Read Witch House Online

Authors: Dana Donovan

Tags: #paranormal, #supernatural, #detective, #witchcraft, #witch, #detective mystery, #paranormal detective

Witch House

Witch House

Dana E. Donovan

 

Smashwords Edition

Published by Smashwords

 

Books in this series include:

The Witch’s Ladder

Eye of the Witch

The Witch’s Key

Bones of a Witch

Kiss the Witch

Call of the Witch (late 2011)

 

Other titles by Dana Donovan:

A Talisman’s Tale

Abandoned

Skinny

Resurrection

Death and other Little Inconveniences

 

Paperbacks available at Lulu.com

 

Author's notes: This book is based entirely
on fiction and its story line derived solely from the imagination
of its author. No characters, places or incidents in this book are
real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places,
events or locales is entirely coincidental. No part of this
publication may be copied or stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopy or otherwise without the expressed written permission of
the author or author’s agent.

 

Witch House ©Dana E. Donovan 2009-2011

 

 

 

ONE

 

As I sit reflecting upon a recent case of
mine, I take comfort realizing I have finally come to terms with
what I am; an enigma personified, a fitting title I should think,
and a distinction intrinsically qualified for also defining who I
am. That is no small revelation for a man who has walked this earth
for sixty-odd years, the last of which especially proposed
challenges of some magnitude. For the vast majority of my adult
life, I considered detective work my reason for being. But after
Lilith involved me in her witch’s rite of passage ceremony,
returning me to my physical prime and endowing me with powers of
witchcraft, I have struggled with my new identity and harbored an
overwhelming sense that obligatory reparations of existential
proportions are due Lilith in the worst way. Worse still, I feel
that Lilith expects nothing less. With that I can now say, though I
shall forever remain in Lilith’s debt for breathing a second life
into my tired old bones, that witchcraft will always take a back
seat to my paramount calling as Detective, grade one, N.C.P.D.
2
nd
precinct, New Castle, Massachusetts.

The recent case in point, itself not overly
sensational, but pivotally significant, started on the heels of an
argument I had with Lilith. Although it centered on our sleeping
arrangements at the apartment since Ursula arrived, I see now that
other mounting frustrations may have contributed to its ferocity,
the details of which I shall spare, as the account I aspire to
communicate requires no such condition for sufficient conveyance. I
suppose it does bear mentioning, however, that Ursula is a witch,
too, but with a very different past, or more precisely, a very
distant past.

Lilith, in her ever-astounding repertoire of
spells, recently managed to resurrect Ursula from a pile of
seventeenth-century bones. Because Ursula is Lilith’s Great Aunt
(though the two are about the same age) and a woman truly out of
her element, she has moved in with us, and the two have made it
their mission in life to make my life miserable. Never in all my
years have I felt so much the outsider in my own home, as when they
conspire behind my back, cackling like hens, giggling like
schoolgirls (at my expense, I am certain) and upsetting the balance
of nature by trashing the only bathroom in the apartment. Every
morning I find bras and panties strewn over the back of the toilet
and across the shower rod, makeup bottles and powder compacts
litter the vanity top; and do not get me started on the lumpy couch
I have had to sleep on since Lilith insisted Ursula take my bed.
Such a digression might hijack this narrative completely.

Let me instead return to conveying the events
to which I have earlier alluded, events that have inexplicably
renewed my confidence, secured my destiny and fortified my
convictions toward a higher purpose. Should I live another sixty
years, and I might, I fear I shall never enjoy working a case as
much as I have enjoyed working this one.

It began on a Tuesday, early. I would like to
say it was a typical morning, but it was not. I had just fumed out
of the apartment after having, as I have mentioned, the worst
argument with Lilith that I have ever had. I should have known then
that something was out of alignment, the stars, her hormones—hell
my hormones; I don’t know, but it was a screamer.

I stood out on the front porch under the
overhang, my collar pulled up against the chill of a rainy mist
that seemed to float right up under my skin. Everything looked
gray; the sky, streets, sidewalks, even the trees, whose autumn
leaves had long since fallen and rotted to a soggy gray matter
resembling sewer sludge; all of it reflecting my disposition
precisely. I have to say, it made me yearn for my old condominium
down in Florida. I still had the keys to the place. I do not know
why; call it a safety net. Maybe deep inside I felt that a second
go in life, even as a witch, would not make me any better a
detective now than when it all seemed so new and exciting.

I do not suppose I stood there brooding more
than a few minutes before my partner, Carlos Rodriquez, pulled the
car up to the curb, and not a moment too soon.

“Nice timing,” I told him, hopping in while
ducking raindrops, as if that were possible. “I was just about to
walk down to the corner for a coffee and a pack of smokes.”

He looked at me with that know-it-all smirk
of his. I never noticed it much when Carlos was my junior, but the
return to prime event that Lilith included me in on, returned me to
the ripe old age of twenty-five or six, and now when he smiles, he
looks as old as dirt to me. I want to tell him not to do it, that
the lines around his eyes seem to wrap all the way around his head
when he does that. But I won’t. It would not be fair. It is bad
enough that he is ten years younger than my real years and he will
probably die fifty years sooner. I remember thinking that only a
year or two earlier I thought his smile boyish and charming. Of
course, that was the old me. Was it just the gloom of Lilith’s
parting words driving me down? I did hope so.

“You don’t smoke,” he said. I think he saw my
stare fixed on his smile. He dropped it in a single wiper blade
sweep.

“I was thinking of starting,” I told him.

“Ah, I see. Trouble in paradise?”

“Paradise? Ha!”

“Come on, Tony.” He reached out and slapped
my knee. “Put it in prospective. Look at you. You look like a
million bucks. You have got the hottest girlfriend this side of the
Mystic River, and the second hottest girl living under the same
roof with you. That’s not paradise?”

