'

Stan couldn’t keep the quick flashes of hot, sweaty, sex scenes from coming to his mind. Sitting here he was no longer the tidy, clean cut man everyone saw on the TV, giving the best deals in town on appliances.  He was sweating, and pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his brow.

"Mr. Ferguson, are you okay? Would you like me to call for help?" the woman seated at the next table was moving to stand.

"Lady, do me a favor and F- Off!"  His response was so alarming; she left the shop without finishing her coffee.

'I don’t know how you sell anything with that kind of attitude. But go on with what happened to William.' Dylan let the snide accusation slide into the thoughts he sent to Stan.

Stan’s jaw tightened at the slight but he was on a roll, maybe confession was good for the soul but no one would believe a ghost. 'I mentioned it to my dad, who said he would take care of everything.  A few weeks later my dad told me to never mention our conversation, and to tell William that from then on he was to walk the straight and narrow.  The Stevenson family disappeared and William got married the following year.'

'So what you are telling me was that your father took care of the Stevenson family and when I got too close to the truth, I had to be eliminated too.'  Dylan's rapier response cut into Stan’s thoughts.

'I have no idea who you are.  I have told you all you wanted to know. Are we square?'  He didn’t wait for an answer and added, 'Not that there is anyone else that will ever know this.' He stood.

'Yeah, you can leave.'

Stan walked to the door as if he might never make it there. Dylan remained at the table until someone jerked the chair out from under him, dumping him on the floor. If it had been anyone but a young boy, he would have dumped their coffee. He left and went back up the stairs to Alyssa’s office and waited for her to come back from an errand she had to run for David Brentwood.

When she finally returned, he pulled the bag from her arm and dropped it on the floor next to her chair and took her arm.

"Hey, why are you pulling me?" she jerked her arm back to her side.

'Grant will be downstairs and I don’t want to have to repeat my conversation twice.  Come on.' she gave a weak smile to Kathy's frown, "Forgot my coffee cup."

It wasn’t but a few moments after they entered the almost empty room, that Grant showed up. He came to her and stopped. He and pointed to the chair across from her.

"No, he’s sitting next to me," her head jerked to the chair on her right.  Grant sat across from her.

"So what did you find out?" Grant asked.

“Dylan wants to tell us both at the same time. So don’t be surprised when you hear him in your mind.”

"Already did."

Dylan reached out and touched both Grant and Alyssa so they could hear him.

'I met Stan.  He was reluctant to tell me everything.'  His voice in their minds was hard and the words were short.

'Why didn’t you just read his mind?' Alyssa asked.

'I wanted him to admit it to me aloud, well not out loud but actually admit it to me, what part he played in the whole incident.'  He squeezed her hand at her interruption.

"Did he do away with the Stevenson family?" she persisted.

'Not directly, let me start with what I know and what I found out.'  Dylan rushed on. 'It seems the bored, rich, young men in our story were experimenting with sex, booze and drugs.  Stan Ferguson’s father had access, through his mob connections, to the booze and drugs. Sex was, at the time, anyone they could get to come to their elicit parties.' Grant stiffened at the words but didn't interrupt. 'When no females were available, they just did each other.  At some point in time Colin Stevenson arrived on the scene.  He was fresh meat and had a sister, who he pimped.  I'm sure the rich boys enticed the fourteen year old with gifts, promises and attention.  They drugged her or plied her with enough alcohol to make her pass out.  They had sex with her.  When she discovered she was pregnant, she had to tell her parents who she had been with.'

"The poor girl."  Alyssa shook her head.  "Grant where were you when all this was going on?"

'I’d like to say that I had nothing to do with any of it,' Grant added a little sheepishly, 'but I did attend some of the parties earlier on in the summer.  I partied with the guys when there was booze and some drugs, but I didn’t care to experiment with the homosexual acts, so they didn’t invite me over after awhile. Thank goodness. I bet Colin’s dad was furious.'

'I can imagine Becky’s father calling Judge Brentwood, with what his son had done.  I would not have wanted to be in that room when he confronted his son with the news,' Dylan added.

'Judge Brentwood was a hard man and very righteous when it came to law abiding.  I'm sure that finding out his son had been doing all this behind his back and ruining his chances of a political marriage put him over the edge.' Grant frowned, 'Did he have anything to do with the death of the Stevenson family?'

'Not directly.' Dylan continued with his story, 'It was William who went crying to Stan with what had happened.  I can only surmise what happened when Stan told his father about William’s little problem.'

Grant nodded. 'I can guess he took advantage of the situation and contacted the Judge with a little deal. It probably went something like this; ‘I'll take care of the problem and some day you'll pay me back.’  I doubt that the Judge wanted any pre-knowledge of what Ralf Ferguson was planning, even if it did solve the problem.'

'Yes, I'm sure that's what happened,' Dylan agreed, 'Stan’s father used his connections with the underworld and the Stevenson family disappeared. No clues were ever found as to why they were killed.  I ran into countless roadblocks working with the police on this story.  The day before I was killed, my client, Colin's aunt, called and told me to call off the investigation.  When I pressured her she wouldn’t give me any reason, just that it was no longer in her best interests to continue.  She said she'd have my check in the mail in a few days.'

'Does that close the case for you?' Alyssa asked.

'Yes, I have closure on this case even though the proof isn’t something I can have you take to the police and get a conviction.  I know why I was killed.'  He yawned.  It was now time for him to find a place to rest. Weariness was taking over him and the edges of his vision were dimming.

'Thanks for all you two did.  Alyssa, especially you.  I'm very tired for some reason.  I think I'll go and lie down.'  He stretched out on the leather bench behind the table and as his eyes shut, he felt at peace.


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