David had returned for the first tour the following morning.
Had she been laid out just for him to find?
The answer to that question might be the answer to her murder.
“People aren’t really to be found at the cemetery, you know,” Bartholomew said. “Well, most people. The thing is, of course, that most of us move on. And we remain behind only in the memories of those who loved us. Or hated us. Well, usually, people move on. Okay, okay, well, sometimes you can find people wandering around a cemetery, but… Well, that’s because they have to remain because… Wait, why am I remaining? Oh, hmm. I think it may be because of you. But I digress. You will not find Craig Beckett in this cemetery. He was a good man, and his conscience was clean. He’s moved on.”
“I know that he’s not in the cemetery,” Katie said.
“Then…why are we here?” Bartholomew asked.
“You don’t have to be here,” she said.
“No, I don’t have to be here. But you do not behave with the intelligence you were granted at birth. Therefore, I feel it is my cross to bear in life to follow you around,” Bartholomew told her.
“Hey! I am not your cross to bear, and I do behave intelligently,” Katie said, shaking her head and praying for patience. “It’s broad daylight. There are tourists all over the cemetery.”
“But why are we here?”
“Whether the person is here or not-and, of course, I don’t begin to assume that Craig Beckett’s soul would be in his worn and embalmed body in his tomb-I just like to come. It’s beautiful, and it’s a place where I can think. When other people, alive or dead, are not driving me right up the wall.”
“What is it you need to think about?” Bartholomew demanded.
“Craig. I just want to remember him. Could I have a bit of respectful silence?” she asked.
The Key West cemetery was on a high point in the center of the island. In 1846, a massive hurricane had washed up a number of earlier graves and sent bodies down Duval Street in a flood. After that, high ground was chosen. Now, many of the graves were in the ground, but many more were above-ground graves. Tombs, shelves and strange grave sites dotted the cemetery, along with more typical mausoleum-type graves.
It was estimated that there were one-hundred-thousand people interred at the Key West cemetery, in one way or another, triple the actual full-time population of the island.
Katie did love the cemetery. It was just like the island itself, historic and eccentric, full of the old and the new. There were Civil War soldiers buried here, there was a monument to those lost aboard the Maine and there were many graves with curious sentiments, her favorite being, “I told you I was sick!”
Craig Beckett was in a family mausoleum that had been there since the majority of the island’s dead had been moved here. One of the most beautiful angel sculptures in the cemetery stood high atop the roof of the mausoleum, and tourists were frequently near, taking pictures of the sculpture. When the Beckett family had originally purchased their final resting place, the cost had been minimal. Now such a structure, along with the small spit of ground it stood upon, would cost in the mid-to-high hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“There she is!” Bartholomew said suddenly.
“Who? Where?” Katie asked.
“The woman in white,” Bartholomew said. “There, where the oldest graves are.”
Bartholomew was right. She was standing above one of the graves. Her head was lowered, and her hands were folded before her.
“I’m going to talk to her,” Bartholomew said.
“I don’t think she wants to talk,” Katie said. “Bartholomew, you should wait.”
He didn’t want to wait. He left Katie and went striding quickly toward the beautiful ghost figure in long, flowing white. As he neared her, she turned. She saw him.
And then she was gone.
Katie shook her head. Sadly, the world of relationships was always hard. Even for ghosts. Maybe more so for ghosts.
She heard laughter and turned. A group of tourists was coming along; they had just been visiting the area of the monument to the survivors of the Maine; a wrought-iron fence encircled a single bronze sailor who looked out over the markers of his companions.
They were now coming to take pictures of the Beckett tomb with its beautiful, high-rising angel. Katie decided to slip away.
She walked around to an area where graves were stacked mausoleum-style in several rows, and stood where she wouldn’t be seen. The group was a happy one, and she knew that visiting the historic and unusual cemetery was something that people did. Since life was basically a circle and all men died, it seemed a good thing that people enjoyed a walk in the cemetery. But today, for some reason, the laughter irritated her.
Bartholomew remained around the oldest graves. He had gone down on one knee, and she assumed he was trying to read the etching on some of the gravestones.
As she waited and watched, she was surprised to see the woman in white appear again. She was behind Bartholomew. Bartholomew didn’t see her. As Katie watched, the woman started to place a hand on his shoulder.
