Nick’s heart raced, and he could feel himself tremble. If things were not strange before, they were now strange beyond comprehension. The suicide message was clear. Whoever wrote the message wanted Nick to end his life.
This did not sound like the Lisal he knew, and if it were, why would she pretend she was dead? Unless… Nick swallowed hard, unless she was dead and…no, this could not be a ghost. Although Nick was a believer in the supernatural, he never experienced something so intense. He had experienced the power of magick in covens he was involved with, but he had never seen a ghost. Someone must of broke in, he thought to himself. Yet the image he saw the night before looked like Lisal. Even though he didn’t exactly get a good look, he would recognize his wife. He phoned the police station looking for officer Derek. Derek was not on duty. He tried Derek’s cell phone and got hold of him.
Derek drove over, and Nick caught him up on what was going on. Then he told Nick about the incident with Allisa and David, even though he was supposed to keep quiet about it. Once again, Derek was blurting out information that should have been kept silent.
“Allisa and Dave?” Nick said in shock. “What would anyone want with them?”
“I’m as clueless as you. The police don’t think there is any connection between this and Lisal’s disappearance, but I sense there is some connection. I don’t know why, but I do.”
Nick had to agree with Derek. It could not be a coincidence. This thought struck him hard though. If whoever was after Allisa and David was attempting to murder them, then what could they have done to Lisal? Nick was losing hope fast.
“This keeps getting weirder by the minute,” Derek stated while shaking his head in disbelief, “I say you should hire a private investigator.”
“I don’t know if I have enough money to pay for one.”
“Don’t worry, I know a guy that is very good and will work with you, even if you make payments of $20 a week.
Nick was thoughtful for a minute. “Perhaps. I need all the help I can get. Where do I find this guy?”
“I’ll give you his number. I will warn you, he is an oddball; perhaps a little eccentric at times, but he is the best around here. The man knows his stuff.” Derek stated.
“All righty, thank you officer.”
“You know me well enough to call me Derek.”
“Thank you Derek.”
“You’re welcome. I’d call him immediately.”
* * *
Nick did as was suggested and called the private investigator. His name was Doug Roudie.
Expecting a secretary, Nick was surprised when Doug himself answered the phone. “HELLO!” He said so loud that Nick had to pull the receiver away from his ear.
While holding the phone five inches away, he began to schedule a time to meet with Doug and ended up having to get ready immediately to go meet with him. For this, Nick was grateful; the quicker Lisal was found the better.
A morning mist hung in the air with the lingering scent of fresh dew. The sun was out, quickly warming up the air. Nick watched as a young kid rode his bike down the sidewalk, hit a bump, and went tumbling. The little guy didn’t seem phased, as he hopped back on the bike and took off.
Derek followed him over, so he could try to fill in the missing gaps. Doug lived in front of a calm river that flowed gently out back. Some maple trees nicely shaded his fading yellow house. Nick felt a trace of envy at Doug’s good-sized yard. Although the neighbors were a stone’s throw away, there was a comfortable distance between the houses.
A hint of nervousness entered Nick. He wanted this to go well, and hoped he could trust Derek’s recommendation. He was jarred out of his thoughts with the sudden bark of the neighbor’s dog. It was a friendly bark, but loud.
Doug answered the door and beckoned them in. The house gave off the pleasant smell of bacon and eggs, causing Nick’s stomach to growl. He quickly regretted not having breakfast. Doug called them into a back room, which he called his “office.”
Doug was a tall man with his dark hair slicked back and a mustache that was thin and pointed, giving Nick the impression that he was not one to waste time when given a task. Doug was quieter in person. He was not well dressed according to most people’s standard. He wore a light brown turtleneck sweater, which looked as if it was found on the bedroom floor that morning. His pants were tan corduroys that were extremely faded. His dark eyes analyzed every move Nick made, only increasing Nick’s anxiety.
As he sat down, he put his feet on the desk, and dried mud fell off his boots. His desk was a complete mess, with papers thrown everywhere. There were at least six coffee cups on top of a filing cabinet. Nick wasn’t sure whether to view him as very unorganized to the point where he couldn’t do his job, or to be really good at his job and that’s how he’s still in business, even though he was a slob. Hopefully hiring this eccentric strange man for a private investigator would pay off in the end.
After Derek and Doug exchanged some friendly words, Nick delved into his story. Doug was able to pull everything out of him, including the dreams. This made Nick think differently about Doug; he certainly knew what he was doing.
When Nick was finished, Doug appeared thoughtful, which reminded Nick of what it was like to talk to a psychologist. Then randomly he looks at Derek and asks, “Have you read ‘Save a drowning baby’ by Dwaine A. Poole?”
“Still the same ol’ Doug, always cracking nonsense yet smart as a whip.” Derek said chuckling. Nick was a little confused. He had never heard of that author or book title, so he assumed it was an inside joke of some sort.
Doug suddenly put on a serious face and replied, “You will have to learn, Derek, some things never change.” They both cracked up laughing like old buddies.
“So Doug, when will you come visit our church?” Derek quickly slipped in.
“Derek, Derek, Derek…you know how I feel about the whole church thing.”
“Yeah, but you might like Pastor James.”
“I have already spoken to him.” Doug paused to take a breath. “First of all, he puts too much trust into those cons called ‘TV Evangelists.’”
“How in the world do you know they are cons?” asked Derek.
“Come on man, I’m a private investigator, you don’t think I investigate these things for personal reasons? I’ve been to churches where a sick lady comes in and tells the greeter her problem. Then in the middle of the sermon, the pastor “prophecies” that there is a certain lady within the audience with the type of sickness that the lady has. Everyone is amazed. Come to find out, the preacher used an earpiece to communicate with the greeter. People end up getting scammed out of their money, then become discouraged when their own sicknesses aren’t healed. They end up walking away from their faith and get all bitter over it.”
