112 - Chicago
SEVERAL WEEKS AGO I never would have expected to be going back to Mrs. Claire’s so soon. But I needed supplies. If I could believe what Sister Kat had said–and I had no particular reason to doubt her–then there were things that I wouldn’t have the first idea how to find.
But I knew someone who did.
And if my hunch was right, Alex would be there as well.
It took a moment for Mrs. Claire to answer the door. It was getting on in the day and I doubted that she’d had a customer–after all, hadn’t she said that Alex was driving them all away? So when she answered the door, I got right to the point. “I think I figured out how to get rid of him.”
It was only then, that I noticed that she wasn’t alone. Amanda was still there, standing right behind her.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I didn’t mean… I mean, I didn’t… I didn’t see you standing there.”
“No, you meant exactly what you said.”
There really wasn’t anything that I could say. She had a point.
“Come in,” Mrs. Claire said, going at least a tiny bit towards diffusing the situation. She stood out of the way and held the door for me.
I went in, carefully not meeting Amanda’s eyes. The bigger problem was though that she may actually have been the one that I would need to procure some of the items on the list.
“So what did you find out?” Mrs. Claire said. I noticed that she wasn’t meeting Amanda’s gaze either. “Can you exorcise him?”
I shook my head. Mrs. Claire’s expression fell.
“I don’t have the time to learn how to do an exorcism,” I admitted. At least not properly. And it seemed that was one sort of thing that you didn’t want to do halfway. “But I think we have another option.”
Her features perked back up, but there was a wary tone to her expression now. “How’s that?”
“Well, as you may have noticed, it seems that the world is a pretty strange place.”
She nodded, still apprehensive. I noticed that Amanda was listening closely too and to my surprise, her expression looked more hopeful than anything. Perhaps I wasn’t reading it correctly.
“It seems that all of the old stories are true. Not only are their ghosts, but there are truly old ways to keep them away.”
She just looked at me, but this time I saw that Amanda was nodding. Perhaps she would end up being the more useful of the two after all.
“I just need a few supplies. Then I think we can do it.”
Amanda spoke up. “Do what exactly?” Her voice was soft, but there was a strength running through each syllable.
“Well, according to my source–” That felt strange saying it that way, but she had asked to remain anonymous. “–we’ll be able to keep him away from here at least. That’s the first step.”
“First step implies that there are more.”
“Just one more.” And this one was the more troublesome of the two. “If he’s come back, that means that at least some part of his earthly body is anchoring him here.”
She was already nodding as I was speaking, as if she knew where this was going. “The second step will be to deal with those remains. Really, there are three options. We can move them…”
Mrs. Claire shook her head, “but won’t that just move Alex’s… whatever he is now?”
I nodded. That was exactly the problem. It reminded me of Private Jackson’s body all those years ago. Once his body had left the country, I’d never seen him again…
“The second option would be to destroy them.”
“But he was already cremated,” Amanda said.
“Which is strange,” I said. “Normally none of this would be possible if he had been cremated.”
“If?” Amanda’s voice rose in pitch. “I was there. I saw the ashes.”
“And you’re sure that they were his?” I didn’t want to have to ask, but I needed the answer. If it hadn’t actually been his body that had been cremated, the problem became at once easier–we wouldn’t have to deal with destroying a body that had already been destroyed–and harder–if it hadn’t been cremated, what had happened to it?
Luckily though, she nodded. Her words didn’t sound quite as confident though. “I mean, it had to have been. Right?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Either way, we had options. Not ones that I particularly cared to start with, but options nevertheless.
“Is there a third option?” Mrs. Claire asked.
I nodded. I hadn’t been sure that I was going to bring it up, but now that she had asked. “Alex was Catholic, yes?”
“But he was buried without a Catholic funeral.” It was more a statement than a question. Given the circumstances of his death, there wouldn’t have been any other choice.
Mrs. Claire looked at me blankly, but Amanda nodded. The look on her face told me that she’d already come to the same conclusion that I had.
“Well then. That would be the third option.”