Spent and weary Thomas crawled into bed without even thinking about dinner. His head was swimming, stuck between his own reality and the reality that was the last few days, or hours, of Katie Simmons’ life. It was becoming clear to him that she had unwittingly stumbled upon something that was beyond her ability to comprehend and that saddened him. She was a beautiful girl with a glorious mind and if given the chance to know her in her corporal state, he felt certain they would have been friends. Perhaps they would have been more than friends if he were able to compete with the looks and money that made Aaron Hillman a nice piece of arm candy.
Part of him wanted to see more. He knew the only way to truly solve this mystery was to see how Katie died but there was another part that didn’t think he could bear it. Dead or alive, she could be his dream girl and who wants to watch harm come to their dream girl? Knowing that it already happened and would simply be shown to you like a newsreel wouldn’t make it better, would it? These thoughts rolled around his head like damp towels in a dryer occasionally crashing in to the walls with an uncomfortable thump. Sleep was the only remedy for this awkward line of thinking. The fog just needed to lift so he could inventory the events and entities in his vision because whatever they were, they were still out there and one of them, the Bear Willow? That one was looking for him.
Bronson, on the other hand, was sitting in the only real diner in town. Diane’s Place served good old fashioned home cooking with no worries about cholesterol, calories, or fat content and that was just fine with him. He was seated behind a heaping plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and his green beans were soaked in bacon grease. He would wash it all down with a beer or three and once it had a chance to settle, he would send some homemade rice pudding and strong coffee down to complete the meal. Bronson believed his mother when she told him that comfort food was good for the soul and he was growing the midsection to prove it.
He thought about Thomas and his trance like wanderings through the marshes today. For Bronson, that was scary because it was real. It stood to reason that if people like Thomas were capable of walking among us then other, more frightening things just might be here too and he had no idea how he would arrest a ghost, vampire, or werewolf.
He told Thomas that he too had some experience with things that couldn’t be explained but he never told him exactly what transpired. You see, when Bronson was younger he watched his brother turn in to something evil. At just six years old little Al Bronson became possessed by a demon and was subjected to an exorcism. The ceremony was successful and his brother is alive and well in New Jersey with the rest of his family but the experience left scares on both of them. Jack Bronson turned to the life of a police detective as if putting away the bad guys would somehow make him feel safe. Al Bronson, on the other hand, became the bad seed and spent more time detained for petty crimes than he did in school. Al was the reason Jack worked in New England. He feared that if he were a cop in Jersey, the day would come that he would need to arrest his own brother.
His thoughts wandered from Al to Thomas. They were two men, near the same age, who both had dealings with the supernatural but in completely different ways. He wished that Al were more like Thomas, not the creepy, psychic Thomas but the logical, intelligent Thomas. He definitely had the brains for it, he just needed the motivation to use them.
Now back to the case at hand, the disappearance of Katie Simmons. His captain approved the resources needed to do another sweep of the marshes in the morning but asked that it be kept on the down low. They were doing a good job of keeping the media away from the case and didn’t need camera crews showing up at the marshes when they weren’t even sure the girl was dead. He would have Thomas there and hoped that his psychic sleepwalking would go unnoticed by the other officers. It was obvious the kid was hearing the snide comments that were being passed around the station and he didn’t want to add fodder to that fire.
“So, what the hell is a bear willow?” he said out loud to no one. “Is it a tree? Is it a bear? It’d be a pretty stupid name for a movie monster.” He hoped the kid could figure that one out with the help of his paranormal friends because it didn’t make any sense at all to him.