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Mrs. Lockhart grips my hand tightly in hers. "You’ve got to use your powers to find him.""I don’t really have powers." I’m not a comic-book or movie character like Superman, Iron Man, or Wonder Woman. "I locatespiritsof the deceased, not the deceased themselves.""Have you talked to the local coroner?" Becca asks."He was no help. But y’all will be, right?""I-I-I don’t know—what exactly can I do?"Her eyes light up. "Oh, but that’s just it. I feel Delaney here in the house. Evelyn said she’s sure he’s around too. She’s even felt him over at her house. Surely you can try to contact him. He would know where his body is, wouldn’t he?"Celia shrugs. "I suppose."Taylor lets out a long sigh and says, "Une telle tragédie.Such a tragedy."So, let me get this straight. I’m to make contact here in the house with Delaney, and he’s going to tell me where we can find his body so Mrs. Lockhart can get him home for the funeral he deserves to have. A final resting place. As ludicrous as it sounds, I guess we can help out with that. Honestly, I don’t think the guys onGhost Huntershave ever had a case like this one.I release the older woman’s hand and drag my palms down the sides of my jeans as I stand up, not sure which one of us is responsible for the nervous sweat. "I’ll give it a try."She’s on her feet too. Gratitude paints her wrinkled face."I’m going to need assistance though," I say to my posse."We’re here, Kendall," Taylor pipes up."Ditto" from Becca.Celia nods and smiles.I push my wavy brown hair behind my ears and then rub my hands together. "I appreciate that you guys are here, but I’m going to need even more help.""Emily?" Celia asks.My turn to nod.And just like that, my spirit guide, Emily—who first came to me as a voice in the white-noise machine in my new bedroom—is with me, ready to give assistance. She’s only visible to me at certain times, and I mostly just talk to her in my head. Yeah, I know . . . throw a net over me. That’s what my mom’s threatening to do anyway.I walk through the old carriage house, trying to get a sense of who Delaney Lockhart was before he passed. Since I’ve only lived in Radisson a couple of months, I don’t know everyone’s business, like most people in town seem to. Taylor told me that Mr. Lockhart had worked at the First National Bank, and Celia knew him to be an avid lake fisherman who always shared his catch of the day with people down at the Methodist church. Now, as I sit in the worn Barcalounger in the den, I’m seeing a slide show of images in my head. Delaney was tall. He’d lost his hair. He cut his fingernails in this spot while watching TV. (Eww!) He was a stern father but loved to spoil his grandchildren. For the last twenty years, he snuck Swisher Sweets cigars out in the backyard. I’m sure that had something to do with his heart problems.Focus your energies to the right, Kendall . . .Emily directs my attention toward a door. "Where does this go?" I ask."To the basement," Mrs. Lockhart answers. "The laundry room is down there. Other than that, we mostly use it to store extra belongings from the main house. When Evelyn got married, we moved out and let them have it.""That’s okay. We’re not here to rifle through your things," I assure her."It’s a mess. I don’t think you girls should go down there. Especially if you have allergies."Hmmm . . . and me without my Claritin.I hear Emily whisper,Goooo . . .If she says so, then I must."Ihaveto go down there." I turn the handle, and immediately the smell of dust and mold and dampness attacks my nostrils. Celia flicks the light cord that’s dangling in the doorway."This doesn’t look very good," Taylor says.Becca snickers. "Don’t be such a girl, Tillson." And then she passes all of us and heads downstairs."I’ll stay up here," our hostess says.It’s probably better that way.Emily whispers to me:Laundry room.The four of us pick our way through boxes of Christmas ornaments, winter clothes, and toys for the grandchildren, back to where the washer and dryer sit. My chest begins to tighten in a deep ache. The atmosphere is dense in this section, and I’m finding it hard to get a good breath of air. It’s like I want to pant but there’s nothing to suck into my lungs."Are there any spirits here with us?" Becca asks as she holds her digital recorder out in front of her. "Is the spirit of Delaney Lockhart present? I have a recording device in my hand that is able to pick up your voice if you have the energy to speak to us. We can play it back and see what you had to say and try to help