It was a fine day for a parade.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was a balmy 72F. Everyone was laughing, singing and some were dancing around like no one was looking.
But Martin knew something was coming. He told Rick and Jessie about it yesterday morning. He said he could feel it in his bones. But at 84, his teenage grandkids laughed and told him it was probably just his arthritis acting up again.
And so he stood now, with a Big Tea in his hand that he bought at the former Kelly’s gas station now turned into (Martin’s own words) “a goddamned tree-hugger bazaar”.
Today was a peach though, as parade days go, and even as much as his old bones were giving him issues, Martin smiled at the Farmer’s Float as it went by. The Jethro Bodine-looking guys on tractors and the girls dressed up like Daisy Duke pitching hay were just too lively for even a cranky old codger like him to frown at.
“Grandpa! There you are!” It was Jessie who called out to him, running toward him and trying not to spill her own Big Tea – also bought at the goddamned tree-hugger bazaar.
Martin waved to her and allowed her to give him a hug when she reached him. Jessie was one of the few people in the world Martin tolerated that manner of open expression from.
“Where’s Rick?” Jessie scanned the crowd, looking for her twin brother, the two of them excited and eager to share their 16th B-Day plans with their granddad, having just gotten the OK for a party from their father.
Martin shifted his position to put his weight on the leg that was giving him less pain. “I dunno. He hasn’t appeared yet.”
Jessie frowned. “Wow. I left way before he did. He should’ve been here by now,”
Her granddad shrugged. “He’s probably lost.”
Jessie laughed. “C’mon grandpa. This town is like three blocks long. Total. How?”
Martin smiled at her. “Knowing your twin? He’s lost!”
For some it was their last day.
Several women were screaming and crying. A fire truck, ambulance and sheriff’s patrol car were on the scene, lights flashing and casting an eerie glow to the road.
It was now well past sunset and the after-parade partiers were inhabiting the local bar. The Watering Hole. The only bar in town. Why two teenagers not even close to legal drinking age were found in a pool of blood just outside the back door was puzzling the heck out of Sheriff Butler. In more than 20 years on the job in the tiny one-traffic-light town of Lake Park, he’d never seen anything like it.
“Sheriff, there’s something under one of the bodies that you should see.” Ned Driscoll, one of Lake Park’s three-man firefighting team, looked pale and was a bit unsteady on his feet.
The call had come in just an hour ago, when Pete Campbell, the owner of The Watering Hole, answered what he thought was a late delivery call. But instead of finding a driver outside his service entrance, he found two young kids, ones that he knew since the day they were born, covered in their own blood, lying on ground. One of them, he believed to be the boy, Rick, though it was hard to tell with the damage done to these two, had managed to reach the door and hit it a few times. It was no doubt a final effort right before he died.
Sheriff Butler made his way around The Watering Hole to where Ned was standing, holding some kind of object. The first thing that struck Butler about it was the color. Bright neon blue.
“What the hell have you got there?”
Ned paused to compose himself before answering. “It’s a gate bell. Was I mean. It was attached to the gate over there, just beyond the bar’s property, that leads to the pasture, Apparently it was how Pete ascertained that the gate was closed when kids came back and forth. The kindergarten class painted it this color in honor of the parade, What with the Blue Bell Champions marching and all.”
The sheriff swallowed hard. “Yea. My nephew is part of that band. Plays saxophone. But for the grace of God it could be him lying there…” his voice trailed off.
Suddenly, a man the sheriff knew all too well came up to him, yelling. “It was the bell! That blue bell! I tried to warn them something was going to happen today! I tried to!” Martin’s face was red from pain, shock and horror.
“What? This old gate bell?” The sheriff looked at the object he was now holding.
“Jessie had it in her hand. I saw her. She’d been looking for Rick all damn dat and finally she came here. Even after all these years she still put the bell back on that old gate. And then….it happened….something came out of nowhere. Out of the blue!”
Sheriff Butler put his hand on Martin’s shoulder, trying to comfort him. “OK. OK. Settle down a bit. Getting yourself all worked up over this won’t bring them back. But if you can tell me more about who did this then I might be able to get the bastard.”
Martin’s eyes showed nothing but raw terror now. “Get him? It’s not a him. It’s a monster, sheriff. I’m telling you it’s a goddamned big, blue sonofabitch of a monster! Here one minute making a meal out of Jessie first then Rick next when he came to help her. Why didn’t he take me?” Martin grabbed the collar of the sheriff’s shirt. ” Why didn’t he take me instead of them?!”
Infusion Blue Horror Romance Series begins in October 2018….until then look for a Blue Clue each month!