This week marks the end of Stan and Ollie... for now. The mystery is solved, and it's time for me to set them aside and resume them at a later point. But don't worry, I'm working on the first book in the series, and hope to get these two back out as soon as possible. So next week, I'll be starting something new!
Don't forget to see what the other Briefers did this week. Their links follow my tale! And guess what? We have a flash virgin! Enjoy!
Stan and Ollie #24
We leave Xylina hovering over the bent and trembling form of the pastor. A little water won’t hurt him; maybe it’ll give him time to reflect on his sins. Before we turn him in to the local authorities. For right now, though, we have other fish to fry.
I give my partner an inquiring glance and he knows what I’m asking without my having to vocalize the question. He nods. We gather Egbert between us, and make our way along the grassy creek bank. This part will be painful but it must be done.
The minister really didn’t make an attempt to hide her body. I have to believe the only reason she’s not been found before is that no one was actually looking for her, assuming her to be a runaway bride. No one except Egbert, who just didn’t know where to look.
It’s not a pretty sight. Her body lies wedged between some rocks and a fallen tree, as if caught there, unable to move. Otherwise, I fear she’d have drifted downstream and far away. Perhaps that was the original plan. Pastor Robinson’s bad that he didn’t follow through to see what became of his poor unfortunate victim.
“Consuelo!” Egbert cries out and takes a step toward her, but we hold him fast between us. No need for a closer look. We can spare him that much, at least. Besides, what is there is merely the shell of what was, while the essence is waiting for one final moment with her beloved.
We’ve done this before but, even so, it doesn’t get easier with repetition.
“Eggy...” comes a voice from behind us, and we turn toward the sound
He still wears my glasses, so we turn him in the proper direction and he gasps at what he sees.
Consuelo, although no longer a pale shale of her former self. She is radiant, as she was before death, just more translucent.
“I knew it wasn’t true,” he cries, breaking away from us and running toward her, arms outstretched, but he runs right through her, and stumbles in his confusion. He rises to his knees and turns back toward us; I can see tears of frustration welling in his glistening eyes.
“She is no longer corporeal,” Ollie explains. “You cannot touch, simply talk.”
I’m worried that he’s going to fall apart and not get the chance to say good-bye, but he’s made of sterner stuff than I gave him credit for. He takes a deep breath and regains his feet, brushing off the knees of his trousers.
“Oh, my poor Eggy,” Consuelo coos. “I’m so sorry...”
“Oh Consuelo,” he moans. “My beloved...”
Ollie nudges me, and I know at once what he’s saying. I’d been caught up in the drama of the moment. We need to give them their privacy for this last encounter. At least it’s the last one on this side of wherever.
We walk back in the direction of Pastor Robinson and Xylina, who hovers above him, emitting intermittent screeches.
“Think we should let him out?” Ollie asks.
I consider the question for all of two seconds. “Not a chance. Let the police drag his sorry ass out if they want him.”
That reminds me. I pull out my cell phone, find the number, and call the Cortez sheriff’s department, giving them the barest details. They should be here soon. Or what passes as soon in small towns like this one.
I reach for Ollie’s hand, look into his face. I’m not surprised to find tears rolling down his cheeks. Damn compassionate alien. Without a word, I draw him into the warmth of my arms, never mind that we’re both wet up to the knees. This is just as hard on him as it is on them. Sometimes I wonder if his gift is really a curse. It’s something that didn’t even exist until he came here to Earth.
“It’ll be okay,” I soothe him, but I know that mere words are not enough.
"How can you look me in the eye and say that—” I cut off whatever else he intended to say with my lips.
I kiss him until I feel him capitulate. He knows I’m right, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
“We should call Gwin and let her know we won’t be much longer,” he says once he’s free to breathe once more.
“After we make sure Egbert will be all right. And after we’re free to go.”
There will be questions, of course. There always is. But it’s a pretty open-and-shut case. I’m sure they’ll contact us when it’s time for the trial.
A throat clears behind us, and we turn. There stand Egbert and Consuelo.
“Guys,” he begins. “Consuelo explained everything, and I... I want to... to thank you. For... for helping her. For helping us,” he gulps out.
“Our pleasure,” Ollie solemnly replies.
“Thank you so much,” Consuelo echoes. Her form is thinning, and the edges seem to be alive with cool blue flames. “Good-bye to you both,” she says and turns to her former fiancé. “Good-bye, Eggy, and remember I love you. And be happy.” She leans toward him, ghosting over and through him in a shimmering haze, before her image simply ceases to be.
Nobody speaks to break the moment. Nobody except the miscreant, who is unaware of what has happened, and is still moaning in the middle of the creek.
I hear the distant sound of sirens, growing closer, and then there’s the usual confusion as we explain what we know, although not necessarily how we know it. Egbert confirms our story, accuses the pastor of trying to kill him, and of having killed Consuelo. We offer to show the sheriff where her poor body lies, but Egbert insists.
“We meet again,” a snarky voice comments. Why am I not surprised? Does she monitor the police band?
“Be decent, for once, and let the poor man grieve,” I suggest.
the end... for now...
Now, check out the other Briefers!
J.A. Harmon *****FLASH VIRGIN******
Until next time, take care!