All around was laughter and music, the brightest white light imaginable filled the whole place. Everyone was reunited with their loved ones. Caroline stood at the gate entrance greeting each new comer as they entered.
In the distance was a familiar sound, one she was all too familiar with. It was the sound of a child crying in misery and pain. Looking to her left, hidden in the shadows, she saw a young boy of perhaps seven years old.
“Come in, you’re welcome here!” Caroline called out.
“I can’t until my Dad is with me. I want us both to do it together. I found his body but it is missing something. It’s empty; there is no life at all in it. It’s nothing but a shell replied the boy.
“How did your Dad die?”
“We were killed when some men broke into our home. I didn’t see what happened because I died first. When I awoke, I was here,” said the boy.
Caroline sighed, “I can’t come to you because I am the gate greeter. I have to stay close by to greet incoming souls. Perhaps a friend of mine who helped me can help you. Their names are Kelly and Kansas Edmond. They live in Georgia. I attached myself to an old dresser they bought and they rescued me. Maybe they can rescue what your Dad is missing,” declared Caroline.
“Can I attach myself to that dresser?” asked the boy.
“I don’t think it works that way, I think it must be something in your life that you attach to. Do you have anything small that was special to you?” asked Caroline.
Digging through his pockets he pulled out his wallet. Inside was a picture of him and his Dad. Holding it up, he said, “Will this do?”
“That will work; you are now claiming it and attaching yourself to it.“Toss it to me and when you see the light that will shine behind you, go to it. They will be waiting for you. Don’t be afraid, they are kind people and very nice,” Caroline said.
The boy threw the wallet as hard as he could and it landed at Caroline’s feet. Picking it up, she waved goodbye to the boy and disappeared into the light.
“Nopie, come here!” shouted Caroline as she looked in every direction for him. Out of the shadows a small childish looking creature appeared.
“Ah, there you are. I have an errand I need you to run. I need you to run this to Kelly Edmonds,” said Caroline.
Nopie sighed, “What is with you angels today? Every angel up here must have errands to run!”
“Nopie, why are you an errand boy?”
A sneered crossed Nopie’s face, which made his pointed ears look even longer. “Because I was neither bad enough to go to hell nor was I good enough to get into heaven. The scales of justice were balanced between good and bad. You know Nopie is not my real name. It simply stands for No open place in eternity. I don’t fit in anywhere. Perhaps if I do more good than bad I’ll l get in one day. You should be proud to have met me. You know Nopies only come along on a rare occasion.”
“Now that we have that out of the way, take this wallet to Kelly Edmonds. When you get back, I’ll have you a little treat if you behave yourself,” promised Caroline.
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a bit pushy little gal? Oh yeah, you do know I can’t go inside the house without an invitation. So where am I supposed to leave this?” asked Nopie.
“Put it in the mailbox along with this begonia flower. Then right back here, no fooling around!”
“Yes, nice lady,” Nopie said with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.
It was all Nopie could do to stay away from the bar on his way to deliver Caroline’s package. The neon lights called him, but with each step closer he could hear Caroline in his head, “No Fooling Around!” That wasn’t the only deterrent, he wasn’t allowed in unless invited. No one was going to invite someone they couldn’t see.
Nopie grumbled to himself as he shoved the wallet and flowers in the mailbox and returned to eternity. “Oh mighty nice woman, I have done as you asked. So where is my treat?”
Patting Nopie on the head, she handed him a lollipop. Nopie raised his brows, this is it? I was thinking more of a nice cold …..”
“What? I was going to say ice tea!”
“Of course you were, scoot now. I’m sure there are other angels who could use your talents.”
Kelly pulled on her hat to shield her from the downpour of rain as she walked to the mailbox. Reaching in, she pulled out the wallet and flowers, along with the mail. Shaking her head, she sighed and whispered Caroline’s name. Kelly ran to the house and tossed the mail on the table. Removing her drenched hat she took the flower and sniffed it. It brought back good and bad memories, more good than bad however. There had remained a soft spot in her heart for Caroline. Laying the flower down, she reached for the wallet. It was a kid sized wallet made of leather with the imprint of a horse on the front and back. Opening it, something rolled out and beneath the couch. Peering under the couch, she pulled out a plastic coin made to look like money. Returning to investigate the wallet she saw a picture of a man and boy. The back of the picture had a label. Apparently it had been written by an adult. It was written in cursive and had an address and name. It read “Codas Jack Garlin, 727 Row street, Calhoun Georgia.”
