I was born in New Orleans. To me, the supernatural is entirely normal. I have been known to attend Mass in the morning and make a mojo bag for luck at the casino in the afternoon. As I have written in past blogs, I ghost hunt for a hobby. I have been in more cemeteries than a country undertaker – except I go at night – usually. However the longer I ghost hunted the more I discovered that the time of day really had no bearing on what I could capture through the camera lens. It was in broad open daylight when I caught a full body apparition at the battlefield at Vicksburg, MS.
One of my favorite places to go spelunking for spirits is the grand old plantations of Louisiana and Mississippi. In Burning Love and its sequel, Forget Me Never, I have included a few tales of the paranormal hauntings in these houses that have stood since pre-civil war days.
I was privileged to stay at the Myrtles plantation in St. Francisville Louisiana. The Myrtles is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in the country. The spirit of a mulatto servant who was killed by the other slaves for poisoning the lady of the house and her children by baking a cake laced with oleander leaves is the main spirit in residence. The slave woman had been a trusted servant but was caught eavesdropping. She had her ear cut off for her sin and had been banished to the field where before she had been a house slave, considerably easier work. To get back in good graces, she intended to make the family sick and then nurse them back to health. But her plan backfired when she used a bit too much oleander and they all died.
Over the years, she has been photographed by one of the outbuildings – just standing and looking down at the ground. The children have been photographed on the roof and many guests of the B&B have reported seeing or hearing the children, sometimes even feel them bouncing on the bed where they are trying to sleep.
Well I have to tell you, when I visited there – even though I took picture after picture – I got nothing. Maybe a few orbs, but even those were iffy. I did hear a few footsteps during the night, but that could have been another guest, most probably. So, I was a bit disappointed. But then I traveled to the Linden Plantation in Natchez, MS and it was a completely different story. It has reported hauntings, but not the incredible story of the Myrtles. In fact, I don’t remember what the reported hauntings were supposed to be. But I will never forget what happened to me.
I enjoyed the ambiance – the history – the food. But, who was I kidding? I was there to ghost hunt. So when night fell, I took photos, filmed in night vision and used my digital recorder to try and preserve the whispering voices of the dead. Picture me – I tromped around in the dark in my nightclothes, roaming around the grounds just randomly taking pictures. I worked my way to the front door which is beautiful, an arched double door that served as the model for Gone With The Wind’s Tara. There was a huge camellia bush in full bloom and truthfully – I wasn’t looking closely at what was in the viewfinder – I just snapped picture after picture. I was anxious to get up to the comfort of my room to gaze at them on my computer where I could enlarge them and see what I had captured. It always made me feel like a child hunting Easter Eggs – except I was hunting ghosts.
After making a complete circuit and taking hundreds of shots, I went back upstairs. There were a few orbs – there always are – and some of them are dust and some of them aren’t. If they give off their own light they are real. There are some other characteristics real orbs have but I won’t bore you here. I have a theory about orbs – what they are – I think they are spirits, but why they look the way they do – I can’t explain.
As I was going through the photos, I came upon one that took my breath away. Next to that beautiful front door stood a man – a see-through, opalescent colored man. I could see his features, his lamb chop side burns and his high collar. I stared and stared and then I went to the next photo that I had taken only seconds later. It showed the body of the man and it was folding up into one of those balls of light, leaving wispy trails – it was utterly magnificent. And served as proof – to me – that these orbs that I just nonchalantly passed over were spirits in their traveling mode. I don’t understand it, nobody does – and we won’t until we are an orb or spirit ourselves. Frankly, I’m sorta looking forward to it. I have no desire to sit on a cloud and play a harp for eternity (or roast), I would rather whisk around as an orb and appear to people in their camera lenses and say BOO!
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Here’s an excerpt from Forget Me Never –
. “Harley, this is Savannah. Do you think I could come over tonight? I really need to talk to somebody.”
“Of course you can, I’ll put on a pot of coffee.”
Ever since she had been called to investigate the haunting at Willowbend Plantation, she and Harley had been fast friends. “Ciara, let’s go.” Shaking – literally shaking with nerves, Savannah loaded the black lab in the car and drove the few miles to Breaux Bridge. Almost afraid to consider what was going on, she made her mind think of other things.
