Chapter 47

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"There was a Mr. Walsh, but you probably know that already," Diana says after instructing Herman not to touch anything. Despite the mess inside her house, she still acts perturbed by his appearance. On the contrary, Herman feels right at home in the debris of Diana's life.

"He died too soon," Zandra says as she places a set of crusty dishes on the floor and settles into the couch, the ghost box resting on her lap. Diana drags over a chair from the dining room to sit across from Zandra.

"Y-yes, that's correct," Diana says with a sniffle. "How did you know that? You've never met him before, have you?"

The truth is Zandra never met a Walsh in her life, but her sympathies for Diana's late husband betray the old trick of the psychic trade just beneath the surface.

Does anyone ever die too late? Would anyone admit it if it were true?

"I only know what the spirits tell me. And now I'm telling you, child, that they sent me here for a reason," Zandra says.

"A reason? A reason. Yeah," Diana says, trailing off. She gets the 100-mile stare in her eyes.

Zandra brings her back to the here and now by saying, "You must wonder, child, why it is that you've been subjected to so much pain. You lost both a son and a husband, and you want a reason better than the one your friends, family, possibly your church and even you have settled on. It happened because it happened, and if there's a reason, you aren't to know it."

Herman starts to say something, but Zandra raises a hand to shut him down. This isn't the time for one of his metaphysical rants. Zandra needs to prime Diana for the "reading" with the ghost box. There's too much on the line.

"That's exactly it, and I need that, that, that closure to know why. We were good people. Never hurt anyone else. We just filled our lives with the same things everyone else does. But we were singled out for some reason. Why?" Diana says. She chuckles in exasperation and looks up to the ceiling. "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Maybe you're not as good a person as you think.

"I believe this is why the spirits sent me to you. It wouldn't be the first time they sent me on a mission like this," Zandra says and rubs her palms together for effect. "It could be that your son and husband see that you're in pain and want to give a reason, some closure, so that you can get on with your life. You can't be happy living like this."

Diana looks offended for a moment, but it quickly melts away. She knows Zandra is right. Regular people don't want to stay bottled up in grief while life literally rots around them. She hasn't felt regular in a long time.

"About my son, did you...I mean...I don't know how to ask, but...did he call you? Maybe that's not the right word. But he called you basically, right?" Diana says with eager eyes.

She wants what I tell her to be true. She's primed.

"I believe he contacted me this morning. The name Diana Walsh imprinted in my mind, but I've received messages like this enough to know that Diana wasn't the sender. For that, I felt a J impression," Zandra says. She closes her eyes and pretends to struggle with recalling the name. "James? James Walsh? Was that his name?"

"Y-yes," Diana says, the tears falling from her face along a familiar route down her cheeks. They've damn near carved out their own interstate in her cheek.

"I know this is difficult, child, but you must listen carefully to what I ask next. It'll determine whether I've been in touch with the correct James Walsh," Zandra says and opens her eyes. "Did he donate a kidney?"

"Oh, oh...oh, my God. Yes, after he, um, after he died, yes. He wanted it that way. Always liked to help people. So generous. Oh, my God," Diana says.

Just to seal the deal even further, Zandra offers a piece of information she knows Diana will tell others is too personal for anyone but a psychic to know. Zandra calls it "playing the proof card."

"James had a type of rare O blood, didn't he?" Zandra says.

"How could you possibly know that?" Diana says, barely able to get the words out.

"Because he's talking to me right now," Zandra says.

"What? Where?"

"He's sitting next to me on the couch," Zandra says. She turns her head toward a stain on a cushion on the opposite end of the couch. It'll make for a good focal point. "Right there."

Diana takes the bait and reaches out to run her hands across the stain. "My sweet baby. Momma loves you," she says under her breath.

Of course, James wasn't a baby when he died in the motorcycle accident. He was in his early 20s. Zandra doesn't know much beyond that, but that's about to change. She flicks on the ghost box.

"Would you like to talk to him, too?" Zandra says.

Diana returns to her seat and wipes her eyes with her palms. "What is that?"

"It's no replacement for what I do, but this is like a radio for talking to the other side," Zandra says. "It rapidly scans radio frequencies, allowing a willing spirit to feed on that electricity and manifest itself as audio. The words come out one or two at a time. They're not complete sentences. But it's as close to a conversation with the afterlife as you'll get without being me."

"A willing spirit? Is James willing?" Diana says.

Zandra stares at the stain for a moment. Then she nods. "Yes, he's willing. Are you?"

"Are you kidding? I'd give anything to talk to my baby one more time."

"Good. Then let's begin."    

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