The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 39

Threads begin to merge…

I hope.

The Alibi – Chapter 39

Vox and Morelli stood beside the Impala while an officer read Morelli’s ID into his shoulder mic.

He handed it back. “Anything I can get you, Director?”

“Tony’s fine. I’m good.” He looked at Vox. “You good?”

Vox nodded while surveying the mayhem. “People are a little bit jumpy.”

Morelli tucked his shield and ID into a vest pocket. “Destruction on this scale, that’s bound to happen.” He turned back to the officer. “You said a Detective Bill Cranston’s in charge of this?”

“He was.” The officer nodded over his shoulder. “Not sure where he is now. Probably with Doc Cuccello. They work pretty tight togehter. You taking over now?”

“No, let him finish his job but tell him I’d like to see him when he’s done here and sooner rather than later.”

Vox watched Shaul move through the crowd towards them, a column of empty air people avoided it without realizing it. Vox’ tracked Shaul’s approach like a dog catching a scent on the breeze.

“You okay?”

Vox’ nodded towards Shaul. “You can’t see this guy, right?”

“What guy?”

Vox focused directly in front of him. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

Shaul reached out and grabbed his shoulders. “You can see me!”

“Yes, I can.”

Shaul’s hands fell from Vox’ shoulders. “Hey, don’t I know you?”

Vox shook his head. “Not that I know of.”

Morelli followed Vox’ gaze and saw nothing. “Who you talking to?”

“What’s your name?”

“Rexall Shaul. What happened? Am I alive and everyone else is dead? Or am I dead? And you, too? Anybody else?” He caught his breath and cocked his head slightly. “You sure we don’t know each other?”

Vox kept his eyes on Shaul’s ghost while he addressed Morelli. Were there any casualties?”

Morelli checked his phone. “At least one but that’s not confirmed, probably some anxious reporter wanting to scoop everyone running with a rumor.”

“There’s defnitely one. His name’s Rexall Shaul.”

Shaul looked from Vox to Morelli and back. “I’m a casualty? I’m dead? But you can see and hear me? How come you can see me and nobody else can?”

“Yes, you’re standing right here in front of me and I can see and hear you. Touch you, too, if you’d like.” Vox proved his point by giving Shaul a gentle shove. “And yes, you’re a casualty. That’s why nobody else has any awareness of you.”

Shaul leaned against the Impala. “I’m dead.” He straightened up and ran his hands over Morelli’s car. “How come I can feel this. Is this car special?”

“One thing at a time. You’re mostly dead.”

“Mostly dead? What is this, the goddamn Princess Bride?”

“You’re mostly dead because something’s stopping you from completing your journey to the next place. The further you are on your journey, the less you can interact with things in this place.”

“Oh, Christ. ‘The next place’? Father Hunter was right? Now I find out that fucker was right all along?”

It was Vox’ turn to cock his head slightly. “Father Hunter?”

Morelli put his hands behind his back, rocked on his heels, and smiled up while looking out over the seafront. “Yeah, I remember my dad talking on the phone in the kitchen. We could only hear one side of the conversation. My brothers and I use to fill in the blanks. Made my mother laugh. Dad threatened to strangle us with the phone cord if we didn’t stop. They had cords on phones back then. Yeah, I remember it well.” He brought his gaze back to Vox. “Who you goddamn talking to?”

“A witness to the blast, probably. You said you’re name’s Rexall Shaul?”

Morelli pulled out his phone and tapped the screen. “Rexall Shaul? Who the hell name’s their kid Rexall?”

Shaul continued shaking his head. He answered numbly. “My mother. She named me after the pharmacy chain she where she got her birth control pills.”

Vox relayed the information.

“You’re making this up, right?”

“Like I told you, you can’t see him. Remember?”

Shaul once again grabbed Vox’ shoulders. “How come you can see me?”

Vox gently put Shaul’s hands down. “Because I’m…special.”

“Oh fucking Jesus Christ you mean the only one I can talk to is the guy who rides the short bus?”

Morelli waved a hand through Shaul’s head. “Assuming this is for real, is there a way I can talk with him?”

Shaul raised his hand to shove Morelli’s away and it passed through Morelli’s chest. “Can you make him stop doing that?”

“How many times I have to tell you I’m new to this and don’t know what I’m doing?”

Shaul and Morelli spoke in tandem. “Who you talking to, him or me?”

Wilkins stepped around the policeman separating him from Morelli and Vox and directly inot Shaul’s space. “You mentioned Father Hunter. Did you know Father Hunter?”

Shaul stepped out of Wilkins and studied him. “Yeah, yeah. I knew this guy, too. I knew both of you when we were kids.”

Irene Casey and the linebacker came up on either side of Wilkins. Wilkins turned from one to the other and stopped when his eyes met Casey’s. “Officer Casey. Hello. How are you? Do you remember me? I offered you some water. An energy drink? Remember?”

Casey rolled her eyes. “Yes, I remember you, Mr. Wilkins.”

“Phil, please. Call me Phil.”

Morelli took out his shield again and showed the two new arrivals. “You know this man, Officer? Can I trust you to see to this with a minimum of fuss?”

Wilkins put his arm around Casey’s shoulders. “Officer Casey and I are friends. She helped me out a while back. You remember, right, Officer Casey?”

Casey shrugged off Wilkins’ arm. “Word’s already spread you’re here, Sir. I’ve been asked to take you to Detective Cranston. He’s current lead on this. Dr. Cuccello’s handling forensics. She’ll be giving Cranston a prelim by the time we get there. Would you follow me, Sir?”

Wilkins expression turned into that of an ignored puppy. “Officer Casey?”

She nodded at the linebacker. “This officer will take care of you, Mr. Wilkins.”

Morelli walked beside Casey, Vox and Shaul in step behind them.

Morelli thumbed back at Wilkins. “Friend of yours, Officer?”

“God I hope not.”

They didn’t notice Vox slowing down.


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