Both her cottage and Harley’s refurbished plantation home set on the banks of the Teche. And today, she needed to sit by its soothing waters more than ever. Harley’s home was called Willowbend. It was a showplace – and very haunted. The spirits that resided there were left over from pre-civil war times. A slave mistress and her children had been murdered for no reason other than being who they were. What fascinated Savannah was that it was an intelligent haunting; the spirits actually communicated with those who attempted to reach them. Some hauntings were just stains on a location left over from some traumatic event that forever warped the very essence of a place. She had been lucky enough to see a residual haunting, as it was called. When she had been trying to run from Patrick’s memory, she had taken a trip to the East Coast and found herself drawn to go to Gettysburg. There, on a misty spring morning, she had witnessed something few ever have. She had been alone – with no camera – so it wasn’t something she could even tout as proof, but she had seen it and it had changed her life forever. Back in those days, grieving for Patrick had stolen her ability to sleep. So, she had been at the park early, before any of the normal tourist traffic had begun to flow. Meandering through the park, she had stopped at the wheat field. The Wheatfield. This one little spot of ground had seen one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Gettysburg itself was a cataclysmic event where fifty thousand died in three days and the wheatfield had been changed from a plot of golden grain to a tangled bloodsoaked piece of ground that would forever bear the mark of death and agony and grief at the extinguishment of so many young lives who would never know what it was like to breathe or love or live again. She had been standing beside her car, drinking a cup of coffee when off to her right a shout had echoed out of the silence. From out of the woods a group of soldiers on horses had emerged. She could see the insects that took flight out of the grass from the stomping of the horse hoofs. Savannah could hear their voices as they made conversation, she could see their dusty uniforms of grey. One had even looked over at her and she had half expected him to lift his hand in salute. At first she had thought to be seeing re-enactors, it happened fairly often on special days she had been told. Lifting her hand in greeting, she presumed she was speaking to a business executive or a lawyer or a mechanic who laid aside his everyday life to take part in a time of immersion in a day and way of life that was long gone. Until they disappeared – right in front of her eyes. One moment they were there, she could hear the horses snorting and see the wheat part as they rode through it – and the next moment they were gone. Completely. She hadn’t run or fainted or screamed in terror. Savannah had felt a peace and assurance that death was not the end, that those who lived and loved and died survived somewhere just beyond where our eyes could see. God, she longed to find that place. And that was the reason she so desperately sought answers in the hunt for sprits. Because she was hunting one in particular. Savannah was always trying to contact Patrick. She just wanted to tell him that she loved him – one more time.
As she parked, she saw Beau and Harley walking hand and hand toward her from down near the bayou. Getting out to join them, she brought in her totebag that contained her laptop and the Frank’s box. Ciara stayed close. If it was up to the dog, they would never leave the safety of the house. “Savannah, it’s good to see you!”
Savannah had to smile. They looked so happy together. She knew they had gone through a tough time. Harley had been the target of a madman and Beau had moved heaven and earth to protect her. Now she had semi-retired from her EOD firm and was serving as a consultant only – this made Beau a happy man.
Beau whistled for Ciara and the dog ran to him. Animals loved Beau. “I’m glad you both are outside. Let’s sit down by the water, if you don’t mind.” They stopped where they were and let her catch up so they could head back to a bench under a big oak near the edge of the bayou. The dog dashed down to the edge of the water and began barking. “Good Lord, is that an alligator? Come back here, Girl!”
“Ciara!” Beau called, also. “It’s just Amos Moses. He’s as gentle as a lamb and doesn’t have a tooth in his head, but he might slap at her with his tale if she makes him mad.”
“Good gracious, Beau. I never know what to expect from you.”
“You’re right. Believe me,” Harley agreed. “I’m never surprised at what creature Beau brings home. We have baby possums in the garage!”
“A gator got their mama; I couldn’t leave the little mites to starve.” Beau explained as Harley winked at him. Clearly he could do no wrong in her eyes.
“Savannah-Banana, I’ve been needing to talk to you.”
