Coffin cemetery, p.1

Coffin Cemetery, page 1

 part  #1 of  Tormented Souls Series


Coffin Cemetery

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Coffin Cemetery

  Coffin Cemetery

  Tormented Souls Series Book 1

  Written by Ron Ripley

  Edited by Kathryn St. John-Shin

  Copyright © 2019 by

  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Thank You and Bonus Novel!

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  See you in the shadows,

  Ron Ripley

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1: Little Red Schoolhouse

  Chapter 2: 11 Kehoe Ave

  Chapter 3: The Muscle

  Chapter 4: Moonlight

  Chapter 5: Peaceful

  Chapter 6: Pleasure

  Chapter 7: Acceptance

  Chapter 8: Belief

  Chapter 9: Holt Ave

  Chapter 10: Routines

  Chapter 11: At Home

  Chapter 12: The Tin Soldier

  Chapter 13: Prepared

  Chapter 14: Anger Free Library

  Chapter 15: A Nap

  Chapter 16: Echoes of Violence

  Chapter 17: Found

  Chapter 18: Henry

  Chapter 19: Bad Dreams

  Chapter 20: A Quick Trip

  Chapter 21: Changes

  Chapter 22: Refusal

  Chapter 23: Small Town

  Chapter 24: Fear

  Chapter 25: Company Arrives

  Chapter 26: Buke’s

  Chapter 27: Irritation

  Chapter 28: Early Morning Run

  Chapter 29: Awakened

  Chapter 30: Punishment

  Chapter 31: Thinking

  Chapter 32: Warrant

  Chapter 33: Secrets

  Chapter 34: Difficulty

  Chapter 35: Information Gathering

  Chapter 36: Disruptions

  Chapter 37: Working the Case

  Chapter 38: Mary’s House

  Chapter 39: After Hours

  Chapter 40: Issues

  Chapter 41: Arguments

  Chapter 42: Money is Everything

  Chapter 43: Confrontation

  Chapter 44: Payday

  Chapter 45: Coffin Cemetery

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  Chapter 1: Little Red Schoolhouse

  Dan Tate looked at the blank television screen and sat limply in his easy chair. Aside from the hammock hanging in a corner, the easy chair was the only piece of furniture he owned.

  Does a hammock count as a piece of furniture? he wondered. Probably not.

  Sighing, Dan stood up, walked the few feet to the battered, brown mini-fridge, and opened it. He pulled out a frozen dinner, opened it, peeled the plastic back, and popped it into the microwave set atop the fridge.

  As his food cooked, Dan took his t-shirts down from the clothesline strung across the back of the room and folded them. He added them to the orderly row of clothes already on the floor just beneath his sweatshirts. The sweatshirts, two light gray affairs with Coffin Cemetery Caretaker in bold italics on the back, hung from a pair of pegs.

  The microwave beeped, and Dan took the container out, ignoring the heat searing his large fingers. He carried the food to his chair, picked up his fork from the pocket attached to the chair’s arm, and stirred the meal ten times to the left and then another ten times to the right. Finally, Dan retrieved his water bottle from the floor and walked to the small sink in the corner opposite his hammock. He refilled the bottle, counted to sixty, and then returned to his chair and devoured his dinner.

  At precisely six o’clock, two events occurred—he finished his meal, and the phone rang.

  The harsh jangle of the ringer cut through his silence, and he frowned as he stood and tucked his fork into his back pocket. He opened the door to his room and stepped out into the classroom of the Little Red Schoolhouse. His long stride carried him across the old floorboards to the main door, where an old, off-green phone continued to ring.

  He lifted the receiver, held it to his ear and stated, “Dan Tate.”

  “Dan,” Jessica said.

  “Hi,” he replied.

  She sighed on the other end. “Dan, your check. Did you send it?”

  “I mailed it three days ago,” he answered. “From the Bridge Street Post Office. It’s the closest post office to your house as well as the distribution center. The check should have arrived today.”

