STCD Fresh Prints part two!
By Michael J Pennington
Read part one Here!
Read the Smoke: The Cannabis Detective Book!
I stood up Preston was looked shocked that I could see him. He tried to speak but the connection was never the best, I got video but no audio. I looked at him as spoke. “Are you Preston?” I asked.
He mouthed the word “yes,” and shook his head.
“It’s him,” I said to Victora and Gwen.
“Is it always this awkward?” asked Victora.
“No, sometimes it’s worse,” Said Gwen.
Preston seemed to have his attention drawn to someone who was invisible to us. No doubt our silent partner, Sarah. She was a ghost as well. She was our first case and now she just stuck around to help us. She was going over the rules with Preston.
Preston looked at me confused but I decided to press on. “Preston, we are here with your wife Victora.”
He looked at Victora and waved. “Preston says ‘s hi,” I said.
“I love you.” Said Victora uncharacteristically teary-eyed.
Preston mounted the words, “I love you too.”
“He loves you too,” I said.
“Preston,” I said. “Do you know who killed you?”
Preston looked confused. He looked to Sarah. He seemed to be talking to her. Then a look of shock came over his face. Followed by despair. He dropped to his knees weeping.
The room had been silent for too long. Gwen got up and whispered to me “what’s wrong?”
“I don’t think he’s aware of the fact that he’s dead,” I said under my voice.
“Did you tell him?” Asked Gwen.
“Sarah did,” I said.
“So what’s going on now?” She asked.
“He’s processing,” I said.
“What’s wrong?” Asked Victora. Her voice caused Preston to look up at her.
“Sometimes the newly…” Gwen hesitated. “Dead…” The word sent Preston into a fresh round of crying. “Have some trouble with the transition.” That was as tactful as she could make it.
“What’s he doing?” Asked Victora.
“He’s… Crying. He just found out,” I said.
“Can he hear me?” asked Victora.
“Yes,” I said.
“Preston!” Said Victora with force. The tone of her voice seemed to snap him out of it. He looked worried. “I know this is hard for you but we really need your help. I need you to be strong for me. I need you to answer this mans question. Can you do that?”
Preston nodded and mouthed the word “yes.”
“He said yes,” I said.
Preston stood up and looked at me intently. “Do you remember the night you were… murdered?” I asked.
He looked like he was about to cry, but he gave a quick glance to Victora and that seemed to steel his resolve. He nodded yes.
“Did you get a look at your attacker?”
He nodded again.
“Do you know who it was?” I asked.
He didn’t nod instead he moved himself to the fireplace. He pointed at one of the pictures on the mantel. It was not good. It was a picture of Dill.
I was frozen I didn’t know how to react. “What is it?” asked Victora.
“You’re not going to like it,” I said.
“What did he say?” she asked.
I pointed at the picture. “He said it was Dill…” I wanted to give her the answer she was looking for, but it was not the truth. I even believed it myself for a moment.
“Victora… I’m so…” Gwen began to say.
“Get out!” Cried Victora.
“Look I know this is hard,” I said. “We’ll leave, but do you want to say something to Preston…”
“You’re probably a couple of con artist anyway….” Said Victora. We started to leave. “Wait!” She said, and we turned around. “Tell him…” She hesitated. “Tell him I’ll always love him and I miss him so damn much it hurts.”
Preston began to speak, his mouth moved so fast I couldn’t follow, but I got the gist of it. “He says he’ll always love you too,” I said too her.
“I’ll make sure you are paid for your time,” she said. “Right now I just need to be alone.”
“Okay,” I said and we left. That was a hard case. I wish there was more we could do.
Charles came and got us from Victoras mansion. We told him what happen. “That’s a shame. I guess they can’t always turn out the way we want.”
“I know, something about this one bugs me. I looked into Dill’s eyes. I didn’t see the eyes of a killer,” I said.
“If there’s one thing being a cop has taught me,” Said Charles. “Sometimes the most stone cold killers have the eye’s of an angel.”
I didn’t reply. I couldn’t get the case out of my mind. I kept thinking about it. We had the camera footage, and the murder weapon, even the victim himself identified Dill as the killer. Why couldn’t I let this go? Did Victora’s need to prove Dill innocent infect me? Maybe, I just hated telling people bad news.
There was only one way to console myself at a time like this. Old video games. When we got home Gwen knew I was having a hard time and she let me break out my old system, and I began to play my favorite adventure R.P.G. The old school kind with dungeons and puzzles and items that helped you solve the dungeon puzzles.
Gwen sat next to me and we took turns, I’d play for a bit and then she would play. We would switch when we wanted to take a hit. “Poor Victora,” said Gwen as took the controller. “She really wanted Dill to be innocent.”
“I really thought he was,” I said taking a drag on my pipe.
“Me too,” said Gwen handing me the controller. “Makes me sad.”
“I never played this game high before,” I said. “Makes it kind of fun. Like a whole new experience.”
I was just about to enter the boss chamber when Gwen said “Hunny, did you know you’ve been smoking out of Casper.” Casper was my ‘special’ bowl. The one I packed with Ghost-19. I had another pipe for regular smoking. I called that one The Gate Keeper. Don’t judge.
The screen on the TV went white. “Ho no!” I said.
“What is it?” Asked Gwen.
“I never told anyone this before, but I always hated this dungeon because if it’s boss.”
“Really?” asked Gwen. “I always thought he was kind of goofy looking.”
A ghostly hand crawled out of the TV. “It’s the Phantom,” I said. “Something about his weird vacant polygon eyes…” He popped his head out of the TV and began to crawl out. “Fuck you!” I yelled at the pixilated blocky monster.
He kept coming. “Sarah!” I said. “You can stop now!” Gwen was laughing uncontrollably. “Sarah!” The monster got all the way to my feet. When it vanished. “Goddammit Sarah!”
The phantom was back in the screen where he belonged, and Sarah was standing there laughing at me.
“Really?” Said Gwen. “You’re afraid of that thing?” She said pointing at the screen. Where a cartoony monster was dancing on the screen. Maybe it did seem kind of silly now.
“Don’t judge me I was just a kid…” I started to say.
“A kid?” asked Gwen. “You were like twenty when this came out.”
“A very young twenty years old,” I said defensively.
“Whatever,” said Gwen. “What does Sarah want?”
Now Sarah looked upset. “She looks upset,” I said.
“Is she mad we didn’t consult her?” Asked Gwen.
“Look, Sarah, we’re sorry, the case was over before it even got started there wasn’t time to contact you,” I said.
Sarah looked at me and shook her head.
“That’s not it?” I asked.
“Do you think the case isn’t closed?” Asked Gwen.
Sarah nodded and pointed at her.
“Did Preston tell you something he didn’t tell us?” I asked.
Sarah shook her head. “No,” I said.
“Then what is it?” Gwen asked.
“She doesn’t know,” I said. “Maybe she has a feeling about it.”
“Preston was pretty confused,” I said.
“Not about Dill,” Said Gwen.
“Well we still have the tape Victora gave us,” I said. “Would it hurt to have Hymie look at it? I mean Sarah has never steered us wrong before…”
“I guess not,” Said Gwen.