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Rest In Peace - Part III

In this issue: Isabel Whitlow and her man-friend, Ed Hightower, begin to suspect that there is a connection between the strange happenings at Faded Glory Farm, and Ed's bank up in Hiawassee (Citizens Bank of Towns County). Local law enforcement officials have shown little or no interest in the situation, mainly because there is no evidence of an actual crime having been committed.

Ed later listened with renewed interest as Isabel related the events that had unfolded earlier in the day at Faded Glory Farm. Ed was no stranger to the Tate legacy. As Isabel's lover and confidant, he most certainly knew who Dawson Paul Tate was, and he decided that finding Dawson Tate's signature on his desk blotter was not just a mere coincidence. As he quietly put the scrap of paper in his pocket, he decided not to share his discovery of the parchment signature with Isabel until he had some more time to think about it.

Ed evidently surmised that the perpetrator of these acts was either an extremely intelligent living person or a clever super-natural being (a ghost). Simple logic told Ed that this entity wasn't going to any trouble to keep his or her identity secret; indeed, whoever this was, was TRYING to get Isabel's undivided attention!

The Diebold technicians left the bank building, still without a clue as to what had happened, and retired to their motel rooms with plans to return and 'button things up' the following morning. Ed bid them goodnight, suspecting in his heart that they would never come to understand what had really happened to their state-of-the-art Diebold D-4800; and, for that matter, Ed suspected that he, too, would never fully understand.

Ed was exhausted, Isabel was full of questions, and it was already well after 9 p.m. Ed decided to close up the office, send Isabel back to the Inn, and get some badly needed sleep. At any rate, Ed wanted some time to absorb the day's events and try to make some sense of what was happening. Ed had already arranged for his Head Teller to "open" tomorrow, and he felt relieved as he escorted Isabel to her car before heading to his lakeside home in Hiawassee.

Ed arrived unannounced at Faded Glory early on Tuesday morning, and he still looked tired as he pulled up a chair in the kitchen foyer at the Inn and sat down with Isabel over a steaming mug of coffee.

"So, what do you think is happening here, Isabel?" Do you have any ideas?"

"At first, when Micah found shovel marks on the shed floor and my banking file was dragged out of my desk, I began to wonder if it was all about the gold we had discovered in the shed a few months back. Then, yesterday night, when this 'intruder' showed up at the bank trying to get into the vault, it seemed to further support that theory. If I didn't know better, I would be wondering if it was Dawson Tate -- back from the dead!"

Ed didn't seem to show any visible emotion, but he was rather shocked that Isabel had come so close to his own assessment of the situation. Ed reached into his left shirt pocket and handed Isabel the piece of folded parchment that he had discovered on his desk.

"This could have been on my desk all day, but I don't think so. I wanted to think on it for awhile before we had this conversation."
Isabel examined it carefully, and stared back at Ed with a halting smile.

"Does this mean that we're dealing with a ghost, Ed?"

Ed had fully expected the question, but he was still not prepared with an answer. He squirmed a little in his chair and stammered slightly as he said, "I'm really not sure, Isabel, but I can't come up with any other scenario here."

"Well that's just great, Ed; but, the big question on my mind is what do you think he -- or it -- wants?"

Ed thought for a moment, took another sip of his coffee, and said, "I don't think it has anything to do with the gold coins. I believe that he is using your gold discovery to validate himself, and I do think that he's trying to get your undivided attention by referencing a mutual interest. I think that if he wants something, it's certainly not your gold. The old proverb says, 'You can't take it with you,' and that adage, in my mind -- still prevails."

"Well, obviously, I presently own his former home, his gold, and what was left of his dreams, but that's it." Isabel said, staring dejectedly at the wall. "But, there's nothing else I can think of that he'd be wanting around here, Ed." Isabel paused as if startled -- as she came to the realization that here she was, sitting in her own kitchen, talking about a 'ghost;' certainly not a likely subject of conversation for our sensible, pragmatic Isabel.

Ed and Isabel talked until almost noon, when Ed's Head Teller finally tracked him down on the Inn's telephone to tell him that the Diebold people were packing up and preparing to leave the bank.. Hoping to learn of possible new developments and further information regarding the vault failure, Ed excused himself and drove back to his bank to say goodbye to the Diebold techs before they headed back to Atlanta.

As she prepared her lunch, Isabel mentally revisited Ed's earlier speculation that "someone, or something, was trying desperately to get her attention." "If so, why?" thought Isabel. "What have I got that Dawson Tate would want?" And then she remembered . . . the wedding band!

It was back in 1978 when Ray and she were in the process of gutting several rooms in the farmhouse that would later become today's Faded Glory Farm. As Ray was sweeping up plaster and scraps of splintered wainscoting in the master bedroom, he saw something glinting in the sun in his debris-filled shovel, and he retrieved a simple gold wedding ring. As Isabel recalled, the ring was engraved with the initials of its owner and a date. At the time, the initials and date on the ring meant nothing to either of them; but now?