  “It should have.” Jessica’s voice was heavy with poorly suppressed annoyance and frustration. “It didn’t.”

  He frowned. “Do you need extra money?”

  “No, but the kids need new shoes.”

  “Both of them?” Dan asked.

  “Yup. I need the alimony, the child support, and more for the shoes.”

  “All right,” he replied. “How much for the shoes?”

  “Aaron says he wants a pair of Nikes,” she answered. “Cheapest pair is one hundred twenty-five dollars. Emily wants a pair of Converse One Stars, cheapest is fifty.”

  Dan nodded to himself. “Okay. I’ll send a check tomorrow.”

  She cut him off with a curt, “They need them tomorrow. Do you have any cash?”

  He looked back toward his room. “A little bit. Enough for the shoes. Do you need me to drop it off?”

  “No,” she answered. “I’ll come pick it up. The kids don’t want you anywhere near the house, Dan.”

  His shoulders sagged, and he felt sadness pull at him. There was no anger. Not anymore. Jessica was a great many things, but never a liar, especially not about the kids.

  “I don’t particularly want to see you, either.” Unmistakable bitterness coated her voice and words.

  “I understand,” he whispered.

  Jessica sighed, and there was a brief hint of the old love there when she next spoke. “That’s the terrible thing, Dan. You do understand. I’ll be there in an hour. Do you have a place you can put it?”

  “Yes, I have a coffee can I use for change. I’ll empty it, put the cash in, and set it on the front steps when I see your car.”

  “Thanks.” She hung up, and Dan returned the phone to its cradle before walking back to his room. He knelt beside his clothes and pried up a loose board. Beneath it was eight glass jars. Most of his money was stored in them. Some of it was in the bank to cover such checks as he needed to write for Jessica and the kids and to pay for his internet. Other than that, Dan liked to have his money on hand.

  He removed the upper left jar, unscrewed the cap, and took out a roll of bills. He peeled off five fifties, then returned the roll and the jar to their places. Dan slid the board back into position and picked up the coffee jar he kept his coins in. Only a few dimes and pennies were in it. Recently, he had cashed in his change, adding to his supply beneath the boards.

  Carrying the bills and the can back into the classroom, Dan waited and stared through the window. It was a full five minutes before he spotted the familiar shape of Jessica’s blue Nissan Altima.

  He opened the door, set the can on the step, then quickly retreated into the schoolhouse. Within a few moments, Jessica pulled up. He heard the car door open, followed by footsteps toward the building. There was a dull rattle from the coins he had forgotten to take out from the con
tainer and then, after a minute, he heard the car door close again. The engine complained as Jessica shifted gears. Finally, he looked through the window once more and watched as she drove away.

  Dan shoved his sadness back down to where he kept it hidden and opened the door. He reached for the can and stopped.

  Less than a hundred feet away, where the stone wall met the wrought iron fence, he saw a young boy, perhaps seven or eight, standing near a headstone. The child’s expression was mournful as he looked at Dan.

  “Help me,” the child moaned. “Please.”

  The boy vanished, and Dan plonked down upon the floor.

  Chapter 2: 11 Kehoe Ave

  “Mike, I’m just saying, it’s really strange,” Sharon said, putting the plates into the dishwasher.

  Her husband looked up from his phone, frowned at her and answered, “Sharon, the woman’s probably a con artist or something. Come on, palm reading and fortune telling?”

  Sharon glared at him, and he quickly focused on his phone again.

  “Number one,” she stated, closing the dishwasher door and leaning against the countertop, “it was at a psychic convention. So, yes, those things are there. Number two, Janet Ladd is a medium, not a palm reader or anything.”

  “How is that any different?” Mike asked, putting his phone down on the table.

  Sharon looked at her husband and wondered how such an intelligent man could be so incredibly dense. He swallowed, adjusted his glasses. “Please, tell me how they’re different.”

