TMStarnes2013

Novelist and more.

Champions of the Veil Chapter Four

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Robert Wilcox and Sam Brady have come to an agreement, after Robert gave him a glimpse of what’s beyond the Veil, Sam agrees to go with Robert to New Orleans to meet and talk to his grandfather…his dead grandfather. This is going to be a very odd road trip…

 

Chapter 4

Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends.
–Jacques Delille

 

Eventually, driven mad by Robert’s whistling, Sam asked about Roberts family as they drove South on Interstate 49.

Robert warned him that he was about to be confused. He kept saying “baby steps, baby steps” and took a deep breath before narrating his family history.

Robert explained his grandfather, Oliver Tobias Wilcox, was born sometime at the middle of the eighteen hundreds. He had been an archeologist and constantly on digs in Rome because he loved the Roman culture. He even passed down items to Robert’s dad, his only son, on his deathbed at the age of 123. When Sam interrupted to ask how that was possible, Robert stopped him with “baby steps” and continued. Robert’s father, Jonathan Robert Wilcox, and his family never stayed in one place for too long and had been an archeologist also. He dragged his wife, Robert, Robert’s younger sister and Robert’s youngest brother around with him from place to place. That’s how Robert learned so many different religions, cultures, and languages. Jonathan died in Peru at the age of 110. Robert stopped him once more with “Baby steps”.

Robert reminded Sam of the times the Wilcox family lived.

He seemed proud (or delusional) of those facts. His grandfather lived through the Civil War, World War 1, World War 2 and the Korean and Vietnam War. He voted in elections from Presidents Lincoln to Jimmy Carter.

Sam grew frustrated; he stopped and asked about the women in his father and grandfathers lives.

Where were they?

Robert explained his grandmother, Anne Elizabeth, died when Jonathan, his dad, was still a child in 1881 when Czar Alexander II was assassinated in Russia, trampled in a stampede of frightened people.

Sam stared at Robert as he spoke, wondering what medications Robert had been on in the mental hospital.

Robert happily continued.

He mentioned that Pope Pius IX took charge of the Vatican in 1846. He seemed to want Sam to remember that, why, he didn’t know. Soon after, his grandfather, in 1886, while excavating in Rome, hastily took Robert’s father, leaves Rome for the last time, and never returns.

Sam realized Robert appeared to be repeated all this from earlier memorization, but he made sure to leave out important facts while stopping Sam’s inquiries with the “baby steps” comment.

Jonathan Robert Wilcox, his dad, lived through World War 1 up to the Persian Gulf War known as Operation Desert Shield. He voted in elections with Presidents Woodrow Wilson to George H.W. Bush. His mother, Janet, he told Sam, died during a wild animal attack while excavating in Peru. But it was not the same time as his father died, which was years later. He paused a moment after telling Sam this and Sam realized it was a tender subject. Robert is their oldest child. He has a younger sister, Tammy, and a baby brother, Carl. His institutionalization came soon after his father’s death with the Scaletti’s murders.

“I think you’re bullshitting me.” Sam finally said.

Robert grinned his angelic grin, “Why Sam, Sam I am, whatever do you mean?”

“The history? Their ages? No way could they have lived that long without someone noticing.” Robert started to speak and Sam slammed the dashboard with his hand, “Don’t give me that baby step crap! Tell me the truth. If they’re dead how do we speak to them?”

Robert took a deep breath and produced a lengthy sigh, “Sam. I know it sounds…weird. I know it does. It would sound even less believable if I told you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” He gave him an honest sincere expression, “Seriously.”

Sam felt he meant what he said, maybe not about the family, not completely, but his gut told him Robert did mean the last statement.

Sam gave his own surrendering sigh. After all, he just witnessed with his own eyes horrible things he didn’t know existed. He decided to keep his mind open for a while more.

Robert changed the subject, “Tell me about yourself, Sammy. I really would like to know. Get it off your chest.”

Sam frowned. Unsure if he should let Robert know anything about his life then threw caution to the winds.

Sam was born to a deeply religious Baptist mother, who he rebelled against; she died at fifty-two after her divorce. He was an only child. His father he didn’t even want to discuss. He began working at sixteen to help pay bills, came close to getting married once but his girlfriend broke it off while he was serving two years in the Army. Sam went to college, started dabbling in the paranormal with other friends. Actually published some reports in paranormal research publications under a pseudonym, he had a few girlfriends back then but they soon thought he was a crackpot because of his interest in the paranormal, specifically: murder and mutilation. He wanted to solve the oddest ones. This led him to the Scaletti case and its bizarre mutilations. An informant contacted him while he sought information about survivors, the informant told him the accused killer would be the only person who could explain what happened. Sam noticed Robert’s case was too similar to the two other cases he researched. He discovered Robert had been in the sanitarium during those two other crimes. So he pulled a few strings from his F.B.I. contacts he made over the years, studied the case and photos, finally his informant told him where Robert was located, then one of his forgery friends made fake identification which led him to Robert’s padded room.

Robert nodded appreciatively as he drove, “I’m impressed. Determined little sucker aren’t you? You know that’s a federal crime impersonating a Federal agent?”

