Our victim lived in a small town just south of the Canadian boarder in Washington. His name was Ralph Woods. He had been in Denver on vacation when he was brutally murdered by a complete stranger. I don’t think Michaela expected me to follow this lead. But amnesia was a common symptom of possession. The guy could have been faking the memory loss but if the Venatori were investigating then someone thought it was a ghost, demon or angel. Not angel since they don’t typically kill. Demons don’t really kill one at a time. They tend to cause mass destruction when bodies start piling up. Demons don’t usually have personal vendettas. Though there are exceptions to every rule. The most likely scenario is a traumatized ghost is righting some perceived wrong. The Venatori don’t care about the perceived wrong only keeping the supernatural secret. My job was to find and stop it before those connections could be made or cover it up.
So when we pulled up outside the library of the small little town Michaela gave me a weird look. I grinned at her and opened my door. “Trust me.”
If I wanted to to know what’s what around the Venatori I checked out the Archives. We had newspaper articles, books recording history. A small town probably had such a place too for historical purposes. Specially when you relied on paper. And out here in the boonies chances are you needed something to do so reading might be your only option.
The building was just a little thing. But I could definitely tell it was a library the moment I walked inside. There was just this smell about old books. I knew I’d come to the right place. A little old lady sat at a desk reading a book over her spectacles and a hawk-like nose.
I walked up to her and waited for her to look up. I gave her my best smile. “Hi, I’m Nox.” I set my brand new PI license down on the desk. “I was hired by Steven Gamby to uncover who really killed Ralph Wood. I was hoping you could tell me a little more about Mr. Wood.”
The woman sneered at me, “You are working for that liar. He killed Ralph, all the evidence says so.”
I nodded. “Yes ma’am. I know, but I think there might be more to it. I just want the right guy behind bars. What happened to Mr. Wood is hard to think about, and to think it could happen to someone else. I couldn’t live with it. Specially now that I know there might be something else going on.”
The woman nodded her head and nodded. “Ralph was… different after Maggie died.”
“Different how?” I asked.
“Quiet, stayed home. He started home schooling Ruby. We never really saw them much after that.”
“What happened to Maggie?”
“A freak accident.” She shook her head, clearing it of the memories I was sure from the way she forced a smile as she looked up at me. “Fell in the shower, smashed her head into the tile and then drowned in the water filling up the tub.”
I nodded. It could have been an accident or it could have been more. What I don’t know. Didn’t matter to the Venatori, but it would matter to me in the end. Needless death bothered me. The old woman sighed. “But if that didn’t change a man, surely the death of your child would.”
“His daughter died?” I sounded shocked.
“She was a troubled child. Always seeing things that weren’t there. She accused Mr. Foster of touching her inappropriately. Mr. Foster would never do such a thing. He’s a kind old man. She saw a therapist friend of her mother. Ruby accused her father of cheating on her mother and abusing her too.”
I had to ask why no one believed the child. I knew all too well how the voice of a child can get lost amongst the adults. “Why didn’t anyone believe her?”
“Ruby, was a little slow. And as a young child she spoke to the ether. No one was ever around, but the child spoke as if she were talking to a real person. Before she could even read she was talking to men and women who had passed. Making up stories about their lives. None of it ever happened – of course.”
I sighed. “So people thought it was all part of that.”
I glanced back at Michaela and she smiled at me. I wondered if she was thinking what I was. I turned back to the librarian with a great big smile. “How did Ruby die?”
“She hung herself. Her father found her hanging in the barn. He was devistated. He wanted to sell the place but his mother-in-law would’t let him. But he’s rarely been home since. And now he never will be.”
I offered my hand which she pressed my ID back into my hand. “Thank you for your time. I’m sorry to dredge up such powerful memories.”
She smiled at me. “It was a pleasure. Mr. Nox. I hope you nail that bastard to the wall.”
I smirked. “I’ll find the truth ma’am.” I said as I left the small room following Michaela out to the Jeep.