Again, the group of tourists seemed to issue, in unison, a loud stream of laughter. The woman turned to fog, and she was gone.
But there was someone else there. A girl. She was also in white, but she was wearing a more modern gown, one similar to the famous halter dress in which Marilyn Monroe had been immortalized in dozens of pictures.
She, too, watched Bartholomew.
She looked around, though, and saw Katie. She seemed to panic.
Then she, too, was gone.
Katie frowned; there had been something about that particular ghost-something that seemed to stir inside her. Katie should have recognized her.
But she didn’t. Irritated, Katie dismissed the idea.
Ghosts everywhere! she thought.
Well, she was in a cemetery. But, as Bartholomew had said, ghosts didn’t really linger that often in cemeteries. They haunted the areas where they had been happy, where they had faced trauma or where they searched for something they hadn’t found in life.
The very real, solid and almost tangible sound of a deep male voice made her jump. Katie swung around.
David Beckett had come to the cemetery.
“Hiding? No. Just-waiting,” she said.
“I guess it’s a good thing that a cemetery, even an active cemetery, draws the laughter of the living,” David said. He watched as the loud group moved on.
“You came to see your grandfather?” she asked.
“My grandfather isn’t here,” he said.
She smiled. “No. When did you see him last?”
“Right before I headed out to Kenya,” he said, looking toward the mausoleum.
“Oh,” Katie said.
He looked at her with a tight smile. “I didn’t desert my grandfather, Miss O’Hara, though that seems to be the consensus here. I didn’t like my home anymore, and I can’t help it. I like living a life where you don’t stare into faces every day that are speculative-are you or are you not a murderer? I met Craig in Miami often enough, even Key Largo and sometimes Orlando. Imagine. Craig loved theme parks. Here’s the thing of which I am certain-if there is a heaven, Craig is there, and he’s with my grandmother. They had a beautiful love that was quite complete. They will not be misty ghouls running around a graveyard.”
“You know, you sound defensive,” Katie observed.
He shook his head. “Yep. I have a big chip on my shoulder.” He lifted his hands and she saw that he carried a beautiful bouquet of lilacs. “Gram’s favorites,” he said.
The tourists were gone. Katie followed him back to the Beckett mausoleum. He set the bouquet right before the wrought-iron doors.
“Very nice-pretty flowers,” Katie said.
“They seem forlorn,” David said.
She shook her head. “No, that’s forlorn,” she told him, pointing to a family graveyard that was surrounded by an iron fence. Cemetery maintenance was kept up, but no one had been to see the graves in decades. The stones were broken, a stray weed was growing through here and there and all within the site were long forgotten, not even their names remaining legibly upon the stones.
“That’s life,” David said flatly. “Well, I’ll leave you to whatever you were doing,” he told her. But as he turned, he stopped suddenly.
Katie saw that he was looking at a man across from them, in another section of the cemetery, one that was bordered by Olivia Street.
She knew that Tanya Barnard was buried in that section; most people knew that she was buried there, even though her marker wasn’t on her grave. Because of the Carl Tanzler/Elena de Hoyos story, the powers-that-be at the time of her death, along with the family, had determined that no one but Tanya’s parents would know exactly where she had been buried; there would be no grave robbing. In death, Tanya had become a celebrity.
Katie had never seen Tanya’s astral self, soul or haunt.
She had seen Elena de Hoyos frequently. Then again, if anyone had the right to haunt a place, it was poor Elena. Ripped from her grave, her body adored and yet desecrated, she had missed out on the beauty of youth and the sweetness of aging in the midst of normal love.
She didn’t weep when she walked. She did so with her head high. And sometimes, she danced, as if she could return to the dance halls of her day, as if she imagined herself young again, falling in love with her handsome husband-happy days before tuberculosis, desertion and the bizarre adoration of Carl Tanzler.
Would she know Tanya if she saw her? She had heard the story about the woman, of course. It had been Key West’s scandal and horror. Her picture had certainly been in the newspapers. But Katie had never really seen Tanya.
“Damn,” David murmured.
The man across the way seemed to know exactly where he was, and what he was looking for.
Katie stared, squinting against the sun. He was the man who had been in O’Hara’s last night, the man who had appeared to be familiar, who had tried to buy her a drink. He had flowers; he laid them at the foot of a grave.