Sam nodded and rubbed the back of his neck, “Yeah, I know. What can ya do? I don’t like people not believing me when I think something is wrong. Sometimes you have to break the rules to do what’s right.”

Robert glanced sideways at him, “You know… I know exactly how you feel.”

The sun dipped in the horizon and Sam suggested they stop for the night; they were halfway between Natchitoches and Alexandria according to the road map from Sam’s glove compartment.

Robert noticed a shimmering light in the distance on the right-hand side of the road.

The pinprick of unnatural light in the darkness grew as they approached.

“Do you see that?”

“What?” Sam asked, looking up from the map in his lap.

“That light up ahead; you can just make it out.” Robert pointed.

Sam frowned and shook his head, “Sorry, must be your second sight, or my eyes may be bad. I don’t see anything.”

“Well, we’ll see it soon enough.” He whistled Dixie.

“Please not Dixie again.” he pleaded.

“Oh, sorry, I guess I have whistled it too much.” he started whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy instead.

Sam rolled his eyes shaking his head in defeat.

Nearing the shimmering light source, Robert noticed numerous guardian fireflies flying around a human. Nearing the walker, because that’s what the person was doing, walking down the south bound side of the road.

Robert frowned, “Hmm?”

Sam squinted, “What? The shimmering thing is that guy?”

“It seems so. Whoa!” Robert exclaimed.

Sam grabbed the dashboard as Robert applied the brakes.

Since Sam could no longer see beyond the veil, he couldn’t see the sudden appearances of Angels, Devas, and full-bodied guardian spirits blocking all southbound lanes of the interstate. They were Angel-winged, some seemed human, four-armed, bluish-tinged, winged with butterfly wings, and all held their hands up to stop, pointing toward the person wearing a black U. S. Navy style watch cap, with a small backpack in military fatigues.

Robert slowed down, “Uh, we’ve got to pick this person up.”

“What? Are you crazy? They could be an axe murder or a crazy killer.”

Robert chuckled, “Then I would be in good company. Sorry, you can’t see them anymore but I have a host of guardians and Angels in our way and they’re all motioning toward this person, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to tick them off.”

Sam glanced at the empty road and back at Robert, then he remembered what he saw at the elementary school, “Oh, yeah, okay.”

Robert nodded slowly, “That was the quickest turn around I’ve seen you do since we’ve been together.”

“Let’s just say, I’m beginning to believe you may know a little more about this than I do. So I’m willing to trust you…on this.” he crossed his arms.

“Ah, the first inkling of faith, Atta boy, Sam I am.”

“Stop calling me that, it’s driving me crazy.” He unconsciously smirked as he looked away.

“Welcome to the club, buddy o’ mine.” Robert slowed, passed the walking person, pulling over.

It took a few moments for the walker to approach the car. Robert watched the hosts slowly fade from sight with smiles on their faces. Sam rolled down his window as the person approached on his side.

Robert leaned forward.

“Need a lift?” he asked as the person came alongside but remained two steps away from the Ford.

They received a pleasant surprise.

The person turned out to be a strikingly beautiful woman with her hair pushed up in the watch cap. She wore gothic cross earrings, dark lipstick, a black tank top under a black thin coat, and camouflaged black and green pants. Her eyes were green and quickly Robert made eye contact and read her soul through them.

She responded with a flash of vertigo as her backpack slid partway off her left shoulder then she regained her balance.

“Whoa, must be the heat, I’ve been walking for a long time.” she said in a little girls voice even though it was obvious she was in her early to mid-twenties.

“Hi, my name is Robert Wilcox and this is my friend Sam I am.” He gave his innocent grin.

Sam shook his head in disgust, “It’s Sam Brady actually.”

“Hi, how are you.” she nodded, still not approaching the car.

Robert nodded back, “Need a lift?”

“Depends,” She shrugged.

“On?”

She crossed her arms defiantly, “Well, I don’t do tricks. I’m not a hooker, and I don’t want trouble. I’m just heading this way. Are you guys’ maniacs or anything?”

Sam gestured at Robert, “Well he is, at least.”

Robert popped him in the back of the head, “You’re picking up my sense of humor, stop it, it’s copyrighted.”

She pulled her coat closer around her, “Where are you headed?”

“At the moment, we’re heading to New Orleans, to visit some relatives of mine. Wanna come?”

She looked nervously around noticing how low the sun dipped in the sky and the approaching darkness.

Robert held up both hands, “Look miss, we’re not going to cause you any trouble, we’re just trying to give you a ride. If you’re worried about who we are, well, I’m an escaped, wrongly imprisoned, I might add, mental patient. I’ve kidnapped Sam here, who was posing as a FBI agent while really being a paranormal investigator trying to learn some stuff about me. Together we’re relative harmless. Oh, and he has a cynical streak just so you know. He’s thinking you’re probably an axe murder.”

Sam stared at him.

She smirked at Robert, “So you’re a maniac, and he’s your intended victim?”

Robert frowned, “Pfft! Oh, I always need victims; he’s just along for someone for me to babble with. If you join us then I’ll have two victims to babble to death.” He laughed dramatically, wringing his hands.

