“This is crazy,” Jon said. “How the hell many bars are there in the city?”
Brody laughed. “Too many, from a cop’s perspective. Let’s try this one and a couple more and call it a night.”
They took advantage of two men leaving Far Horizon to enter without having to go through the wall.
“I think… Yeah, I’ve been here before.”
“You know I don’t remember yesterday. But…” Jon looked around. “This is the club I came to with Grant. Then a couple of times after, looking for him.” He smiled sourly. “I guess I was hoping to reconnect, since he hadn’t called me after the first time. Hope springs eternal and all that shit.”
Brody patted his back. “It happens. Is he here tonight?”
“Hard to tell from where we’re standing. Let’s wander.”
* * * *
Mike was halfway to the door when Sage grabbed his arm. “I saw the man in the picture,” he said excitedly. “But…”
“Not possible,” Mike replied shortly. “He’s dead. He was murdered last night.”
“You lied to me?” Sage said in dismay. “Not that it matters. I knew he was dead the second I saw him and his friend—who’s also dead. They’re here, and they’re ghosts.”
Mike rolled his eyes. “Look. I don’t know what you’re trying to pull…”
“I’m not lying,” Sage protested. “I can see—”
“Dead people? That worked in the movie, but not with me.” Mike looked pointedly at the drink Sage was holding. “Maybe it’s time to ease up on those.”
“Damn it! It’s the truth. I can see ghosts, and that’s what the guy is. A ghost.”
Figuring he’d play along to see what Sage would do next to try to convince him, Mike asked, “What’s he wearing?”
“Jeans, a blue work shirt, over a dark red T-shirt.”
Okay. He was here last night and saw Watts. But why the games?
“Am I right?” Sage asked.
“Yeah. Lucky guess. Half the guys here are in jeans and blue shirts.”
“Not work shirts.” Sage looked around, then pointed. “They’re right over there. Honest.”
* * * *
“The detective’s here,” Jon said, nodding toward him.
“Harris?” Brody looked. “Well, damn. I told you he was good.”
“Who’s he talking to?”
“You’re asking me?” Brody replied. “I never… What the hell?”
“Whoever the other guy is, he sees us. He’s looking right at us. I mean at us.”
“He can’t be.”
“Oh, yeah? Move away a bit, and watch his eyes.”
Jon did. The man’s gaze followed his movement. “Now what do we do? What if he tells Harris he sees us?”
“I think he already has, from the look of disbelief on Harris’ face.” Brody chortled. “I bet Harris is about to call the guys in the white coats. Come on.” He walked toward Harris and the other man.
“By all that’s holy, he’s here,” the man who’d seen them said to Harris. “In fact, he, they’re, coming over.”
“Sage…” Harris sighed. “I know you believe what you’re saying but it’s impossible. Dead people don’t come back, except in bad movies. If I were you, I’d go home and sleep it off. That’s what I’m going to do.” He smiled. “Well, not the sleeping off part. I haven’t been drinking.” He started toward the door, stopped, and asked Sage, “Were you here last night?”
Sage looked as if he wasn’t going to answer, then nodded. “I was. So was he. The guy in the picture. I was going to tell you that when you took off for the bar.”
“He was when I saw him. Over there.” Sage pointed to a table in a dark corner of the room. “I didn’t stick around for very long so…” Sage shrugged.
“Okay. Thanks. That helps. Is there anyone else here now who was around last night?”
Sage looked around. “Him, I think, and that couple over there,” he replied, pointing out the men.
Harris thanked him before heading it their direction. As soon as he was gone, Sage looked directly at Jon. “He doesn’t believe me, but I do see you.”
“I know,” Jon replied. “What are you? I mean…”
“I think he’s a medium,” Brody said. “Right?”
“Yes,” Sage replied. “That’s the term for it.” He grimaced. “Unfortunately, when people hear it, they think of some woman dressed like a gypsy, working out of a tent in a carnival, or a sleazy storefront shop. I’d rather die than do something like that.”
