Late into the night, Goodwood Duxford, caretaker and ghost wrangler for Gramberly Cemetery, and Lilith Trotter, Goody’s best friend and recently departed, perused old cemetery records, Duxford family scrapbooks, and internet resources, trying to recover the names of each of the 13 fatalities in the 1954 Gallatin Bros. Circus and Sideshow Fire.
Asleep on the couch was Frankie Harp, Goody’s girlfriend and only other living member of the recovery team. Her quiet snoring kept distracting Goody from his work.
“How’s she doing?” Lilith said. “How’s the chemotherapy and stuff going?”
“She’s almost done, just one more round of radiation,” Goody said, sliding his bar stool over to where Frankie laid. He leaned over the back of the couch and gently stroked her cheek. A fine stubble covered her head, the same downy softness, and color of peach fuzz. “Her hair is beginning to grow back. She’s talking about keeping it short. She’s excited that her fingernails are coming back too.”
“Her fingernails?” Lilith closed the scrapbook they were studying.
“The chemotherapy made her nails fall out – fingers and toes – just like her hair,” Goody said, scooting his seat back into the kitchen.
“I never thought of that, but I guess it makes sense, though,” Lilith said. “Is all of this too much for her?”
“It might be tiring her out more than it does me, but she says the intrigue helps keep her focused on something other than her disease. She’d kill me if I tried to make her stop.”
“Lovely choice of words,” Lilith said, holding up a hand when he looked hurt at her chiding. “Just playing Dux.”
They returned to their research. Having compiled a list of 10 names, they had a partial accounting of circus people and locals who died in the Big Top fire.
“We can add Harlan Beaumont and Luther Graves,” Goody said, writing the Ringmaster and Roustabout crewman names on the paper. “I’m pretty sure those two are the revenants who are responsible for the desecration of the burial cairn.”
“Is that what we are up against, revenants?” Lilith said. “What’s the difference between a wandering spirit and a revenant?” Lilith said.
“A wanderer is insubstantial and only visible to a few. They can’t touch living beings, except those with the gift of sight, like me and Frankie, and Patsy down at the Magpie. Wanderers are usually harmless, they’re just wayward ramblers,” Goody explained. “Revenants are solid, they can physically interact with the living. They are almost always extremely dangerous.”
“The circus spirits?” Lilith said. “They’re revenants?”
“Not all of them,” Goody said. “I believe only Beaumont and Graves are.”
“This changes my whole attitude about the circus,” Lilith said. “I used to think of it as a tent full of silly jesters. Now, I know why clowns terrify some people. Will your bindings hold Beaumont and Graves behind the gate?”
“For now, it will,” Goody said. “I intend to send them beyond a Glimpse of Heaven, back to where they belong. Before I can, all of the names must be returned to the stones.”
“We’re still missing one name and we’re running out of places to look,” Lilith said.
“I know someone who might be able to help,” Goody said. “Grace Leighton, the catalyst for all of this.”