“Or…how about the good ol’ wheelchair trick?” Doug continued on, “where they ask people in wheelchairs if they can stand or walk before the service, and the ones that can get out of their wheelchairs are the ones called to the front. The minister will let them get out of their wheelchair, and it will appear to the audience that they are on their way to healing. It’s all a scam.”
“You’ll always be a rebel.” Derek stated.
“Hey man, it’s not like I try. I’m a private investigator, I search for the truth in everything.”
Doug changed the subject, “Enough church talk if I’m going to get busy on this case.”
They all said their goodbyes and left. That’s when Nick finally understood the book joke Doug told.
* * *
The day didn’t have too much action, that is, not until Nick arrived home. He pulled out the wine and decided to watch a video of his daughter, Natalie’s 8th birthday. Reminiscing over his wife started to become an obsession, along with alcohol. Nick could feel the emotional pain wreck through his body. It felt like he was dying inside, and the only thing he could do to ease the pain was to drink. He couldn’t sleep without the wine. Before, he only used it for health benefits. However, since Lisal went missing, he would be drowning in it by the time he went to bed.
It was a full moon this night, and he knew that it would be a good time to call upon the power of the Goddess. Yet his mind was so caught up in stress, he didn’t think he could properly concentrate. Doing any kind of ritual or meditation required a good deal of concentration and focus. One thing Nick wished was that he’d be better at focusing on things.
The video brought tears to his eyes since his wife was in most of it. Watching her play with the kids wretched his heart. The video was filmed at a nearby playground where they were holding an outdoor barbeque. Natalie had a few friends over from school and was opening her birthday gifts. She opened up a gift, which ended up being a small pink portable CD player. Nick remembered shopping with Lisal when she picked that out. They were both in playful moods for being adults and were hiding on each other in the store. As Lisal was hiding, she noticed a small stereo, which she believed Natalie would love. When Nick found her, they bought it. Lisal was right; Natalie adored her new little stereo. In the video she hugged her mother and ran over to Nick, who had to put down the camera to give a hug. He longed for Lisal like never before. In fact, he could smell her perfume almost as if she were actually in the same room with him.
He was so engrossed in the video, that he didn’t realize the drop in temperature until he could see his own breath. He almost jumped out of his skin when he realized the drastic change. Without warning the TV became white noise, and terror ran through Nick, causing an almost uncontrollable shake. His adrenaline rush was so intense, that he no longer felt the effects from the glass of wine he drank.
The lights began to flicker from dim to bright, and there she stood. Lisal, as beautiful as ever, however, there was a difference. Nick could still see the window behind her, even though she was standing in front of it. The idea of his wife being an apparition only increased the fear that was ripping apart his mind.
“Nick my love, as you probably know, I’m dead.” Her voice didn’t sound as if it was coming directly from her. It sounded like she spoke directly to his mind. Nick was lost for words, and she continued on.
“There is a better place for you and me to be. We can escape this place and be together forever.”
“W…What d…d…do you, m…mean?” Nick stumbled out.
“I mean, if you were to pass on from this life to the next, we’ll be together. However, time is short.” Lisal was smooth with her words…more smooth than usual.
Nick finally was able to gain control over his voice, yet it was filled with nervousness. “What do you mean time is short? We’ll be together when I die anyway.” It was then that Nick remembered the message on the mirror.
“I cannot wait for you much longer Nick. I’m only given a short time here, then I must go. Once I go, unless you do what you must, we’ll never see each other again.” Lisal stated in such a matter-of-fact tone that chills ran up Nick’s spine.
“How much time do you have?”
“Around a week, please hurry and make your decision. I will be saddened if you don’t come.” She begged.
Nick felt torn, “What about the kids?”
“The Lord will take care of them, you need to put your trust in him and come with me.”
Something did not set right with Nick. He couldn’t believe that his own wife would press him to suicide. She had always stood against suicide, saying that it was up to God when a person goes, and that no one should be taking God’s place. Plus, her way of wording things was quite foreign to the Lisal he was used to. She wasn’t like most of her church friends telling people to simply trust in the Lord. She was more in depth, and would help people in their situation instead of using that as a cop out.
“Isn’t it against God to commit suicide?” He challenged her.
“The God I believed in before I was here claimed to be against suicide. However, I didn’t realize who the true God was. This God allows suicide so lovers can be together. I’m sorry I spent all those years misleading you, as I was also misled. Think of Romeo and Juliet. Do you really think a couple in that type of scenario would go to hell?”
Nick was speechless. While Nick believed in ghosts, he never expected to encounter such an experience, let alone, his own wife. He didn’t believe in hell, so of course he didn’t think anyone was going there.
Just as he turned his head and looked back, she vanished. Nick was lost at what to do. There was no way that he was going to leave his kids behind. He loved Lisal, but at the same time, he wasn’t sure if her ‘ghost’ was honest. In fact, if it was Lisal, she sure wasn’t acting herself. Even her gestures and voice tone seemed a little different.
Nick was extremely confused. Did she really die? Was a question that nagged at him constantly. Nick was determined to figure out the whereabouts of his wife; suicide wasn’t an option. According to the ghost, he had a week to think anyway.
He had only drank one glass of wine when the ghost appeared, so the apparition couldn’t have been from the effects of alcohol. His nerves were bad now, and he was going to continue to drink. He drank wine like a healthy person drinks water. It took a few for the buzz to kick in, but when it came, it felt so good. He finally passed out on the couch. It was early in the morning, and the dreams came again.