In order to have a plot, you have to have a conflict, something bad has to happen.
– Mike Judge
In last week’s post, Dana, Fielding, and Hutchinson were interviewing Robin Stuart, brother of the murdered Susan Stuart. Stuart, the artist who painted the abstract in the Thurston Public Library boardroom was murdered in the story “Missing in Action” in Beyond the Tripping Point by Sharon A. Crawford (Blue Denim Press, Oct. 2012). Detective Hutchinson arrested her murderer in that story. But now, Susan seems to be “popping up.” Last week Stuart’s picture started vibrating again. This week… read on.
The abstract stops vibrating and a woman’s head appears in the painting. She continues wailing.
Dana covering her ears: Shut up.
Hutchinson, wide-eyed and pale: Susan Stuart? You are dead.
The waiting stops and the woman’s lips switch to a soft feminine voice.
Woman in the picture: My body is dead, but not my soul.
Dana: What have you done with my brother?
Fielding, glaring at Dana: Dana. Let Hutchinson and I ask the questions.
Woman: It’s okay. She has a perfect right to ask. I did not kidnap her brother but shall we say, I extracted him temporarily from this life to protect him. But I wasn’t strong enough and he returned to Thurston and was then kidnapped.
Fielding: Who kidnapped him?
Woman: I thought you had already figured that out.
Hutchinson: Cory Swan?
Woman: Yes. While Sebastian was with me I told him that his story about me and my art was coming back to haunt him (She chuckles a bit) and I was trying to protect him from Cory Swan…
Dana: How did you know all this?
Woman: You mean how would a dead person know this? Well, our spirits can travel freely throughout the universe. And I’ve been keeping tabs on my paintings, where they are exhibited. While doing this I saw Cory Swan had an unusual interest in this painting here. He has made several trips to this room to look at it.
Fielding: We checked with the library’s listing of who used this room and he wasn’t listed.
Woman: He probably snuck in with a group meeting here.
Dana: She’s probably right. Various community groups meet here. Perhaps one was a photographer’s group.
Fielding, pulling out a printed list: Hmm. No photography list here, but the historical society, a ratepayers’ group, a quilting group, and Ms Dana Bowman.
Dana: Well, he certainly didn’t come in when I was here.
Fielding: You haven’t specifically answered why you took an interest in Bast and how did you know he was in danger?
Woman: It was that photo Cory Swan took of my brother, your brother Dana, and me that tipped me off. Like I said, we spirits get around, and I saw Swan packing up his Thurston office. He pulled out a photo – the one I just mentioned – and kept staring at it. He was muttering under his breath something about “that crime reporter, he knows something about her and he’s going to tell me.” At first I was just curious but when I saw him try to break into the Attic Agency and follow Bast around, I knew something bad was up. So because of what happened to me and how Robbie felt afterwards, I decided to try to save Bast. And the only way I knew how was to bring him temporarily into my world. And try to get a message to all of you. But all I could do was play around with my painting. Your son, Dana, caught on that I was here. Children are more receptive and with his situation, he was more so.
Dana: Did it never occur to you that dragging David into this could hurt him?
Woman: I was only trying to help.
Fielding: If what you say is true, why didn’t you try to communicate with us outside this room?
Woman: My spirit powers are limited. While I can move around anywhere, I can’t connect to any of the living except through something of me that remains behind – my painting.
Dana: So where is my brother now?
Woman: I don’t know. He managed to get himself out of my realm and back to earth. Like you, I only found the remains of his presence in Swan’s old Thurston office. But I did see Swan dump an envelope in your Aunt Doris’s mailbox.
Fielding: And the anonymous threatening phone call to Doris Bowman?
Woman: I knew nothing about that until you interviewed her here in this room.
Dana: What about Doris’s next door neighbour.
Woman: Just a nosey neighbour. I checked him out. Look, I’ve told you all I know.
Fielding: Well, I suggest you think harder about why Swan wanted Bast and took that photograph of the three of you while we check out Swan’s new office and residence in Barrie.
Woman: I’m coming with you…in spirit.
Dana: But you can’t communicate with us anywhere but here.
Fielding: That’s why you, Dana will remain here, along with a constable I will assign here.
Dana: But, I need to go to Barrie – it’s my brother; it’s…
Hutchinson: Better listen to Fielding. He and I will go. Keep your cell on and I hate to say this, your eyes on the painting. If…(he points to the face in the painting) she discovers something we don’t see, she can tell you and you can relay it back to us. Let’s go Fielding.
The two police detectives get up and leave. Dana is left staring at the face in the abstract.
Sharon A. Crawford
You can read more about the characters and their stories in from Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy. Spread the word.
Also see more of See Sharon A.’s Upcoming Gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html