out."While Becca’s doing her EVP work, my chest continues to throb. My heartbeat accelerates toSpeed Racerlevels and I try to tell myself that this isn’t really happening to me, per se—it’s just that I’m empathetic and can often feel what the spirit might have experienced.I hear Emily plainly in my head.He’s here . . ."Play back your recorder, Becca," Celia says before I can.After a quick rewind, we hear Becca’s question and then a garbled swooshing turning into a voice that says,"Leeeeeeeeeeefffffffff behind.""Did you hear that?" Becca says with excitement. "Score!" She loves getting EVPs, and I must admit I get a real rush out of it as well.Then, a little further into the recording, we hear,"Miiiillllllie."He called her that,Emily tells me.I take out my rose quartz pendulum that I use for dowsing. It’s really cool because I can ask it yes-or-no questions and have a two-way conversation with a spirit. I’m absolutely sensing a presence here in this basement. However, I have to make sure it’s Delaney Lockhart. We’ve run into so many street ghosts in our investigations lately—random spirits that inhabit Radisson, people who lived a long time ago, before the interstate to Atlanta cut through or the town was wired for cable.As I hear Taylor clicking away in the background with her digital camera, I’m still experiencing the emotional choke of extreme heart pain. Is this from Delaney’s cardiac? It feels more like a broken heart than blocked arteries. Not that I’m a doctor or anything. There just isn’t that sense of blood stopping and not filling the chambers of the heart. I’m picking up something much more forlorn."Are you Delaney Lockhart?"I watch as the pendulum dangling from my thumb and forefinger swings back and forth, from left to right. This is how Iget the answer no.Hmm. "Are you a female spirit?"The pendulum confirms another no."Are you a male spirit?""Duh," Becca says with a snicker."You know we have to explore all options," Celia snaps.My pendulum begins to swing in a circle, clockwise, which signifies a yes answer."Check this out!" Taylor shouts. "I just took a series of pictures of that corner."Sure enough, there’s a mist in the bottom right corner that gets larger in each frame until it takes on a shape. A very distinct human shape.Taylor points. "That looks like a soldier’s cap. Like someone from the Civil War."We do have a lot of Civil War history in this town. Local legend has it that General Sherman visited Radisson on his infamous March to the Sea. He and his men were so enamored of a townswoman here that they didn’t burn the place and left many historic antebellum houses in their original condition, like the mansion that Celia and her parents live in on the street behind my house.Turning to Celia, I ask, "Did Mrs. Lockhart say anything about a ghost in her house before Delaney’s death?"She shakes her head, tossing her short black bob back and forth. "Never before, although she claims her daughter Evelyn’s house is haunted. That was one of the reasons she and Mr. Lockhart gave it to her and moved out here into the carriage house.""You’re some kind of street ghost, aren’t you?" I call out. "You sensed what was going on here, that we were looking for a spirit, and you butted in. If that’s what you are, you need to leave, please. You don’t belong here. Go back to where you were or let me help you cross into the light."Before I can say another word, I feel a piercing pain so bad that I have to clamp my hands over my ears to stop it. All I hear reverberating through my head is this wicked, evil laughter, sinister almost, echoing off my cerebral matter. I scream inside, telling him to bugger off. He’s not wanted. I clutch my chest and then I feel an insane twinge in my head.He’s trouble . . .Like I need Emily to tell me that.I fall to my knees from the intense throbbing in my temples. Taylor drops next to me. "Jason should have come with us tonight," she says. "He’s going to be inconsolable if anything happens to you."Yeah, my boyfriend still doesn’t exactly like that I do this on a regular basis.You’ll be fine. Ride it out, Kendall.I reach for Taylor’s hand and hold on tightly as the pain begins to subside. I just wish the soldier would stop it with the evil laugh, like he’s taking pleasure in seeing me this way.Suddenly, a man appears before me in plaid shorts, a white Titleist shirt, and a Nike visor. Oh, this hasgotto be Delaney Lockhart. He glances down at me and smiles. Then he tosses a glower to the corner where the soldier is standing. Inside my head, I hear him tell the other man