If the ring had belonged to Dawson Tate, his widow, Angela, must have kept it after Dawson's death in 1944 and lost or misplaced it before moving away. "Could this be what he was after?" Isabel wondered. Isabel certainly wasn't sure, but she knew that she must now find that ring, which -- frankly -- she hadn't laid eyes on in years.

After telling Micah Davenport about the incidents at the bank, as well as her theory regarding the possible involvement of the late Dawson Tate, Micah remarked that he clearly remembered finding the ring among Ray's personal effects after Ray died. Micah also recalled watching Isabel tuck it into a small brown envelope along with Ray's own wedding ring and Isabel's parents' wedding rings. Thanks to Micah Davenport's keen recollection, another trip to the bank in Hiawasee was now on Isabel's schedule..

Isabel drove up to Hiawassee the following day, had a rushed lunch with Ed, and eagerly recovered the wedding ring from her safety deposit box. Turning it over in the palm of her hand, Isabel found what she expected to find: initials engraved in elegant script: "DPT- APT - 1919."

Driving back to the Inn, Isabel thought about nothing else. "Now that I've found the ring, what on earth am I going to do with it?" During their lunch, Ed had suggested that Isabel leave the ring out on her little desk in the front foyer, and let its owner use his 'supernatural' powers to retrieve it himself. Because she still had serious doubts about their conclusions to the recent events, Isabel rejected that idea and decided that, if Dawson, or anyone else, really wanted the ring, he would be capable of finding it if, and when, the time came. Isabel has never believed in the existence of ghosts, spirits, or the like, and she was playing this 'game' only because she didn't know what else to do.

That evening, I noticed that Isabel deliberately took Cinders with her when she turned in for the night, and I decided to park myself outside of her bedroom door just in case things got 'interesting.' Predictably, I was sound asleep in seconds. It must have been sometime in the early hours of the morning when I became aware of Cinders growling on the other side of Isabel's door. I could see by the dim light cast by the night lights in the hallway that I was the only living inhabitant in the hallway at the moment. On that comforting note, and just as I was about to fall back to sleep, I experienced an unmistakable chill similar to that of a window being left wide open on a windy, freezing winter night. If the lighting had been better, I know that I would have been able to see my breath. Cinder's growling had stopped, and I didn't know whether to make a ruckus or stay quiet. Minutes passed, and I began to think that I must have been dreaming.

"Is anybody there?" Isabel's quavering voice carried through the heavy wooden door. "Very funny, Micah, but your humor isn't appreciated -- especially at this time of night," shouted Isabel. I heard Isabel's feet hit the floor, and seconds later I heard the flapping of her slippers as she approached her side of the bedroom door. She unlocked and opened the door and stared down at me.

"My God, it's as cold out here as it is in there! I thought you were Micah playing tricks on me, Homer," Isabel muttered. "Go back to sleep."

Cinders stood up, shook himself, and then walked to the center of Isabel's bedroom where he began to sniff various items that had spilled out of Isabel's handbag onto the oriental rug beside her bed. "Cinders??" Isabel looked startled. When she went to bed earlier, her bag had been hanging from the doorhandle of her closet door; now, it was spilled -- randomly -- all over the floor, fully ten feet away from her closet!

As Isabel turned on her light to get a better look, she saw something that shocked her. Lying on her bed, right next to where she had been sleeping, were twelve fresh, deep pink roses with one yellow rose, tied up with a bright red ribbon! Thirteen deep roses? What does that signify? Isabel knew immediately .
. .
Somehow, Isabel knew that she wouldn't have to search her bag for the envelope containing the ring: she already knew that it would no longer be there. She dug for it anyway without avail -- just to preserve her sanity at the moment. Now, quite shaken and fully awake, Isabel sat back down on the edge of her bed and began running her fingers through my fur. Twelve deep pink roses - plus one yellow rose!

Because Isabel knows better than to believe that any real crime had been committed here, and because she didn't want Sheriff Kenny Payne or his staff questioning her sanity, she waited until morning before relating the incident to Ed, Micah, and Louella. Turns out, Louella has always believed in ghosts, and Micah considers them to be "poppycock." As of now, Isabel and I DO have serious doubts as to the "unknown," and I am, frankly, not eager to meet up with another black cat anytime soon.

We will probably never know the real story behind Dawson Tate's wedding ring, and I'm pretty sure that Isabel can gratefully live out the balance of her life without needing to have that information. Suffice to say that Dawson Tate (wherever he is) has his ring, Diebold Corp. is still trying to figure out what defeated their D-4800, Cinders now sleeps in Isabel's bedroom every night, and the Silver Spur's tires are all inflated to the factory-recommended tire pressures. Faded Glory Farm looks just like any other country Bed & Breakfasts; but is it?

I am reasonably sure that Faded Glory Farm is ghost-free, but if you'd ever like to check it out for yourself, the welcome mat is out!

© 2010-2011 David Johnson, All Rights Reserved