Kitty Raises Hell Page 72

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And he was telling us to move on. To let him go.

When Peter straightened and raised his head, his eyes were dry. “No. That’s okay. Thank you, I guess. I can almost hear him,” he said, chuckling. “Like a voice over my shoulder. I haven’t seen him in ten years, and it’s still hard to think he’s gone.”

I touched his arm. Like that would do any good. I could almost hear T.J.’s voice, too. I’d also had a voice whispering over my shoulder.

“It’s funny,” Tina said. “We try so hard to hold on to them. I think every ghost story, even the scary ones, is about the fear of dying. We don’t want people to just end. So we tell stories where they don’t. We try our damnedest to talk to them. We’ll believe anything. But I think if we asked them, the ones who are gone, they’d tell us to get on with our lives.”

Funny. I didn’t imagine Mick saying that. I imagined him saying, You were supposed to protect us .

Let it go, Kitty.

With an obvious flourish to break the mood, she drew out another sealed envelope. “I have something for you guys, too.” She put it on the table between Gary and Jules.

“What’s this?” Jules said.

“Remember the episode we did on Harry Houdini? About how he vowed that if there was a way to communicate from the great beyond, he’d do it?”

It took us all a minute to register the implications of that. Of that and her. My eyes got real big. “No way. ”

In a near-frenzy, Jules tore open the envelope.

“Why didn’t you say anything before?” Gary said.

Tina said, “I couldn’t say anything about it without blowing my cover or coming off sounding like a quack. We’d just debunked three fake examples of automatic writing. I couldn’t exactly say, ‘Yeah, here’s the real thing’ and not say where it came from. But. Well. I thought you’d be interested.”

Gary and Jules leaned in to read the sheet.

“What’s it say?” I was nearly out of my seat.

The note read, “Everyone who knew my codes is dead, this will not work, no one will believe you. But thank you for trying.”

“You’re having one over on us,” Jules said.

Tina said, “Here’s the thing. Most of the psychics are trying to contact Harry Houdini. How many of them ever try to contact Ehrich Weiss?”

Ehrich Weiss was Houdini’s given name. The really funky thing about it? The handwriting was different than the writing on Peter’s note. Wildly different. More different than someone could fake, unless they were really good.

I asked Tina, “You wrote these both?”

“I held the pen,” she said.

“Peter,” I said. “Does that look anything like T.J.’s handwriting?”

“I don’t really know. I could check, though.”

Then we’d have to compare the other note to samples of Houdini’s writing. God, this was weird.

“It’s like the channeling Arabic, isn’t it?” Jules said.

“I don’t understand it,” Tina said. “That’s why I hooked up with you guys, remember? Somebody’s got to figure out a way to explain stuff like this.”

In the end, maybe that was what separated the real paranormal investigators from the charlatans. The charlatans kept up the aura of mystery and obfuscation. The real investigators kept asking why and how.

“Hey, it’s starting!” Shaun announced, punching at the remote to turn up the volume on the TV. The show’s intro came up, and there was a cheer. Everyone turned to look at the Paradox crew’s table. I beamed at them proudly.

“Have fun, guys. Let me know if you need anything.”

I’d meant to sit down with Ben again, and not get up for the rest of the evening, but I saw Rick standing in the doorway. I went to meet him.

“I invited you in once already, isn’t it supposed to keep working?”

“The invitation stands. I just can’t stay long,” he said. “I only wanted to say congratulations on the publicity.” He nodded at the screen, which now showed my grinning face talking to Tina. I might actually get used to this TV thing someday. I seemed to be showing up on it more and more often.

“Thanks. But I think you owe me some stories, after everything I went through. Doc Holliday and Central City stories. And Coronado. And Spain.”

He twitched the sly smile that meant I wasn’t going to get any stories this time. “You never give up, do you?”

“Nope,” I said. “Not anymore. Not ever.”

“Good,” he said softly.

My smile fell. “I guess you haven’t heard anything about Roman. Where he ended up, what he’s doing now?”

“No. But I’m counting that a blessing at the moment. The usual request still stands. If you hear anything—”

“Same with you. Don’t treat me like I’m an ignorant underling. No more of this you-puny-mortals-wouldn’t- understand garbage.”

“All right. I promise.”

With a guy like Rick, that promise really meant something.

I glanced over at Ben, intending to see if there was space at our table where we could invite Rick to sit. But when I turned back to Rick, he was gone. Back to being all inscrutably vampiric and vanishing in plain sight.

So it was just me who returned to the table and sat next to Ben. “How are you doing?”

He donned a vague smile. “This feels like the first time in weeks I’ve been able to sit and catch my breath.”

“Amen,” I said.

We leaned back, our chairs against the shelter of the wall behind us, and gazed out over our realm. He squeezed my hand.

“I’m thinking of something else,” he said.

“Yeah? What?”

“You want to go out?”

Wolf perked up her ears. She knew what “out” meant, like any canine wanting to go for a run. I played obtuse. “Like on a date?”

“Sort of. Maybe out to that open space west of 93.”

“Full moon’s a week away,” I said.

“I know. But I keep thinking about waking up in the cold air curled up with you. No one around, just the two of us. Leave the kids at home.”

You know, it actually sounded romantic.

“I don’t like to make a habit of that sort of thing.”

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