Kelly rushed to her computer to see what she could find on the child. It was only seconds till she had the newspaper article. It read, “Last night, a father and son were murdered in their home. The reason for the murder is unknown as there were no signs of anything being taken. The body of the father was mutilated. The child seems to have died from an overdose of insulin. At the present time no suspects have been mentioned.”
“Well that told me a lot!” Kelly said aloud in frustration. Digging through her pocket, she found her cell phone and dialed Kansas.
“Kansas, are you setting down,” asked Kelly.
“Should I be?”
You might want to when I tell you this. Caroline is back and this time she isn’t the one in need of help. Apparently she is trying to help someone else. I found a wallet of a dead child and flowers in my mailbox. Can you come over for a bit?
“I’ll be over in fifteen, try not to touch the wallet no more than you have to. Wouldn’t want your prints to mess up any that might be on it,” replied Kansas.
Kelly stood at the door, sniffing the flower. Kansas shook his head as he approached. Kelly smiled and handed the flower to Kansas as he followed her inside.
“So what do you think she wants us to do?” asked Kansas.
“She has found someone she thinks we can help. I have no idea what this is about. I read that this child and his father were murdered, but there were no follow ups on the case. I think we should contact Officer Glass and let him take it from here. The last thing we need is another little ghost around here,” stated Kelly.
“I think it may be a little late for that Kelly,” said Kansas as he pointed to the computer screen. Help me please, slowly spelled out across the screen.
“I guess we can give it a try, you never know what can happen. Do you want to call Officer Glass?” asked Kelly.
I think we should just drive down and see him in person. It doesn’t look good that we have suddenly found the property of a murdered child,” replied Kansas.
Kelly and Kansas sat quietly as they both pondered the situation. As if they knew each other’s thoughts, they both said, “Just how do we explain this being in the mailbox?”
“I don’t think anyone is going to believe us if we tell them that Caroline sent it. Maybe we should say that some desperate person read about us and sent it,” declared Kansas.
“Good point, let’s use that excuse. Did you eat dinner yet?” asked Kelly.
Kansas began to laugh, “I think you have a tapeworm the size of New Jersey. How often do you feed that thing?”
“He is a demanding little cuss; roughly he requires feeding every two or three hours. I’m pushing it with him; it’s already been four hours since he ate!” Kelly replied with a grin.
Officer Glass wasn’t hard to spot. His shiny bald head glistened beneath the florescent lights. His rosy red cheeks and flat nose were unmistakable. He was stuffed in his suit; it wouldn’t have hurt to have been one size larger.
Kelly and Kansas seated themselves in front of him and slid the bag that held the wallet across the desk. Officer Glass lifted it from his desk and glanced over it.
“What do we have here, another mystery?” Officer Glass asked.
Clearing his throat and running his fingers through his pitch black hair, Kansas spoke up. “You could say that, Kelly found this in her mailbox today. It may belong to a child and his father who was murdered.
Officer Glass smiled and shook his head. “You know, you two seem to have a knack for mysteries appearing at your door. Any ideas as to why someone would bring this to you instead of the cops?”
“Not really, I guess the news about us helping find Caroline Reed got around. This case is several years old so maybe the family was hoping we could shed some light on it,” replied Kelly.
“I’ll do some checking to see if the murder was ever solved. I assume your contact information is the same as it was a year ago?”
Kansas and Kelly shook their heads yes and departed the building. A look of uncertainty crossed Kelly’s face as she slid into the passenger’s side of the truck. Kansas just looked at her in a puzzled manner.
“Nothing,” Kelly replied.
“Don’t go there, you know how creepy it makes me feel! You were just a little girl and had an imagination that wouldn’t quit. There is, nor ever was anything weird about you Kelly.
“Kansas you know as well as I do that strange things happened to me as a child! Remember when I told mom that old house we bought had money hidden in it, in coins, not cash. What did she find? What about seeing people die beforehand and trying to warn them? Like it or not, I’m not normal if there is such a thing.”
“I’m perfectly normal, and I refuse to believe we’re any different than anyone else. We’re just normal everyday folks!” declared Kansas.
