Only two months into being a ghost huntress, and I do believe this current case takes the freakin’ cake.
I’m sitting in the living room of one Mrs. Millicent Lockhart of 859 Crow Lane here in Radisson, Georgia. Mrs. Lockhart called my team and me in to help find her deceased husband. And I don’t mean, like, to connect with him spiritually—although, as a still budding psychic, I’m able to do that—she wants us to physically find his missing body. Literally. I’m not exactly sure how she lost him, but anyway, here we sit in the very prim and proper living room of an old carriage house on the grounds of a sprawling mansion.
Talk about it being the best of investigating times and the worst of investigating times . . . No, no, no, Dickens already used that line. We’ll have to figure this one out on our own.
"More lemon tea bars?" Mrs. Lockhart asks, nudging the crystal serving plate toward me. Even with a deceased and misplaced husband, she’s still a Southern lady and the quintessential hostess with the mostest.
"No, thank you, ma’am," I say politely. My friend, neighbor, and fellow ghost huntress Celia Nichols rolls her eyes, but then she reaches out for another one of the tart treats. It’s her third. This isn’t a tea party, though. It’s a ghost investigation. Or at least it’s supposed to be.
"These are delicious," Taylor Tillson says. She sits daintily with her ankles crossed and her long golden tresses perfectly in place. Taylor always looks like she just walked off the pages of a magazine, even when we’re in full ghost-hunt mode. She wipes her hands on the starched linen napkin and continues. "I just have to make sure I don’t get any of the bonté délicieuse
on my camera when I start taking pictures."
Two years of French. What are you gonna do with her?
Rebecca "Becca" Asiaf lets out a long sigh and taps her foot impatiently. Her digital recorder is poised in her left palm, and I can tell she’s ready to get this puppy going. Her silver-ringed thumb, with its black nail polish, waits to hit Record. Obviously, she’s as eager to get on with this investigation as I am. Niceties with our hostess aside, we’ve got work to do.
But this feels more like a social obligation with a great-aunt or something. The four of us are seated on Mrs. Lockhart’s crushed-velvet Victorian sofa like perfect little debutantes, sipping our tea and hoping to get more details of her tale of woe. It’s important to get as many facts about the dearly departed as possible before we fully begin examining the case at hand, which, in this instance, is File GH-0018—Delaney Lockhart.
Yeah, we’re up to eighteen cases!
See, a couple of months ago, my family—Mom, Dad, and little sis, Kaitlin—moved here from our beloved Chicago when dear old Dad took the job of city planner for Radisson. A town that I feel is out where God lost his shoes. The closest metropolis, Atlanta, is an hour’s drive. As if leaving behind everything you’ve ever known in your life isn’t hard enough, I am also going through my "psychic awakening." That’s according to Loreen Woods, my friend, mentor, and the owner of Divining Woman, a metaphysical store on the Square.
Yep, I can see, hear, and talk to spirits . . . ghosts, the recently and not-so-recently deceased.
Let me tell you what: it’s been a busy couple of months for me, Kendall Moorehead. Once word got out about how my team of ghost huntresses had helped a 150-year-old spirit that was trapped in city hall pass into the light, well, everyone and his brother has stopped us with a ghost story or two to tell. Being official ghost huntresses has made me and my friends—Celia, Taylor, and Becca—the talk of the town, and we’ve garnered a ton of attention. (Not all of it is positive, especially the dirty looks and ill treatment from school beeyotch Courtney Langdon and her flock of followers. However, I think that has more to do with the fact that I’m now dating her ex-boyfriend—and Taylor’s twin brother—Jason Tillson.)
It’s sort of hard to have a boyfriend when all of your weekends are filled with visits to Radisson’s most historic—and often haunted—locations, the mustiest and dustiest of basements, and the homes of some lonely and weird townspeople. Like the one we’re in right now.
I shift on the antique couch and clear my throat to ease the tension in my tight chest. I don’t think that Mrs. Lockhart is one of those weirdoes we’ve been running into lately—the kind who wear tinfoil hats and sleep in their bathtubs for fear that things are watching them—because she was a kindergarten teacher in Radisson for years and schooled all three of my friends. However, the woman is definitely broken-hearted and forlorn. The sadness radiating from her is palpable, and I can feel it in the depths of my being like the heat from a well-stoked fire.
I nudge Celia in her ribs with my elbow, and she knows that I’m ready to get down to business.
"So, Mrs. Lockhart, can you tell us again everything that happened with your husband?" Celia says in a very grown-up, professional manner. She flips open her notepad and twirls her Bic between her long fingers.
Becca clicks on the digital recorder and places it on the marble coffee table. She’s our sound expert on the team, trying to capture EVPs, electronic voice phenomena. EVPs are the coolest thing ever. I mean, I can hear the spirits’ voices in my head, but the digital recorder can actually pick up disembodied voices that answer questions or make statements during our investigations. What we capture can totally back up what I’ve said. Taylor nods at me and then moves over to where she has the video recorder set up. She’s a whiz-bang at anything photography related. That’s why she’s on the team. Some of the pictures she’s captured with the infrared camera and the night vision are a-freakin’-mazing!
Sitting forward, I fold my hands together and listen as Mrs. Lockhart explains why we’re here. The older woman dabs her wrinkled eyes with the corner of a lace handkerchief. She sniffs hard and then takes a deep breath.
"Delaney and I went out to Scottsdale last week to visit with our younger daughter, Veronica—our older girl, Evelyn, lives in the main house—and her boys. They’re such good boys, those grandsons of mine. Derrick is on the soccer team and Spencer has learned to ride his bike—"
"Yes, ma’am. Now, about Mr. Lockhart, please," I say, trying not to be rude.
"Certainly. As I was saying, we were having a ball at Veronica’s. Even to the point where Delaney said he would consider moving out there. Inever thought he’d want to leave Georgia. But the weather out in Arizona is simply amazing." Mrs. Lockhart moves behind her ear a stray lock of salt-and-pepper hair that has escaped the tight bun at the base of her neck. I feel a tension at the back of my own neck and wonder if it’s empathy with what she’s going through or if I slept wrong last night.
She continues. "Delaney loved the putting greens and courses out there and was spending most afternoons golfing and relaxing. He’d been so stressed lately, what with the economy and all and watching our retirement accounts dwindling. But on Saturday he didn’t come back from his golf game, and Veronica and I got worried. Someone from the country club called and told us that he’d had a . . . a . . ." She trails off and then begins to cry. My heart goes out to her, knowing she lost the love of her life. I mean,...