At Beau’s use of the absurd nick-name, Savannah’s heart almost stopped. This was what Patrick had called her. Fighting for control she forced herself not to react. She didn’t want to make him feel bad. “What about?” She sat her bag down, wishing she could lay her burdens down just as easy.
“Indy and I got called over to De Quincy to look at a Civil War Cannon. I was skeptical but I went. Original cannons in decent condition are hard to find. When I got over there, he had it in a barn down in the woods.” Beau laughed a little, “I don’t mind telling you that the place gave me the willies.”
Savannah was intrigued. She knew Beau and what he did for a living. He not only owned a top-notch weapons business, but he wrangled alligators on the side. If something gave him the willies, then it had to be harrowing indeed. “I can’t imagine what would unnerve you. Tell me,” she urged.
Beau squatted down in front of the girls and seemed to enjoy regaling them with the tale. “The barn was at least a mile down in the pine forest and even in the broad daylight, it was dark and overcast. There was an ominous feeling in the air; honestly, I’ve never experienced this before. The spooks in our house seem friendly enough, but whatever is down in that thicket is another story.” Savannah wanted to tell him to get on with the tale, but she didn’t want to be rude. “The cannon was real and worth about a quarter of a million dollars. After we had inspected it, he looked at me funny and asked me if I believed in ghosts. I said that I wasn’t a skeptic, but I was cautious. So, he grabbed a sharpshooter and led me and Indy down an overgrown path. We came to this clearing and there was a small mound that looked like it could have been an Indian burial place, but it was miniature.” He whistled and shook his head. “Hell, I don’t like to mess with stuff like this. He told me that there was a legend of lost gold, a mine that the Indians had found and some of them had been killed over. And by dern if he didn’t say – ‘watch this’ and he rammed that sharpshooter down in the dirt. About forty-five seconds later a big black horse comes huffing out of the woods and just charged us, raring up, hoofs flashing. I’m not going to lie to you; I didn’t linger there to greet him. After we high-tailed it, it hit me that I hadn’t heard any hoof beats. It had been dead, eerie quiet.” Beau seemed to pause for effect. “When we caught up with Glen, I asked him what the hell had happened. And he said that anytime you stuck a shovel in that ground, that horse would show up. What do you think about that?”
Savannah looked at Harley who was smiling indulgently at her man. Both of these people were exceptionally brave and that they were asking her advice sort of humbled her. They didn’t realize it but she wasn’t nearly as confident as she let on. “I’ll tell you what I think, based on folklore and legend. Buried treasure requires a sacrifice to protect it. Pirates would kill one of their men and bury the treasure under his body. The ghost of the murdered man would protect the gold. Animal sacrifices to protect treasure were common place. So – I can’t be sure – but maybe that horse was killed to guard whatever treasure was buried there. Once I heard about some loggers who were trying to cut down a big oak and every time they would set the saw to it a bobcat in chains would come fighting out of the tree, snarling and biting so fiercely that they would back off. Supposedly there was gold buried in the hollow trunk.”
“Dang, that gives me cold chills,” Harley rubbed her arms.
“Do you think Glen would let us visit the spot and do an investigation?”
“After I tell him I found a buyer for that artillery of his, I’m sure he’d let us do whatever we want,” Beau rubbed Ciara’s head as the dog lounged in the grass at his side. “I wish you’d look at Harley’s hand, she keeps shifting it around trying to let the sun reflect off that big rock she’s trying to get you to notice.”
“Beau!” Harley protested.
“Congratulations!” Savannah threw her arms around her friend’s neck. “You’re engaged!”
“Yes, we are,” Harley held the ring out for inspection.
“It’s beautiful,” as Savannah held her friend’s hand to get a closer look, she couldn’t help but gaze at her own engagement ring. She still wore it. She never intended to take it off. “I’m so happy for the two of you. Have you set a date?”
“Not yet,” Beau explained. “We’re going to Texas to Aron McCoy’s wedding to Libby Fontaine. I plan on talking to his brother Joseph while I’m there. Joseph is going to be my best man and I want all of the McCoys here if they can make it. While we’re over there, we’re going to look at the calendar and see what we can come up with.”
“I don’t care when it is, just so it’s soon,” Harley sighed with happiness. “I want you to be happy, too, Savannah.”