“Now who is kidding themselves? Have you forgotten the night you were in trouble for picking on me and mom put you on the porch in the dark? We all heard you talking to someone. When mom tried to get you to come inside you said you were talking to Grandma. You didn’t want to come in. She had to drag you inside. Grandma had been dead since you were nine,” stated Kelly.
Kansas cranked the truck and headed to the pizza joint where Kelly once worked. Plopping down in a booth, Kelly looked around. Things had changed so much since the new owner had taken over. The only familiar thing in the place was Amy, an employee.
“Well, bless my heart; I see this good looking hunk of a brother of yours is still hanging out with you. Oh, what those bright blue eyes do to my little heart. Ok, enough teasing, how’ve you been?” asked Amy.
“We’re doing great; I have a new apartment and had enough insurance to replace what I lost in the fire. I’m working as the school librarian at the college on a part time basis. Handsome here is till with the fire department, how about you,” asked Kelly.
Amy shrugged her shoulders and whispered, “I don’t care much for my new boss. He’s not very personable. Speaking of the devil, here he comes. So, what can I get you two today?”
“I think I want the spaghetti and garlic bread. I want a soda, a great big one,” said Kelly.
“How about you Kansas,” asked Amy?
“I’ll take the same thing. They say garlic keeps the spirits away,” he said jokingly.
“That only works on vampires Kansas!” replied Amy.
Kansas pulled into Kelly’s driveway, there was a police car waiting. As they pulled up a police officer climbed out of the car. He looked to be no more than twenty with a few freckles across his face. His carrot colored hair made his pale skin stand out; in his hand was a paper. Kansas and Kelly approached him.
“Can I help you,” asked Kelly?
“Captain Osborn needs to speak with you. He sent this letter to you,” said the Officer.
Taking the letter Kelly read it, then handed it to Kansas to read. “I don’t mind meeting with Captain Osborn. I’d rather we drive ourselves,” said Kelly.
“That would be fine, you can follow me,” replied the Officer.
Kansas and Kelly climbed back into the truck and followed the Officer. “Does this make any sense to you? Officer Glass has turned this over to Captain Osborn,” Kansas said.
“Maybe they need an official statement. The letter just said there were details that we might be interested in. I don’t know why he would think we need to know the details. It’s his case, not ours!” stated Kelly.
“He may think we were involved in it somehow. You have to admit we are now on our second murder mystery out of the blue. I can’t blame him for being suspicious,” replied Kansas.
After parking their truck, the Officer escorted them to Captain Osborn’s office. He was a distinguished looking man in his fifties. Salt and pepper hair and mustache. He looked to be physically fit and time had been kind to him. Not a wrinkle in sight. His suit shouted tailor made along with his expensive shoes. On his wrist was a dazzling watch. His tie tack and cufflinks were shiny and gold.
“Please be seated, I have a few questions I need to ask. Why do you think that this wallet was left in your mailbox?” Captain Osborn asked.
“We’ve been wondering that ourselves. All that we can think of is someone is hoping we can help solve this murder. We don’t know this child or his father. Other than what little I found on the computer, we don’t know anything about them!” said Kelly.
“I assure you that this case was gone over with a fine tooth comb. Everyone involved was checked out. Every piece of evidence was thoroughly screened for clues. There are just some cases that can’t be solved. I hate to admit that. Sometimes we come to a standstill on a case. The murderer left nothing to give us any idea as to who they were. I brought you here to make you understand that there is no reason to waste your time!” assured Captain Osborn.
“What makes you think that we were going to check into these ourselves,” asked Kansas?
Captain Osborn chuckled, “I heard about how you unraveled the mystery of Caroline Reed. I know it’s tempting to help others. occasionally we are just spinning our wheels and justice never comes.”
“So you’re telling us that this case isn’t worth another look into?” said Kelly.
“I’m telling you that I don’t have the budget or the manpower to let go of. This case is old and there are no new leads.”
“What if we could find some new evidence, would you look into it then?” Kelly asked.
“I assure you, you won’t!”
“Would you like to bet on that? Say a nice hot steak dinner to the winner?” said Kelly.
Captain Osborn began to laugh out loud. “I can see that you’re feisty. I can also see you like to feed others. Fine, I’ll give you the report to look over but it can’t leave my office. Let’s say two weeks max and if you haven’t found new evidence, you feed me. You best start saving your pennies, I am a big eater!”