  “I don’t know the specifics, but I know that she came up to me. To me, Mike, and said, ‘You live in the old Grant House on Kehoe Avenue.’ I said, ‘Yes, that’s right, I do.’”

  Mike’s voice was hushed as he folded his arms over his chest and carefully responded. “Okay. Maybe she saw you here before or knew someone who knows us or you. Plenty of logical, non-supernatural explanations for her knowing where we live.”

  “She also knew about the cold spots,” Sharon pointed out.

  He shrugged his large shoulders, the collar of his golf shirt rising to his earlobes.

  So thick sometimes, she thought.

  “Cold spots,” Mike countered, “every house has them.”

  “The cold spot in the butler’s pantry?” Sharon asked.

  “She,” Mike stopped and frowned. “How the hell could she know about that?”

  “Thank you!” Sharon exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air.

  “How could she know?” Mike asked again, looking at her. “We haven’t told anyone about it.”

  “That’s why I believe her.” Sharon shook her head. “Because no one could know about it.”

  She saw the discomfort on her husband’s face, his pale, Irish skin reddening around his cheeks. He brushed his strawberry blonde hair back from his forehead and took off his glasses, setting them down on the table beside his phone.

  “This doesn’t make any sense,” Mike muttered. Sharon watched him stand up, cross the kitchen, and open the butler’s pantry. He pulled the chain for the overhead light and peered in at the shelves of food and supplies. Glancing back at Sharon, he asked, “Did she tell you how she knows?”

  Sharon felt goosebumps dance along her arms as she nodded. “That was the really strange part, Mike. It scared me.”

  He turned off the light and closed the door, a fierce, protective expression settling on his face.

  “Tell me.”

  Sharon cleared her throat. “Well, she said there was something following me. A ghost.”

  “A ghost?” His hands clenched and unclenched as if he wanted to find the ghost and grab hold of it.

  In her growing discomfort and fear, Sharon’s voice became a whisper. “Yes, a ghost. She said it was from the house, and that, somehow, it had attached itself to me.”

  “What do we do to get rid of it?” Mike asked, his eyes darting to the closed door of the pantry.

  “She gave me her card. It’s in my purse. I want to give her a call.”

  Mike nodded. “Yeah, I agree. This is, I don’t know, weird. How the hell can she know about the cold spot!”

  Sharon shook her head, giving in to the wave of fear crashing over her. She started to tremble and wrapped her arms around herself, squeezing. Then, Mike was there, pulling her into his arms and holding her. She rested her head against his chest, the thumping of his heart loud but comforting in her ear.

  “Don’t worry,” he soothed, stroking her hair. “I don’t know what this is, and I’m scared as hell. I’m scared for you, Sharon, but don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.”

  “Okay, Mike,” Sharon whispered and squeezed her eyes shut to keep back the tears.

  Chapter 3: The Muscle

  Janet Ladd held the miniature lighthouse in a glove laced with iron. In her right hand, she carried a small garden trowel, one picked up earlier from Home Depot. She stood behind a large maple tree less than a hundred feet from 11 Kehoe Avenue. Around her, crickets and other insects sang their songs while a cool, summer breeze danced along the pavement. Most of the houses on the street were dark. More importantly, 11 Kehoe was dark.

  Fear works best in darkness, she thought with a smile.

  Squatting down, Janet dug a small hole in the dirt at the base of the tree and laid the lighthouse into it. She buried it, marked the location with a stone and waited.

  The insects went silent, and the temperature dropped.

  Janet stood up, stepped back, and demanded, “Come on, Chuck.”

  Chuck Devons, dead for nearly thirty years, appeared in front of her. He was a squat, brutish man with a pug nose and a square jaw. The dead man liked to hurt people, and he was one of the best tools Janet used.

  “Janet,” he greeted, picking at his teeth with a thumbnail. He didn’t sound happy to see her. “What do we have tonight?”