“How about we invite Indy over for supper one night and you join us? He sure would like to spend some time with you.” She couldn’t get mad at her friend. Beau was content in Harley’s love and wanted everybody to be as happy as he was.
“No, I appreciate what you want to do for me. But there are a couple of things you don’t know. I’m pregnant for one.” Savannah dropped her bombshell.
“I knew it!” squealed Harley. “I just knew it!”
“That don’t count,” Beau grumbled. “You’re psychic. You always know stuff before I do.”
“Now who is deserving of congratulations,” Harley was just about to cry with joy. “Can I ask who the father is?” Both of them looked at her steadily.
“It’s Patrick’s” Savannah pronounced the truth, waiting to see the same looks of disappointment that she had seen on friend’s faces. “I had to go to court to be allowed to use his sperm deposit. Since we weren’t married, I had to get a special ruling. Thank goodness Patrick had left a will with his friend Revel Lee. Without proof of our bond, I would never have gained the rights to use his sperm.”
“Well, I think it’s wonderful.” Harley spoke right up. “Now, you’ll always have Patrick with you.”
“Congratulations, Savannah.” Beau got up and hugged her. “I’m so happy for you. This area is getting a little heavy on the estrogen for me, I think I’ll leave you two alone.” He leaned over to kiss his fiancé. “Remember, I’m going in to the office this afternoon for a bit. You two girls have fun. I won’t be too late, I promise.”
“Bye, Darling.” She returned his kiss.
“Bye, Beau. And thanks.” Beau kissed Savannah on the forehead.
“If you two go anywhere, make sure and call me. Okay?”
“Worrier,” Harley fussed, but Savannah could tell she was glad he cared.
“Tell me about the baby. I know you have to be over the moon about it.” Harley turned sideways on the bench and took Savannah’s hands in her own.
Savannah sighed and took a deep breath. “I am very happy about it. I already love the baby so much. But – you know -,” she looked up into Harley’s face, “I expected the excitement over the baby to quell some of the grief and loneliness I feel over Patrick. It didn’t.” Unbidden, tears began to flow. Pulling one hand from Harley’s she laid it over her own stomach. “All I can think about is how much I wish I could see his face when I tell him I’m pregnant. And how much this baby is going to miss never knowing his daddy.” Breaking down into sobs, Savannah laid her head in Harley’s lap and cried. Harley and Beau had found out about her past and Carville after Patrick’s funeral and they had never let it make a bit of difference in the world.
Harley soothed Savannah’s hair. “Oh, Sweetie. I think those are absolutely normal feelings. It’ll get better, with time, I promise.”
Savannah sat up. “That’s not all. I have to show you something.” Digging in her bag, she took out her laptop. “Does your wi-fi reach out this far?”
“I have no idea,” Harley admitted, but she scooted over nearer to Savannah to see what she was doing. “
“This is the reason I came over. I need help processing this.” She was able to get online and pull up her email. “Look,” she handed Harley the laptop.
Harley read and blinked and reread. “My God! Savannah! What does this mean?” Harley ran her fingers over the email as if she were trying to absorb the information through her fingers.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what to think. Is it a hoax? It’s his account, it’s not a different one, I checked.”
“How is this possible?” Harley breathed in wonder.
“I thought about the possibility of it being one of those services you sign up for and leave messages to your friends and family to be sent after death, but I don’t think this is the case. It doesn’t sound like a goodbye message and Patrick wouldn’t leave me something like this to just torture me.”
“What are the other possibilities?” Harley spoke slowly and carefully.
“Considering what I do – the ghost hunting – you know I have to consider that this is something paranormal. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that I read two news articles about this very thing. A woman received an email from her husband and it turned out to be one of those programs that I told you about a second ago. Actually, I think it’s a silly idea. But the other article was even wilder. It was about a family who began to receive emails from their father and he told them that he was in the attic and it needed cleaning.” Savannah couldn’t help but hiccup a laugh. “I thought that was sort of funny.”
“Have you considered. . . .” Harley let her voice trail off.
“That he’s still alive? God, yes. But I’m afraid to hope.” Then, as if remembering who she was talking to - -“Do you feel anything? Like Beau said, you’re psychic. Tell me, please.”
