The nightmare, which David thought he had escaped when he left his Oklahoma home, has come back to haunt the young, closeted Congregational Church minister.
Back home for his mother’s funeral, he decides to search out the source of his nightmare and his near pathological fear of being discovered to be gay. It soon becomes apparent that the specter is his hometown sheriff, who was murdered when David was a boy. As he seeks to unravel the unsolved mystery—and to discover the causes for his fears—he learns that the people of his Dust Bowl hometown had far more to hide than he.
The back of Beacon Hill, Boston
The dream returned: A half-moon lights the boys’ way through the thicket to a hidden pool. At the pool’s edge they dare each other. The taller boy strips first. David follows. The taller boy pushes David into the water and plunges in after him. Laughing, they cavort like a pair of otter pups until exhausted; they climb from the pool and sit, their feet dangling in the water and fingers entwined. Birds have ceased their nattering, small creatures have stopped foraging through the underbrush and the boys fall quiet. There are no sounds, except for their breathing and cicadas rasping love songs.
Suddenly the sound of cracking branches shatters the tranquility. The boys attempt to cover their nakedness as a man, dragging a young woman after him, breaks through the thicket at the far side of the pool. A holstered gun hangs from the belt cinched beneath the intruder’s belly. He is standing, hands on hips, glaring at the cowering boys when suddenly his face turns bloody and he falls into the pit where water stood moments before.
David slips into the pit. He is falling, falling, falling, falling.
“Help,” he screams.
“David! David! Wake up!
"Is that you Paul?"
"I heard you screaming as I unlocked the door.”
"It was the dream again.”
About Grant Spradling
Grant Spradling, a retired United Church (formerly Congregational Church) minister, is also author of From High in The Mulberry Tree, a collection of short stories. The character of David Ward also appears in two previous mysteries -- Maya Sacrifice and Palenque Murder, mysteries set in Mexico. Spradling is also co-creator of two volumes of Imaging the Word, collections of art and literature corresponding with the church lectionary. He lives with his recently married partner of forty-seven years in Amarillo, Texas and Merida, Mexico.