Hearing Things by Nancy Young (Book Spotlight)
Hearing Things by Nancy Young
December 1, 2015
Mary Catherine Livingston knew that working for the Paranormal Posse reality series wouldn’t be easy. But apart from the threatening spirits and unwanted publicity, she also has to deal with her son’s newfound ability to hear ghosts, her ex-husband’s attempts to reconcile by Christmas, and with Tony, the show’s sexy tech support, who pushes all her buttons.
Tony is definitely one pushy guy, especially if Mary Catherine’s welfare or the show’s profits are at stake. When her son discovers the ghost of a murdered child at an abandoned rest stop, complications multiply. Tony then pushes Mary Catherine to let him offer more than just his technical support. Will the spirit move her to take a second chance on love in time for the new year?
The ghost peered out at the drifting snowflakes, rare enough in this part of North Carolina for even the dead to take notice. The forecast alone had sent shivering hordes to Harris Teeter for bread, milk, rock salt, and canned soup. Now that the flurries had massed to dust cars and windowsills, the sane and prudent had headed for home. Apparently, that description didn’t apply to the violent crimes unit—or to me, for that matter. Or to the ghost by the window.
He was a small man, slight in build, not old, not young. Once he turned, I could see that the back of his head was curiously flattened. Under the full force of the fluorescent lights, his black hair glistened, matted with gore. That would teach me to look. To pass the time, I tried to decide if he were tied to the violent crimes unit itself or to a particular person in it. There were so many likely suspects to choose from—the pudgy, short-tempered sergeant in the office to the left, a gaggle of detectives in all shapes and sizes, and various anonymous workers who wandered through the claustrophobic brick building, its bank of windows now sweating with condensation.
When the ghost turned to face me without warning, our eyes met. Instinctively, I tried not to react, shifting my focus to the snow beyond. By now, I thought it must be falling all over the Triangle, coating the Beltline and Duke Forest, landing listlessly in Lake Wheeler, sending ornery geese to huddle under the canoes chained up for the season. To the north, it was falling on the stained angels, iron gates, and honored dead of Oakwood Cemetery. I stopped myself before, like the snow, I drifted any further into what was becoming a sad parody of James Joyce’s ending to The Dubliners. Now there was a man who knew the dead, I mused, smiling.
The ghost must have seen something flicker in my expression. He continued staring, relentless, while I shifted in the hard metal seat, trying to keep my eyes trained on the window, on the ceiling tiles, on the milling detectives, on the paperclips and file folders in front of me. I succeeded until he drifted, as insubstantial as the snow, between or through desks and computers, then stopped to hover behind the detective who had kept me at his desk for over an hour.
Detective Faulkner may have shared the name of a Southern writer, but he had none of his way with words. Beneath rumpled brown hair, his brow looked permanently furrowed, like he continued to puzzle over clues after hours. In a flat tone, he’d asked me the same questions in different ways until I was almost ready to confess to something just to get away from him.
“So which way from here?” he said when she swatted away his hand and looped her scarf around her throat. Ahead of them, he saw only a snow-covered field and a clump of trees. Nothing screamed crime scene. Framed, the place could be a Christmas card.
A former editor, reporter, and college educator, Nancy Young is the author of the Something in the Dark Series: Seeing Things, Hearing Things, and the soon-to be-completed Sensing Things. She’s also written a poetry collection, The Last Girl Standing, and dozens of poems, articles, and short stories that have appeared in various journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. She co-hosts a reading series in Fuquay-Varina, NC, where she lives with her best friend/husband Dan and her bad dog Opie.