Harley hung her head and pursed her mouth as if deep in thought. “I can’t be sure, Savannah. This isn’t the way I’m used to working. There’s nothing here for me to touch, but a machine. But I will tell you this. I sense that it’s not a trick. This email originated from Patrick – one way or the other. And I feel like it’s recent. I don’t know if he’s dead or alive – but he is trying to communicate with you.”
“Wow,” Savannah let a harsh breath. “I was hoping you’d say that. My instincts told me the same thing, but I’m not sensitive like you. And wishful thinking will only take me so far.”
“Jesus, Savannah, I am so sorry that this has all happened to you. Beau and I will support you. I want you to know that. You are not alone. If you ever need to talk – or if we can do anything for you – all you have to do is ask.”
“Thank you, Harley. I appreciate that, so much.”
“What will you do? Do you have any plans to check this email out?”
Savannah got up and walked closer to the water. Bayou Teche moved slowly. Its waters were deep, dark and full of secrets. “Believe me; I’ve racked my brain to come up with some way to solve this mystery. Contacting someone in Congress or the military is an option, but I don’t really know where to start.”
“Is there anyone who would have had knowledge of Patrick’s last mission? Anyone you trust? It’s been three years, maybe the information isn’t as classified as it once was. What about the freedom of information act? Would that apply?” Harley was talking fast and Savannah was listening.
“All good ideas, thank you. I’ll get in touch with Revel tomorrow. He’ll know how to contact Jayco and Hawke. If anyone knows anything – it’s them.” Whirling around to face her friend, she confessed. “I should have talked to them long ago, but it just hurt so badly.”
Seeing that her friend needed a break, Harley rose. “Are you ready for that coffee, now?”
“I sure am.” The two women walked arm in arm to the kitchen door. Big pots of mums made bright spots of color on the patio. “Have you had any more excitement with your resident ghosts?” Sometimes it bothered Savannah to speak so lightly of the dead. She had heard other ghost hunters refer to them in such generic and impersonal terms. What she always wanted to remember was that they were all real people who had been important to someone at some time. Each of them deserved respect. Since losing Patrick, everything had changed for Savannah, even how she viewed death and dying.
“Actually, I have.”
Harley opened the screen door and allowed Savannah to enter first. The aroma of homemade banana bread and freshly brewed coffee filled the air. “Heck, it smells good in here.” She didn’t even wait to be invited. Savannah walked right up to the coffeepot and poured herself a cup. “I want a big slice of that yummy concoction. Beau must love your cooking. So what’s been going on?”
“It’s been fun spoiling Beau.” Harley sliced them both thick pieces and laid out some creamy butter to spread over them. “Nothing scary has happened. In fact, Beau is convinced that the spirits were trying to warn us that Fox Crocker was hanging around the house. He thinks that was the whole reason the vanity chair moved and we picked up that voice telling me that I was in danger. We believe the spirits of Willowbend are nice. After what happened yesterday, we’re convinced they are.”
Savannah’s mood brightened a bit. “Tell me. I can’t wait to hear this.”
“It was silly, really. Beau and I locked ourselves out of the house. We had gone into town for dinner and he left his set of house keys in his other pants and I had decided not to carry a purse. The security alarm was set and every window in the place was locked. Usually, I can crawl through the bathroom window; I keep it cracked for that express purpose. All my life I have been notorious for locking myself out. We literally checked every window that we could reach. Beau was about to break a window, which would have set off the alarm. It was going to be a hassle. While he was debating the best way to go about it, I stood at the front door and appealed to my spectral roommates to let us in. Now, we had checked that door at least three times – you know how it is – you just keep wishing it would open. I leaned my face against the glass and said, ‘Come on guys, let us in. I know you can do it. I’ll bake more chocolate chip cookies!’ and I swear to God, I tried the door knob one more time and – it opened.”
Savannah laughed at Harley’s incredulity. “Ask and ye shall receive. Did you pee your pants?”
“No, but I sure did look around really good when I walked in. I kept expecting one of them to tap me on the shoulder.” Harley stopped smiling and grew serious. “Savannah, I know you have been longing to receive a word from Patrick. I remember what you told me the day we met – how that his voice was the one voice you listened for – but it never came. Now that you may have heard from him, how do you feel about it?”
