- A Serialized Novel -

Sorting out Carson's legacy only leads to more questions.

Author’s Note: So… There may or may not be progress happening…

Unsolicited Aid


“What’s this?”

“The name and address of the closest antique car specialist I could find. The website had a picture of a car like the one you just found, so maybe that’s enough,” Carrie said, sitting down next to Carson. “Nick and Larry went to borrow the Steadmans’ trailer so that they could load up that wreck onto it and drive it over there first thing in the morning.”

“It’ll be Sunday. That place will be closed.”

“I’m sure you can get them to give you a few minutes of your time, and the last thing you want to do is leave anything here. Your uncle is overreacting to the will—so much so that I’d almost have started to believe that he had some part in this imaginary murder of yours—but while he’s out blowing off steam is the best time for you to deal with everything. Then you can go and let things settle down again.”

“Like I did when I went to college, you mean?”

Carrie let out a breath. “You know that everyone needed time to cool down after that. There were a lot of hurt feelings and a lot of anger and plenty of frustration. Your nightmares tried to tear this family apart, Carson. Now that your grandfather is gone, it needs time to heal all over again.”

He stared at the table, though he’d long since memorized the grain of the wood. The furniture was older than he was, and he’d been able to spend more hours than he wanted sitting right here, stubbornly refusing to eat asparagus. “I didn’t ask for the nightmares. You think I want to believe that someone killed my father and that same someone was in my family? I know Grandpa and Uncle Tim hated him for abandoning all of us. I know Nick and Larry hate him for the same reason. I never knew him, and I don’t see how I could have made all of that up, but even if I did, the images are so vivid for me… They never fade, they never go away. I’m either crazy or I don’t remember enough, but unless Dad walks in the door alive, you’re going to have a very hard time convincing me that he’s not dead.”

She put a hand on his arm. “I know. Have you ever considered hiring a detective or befriending a cop who might research him for you, even just a little?”

“I don’t make that kind of money. I’m still paying off my loans for college, and you know me. I don’t make friends easy. I did google him, for all the good it did me. There’s no record of him after he left here. He could have changed his name, I guess, and I don’t know how to look for someone who has done that.”

“Of course not. You’re not a detective.”

Carson pushed back his chair and rose. He was sick of being told that, too. They’d joked for years about him going into law enforcement because of his nightmares, most of the time in a scornful way, saying he couldn’t handle it, and he didn’t want to go into that again. He wasn’t obsessed with this, but he wanted his answers. He wanted to put it all behind him. “I’m going to go take advantage of the fact that Uncle Tim is gone and get in a quick shower.”


He stopped in the doorway, looking back at her. “What?”

“When was the last time that you saw your counselor? You are still seeing one, aren’t you?”

He swallowed. He didn’t want to go into that, either. Some people liked to mock him for seeing one when he was younger, and if they weren’t mocking him, they were asking why the doctors hadn’t “fixed” him yet. All it would take was the right drugs and all the issues that Carson had would vanish. He’d be normal, the kind of brother they’d wanted all along. He had gone off the meds and stopped seeing the counselor years ago, but if he said that, they’d start treating him like he was a danger to himself and everyone else, watching him, trying to make sure he didn’t turn into one of those lone gunmen that killed people for no reason.

“I’m fine.”

“Are you?”

“I have an apartment, a steady job, and I’m about to get promoted. I don’t—Grandpa’s death brought it all up again. That’s all. I haven’t had nightmares in years, though I’m sure I’ll have one tonight.”

“Just be careful. This obsession wrecked your life before, and it could do it again.”

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