to be gone and leave me alone, to "go back to Evelyn’s." Great, we’re going to have to come back and clean out her house as well.The soldier disappears, just like that.Celia and Taylor help me up. I cock my head to the left. Celia’s EMF detector flashes like the lights on a state trooper’s car.EMFstands for "electromagnetic field," and the detector reads levels of energies. It’s widely thought in the paranormal community—yes, we’re a community—that spirits use energy to manifest. And since everything in the world is basically made of energy, you never know where a ghost may appear or how it’ll do it. Let me tell you: I’ve got a manifestation, all right."Mr. Lockhart?" I ask out loud.Celia and Taylor spin in the direction my voice is aimed. Becca follows along behind me.I hear him plain as day, as if he’s really standing before me. Well, heisstanding before me, only no one but me can see him.Mr. Lockhart smiles. "I’m sorry about that soldier. He’s been nosing around here trying to get attention and cause trouble. Are you okay, dear?""Yes, sir," I say, catching my breath. All of my physical symptoms have eased. "You know why I’m here, right?"Becca lifts a dark brow at me and then positions the digital recorder toward where I’m speaking. Taylor snaps away on the camera, and Celia stands by, taking all sorts of measurements. They’ve all seen this before and know to go with the flow and not freak out that I’m seeing an entity . . . and having a conversation with it."They left me behind," he says. "Those idiots at the airline. I sat on a conveyor belt for at least two days. Good thing I was embalmed before they put me in the casket. Otherwise"—he waves his hand in front of his nose—"that would be a horrific smell, don’tcha think?"I snicker at the ghost’s joke about his own demise. I have to be serious though, since I don’t know how long Delaney will be able to manipulate the energy for me to see and hear him. "Where are you?"He takes off his visor and scratches his head. "I don’t rightly know."My body sags and I exhale noisily. "You have to remember something. Adetail? Asound? Asmell?""Nope. The formaldehyde sort of masks everything else.""Ask him about the airplane," Celia instructs. "Is there anything he can remember about it? Particularly the color?""Sure, sure," he says, hearing Celia’s question. "I remember going into this big ol’ gold plane.""Gold," I say to Celia. "He says it was gold."She runs her hands through the top of her hair and I can almost hear the wheels of thought turning. "Mrs. Lockhart said she was on Southeastern Airlines. Their planes are blue and silver. The luggage handlers must have loaded him onto the wrong flight.""Who has gold planes?" Becca asks.Of course, Celia, knower of all things trivial and seemingly unimportant—seriously, the girl could win the adultJeopardy!tournament—snaps her fingers. "Journey Airlines has gold planes. I’ve seen their ads on television.""Do they fly into Atlanta?" Taylor asks.Celia shakes her head no. "Their hub is Memphis."The energy shifts in the room and becomes almost staticky. My own oomph is starting to fade; I know Delaney’s been pulling off my psychic abilities to talk to me. He smiles and waves and blows a kiss.We’ll get you home,I say in my head.You did well,Emily notes to me.We rush upstairs to tell Mrs. Lockhart. Well, I don’t. Becca has to help me up the stairs and over to a couch to regain my strength. Man, connecting with spirits like that just wears me the hell out. I need a massive nap now.Celia dials up Journey’s toll-free number on her cell phone and gets the proper customer service person to help out. We listen to the one-sided conversation as she relays the information. Mrs. Lockhart stands holding Taylor’s hand as she awaits the verdict."Yes, she’s right here and can give you all of the information." Celia breaks into a wide grin. She passes her cell phone to Mrs. Lockhart. "They have your husband.""Thank you, Jesus!" she sings out. "And you girls! Thank you, thank you! This wouldn’t have happened without you. Now my Delaney can come home for a proper burial. Evelyn and Veronica will be so relieved." She puts the phone to her ear and begins giving her personal information."Yep, just another typical day for the ghost huntresses," I say with a contented sigh. Taylor and Becca high-five and Celia leans over for a fist bump.Why am I still feeling a bit kerfuffled though?You haven’t seen the last of that soldier . . .And along with Emily’s sweet voice, the sinister laugh is back.
Yeah, I have a feeling our paths will cross again.