New Orleans, Louisiana
Two weeks before Halloween...
"Thank you for coming, Martin. I know this is hard on you."
Martin Vandreen gently squeezed Stacy Jackson's hand. “It's much harder on you. Funerals, they say, are for the living, not the dead. I'm glad I could be here to lend some support."
He watched his friend carefully, waiting for what would come next. The question had to come. It always did. It was the reason he tried to avoid these situations as much as possible.
"Do you see him? My father?"
Martin swallowed a sigh. He'd already decided it would be best to tell Stacy the truth. Of course, lying to her could serve a purpose. It would give her some sort of closure to tell her that yes, he saw her father and he was happy, smiling and standing with loved ones. Or he could just tell her the truth, which had good connotations, also.
"No, I don't see him. That means he's already gone into the light, he's already crossed over.” Martin glanced at his friend, who flashed him a sweet, yet sad, smile. He knew that made her feel better, to know her father had moved on.
Sometimes being a medium was a royal pain in the ass. People expected him to know things, when sometimes it just didn't work that way. Every spirit was different, and when he told people that, they sometimes looked at it as a copout, as if he were a fraud who just couldn't tell them what they wanted to hear.
He was glad Stacy took the truth and didn't push the issue any further. He'd lied to people before, mostly to keep unnecessary truths about their deceased relatives from coming out. But he didn't want to do that to Stacy. She was too sweet.
He looked up at the ornate ironwork that composed the gate at the Orleans Cemetery, an obscure city of the dead sitting on the edge of the French Quarter. He stepped back as the horse drawn carriage made its way through the opening.
He would have to follow it now, have to go in behind Stacy and her other friends, providing comfort to her during the loss of her last known family member. It was the only reason he was here, really. Usually, he avoided funerals like the plague.
Being in the church for the service was one thing, but coming to the cemetery was another thing all together. He knew that once he entered the gate, he would be bombarded by the souls of people who hadn't crossed over, souls seeking his help. As much as he loved being a medium, having that many wayward spirits vying for his attention would drain him, leave him weak and vulnerable. And he didn't like that idea, at all.
He should have brought someone with him, maybe Fletch, or Dev, to help him deal with the local residents. But despite his reservations, he knew it was too late to back out now. Stacy needed him, and he never left a friend in the lurch.
The carriage was inside now, traveling down the uneven path. Martin took Stacy's hand, and they fell into step with the five other mourners, a very pitiful number if you asked him. Those that couldn't make it, either by choice or from prior obligations, had sent flowers, though. There were tons of them around the crypt, large sprays of roses and carnations, and a few green plants that Martin knew would find a home in Stacy's small apartment when this was all over.
Still, he'd expected to see more people. Stacy worked as a barmaid at a popular jazz bar on Bourbon Street. It wasn't even noon yet, and he would think more of her co-workers, or regulars would have shown up. After all, New Orleans was famous for its funerals.
Martin glanced at the small jazz quintet standing nearby, waiting to send Mr. Jackson off in style. Funerals were for the living, true, and you came to show respect, to support the survivors. And right now Stacy needed all the help she could get. Her father's illness had left her deeply in debt, with no one to help her shoulder the load.
They were close to where Mr. Jackson's earthly remains would be laid to rest when it hit Martin that not one spirit had made