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   Chapter 5 Brownie Oxford and the Barren Woods Blunder

Brownie Oxford and the Barren Woods Blunder: Brownie Bk 3 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 7620

Updated: 2018-03-13 10:30

Chapter 5

As my sight skittered around the sights of the flea market and Ricky continued his dramatic recounting of the evils of Miranda in my ear, I tried not to panic.

"What's wrong sweet thing?" I heard Lenny's voice as his spirit approached. "Did you think Lenny left you all by your lonesome?" I glanced over at him and he hooked a thumb at a woman in her mid-thirties. At first glance she looked like any of the other shoppers, but when she turned there was a sharpness in her gaze and it was clear she was looking for someone. I highly suspected it was me.

Especially since she was the one I saw with Mr. Nondescript in the sedan at the farmer's market.

"I told you I had a plan, " Lenny continued. "Your not-so-friendly gentleman stopped to talk to her just outside the gate. Incidentally, he doesn't think you are the person they are looking for if that helps you out. He thinks you are quite pretty, but very ordinary. While I'll agree with the pretty bit, I'm gonna have to disagree on the ordinary part." Lenny winked at me. "I have a hunch there is something special about you."

"So, I will gladly help move the fainting couch if you promise not to let Miranda talk you into giving her any of my ideas, " Ricky said in my ear reminding me that technically I was talking to him. I nodded to Lenny, who seemed content to wait.

"Great, I'll see if I can get it for the right price, " I told him, realizing it would look bad if I simply bolted out of the flea market. "If not, then I'm sure I'll find something else I need help moving." I gave Ricky my location and he promised to rush, which, knowing Ricky, meant I still had plenty of time.

'Thank you Lenny, that was very helpful, ' I told the waiting spirit. His smile widened and he preened a bit. 'If you could hold on a moment I would like to talk to you after I talk to the stall owner about the couch.'

"I'm in no rush, baby doll, " he told me. "You just take your time."

Lenny nodded and for all appearances looked as though he was leaning against one of the support posts for the canvas canopy the stall owner stretched over his booth. After a few minutes of back and forth, the fainting couch was mine. The merchant took my money, then tied a big red 'sold' tag on the couch leg. Walking away from the booth, I noticed the blonde woman Lenny pointed out to me slowly meandering closer to my location.

'Ms. Blonde Sedan is better than the man was, ' I thought. She didn't look like she was actively searching for anyone. Even though I hadn't aimed the thought at Lenny, he picked it up and nodded.

"People follow you often?" he asked, looking amused.

'Increasingly as of late, ' I replied. I temporarily dismissed the woman so I could focus on not looking strange as I talked to Lenny. I didn't know if the woman would remain an observer or if she would try to make contact. Either way, I preferred to get a few answers from Lenny before she grew any closer.

'There seem to be a lot of spirits around, ' I said, not quite sure how to ask my most pressing question. Some people tended to get touchy about their grave sites.

Especially, if they were unexpectedly placed in them.

I let my gaze scan the flea market as though searching for my next stall. Spotting a rack of clothing I ambled towards it, Lenny walking companionably beside me. A gentleman sporting a top hat and long coat with fur cuffs and lapel inclined his head politely at me as I passed. I smiled and gave a short nod back. As the man was in black and white and he looked like he stepped from a 1900s photograph I knew he was not one of the living.

A thought occurred to me and I took surreptitious glances at some of the other dead. Their time periods varied widely although Lenny appeared to be one of the

newer dead. If this was a body dump, it had been a body dump for several hundred years, which seemed odd.

'Unless there is a family of serial killers all dumping their kills in the same place generation after generation.' I thought.

That would be just my luck.

Lenny laughed. "We weren't dumped here sweetheart, " he told me. "We were buried right and proper in the Barren Wood's Methodist Church Cemetery. That was back when there was a town of Barren Wood around here. Wasn't much of a town when I was here, even less of one now. Of course, sometime between then and now someone went and burned down the church. I think it was accidental, but it didn't really help the town."

Lenny shrugged and I nodded to myself looking around. The living ignored me, but I got a sense of waiting and listening from the other dead. Usually when I entered a cemetery, I announced myself and the dead sent their emissary to speak with me and find out what I wanted. Despite not announcing myself at the gate, I had the feeling Lenny was serving as emissary now.

"That was about two years after I died, the burning that is, " Lenny continued. "The congregation joined with another one located down the road rather than rebuild. Stoney Point or Stone Ridge, something like that. Something with a Stone in it." Lenny thought for a moment then shook it off as unimportant.

"I think they all chipped in to build a newer, bigger and better church somewhere else. They paid to have both cemeteries moved of course. Got a bit cheated there."

'You don't say, ' I thought. Lenny chuckled at my dry tone.

"Yup, they moved the headstones and even the gate and stone wall surround, but they left the bodies. Half of us are under that parking lot out there."

'Huh, ' I thought trying to find something appropriate to say. 'I'm sorry.'

Inside, I relaxed a little bit. I needed a cemetery full of dead to talk to that didn't look like a cemetery and here was one, if they were willing. There was however one little thing that concerned me. How exactly were they walking around?

Lenny shrugged. "It's not so bad and it happened a while ago, of course. I do wonder if anyone ever visits my headstone though. There were a lot of lovely ladies who got all teary eyed when old Lenny died, I can tell you."

'I'm sure there were, ' I said smiling as I looked through the clothing, not really seeing anything. 'But why are you all up and walking around here?' I asked, figuring direct would be better. 'I can't be leaking that much power. And how do you know what happened to the church?' Without someone to talk to them, the dead would know nothing of what happened after they became deceased.

"Oh, that's Johnny's doing I suppose."


'Yeah, he's a bit like you, or at least he was before he died. He used to come and visit. Then he died and stuck around. Before then we couldn't walk around like this, or at least that's what I was told. Johnny's visits and death were both before my time. He was here when I got here. Gave me the orientation, so to speak."

That would explain it.

'Really, ' I thought. 'I'd like to meet him. Though probably not today'

"He can be a bit shy, " Lenny warned. "But I can ask. That is, if you are coming back next week."

I nodded slightly and Lenny smiled. 'I'd like to and coming here would really help me out.' Since this wasn't a body dump and everyone 'knew' the cemetery and its occupants were moved then there would be nothing remarkable about this place. It would not look out of place for me to be here and it would allow me to burn off some excess energy solving my twitchy problem. Providing of course that Johnny, whoever he was, didn't have a problem with me.

"Heads up, " Lenny said. "Your watcher is approaching."

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