Sipping her coffee, Savannah sought how to answer. “I feel absolutely torn. If I had heard from him via EVP on my digital recorder, I would have been ecstatic. Let me explain something to you. When one begins to ghost hunt, at first the results you get will be very limited. It’s like someone who opens a store. Publicity about your business has to get around. The longer you ghost hunt, the more attention you gain from the spirit world. It’s like the word gets around beyond the pale. I went on a ghost hunting trip in Kansas. There was a cemetery there that I just had to visit. A preacher’s daughter had been killed in a car wreck and her ultra-religious father was convinced that she had missed heaven. He didn’t live long; I suppose he died of grief.” Savannah could understand how that would happen. There had been days when she had thought death would be very preferable over facing another day alone. “Several trustworthy witnesses have heard him crying, “Doreen is lost! She’s lost!” One group who reported the haunting was a surveying crew and the other was all the attendees at a funeral. So, I just had to go.”
Harley was getting into the tale. “Did you hear the voice? I have to admit, that would creep me out. At least my little spectral family seems to be happy.”
“No, I didn’t hear anything. I saw no orbs, no apparition – nothing. However, it got interesting that night.” Savannah got amused when Harley actually wiggled in her seat as if settling in for a good story. “I was staying in a motel a short distance away and was anxious to get into the cool and out of the heat. For a few hours, I just did some research on the laptop and ordered a hamburger from room service. When I finally lay down to sleep, I was a bit restless. I turned out the lights and TV and shut my eyes to try and settle my brain. After only a few moments in bed, out of nowhere, something or someone slapped the crap out of my foot. It wasn’t a vicious slap, it was more like a – ‘Hey you! Look at me! slap.’ Of course my first instinct was to think that someone was in the room. So I jumped up and looked under the bed, in the closet and in the bathroom. There was no one there.”
“Did you run screaming out into the night with just your pajamas on? That’s what I would have done.” Harley’s eyes were big.
“No, I didn’t run. Actually, I sat down and talked to myself and to the spirit. After all, I hunt ghosts. Why should I be surprised when I actually find one?” That was one thing that always confused Savannah. She loved to watch the paranormal documentaries but was always frustrated with the investigators when they were shocked to actually find some type of evidence.
“Did you find out anything about who whacked you on the foot?”
“No, I didn’t.” Savannah admitted. “Early that morning I got a phone call that I had permission to have Patrick’s sperm implanted, so I left. One thing did surprise me though.”
“What was that?”
“When I was packing the car to leave, I noticed that my motel was right next to a funeral home.” At Harley’s confused expression, Savannah went on to explain. “My whole point is that ghost hunters attract spirits who want to communicate.”
“So, what about Patrick?”
Savannah sighed. “I suppose I said all of that to say that it’s possible the email is supernatural in origin and that Patrick isn’t alive. As much as I pray I’m wrong, I can’t forget that they sent him home in a casket.”
“It was a closed casket,” Harley interjected.
“Yes, it was,” Savannah admitted. “But if Patrick were alive, he’d move heaven and earth to come back to me.”
“I still think you ought to check this out.”
Savannah laughed, “You don’t have to convince me. I’m still totally, completely, irrevocably in love with him. Of course, I’ll check it out. Monday will see me turning over every rock to see if I can unearth any news of him anywhere. But tonight, I want you to help me eliminate the possibility that I can contact him with this new gizmo I have.”
“Of course. You know I’ll do whatever you need me to.” There was so much concern on Harley’s face that Savannah almost broke down – again.
“All right,” Savannah threw up her hands in surrender, “I’ll admit it. I’m scared to death. I want Patrick to be alive so much that I’m going crazy trying to make sure I don’t get my hopes up too high. Harley, I don’t think I can stand to lose him twice.”
With that Harley rose and put her arms around Savannah. “I know, Honey. I know.” They finished their coffee and cake, Harley called Beau and they gathered flashlights before they set off for the cemetery. Night was falling fast. “Tell me about your new toy.”