“Dying’s not all it’s cracked up to be, so I’d pass if I were you. By the way, I’m Brody and you know he’s Jon.”
Sage started to hold out his hand, stopping with an embarrassed wince. “Can we go somewhere less public? People are beginning to look at me funny.”
Brody laughed. “Sure. Where?”
“My office isn’t far from here.”
“Lead the way.”
“Why are we going with him?” Jon whispered as they followed Sage out of the club.
“Because you can talk to him and he can tell Harris what you know that might be relevant to why you were killed.”
“I don’t think Harris would believe him.”
“Then we’ll have Sage set up a meeting.”
“Riiiiight.” Jon looked at Brody as if he was crazy.
“I could,” Sage said, obviously having overheard them, now that they were out on the street. “He lives in the same townhouse complex I do, so I see him on and off.”
“We’ll see,” Jon replied doubtfully.
They stopped talking as they walked the few blocks to Sage’s office. The sign on the door said ‘Sage Crewe – Landscape Architect’.
When they were inside, Jon immediately went over to one wall which was covered with sketches and photos of what he presumed were yards and parks Sage had created. “I could happily live next door to this,” he said, tapping one of the park pictures. “But then,” he sighed, “I would happily live anywhere, just to be alive again.”
* * * *
Sage smiled slightly when Brody put his arm around Jon’s shoulders and said, “It could be worse. At least you’ve got me hanging around to keep you company.”
“I’d be crazy by now if you weren’t,” Jon murmured. “How you managed to survive on your own…”
“I have a mission. Not that it’s done me much good. Five years and all I have to show for it is zilch.”
“How did you die?” Sage asked.
“Shot by someone who didn’t like that I was an undercover cop. They never found out who did it, so I’m stuck here. Once in a while I meet someone like Jon, but they’ve all moved on.”
Sage sat in one of the chairs along the wall under the sketches and photos, gesturing for the ghosts to take the other ones, “If you can.”
Brody snorted. “Of course we can. You think we’ll sink through a chair?”
“You probably wouldn’t,” Sage retorted. “But I met a ghost a while back who was newly dead. He had trouble staying materialized, to say the least of in one place if he wasn’t standing on the ground. I learned then that it takes a lot of willpower to stay visible and interact with the real world.”
“Not for me,” Jon protested. “I was there, watching, sitting on a retaining wall when the…when my body was found and the cops showed up.” He shivered. “I think I’d have passed on that, given the choice.”
“I take it you don’t know who killed you,” Sage replied in sympathy mixed with, he realized, a bit of ghoulish interest.
“I wouldn’t be here if I did,” Jon said scathingly.
“Not true, from what I understand,” Sage retorted. “Even if you did, you won’t be free until he’s caught.” He glanced at Brody. “Right?”
“Sometimes,” Brody replied. “I think it’s… Well, honestly I don’t know what makes the difference between getting closure when you find out who killed you and not being able to move on until the killer’s caught.”
Sage tapped his lip. “Maybe, it depends on whether the killer’s dead?”
Brody nodded. “Possibly. It would be hard to bring them to justice in that case.”
“Well, my killer’s still around,” Jon said. “I mean, it’s only been a day. I’m betting no one’s offed him in the last twenty-four hours.”
“Probably not,” Sage agreed. “I take it you don’t know who it was. All right. Stupid question. You wouldn’t be here if you did.”
Brody held up a finger. “Not logical. He could know, but with no way to tell anyone, there’s no resolution.”
“Which is where I come in,” Sage replied. “If you can figure it out, I can tell Mike Harris.”
“Uh-huh.” Brody snorted. “I got the feeling from listening to the two of you that he thinks you’re a few cards short of a full deck.”
Sage’s shoulders slumped. “Yeah. I’m afraid so.” His expression brightened. “But if we had proof, then he’d have to listen.”
“How are we going to get it?” Jon asked. “I don’t remember anything from yesterday. Zilch, to quote Brody.”
‘Shared pain is lessened,shared joy is increased, thus do we refute entropy.’ Spider Robinson