Broommates: Dead Again

Part 19 of the serial Broommates.Β Start from the beginning orΒ read the previous episode or click the β€œBroommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

* * * * *

“If you ask me whether we’re almost there yet one more time,” Miranda told Parker through gritted teeth, “I swear I’ll stick your voice in my pocket.”

Parker shifted his legs, which ached from the long ride. The back seat of Miranda’s car wasn’t made for someone his size, and his rear end had begun to complain a few minutes before he had. “You couldn’t pull a spell like that while driving,” he muttered.

As if being cramped wasn’t bad enough, he’d been stuck next to Kitty the whole time. Since the debacle with his now very likely ex-girlfriend, she had avoided him and he’d returned the favor. But as the smallest of the group, it made sense to put her in the middle of the back seat, between Parker and the even more enormous Beatrice. While the latter had slipped into some kind of meditative trance within minutes of leaving the house, everyone else endured an uncomfortable silence broken by occasional bursts of news radio.

Anthony twisted around in his seat to look at Parker. “We passed a sign ten minutes ago that said it would be thirty more miles. So we should be there in twenty minutes or so.”

Tapping his fingers on his knee, Parker stared out the window. Gently rolling green hills stared back along with the occasional herd of cows or horses. Thick swaths of kudzu draped every object that didn’t move, from trees to bushes to what were presumably fences underneath the leafy blankets, but might have been some especially lazy cows.

An old church passed into view, its walls whitewashed but faded like a sock after too much bleaching. Parker saw the big bell in the campanile swing back and forth and even fancied that he heard it ring for a moment. At their speed, it could only have been his imagination. People stepped inside, all of them dressed in dark clothes, including the ones who lifted a large wooden casket from the back of a waiting hearse.

He felt like he should do something, say a prayer or cross himself maybe, but Parker had never been one for religious spectacle. Instead, he closed his eyes and tried not to think about Kitty’s thigh pressed against his.

* * * * *
They parked in the lot behind a diner like something out of a movie. Truckers sat inside making slow work of greasy food and a constant stream of coffee. Young waitresses leaned forward to flash bare skin while older ones leaned back against the counter to rest their feet.

“I’m starving,” Parker announced. “You can all tool around in the Mystery Machine while I give my stomach some much-needed exercise.”

Miranda glanced at the doe-eyed waitress serving pie and smirked. “Just make sure you don’t eat with your eyes,” she said. “Anthony, you and Beatrice try the post office.”

Anthony gave a mock salute. “Yes, captain. We’ll see if we can’t get my poor old uncle’s address right, for my mum’s sake.”

“Could you be a worse liar?” Miranda asked. “Maybe you should wait until Parker finishes stuffing his face and let him try it.”

Anthony shook his head and stalked off, Beatrice following like a giant blond shadow.

“Right then, Kitty.” Miranda laid a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Are you sure you’re up to this?”

Kitty smiled. “It’s okay. This stuff is easy. Like riding a bike!”

You can get killed riding a bike, Miranda thought. “Good. Let’s go listen to some gossip.”

* * * * *
They reconvened at the diner an hour later.

“You’re not going to believe this,” Anthony said.

“Grant’s dead,” Parker interjected, casually scratching his nose. “I told the waitress I was in town to see him and she was very… sympathetic.”

Anthony pursed his lips. “Well then, Sherlock, did you happen to find out where they’re holding the funeral?”

“Kitty thinks it’s at a church about twenty miles back where we came from,” Miranda said. “The ghosts are flocking in that direction. She felt some movement earlier but didn’t know they were related.”

“Let’s get going, then,” Parker said. “Don’t want to miss the party.”

Frowning, Anthony trudged back to the car. “Next time, I’m staying in the diner and eating apple pie.”

“Blueberry, actually.”

* * * * *
The organist at the church was very sorry that they’d missed the service, but gave them excellent directions to the cemetery where the late John Preston Grant was to be buried. Within minutes they had parked on the outskirts of the old but tidy grounds, wary of moving too close to the funeral party for fear of attracting attention.

“Big crowd,” Miranda murmured. “I suppose he was well liked.”

Parker shook his head. “The waitress said he had a huge family. Loads of brothers and sisters, kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews… great big rutting band of breeders as far as the eye can see.”

“Thank you for that spectacular image.” Miranda pulled a pair of binoculars from her purse and trained them on the crowd. “Looks funerary enough. People crying, kids fidgeting, priest reading something out of a book.”

“So that’s it?” Parker asked. “Case closed, we’re in the clear, all’s well that ends with that bastard in the great beyond?”

“If you buy that,” Anthony said, “I’ve got a bridge to sell you.”

Miranda looked at Kitty. “Any ghostly rumors knocking around?”

The woman’s face was pale. “They’re so quiet,” Kitty whispered. “Watching. Waiting. Like they’re afraid he can hear them. And there are others…” She closed her eyes and a tear escaped. “He killed so many of them. But he had help. He still does.”

“Who?” Anthony asked. “His family?”

“Some of them, I think. And some… some of the dead. It’s terrible.” Another tear. “They’re… laughing.”

“That settles it,” Miranda said. “We wait for the party to break up, and later tonight, we pay our respects. With a shovel.”

* * * * *

Part 20: Grant’s Tomb

Tags: , ,

10 Responses to “Broommates: Dead Again”

  1. Laura Eno says:

    Great episode! Kitty’s comments at the end were chilling.

  2. Gracie says:

    Yikes, Grant is proving to be an evil so-and-so. Great episode, and the imagery is excellent.

    Nice one!

  3. Joanie says:

    First off, I love the opening dialogue! Really great way to start. I haven’t checked in for a while, but I don’t feel lost at all. It’s really easy to pick back up into it. πŸ™‚ The whole idea of the ghosts gathering for the funeral too is awesome. It’s not something you see very often, but it makes perfect sense, of course they would gather there! The mood throughout is well-done. I could totally see and smell the diner in my mind.

  4. Wow, what a chilling end. The imagery in this is so strong I almost felt the wet, cold rain and damp air. My legs cramped with poor Parker’s too. Another fantastic installment.

    I sure hope you’ll compile this into a full-blown novel. What fun. And have I told you the title rocks? Have I?

  5. Dad says:

    Something wicked this way comes….

  6. ganymeder says:

    Great installment!

  7. Valerie says:

    Thanks, everyone. Grant is a pretty nasty dude, indeed. Glad you liked the ghosts, Joanie; I like to think they’re naturally nosy creatures but in this case, they’ve got an extra edge. Still not sure if this will be a novel or maybe just a collection, maybe a script someday, but I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I actually struggled with the title for this one but it seemed appropriate. πŸ™‚

  8. Xanto says:

    I don’t buy Grant’s death for a minute. He’s up to something. Now I get to play the waiting game. I’m all caught up.

  9. Valerie says:

    Xanto, you’re a champ for breezing through all of these. I’m so glad you liked them, and thank you for all the comments. New episode should be up on Tuesday.

  10. Lena S. says:

    Miranda has the best threats; I’d defiantly shut up if she threatened to put my voice in her pocket. I’ll be back Tuesday for the next installment!

Leave a Reply