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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 16

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DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.

Garrison's call to his father went straight to Mr. Kaylor's voice mail. Garrison didn't say why he was calling when he left his message. He just told his father the matter was urgent. Garrison knew better than to hold his breath waiting for his father to call back based on past experience.

Officer Langstrom returned to the police station after promising Garrison he'd look into the archives for anything that might shed light on the incident Mrs. Stanford referred to.

Garrison ate the warmed up chicken noodle casserole he'd pulled from the freezer. As prepared frozen dinners went, this casserole was one of the better ones. It was basically chicken pot pie filling over noodles instead of in a crust.

The other benefit Garrison enjoyed about the prepared meals was how little cleanup was involved. He ate the single-serving meals out of the aluminum container they arrived in. All he had to wash were his flatware and the glass he drank from.

After dinner, Garrison took an insulated tumbler full of sweet tea and sat out on the upper deck overlooking the pool. He put the cup on a table and walked to the railing.

"Where are you, Friday? Who are you? What are you? Are you Mrs. Stanford's niece? If you are, you sure don't look like a woman in her fifties? What happened to you? How do you know my dad? Is he the one who did whatever it was that was done to you?"

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Garrison wondered if voicing his questions out loud might prompt Friday to appear. He stared at the pool as if daring her to show herself. The water remained undisturbed. Garrison turned from the rail, picked up his tea, and went back inside. He stopped just inside the door to listen for a splash, but none came.

Garrison closed the door and plopped himself down in the big recliner. The television remote was only inches from his hand. There it remained. Instead of watching TV, Garrison rose, went to the office, and logged onto his computer.

"How do I find news stories from the nineteen-eighties?" he asked the computer screen.

An hour of diligent searching later, and Garrison knew how to find news stories from days gone by. He sat and read one about an incident on Buzby Beach in late August of 1982. According to the article, an eighteen-year-old girl drowned in a swimming accident after sneaking into a neighbors pool while the home's residents were away for the evening. The girl's name was Rachel Frieda McCullen. Miss McCullen was visiting family on the island when she reportedly attended a party at a friend's home, had too much to drink, and then sneaked into the neighbor's yard for a late-night swim. The next morning, she was found by the homeowners when they returned from an overnight trip.

Ross Kaylor, Garrison's grandfather, owned the home where the girl drowned. Mr. Kaylor's son, Frederick, a friend of Miss McCullen's, was the one who found her body in the pool. An investigation by the Buzby Beach Police Department and a report from the county Medical Examiner's office both determined the drowning was a tragic accident.

Garrett meets with Laurel to tell her about Friday

Garrison leaned back in his chair and ran his hand over his head. He read the article again and then printed out a copy.

"I am going to show this to Officer Langstrom tomorrow," Garrison told his computer. "He might know if Rachel was Mrs. Stanford's niece. Even if she was, what does that have to do with Friday?" He took the copy of the article off the printer, folded it, and stuck it in his pocket.

The clock on the lower right side of Garrison's computer screen showed him it was nearly ten-thirty. If he was going to see Laurel before Denver's Franks and Fries closed, the boy was needed to hurry.

Ten minutes later, Garrison walked into Denver's. Laurel was wiping down tables in the dining area. She looked up when he came in.

"I was beginning to think you weren't going to make it," Laurel said after putting down her cleaning rag and walking toward Garrison.

They exchanged a quick hug and brief kiss before Garrison said, "I was doing research and lost track of time. Do you have a minute to sit down? I want to tell you something."

Laurel stepped back and said, "Is it something bad?"

Garrison tilted his head, and his lips twisted into a frown. "I'm not sure yet. It is a mystery. Do you like mysteries?"

Laurel's brows rose. Her eyes narrowed, and she stared hard at Garrison. "In a book or a movie, yes, I do. I don't know about in real life."

"This mystery happened right here on Buzby Beach, at my house, over thirty years ago," Garrison told her as he pulled the copy of the article out of his pocket. "A girl drowned in the pool. It was ruled accidental, but here's the thing: Officer Langstrom and I talked to the girl's aunt this afternoon. Mrs. Stanford, the aunt, doesn't think it was an accident."

Laurel took the proffered copy and said, "Let's sit down."

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They sat down at the table farthest from the serving counter while Laurel read the article. When she finished, Laurel handed the paper back to Garrison.

"Okay, this is a sad story, but it happened a long time ago. Why are you suddenly interested in it now?"

"There are two reasons," Garrison told her. "First, I didn't know anything about this. My dad never told me. My grandfather never told me. I don't think my mother even knows about it."

Laurel pulled on her earlobe and said, "They probably didn't tell you because it was an accident, it happened back in the 1980s, and they didn't want to freak you out."

"Those are all good reasons," Garrison conceded. Then he leaned forward. "There's more to the story. There has to be. Why would Mrs. Standford get so upset when Officer Langstrom and I asked her about it?" He looked around to see who might be listening. Convinced he wouldn't be overheard, Garrison leaned over the table and said, "I think my dad is involved in some way. Mrs. Stanford as much as said so."

Laurel leaned back in her seat. "Garrison, why did you and the police go to see Mrs. Stanford in the first place?"

Garrison sat back and scratched the back of his head. Instead of giving Laurel a direct answer, he asked her if she believed in ghosts.

Laurel laughed. "Are you serious? No, I don't believe in ghosts. Ghosts aren't real."

"I never believed in ghosts either," Garrison said. "Now, I'm not so sure."

Laurel got up from her seat. "You're starting to freak me out, Garrison. I've got to finish cleaning up. Denver will be coming out to lock up any minute, so you should probably go."

Garrison realized he said too much. "I'm sorry, Laurel. I didn't mean to freak you out. This is all overwhelming for me, too. Telling you about it was a mistake. We haven't known each other long. I shouldn't have expected you to hear all this without deciding I'm short a few marbles."

He turned around and walked out the nearest door. Laurel didn't go after him this time. Garrison stepped into the night without looking back.

Garrison's story continues in Chapter 17

© 2021 DW Davis