Pushing the file toward Kelly, Captain Osborn sniggered and left the room.
“Girl, you are going to push too hard one of these days and get us in deep water!” said Kansas.
“Probably, grab a pencil and paper and start making notes. I’ll take one page while you work on another.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to just take pictures with our phones?” questioned Kansas.
“Why didn’t I think of that?”
“You were too busy pushing Captain Osborn’s buttons to the max!”
It wasn’t easy to look at the murder scene photos. Blood splattered everywhere and the remains of a savage attack on the father were disgusting. Codas lay limp beside his Dad, but there appeared to be no blood on him. Once all the pictures of the evidence were taken, Kelly and Kansas departed.
Home sweet home was a welcome sight. It had been a long day. Kansas flopped down on the sofa while Kell quickly removed her sd card from her phone. Kelly’s computer lit up with the pictures from her card.
“It says here that the boy had Asperger syndrome. He was also diabetic. The murderer took his father’s heart. Why would anyone do that?”questioned Kelly
“I don’t know. What does the autopsy report say?” Kansas asked.
Flipping through the pictures, Kelly found the one she needed. “It says the boy had a fatal dose of insulin and the father had a drug called Atracurium Besylate. I have no idea what that is.”
“I know what it is; it’s what they use to put people to sleep before surgery. It relaxes the body and kills pain. Kelly whoever did this had to have some medical knowledge. If it was just a random killing, what are the chances that the killer would have medical training? For that matter, that drug isn’t something you can just walk into a store and buy!”
“It says here that the ex-wife was brought in for questioning. Maybe we can talk to her and see if she has any ideas on what happened. She is located here in Calhoun. I’ll see if I can find an address on my phone. What did we do before the internet and all the electronics?” said Kelly.
“Personally, I liked it better before all this fancy stuff. Electronics and I don’t get along very well at all. That’s why I don’t have a computer!” Kansas replied with a sneer.
“I found it, Shelly Garlin, 102 Breakford road. It’s about four miles up the road and on the right.”
Turning onto the road, there were rows of houses that all looked alike. Simple brick apartments and from the way the neighborhood looked, it was low income housing. Kelly and Kansas drove slowly till they found the right apartment.
Kelly knocked softly on the door. Kansas waited patiently and after a few moments he knocked a bit harder. The door opened and there stood a woman who appeared old for her age. The report said she was in her late twenties but she looked every bit of forty. She was boney and pale with red hair that was cut like a boy.
“Can I help you?” Shelly asked.
“Hi, my name is Kelly and this is my brother Kansas. We are looking for Shelly Garlin.”
“I’m Shelly, What can I help you with?”
“We’re trying to find out about your son and ex-husband’s murder. I know it’s a painful memory and I wouldn’t ask if I had another way,” Kelly said softly.
Shelly nodded her head and invited them in. The room was sparsely decorated. A collection of prescription bottles covered an end table. Beside the recliner was an oxygen tank with a mask dangling from it. Shelly seated herself in the recliner and Kansas and Kelly took a seat on the faded green couch.
“As you can see, my life is a mess. I’ve done so many things I regret, mostly not being there for Codas when he needed me. I was so strung out on drugs and alcohol that I couldn’t take care of myself. My priorities were so screwed up at that time. Now I live off of this oxygen tank and those pills. I have wasted my life and broken down my body. I know it’s not an excuse, but it is what it is.”
“Shelly do you know anyone who would want to hurt your ex or your son?” asked Kelly.
“No, he was a good father and a good provider. He was laid back and easy going. He was always there for Codas. Codas was his life, literally. He was so careful with the child.
“What about life insurance, do you know if he had any?” inquired Kansas?
“Yeah, he had some, but his crooked lawyer was the beneficiary of it. He demanded that Jack take out a policy. Just in case he died before he got his bill paid off,” stated Shelly.
“Wow, I never heard of anyone doing that before! Do you remember the name of the lawyer?” Kelly asked.
“It was Chandler Wallace, he has this fancy law firm up town. He and his son are both in the same building. It was the old man Wallace that was Jack’s lawyer. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to lie down,” Shelly said as she rose from the recliner and headed toward the bedroom.
“Thank you for your help Shelly. If we find out anything we’ll let you know if you would like us to.” Kelly replied.
“Thank you, I would like to know, I wasn’t much of a mom, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t care.”