After my call with Lyndsey, I puttered around the house for a while, but felt restless. I really didn’t have breakfast, so I decided to go down to Maude’s for a bit of brunch.
Galvin was standing outside of Maude’s, as if expecting me.
“Hey Gill, buy me a cup of coffee?”
“Sure, Galvin. I was just on my way in for some brunch. You can have a Danish or something too, so you don’t feel uncomfortable sipping coffee while I’m eating.”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
Maude’s granddaughter, Em, poured us a coffee as we sat down. She came back a minute later and took our orders. When she walked away I looked over at Galvin.
“What’s up?” I asked. “I’m sure there was something more than you needing a bit of caffeine.”
“You haven’t been to Strickland’s for a few days,” he said. “A lot’s going on. Looks like the time of dying is getting worse. Just yesterday Dorothy Farley had a stroke and passed away.”
“I’ve never heard of her.”
“Oh, she lived at the nursing home. She was in her 90s and had a big stroke a while ago. The one yesterday finished her off.”
“Uhm, Galvin, this isn’t convincing me. This is typical life and death in a small town. Anything more?”
‘Well, I’ve done some snooping and found something out.”
“You know that odd lady who comes in here and eats with an empty plate? Mrs. Adams? I discovered that it’s for her dead husband. Ask Em, Maude’s granddaughter, when she comes back around.”
“Yeah, I know that.”
“She’s also real close to the Goode family. She’s related on both sides. In fact, she has Goodes coming from so many sources, she might as well be Johnathan himself.”
“That might be an exaggeration.”
“Really? Do you know? All four of her grandparents have Goode blood and I hear all four have it from both sides. She’s Gooder than anybody else alive.”
“People are whispering and I’ve heard more.” He stopped looked around as if to be sure nobody was listening in. “She’s here to bring Thomas back to life. Thomas caused the first time of dying and will cause this one. And somehow, you’re mixed up in. Don’t know how or why. She wants your help. Stay away from her! Try to stop her. We don’t have another time of dying.”
“Have you been talking to Izle?”
“Why in the world would I ever talk to Isabel Parker? That lady is totally whacko, looney tunes and just plain stupid.”
“OK. It’s just that… Oh, never mind. But you say Thomas is going to cause mischief?”
“Yep. His ghost has already been causing issues, they say.”
“Have you seen him?”
“Me? No. Of course not.”
“Have you seen any of the ghosts? You sent me up to visit Martha, but have you ever seen her?”
He squirmed a little and didn’t look at me. “No.”
“Really? I thought everyone went up there and saw her when they were kids?”
“Back in high school and such, when everyone else did, I didn’t. Guess I’ll have to tell you why. Didn’t want to. Actually, seems odd today, but maybe I was right back then.”
“Ok, tell me.”
“My mom was very religious. I followed along with her back then. I went to church and Sunday school every week and prayed every day, before meals and before bed and sometimes just because. That’s why.” He leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee, obviously pleased with himself.
“Sorry, I must be missing something.”
He looked at me as if he thought I was a total idiot. He leaned forward and put his coffee down.
“In church,” he said, as if lecturing a child, “they tell you that when you die, if you are good you go to Heaven and if you are bad you go to Hell. They don’t say anything about no ghosts, now. There are angels and demons, though, but not ghosts.”
“Right. So do they say ghosts must be angels or demons?”
“No, no, no. I just said that they don’t mention ghosts at all. But I always had to wonder what they were. People talked about the ghosts and I knew they were real. But what were they? Those are the only things that came to mind, demons or angels.”
“Right. So there are good ghosts, which are angels and bad, then?”
“Maybe, but I’m not sure. It doesn’t make much sense. Why would ghosts be angels? God sends angels down to do good, to watch over the innocent, not to scare people out of houses. God is honest and so wouldn’t send someone down for a reason that’s not apparent. The Devil, though, the Lord of Lies, might send devils for unknown reasons. That means ghosts must be demons. They are evil and are here only for evil. People have a hard enough time being good and making it to Heaven as it is, why risk playing with Demons?”
“OK, I see now. You didn’t visit haunted houses because you didn’t want to risk your eternal soul. Have you ever been up to the Goode Mansion?”
“Hundreds of times, even recent, but never closer to 100 yards from it. Back in the day, I played look-out when others visited because the police used to chase kids away.”
“But the Old Mill. Certainly that’s haunted.”
“Is it? Worked there forever and never saw anything. If the Martha I worked for saw something, she never told me.”
“But if it isn’t, where is Barbara Adams finding Thomas? I thought that’s why she has the mill.”
Galvin stared straight ahead, mouth slightly open. Em came by and dropped off my brunch and a cinnamon roll for Galvin. She gave Galvin an odd look, but he didn’t notice. Right after Em left, he smiled as if a struck by a sudden thought.
“I bet I know. She had a séance. You know, called back his spirit. I bet that’s it. And the Devil himself may have visited, which is why there is that foul air over the town. Yeah, that’s it, she’s some type of witch and called him back.”
“I still always thought that there was something about the mill…”
“That was just rumor. People talked about it for almost 200 years, but there was nothing. I’m proof. I worked there for years, helping old Martha, and never saw or heard anything. Not funny noises, nothing ever out of place, nothing. If I didn’t see anything, then there was nothing.” He folded his arms across his chest as if that was the final proof for all times.
Izle had told me that Galvin was totally insensitive. It seemed odd, but I was beginning to believe she was right. That’s why he couldn’t see Mr. Adams. As far as the mill goes, long before I saw any ghosts there, I felt the presence. Galvin acted like he felt nothing.
“Thanks for warning me, Galvin. I’ll be sure to avoid Mrs. Adams and I’ll be sure not to go into the Mill. OK?”
“Yeah, Gill. It would make me feel better.”
He finished his cinnamon roll in silence and then got up.
“Thanks, Gill. It was nice seeing you.”
“Nice seeing you too, Galvin,” I said. “Later.”
He waved and headed to the door.
As Galvin passed out of Maude’s, Nate came in. I knew Nate was a big guy and that Galvin was a tiny whip of a thing with wiry strength but no height, but I’d never seen them side by side. Galvin looked like a child or a toy. The term “head and shoulders bigger” came to mind with a force, but it wasn’t just the height comparison, Nate was broad in the shoulders and looked like he could bench press ten times Galvin’s weight.
Nate saw me watching and nodded, but it was a cold, almost menacing nod. I remembered what everyone said about him not liking me. I nodded to him and then returned my attention to my food.