  “That Victorian behind you,” Janet stated, nodding toward it. “In there, we’ve got a husband and wife. Mike and Sharon Boire. I told the wife today their house is haunted. I want to make sure they come and pay me a visit.”

  Chuck frowned. “Can I hurt ‘em tonight?”

  “Definitely not,” she replied sharply. “If they need a little more pushing in the next couple of days, sure. Not right now, though. Can’t go in too heavy.”

  “Sure, you can,” Chuck smirked. “I think it’ll be fine to lean on ‘em a little.”

  “Not tonight,” she stressed. “Do you want to do this, or should I get Eliza?”

  He sneered at her. “I’ll do it. You keep that one locked up. When do you want me to go in?”

  “Once I leave.”

  “You want a light show or what?” Chuck asked, sounding bored.

  “I want you to do your job, and that’s it. As of right now, you can’t be trusted. I’ll stop by tomorrow and let you know if I need you to push harder.”

  “Can’t wait,” was his sarcastic reply.

  Janet shook her head and walked away. Behind her, Chuck hummed a piece of Wagner, and she smiled.

  Sharon and Mike Boire were in for a hell of a night.


  Mike turned off the bathroom light and wandered blindly down the hallway, trailing one hand along the wall to keep from falling in the darkness. His thoughts were sluggish, his legs moving slowly. He was exhausted after having spent the better part of the day on the golf course, then two more hours after dinner reassuring Sharon.

  The idea of a ghost spiked his heart rate and brought him a little closer to full alertness. Is there really a ghost in the house? he asked himself, yawning as he walked into the bedroom. I mean, seriously, a ghost?

  How the hell did this woman know about the cold spot? Mike wondered, climbing back into bed. He kept his feet away from Sharon, knowing the touch of his cold skin would wake her up. He pulled the sheet over him and settled onto his side, his right arm under the pillow and his head. After a moment, he closed his eyes and tried to forget what his wife had said.

  He felt himself drifting off, his
thoughts becoming more difficult to focus on. Sharon twisted around behind him, and Mike shifted his right arm, felt a cool hand wrap around his wrist. He smiled.

  “Feeling all right, hon?” he asked.

  The grip tightened, pleasantly at first, then painfully.

  “Hell, Sharon, let go,” Mike muttered, trying to tug his arm away. His skin started to ache, and flashes of pain shot up his forearm. Another pull, and he yelled, “Sharon, let go!”

  The light clicked on. “Let go of what?”

  Mike looked over his shoulder and saw her rubbing the sleep from her eyes while something under the pillow continued to pull at him.

  The light flickered, brightened, and then popped, leaving Mike with an image of Sharon’s terrified face. Before he could react, whatever was holding onto him jerked him off of the bed. Mike swore as he crashed to the floor, his lips smashing against the hardwood. He tasted blood as he twisted his arm back and forth, trying and failing to wrench his wrist free.

  Mike muffled a shriek of terror as he was dragged toward the underside of the bed. Vaguely, he could hear Sharon screaming, fear heavy in her voice. The beam of a flashlight pierced the darkness of the bedroom, then it, like the lightbulb before it, went dark. Mike felt a second, cold hand join the first around his wrist.

  He struggled to break free, but the strength of the thing under the bed was too great. He tried to dig his toes into the wood, to slow his progress, but one of his nails caught on the floor, tearing free and sending waves of nauseating pain over him. He felt his arm go beneath the box spring, striking the boxes of photographs and odds and ends his wife stored there.

  A second later, his head hit the bottom bed rail, then he was dragged underneath, his shoulders and the rest of his torso forcing the bed up onto a single pair of legs. The wood of the bed rail caught on his ribs for a moment, and then the entire bed frame bit into his flesh. The pain caused stars to explode across his vision, and he struggled for breath. Sharon shouted in dismay, and he heard her thump onto the floor.

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