I turned my gaze out the side window and
watched my breath steam a patch of fog on the glass. “Sure, when
you put it that way, but let’s see you try to get a good night’s
sleep on the sofa.”

“What? Are you still sleeping out there?”

“Yes.”

“Tony, what’s wrong with Lilith’s bed?”

“Lilith sleeps in Lilith’s bed.”

“But aren’t you two still—”

“Yes, we’re still…but she won’t let me sleep
with her. She says I’m all over the place.”

“Are you?”

“No! She is the one who is all over the
place. Sleeping with her is like sleeping with a barracuda, only
not as much fun.”

“Well, do you want to hear what I think?”

I did not have the heart to tell him that I
did not want to hear what he thought. Fortunately, I did not have
to. A call came over the radio and ended that conversation. It was
10-54D, possible dead body. The dispatcher routed us to the parking
lot behind Pete’s Place, a bar down on Jefferson. As soon as we got
there, I could see that there was nothing “possible” about it. The
victim lay face up on the ground by the edge of a chain-link fence
at the back of the property. He wore a simple blazer, flared open,
his arms splayed out crucifix-like, revealing a large washed out
bloodstain over his heart. Two black and whites were already on the
scene with yellow crime tape cordoning off three-fourths of the
lot. I checked my watch. It was 8:20.

I turned to Carlos. “Got an extra
umbrella?”

“Got two,” he said, hiking his thumb up over
his shoulder. “On the back seat.”

I glanced there and a nod followed.
“Well?”

“Oh, right.” He reached back and grabbed the
two, one a full-sized cane-handled job with a pointed tip the size
of a javelin, the other a smaller pop-up telescoping type that
looked like he could have stowed in the ashtray. He offered up
both, holding the smaller one closest to my reach, clearly favoring
the larger one for himself.

I took the larger one.

“Thank you,” I said, smiling for the first
time all morning. “You ready now?”

Police Sergeant Powell greeted us at the
perimeter of the yellow tape and started us toward the vic. He had
no umbrella, but like the other officers sweeping the site for
evidence, he did have on a standard issue raincoat and a clear
plastic wrap fashioned with a stretch band over his hat. I did not
envy him for being there in the rain, but I did envy his rain
gear.

Although I have known Ronald Powell since
graduating the academy with him over forty years ago, we have never
been on a first name basis. He is what some call a whiff, which is
really a twisted acronym for
what’s in it for me
. He thinks
whiff is a complimentary term reflecting his ability to sniff out
bad guys. Internal Affairs Division investigated him three times
over the years for questionable conduct, yet all three times, he
emerged unscathed, earning him another dubious nickname, Teflon
Ron. Not addressing him by his first name used to make me come off
a bit snobbish. Now that he thinks I am Tony Marcella Junior, he
does not seem to mind, and in fact expects the formality.

“Sergeant Powell, good morning,” I said.
“Keeping dry?”

“Hardly.” He snorted like a bull and
swallowed back whatever it was that had come up in his throat. “I
worked the graveyard last night,” he said, “and should be home by
now. I was just heading in when I got the call to assist another
unit on this 10-54.”

“How long have you been here?”

He peeled back the sleeve of his raincoat to
reveal a bare wrist. “Hell, I forgot my watch. Guess about an hour.
It took the damn coroner almost that long to arrive. Me and Smithy
here,” he gestured toward the young officer standing over the body
with a large umbrella, protecting what evidence he could from
washing away in the rain. “We’ve been standin` out here like a
couple of water-soaked rats, while these guys,” he nodded toward
the waiting ambulance and the two paramedics inside, “sip hot
coffee in their cozy caboose. It ain’t right.”

What ain’t right, I thought, was why old
Teflon Ron had not retired already. Clearly, he no longer enjoyed
his job. I glanced sideways at Carlos and smiled thinly. He gave me
that smirk again, the one I thought I disliked earlier. Somehow, it
seemed like a fresh breath of air to me now.

“Anyone see anything?” I asked.

He pointed to a doorway niche at a warehouse
some thirty yards away. “Just him, only he didn’t witness anything.
Said he found the body around daybreak and flagged down the first
black and white he saw.”

“Did he touch anything?”

“He told me he didn’t, but he wanted to know
if he gets a reward.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him sure; his reward is I won’t haul
him in for vagrancy.”

“Wow, you’re such a humanitarian.”

“I know,” he said, and he gave me a look as
though he believed me. I remembered then why it was that Powell
never made detective. The man simply lacks the capacity for
grasping the obvious.

Jack Cruz is New Castle’s coroner, and a damn
good one. He is well into his sixties and still works the field
harder than most men half his age. I thought I might sneak up on
him and catch him by surprise, but he spotted us coming though his
periphery and stood to face us upon our approach.

“Jack,” I said, “look at you, not enough
sense to come in out of the rain.”

“Tony,” he said, and when he smiled, I almost
believed he recognized me for who I was, and not who I pretended to
be. Jack Cruz and I go back nearly as far as Carlos and me.
Moreover, I have always felt a sort of kinship toward Jack that
transcends mere friendship. I once mentioned this to Lilith, who
told me that Jack and I were probably brothers in another life.
Souls reconstitute close to their departure points upon
reincarnation, she told me. This is why we so often sense a feeling
of déjà vu when we meet total strangers. When related souls
reunite, the feeling is strongest and everlasting. Such was the
case with Jack and me. I reached my hand out and Jack shook it.

Other books
Street Without a Name by Kassabova, Kapka
My Place by Sally Morgan
The Devil Is a Black Dog by Sandor Jaszberenyi
Here's the Situation by Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino
Saturday's Child by Dallas Schulze