“It’s the newest thing in ghost hunting. Created by Frank Sumption, it’s called a Frank’s Box or a ghost box. By using white noise and radio waves, it actually gives the spirits a voice. You can ask questions and the device scans the band. The entities can manipulate the audio remnants to create words and even entire sentences.”
“My Lord! I can’t wait to see what tonight brings! I just wish we had brought my large, macho, hunky husband along.”
“We’ll be okay.” They parked underneath a weeping willow and walked carefully to the ornate wrought iron gates. Saint Michael’s in St Martinville was a typical South Louisiana cemetery – spooky at night. Ciara set out through the maze of mausoleums as if on a scavenger hunt for squirrel and mice. Not once had she ever shown any interest where Patrick was laid to rest. Savannah had often wondered about that. Down through the ages, there were true accounts of dogs who had guarded the graves of their masters for years. Yet, Ciara stared down the driveway for hours a day just like she expected him to drive back up at any moment.
Savannah could have made the trek in the black dark. She had walked it often enough.
“This is beautiful, Savannah. I love the bench and the flowers. How did you get these Forget Me Not’s to bloom so late in the year?”
“I grow them from seed in the green house and I keep new plants coming in all during the year. There are only a few months in the dead of winter that we don’t have green plants.” For just a moment she stood there and stared at the ornate sarcophagus with the carved lettering that broke her heart every time she saw it.
Patrick Heath O’Rourke
Beloved Fiancé and Grandson
You Will Never Be Forgotten
Paddy was with him now; the old man had died in his sleep a few months after she had lost Patrick.
Savannah sank to the bench and Harley joined her. “How are we going to do this?” she whispered.
“You can talk in your normal voice,” Savannah teased.
“Yea, but – uh – they are listening to us. Aren’t they?”
“I hope so. To tell you the truth, I’m nervous.”
“Why are you nervous?” Harley rubbed Savannah’s shoulder.
“I’ve done this before, but so much hinges on what happens tonight.” She was so close to crying. Desperately, Savannah tried to hold it together. “Before, I just wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to know he still existed somewhere. Now, I’m hoping I won’t hear his voice, because I hope he’s still alive out there.”
Harley looked around nervously. “It’s getting dark, Savannah. Don’t you think we ought to get started?”
“Yea, okay.” She turned on the Frank’s box and walked to the edge of Patrick’s grave. Ciara wandered up and flopped down at her feet, hassling happily. “Patrick, Darling, I love you. Did you send me an email? Are you here?”
Static from the box caused them to both jump. Then silence. They waited a few more minutes until, finally – a one word response broke through the silence like an explosion. “Stephanie!”
“Dang!” Harley grabbed her arm. “I almost jumped out of my skin!” Her friend bent over at the waist and tried to breathe. “Who’s Stephanie? Should you be jealous?”
Before she could react or comment, a whole phrase sounded out, one that shook Savannah to her very core. “There is no Patrick here.”
“O, my God, Savannah!” Harley clutched her arm. “I didn’t know if this would work or not, but I’m convinced now. What does it mean?”
“I don’t know,” tears were welling in Savannah’s eyes. “Let’s get out of here. I’m not in the right frame of mind to continue this.” But before she left, Savannah didn’t ignore her protocol. “Thank you for telling me. If your name is Stephanie, it’s nice to meet you. I will come back and talk to you again, I promise.” Turning off the box, she put it back in her bag.
Harley handed her a flashlight. For just a moment they stood and looked at Patrick’s grave. “What about Patrick? Does this mean he’s alive?”
Savannah had to give Harley credit, she didn’t hold back. She forced Savannah to think. “Maybe – I’ve also considered that his spirit stayed where he died. There’s so much we don’t know about life after death and what’s possible. Actually, it’s just a guessing game. Let’s go.”
Carefully they made their way through the cemetery, letting the narrow beams of light illuminate the way. Abruptly Harley stopped walking, “Damn, look at that.” She aimed her light at the name plate on a grave just two down from Patrick’s. The name on it read Stephanie Corley and she had only been dead for a few months.
Savannah walked up and placed her hand on the side of the mausoleum. “Stephanie, I’ll be back and if there’s a message you need to give someone, I’ll help you, I promise.”