Crime Time (Chapter Six, page 1 of 8)

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We plodded our way through dinner but the disappointment of the bad news phone call weighted on everyone's mind. Betsy and Martha fried up chicken, chatting amiably as they'd done all weekend. The meat was meant for outdoor grilling, but the rain kept us inside. Howie and I were relegated to shucking more corn and cutting up strawberries on the covered front porch as we watched the rain continue to fall. Quinn remained in his lab, cleaning up the remnants of his scientific adventures.

"It's too bad to we're closing down this dream business after you decided to delve into it" I told Howie. "It was bad timing with Quinn wrapping up his project. Think how much worse you'd feel if the town you visualized really existed."

Howie was quiet for several minutes as we finished our chores. Across the lake, the beginning glow of from the late summer sun broke through the low clouds, signaling an end to the rain. He looked over to me. He pointed to a blossoming rainbow. "Maybe that's a sign I shouldn't let go of this gift." It was time one of us referred to Howie's dreams with that term.

Quinn joined us briefly for dinner. It was already nearing eight o'clock. We updated him on our experiment but his mind was elsewhere. Martha reluctantly admitted the lack of confirmation the town actually existed. I sensed his relief as he assumed now the game, as he called it, was finished. He began explaining the wonders of the brain and its ability to conjure up subconscious fairy tales. I'm sure he meant well, but his lecture wasn't what Howie, and to a lesser extent Betsy, wanted to hear. Sensing an indifferent if not hostile audience, he retreated to his lab after our ice cream desert.

No one suggested evening games and by the time the dishes were cleared, everyone was fidgety and ready to proceed but Quinn remained in his lab. We briefly discussed tomorrow's half-day activities now that the weather had improved but our collective hearts weren't in it.

Martha, always the caring hostess, finally went upstairs and chased Quinn from his quarters, freeing up the now-dismantled lab room. Quinn, surprised we were still clinging to our project, slumped down in an easy chair, journals in hand. He announced his lab was, "free of any and all ghosts of the past."

We assumed our now familiar positions with Howie changed into pajamas and robe. None of us felt the excitement of the afternoon. The lab was neatly cleared and boxes stood from floor to ceiling. The electronic equipment had disappeared as well. Howie extinguished the light, went directly to the small bed and turned to the wall. I sat nearby but my wait was brief. I heard rhythmic breathing, signifying normal sleep. I waited ten minutes before leaving the room. Explanation of our lack of success was unnecessary and we all retired for the night.

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