"The past is a pebble in my shoe." - Edgar Allan Poe
As if anyone would have expected anything less, Claire's funeral was a spectacle. The only mar on the entire event was due to a lack of two people; the parents of the deceased, who only came back from their vacation to set affairs in order and grieve in the privacy of their own home.
Much to the horror of everyone in town, the sculpture and also crime scene, was sold to an auction house and ironically made an extraordinarily profitable return.
Lydia could have cared less, while Beej, on the other hand, muttered a time or two about how they wouldn't be able to take credit or make a profit off of the deaths.
Her ghost was becoming unhinged over the tiniest details, and she knew that the main reason for his behavior had to do with her inability to answer his proposal.
Such a simple thing to say yes to the man you love, but it's not so simple when all things considered, their deal was already a binding contract. Under the current terms, Lydia held the power, but their roles would dramatically change with a marriage. He would grow far more powerful, and if things turned for the worst, she would never be able to end their contract. Still, it wasn't like she planned to 'end' anything.
After a month of debate, she realized that the entire situation was convoluted. She kept the ring (and finger) on her bedroom vanity so that each morning she could take the time to think about his offer. She compared the elaborate ring to the simple one she wore, the one that BJ gave to her on the day she thought was their first meeting. With the ring that she currently wore, she already felt tied to him in a 'slow and steady' way, while this other ring, it was so much more. She could feel the weight on it, and along with that physical aspect, she could also feel the weight of a new contract.
Every time she imagined being married to Beetlejuice, she felt a warmth that nothing could explain, fill her from within. She had read enough of the handbook to know that she couldn't produce a living child with him, not that she had any desire to. She had also understood that at her life's end, it would not terminate the marriage, as it would have with the contract.
If there were any downsides to it, she wasn't aware of them, and at this point, the only one that had come to her mind would be... well… memory.
Thinking back on the odd behavior of Ginger and later Jacques, Lydia finally asked Beej the question that had been bothering her since the day that Ginger had helped her clean off the blood.
"They didn't kill enough." Beej shrugged off the question while they snuggled in Lydia's bed.
They were insatiable with each other, with both craving the touch that had been previously denied to them over the years.
"Ginger said she killed her husbands."
"Ah, yes, three husbands, one boyfriend, and a girl that she got a little too experimental with. At the time, well, let's just say that she met her end by her lady lover's husband. He didn't make it to this side with only one kill. That's just not enough"
Lydia curled into him, her head resting on his shoulder while one of her hands twirled a strand of his blonde hair.
"So, if I'm at three…"
"You need to get more blood on yer hands to remember everything, Babes. You certainly qualify, you are one twisted kid." Beetlejuice's admiration was evident with his smile alone.
"From the beginning, with our deal, you already qualify for basic low-level memory retention, and now that you gave me the watch…"
"I gave you the remainder of my life span." Sitting up, the fabric of her blanket fell off of her body, as she beheld the light snow-covered hills through her bedroom window. "However long that time may be."
"Don't, Lyds. You have time. We can get your count up, cause Brewster won't be the last." Joining her, he wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed her shoulder. "I got a lot ta teach ya."
Humming in both affirmation and pleasure, Lydia turned to kiss his cheek gently and rose up from the bed.
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before."
Standing naked in front of the window, the light curved against her body as she reached for the drapes to close them.
"You quote that Poe too much, Lyds. Starting to think I have a rival." He chuckled.
"Because "it's showtime" is such a gem?" Lydia rolled her eyes, though she couldn't keep her humor hidden from him.
"You know you love it. Now get over here so I can make ya scream again." He ordered, crawling out from under the blanket and across the mattress.
Feeling mischievous, Lydia had another idea as she ran out of her room and down the hall.
That day, they had an enjoyable romp, desecrating room after room until her body couldn't manage much more. In an attempt to keep him at bay, she pretended to banish him to the Neitherworld.
She would never forget his stunned face when those three words had left her mouth. Later, however, she would wish that she could forget the disappointment on his face when she had refused to answer his proposal for the second time.
"Babes!" he spoke, suddenly startling her out of her reverie. Her knife had almost slipped from her hand when he appeared in front of her when she was preparing lunch.