That brought a beautiful bright smile to her face, “Okay. New Orleans huh? Never been there,” She gave them one last warning look, “Remember, I don’t do tricks for rides.”

“Don’t worry, I’m fine.” Robert wiggled his eyebrows, “He’s the one who’s probably lacking in that department.”

Sam shook his head in disgust again, opening the passenger door of the Ford letting her climb in the back.

She crawled in, “I’ve been walking the road in this heat, so I apologize if I have B.O.”

She did have a bit of smell, but to Robert it was more a cinnamon scent then overly offensive.

“What’s your name?” Robert said, tossing her bag onto the other side of the seat as she pulled off her thin jacket wearing a black tank top beneath.

She glanced down, removing her Navy cap, letting her dark-black, long straight hair fall down past her shoulders, “Oh, it’s Raquel. Raquel Monroe.”

“Nice to meet you, just to let you know we’ve already planned to stop in Alexandria for the night before heading on to New Orleans in the morning, sound alright with you?”

“Sure, I’ve been sleeping out in the woods the last two nights, so that’s cool with me. I can sleep in the car.”

“Sleep in the car?” Robert shook his head, “No can do, if you want a room I’ll be glad to get you one.”

She frowned at him, “Why would you do that?”

He thought about the Guardians blocking the road, “Let’s just say I’m ‘passing it on’. If you want a room, you can have it. It’s up to you.”

She examined him for a moment, “Okay, I’ll let you know by the time we stop.”

“Fair enough,” he pulled back onto the road.

“Are you hungry?” Sam asked.

“Actually, yeah, I’m starving.” She reached into her backpack, pulling out a twenty-dollar bill, “Would you guys mind going through a drive through and let me get something?”

“Don’t worry about it, we’ll go and get us something at a restaurant after we get a room.”

“For a killer and his victim, you sure are nice.” She looked them over again, “That’d be great, I haven’t really washed out well in the last couple of days.” she blushed.

Robert nodded, “Okay Raquel, we just finished giving each other our life stories; you want to tell us yours?”

She squinted at him in the rear view mirror, “I thought you guys already knew each other?”

“We’ve known each other for just a short time. He really is a paranormal investigator; I’m actually an archeologist doing a little bit of paranormal research myself. So we’ve been trading stories back and forth.”

Robert experienced a shiver run through him as her guardians buzzed quickly around her head then settled down on her shoulders as he glanced at her in the rear view mirror.

“How far back you want me to go?” She smiled, visibly relaxing.

“As far back as you want.”

She started from the beginning. Raquel was an orphan, raised in an orphanage in El Dorado, Arkansas. After the orphanage, she lived in foster homes. She was luckier than most with the temporary foster homes she had lived in over the years. She heard tales of abuse, mental, physical and sexual, but she was happy to say she never experienced any but once when a family assumed, because she wore gothic earrings, black clothes, nail polish and lipstick at seventeen, that the Devil possessed her and she needed salvation. That was about as bad as it came to a rough life for her.

When she turned eighteen leaving the foster homes, she traveled around doing odd jobs. A waitress here, a cleaning maid there, even with a high school honors award she still couldn’t find a place where she fit in. At twenty-two, she was homeless and looking for a job. She went to several temporary agencies, worked at a few office jobs, but since she never could get a permanent place of residence they didn’t last long. She had traveled from Dallas to Houston and lived in Jackson, Mississippi for a while. She worked car washes, did some lifeguard work down in Houston. Then started painting and selling some of her art at open markets she came across. Florals, still lifes, abstracts, whatever; she carried around her art supplies but hadn’t created anything in a while. She lived wherever she could stay, empty houses, barns, slept out in the open, once in a while homeless shelters were available but they made her feel weird. They had picked her up on her way to Baton Rouge. She just had a whim to go there, so she packed up her things and started walking.

Robert grinned, “Sounds like you’re a free spirit.”

“Yeah, but a little comfort is good once in a while, I’m glad you guys stopped and let me have the ride. Okay, now it’s your turn, Robert you first.”

He told her of his life up until the Scaletti murders, when he skipped that part, saying he had been on an archeology dig for the last couple of years. He experienced another shiver creep up his spine while she looked at him sideways in the rearview mirror.

Sam started with his life but when he reached the point where they met, he changed it to Robert having been suggested to him by a colleague dealing with research he wished to conduct in New Orleans. Again, Robert looked in the review mirror, noticing when Sam said that lie she dropped her head and the shiver went up his spine again.

Raquel stretched in the back seat, “Do you two mind if I take a quick nap before we get to Alexandria?”

“No, go ahead, relax. We’ll wake you when we find a hotel.”

Sam looked at him, “So that means I’m buying huh?”

“Well, I have bought the last few things and filled your gas tank.”

Sam smirked, giving up.

“Sweet dreams.” Robert whispered to her.

She mumbled thanks, as she grew comfortable.

Robert watched as the fireflies buzzed around her body as she moved, then once she settled, they drifted to rest on her like a spattering of snow.

To be continued…

 

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