"Beetlejuice." Her tone warned him that she was not pleased.
"You are gonna go bat-shit when you see this!" He yelled, slapping down a paper in front of her.
Glancing at it, she couldn't see the big deal. After all, it only appeared to be a boring piece of paperwork that could have been a report written by a local college kid.
"Woohoo, it's a page." She said unenthusiastically as she opened a jar of mayo for her sandwich.
"It's not just a paper. It's a police report! Snagged it from that pretty-boy cop that Burps been hanging with." With a smug grin on his face, he leaned against the counter and crossed his arms.
Taking the paper more seriously, her sandwich was forgotten as Lydia took the page to read it.
"- the distrust that had built up between Mr. Beetleman and Mrs. Deetz had grown to the extent that the deceased had refused any interaction between Mr. Beetleman and the daughter. Similarly, the animosity between Lydia Deetz and Claire Brewster could have given cause for Mr. Beetleman to step in and - Beej! They think you did it?!" She held a hand over her heart.
"Yeah so? They can't prove it. It'll be like little old Lizzie all over again. No evidence, so by default, no guilt."
Smug couldn't begin to describe how perfect he felt as he polished his nails against his coat.
"It's not funny. If they think that you did this, then what is stopping them from saying that it was me? What then? I can't exactly kill in prison."
Slamming the paper back down on the counter, Lydia squeezed her eyes closed as she took in the complications that this would present.
"Hey, whoa. It's all gonna blow over. No one's gonna pin ya, except me, now let's just get this taken care of and we can get on with our plan."
By his frazzled reaction, Lydia could only surmise that pacifying her wasn't something that Beetlejuice had been prepared to do.
"Beej, we don't have a plan. I am not going to kill people who don't deserve it. Both mother and Claire had wanted to take my home."
"What about dear old 'Mommy'?" He rolled his eyes.
"She was going to hurt my father!" She huffed as she jammed her knife into the package of sandwich meat.
From somewhere deep down inside, an old scar ripped open, and with it, her anger became fresh as she remembered that, never again would her father be there to read to her and call her 'Pumpkin.'
As a tear freed and slipped down her cheek, the affirmation that this was reality had been nearly too much for her.
"Father was my everything, Beej." She spoke softly. "He understood me like no one else. Even… even.."
"Even though the memory of what had happened never truly left him." At a loss for what he could do, Beetlejuice slumped against the counter.
At that moment, she grasped the truth of his words. Her father had been doomed to be an anxious wreck, and his work had nothing to do with it.
"I tried, Lyds. Even though he had a lot of juice in his system, nothing was gonna take away the memory of your adorable face covered in all that gore."
She sobbed and laughed at the same time. "So, Delia was right! I was the one who shattered his nerves after all."
"Fuck that! Don't give her credit. You loved Chuckster, and that woman could never compete with that. Fucking juice messed her up good, and if your dad hadn't kicked the bucket, then she would have died a ditz…. well, you know, more of a ditz."
"No," Lydia wiped her eyes and moved to hug him. "No. Things happened this way for a reason."
Wrapping his arms around her waist, he smiled, content to have her back in his arms. Catching his eye, the knife was still impaled in the lunch meat, and he wondered just what else this little she-demon was capable of. With a quirk of his lips, he chuckled and squeezed her close to him.
"How exactly did you get into Allen's report?"
Jane Butterfield was at a loss. The Deetz's property was once again off the table, and now the Brewster's were not interested in selling off their daughter's inherited estates.
The fact that no one in this town was of any use to her was enough to drive her into a dry spell. The books didn't look so good, and if things continued this way, she would be forced to close her office in Peaceful Pines. If that happened, she would be back to being only a one-location business.
It disturbed her to know that she would never realize her dreams of leaving Winter River permanently. She would end up like Adam and Barbara Maitland and die in the nowhere town they all grew up in.
Little Jane would never become a successful city woman. The thought of her daughter experiencing the same fate began to worry her.
Frustrated, Jane dropped her pen on her desk and held her head in her hands. No, she needed to think. There had to be someone who would be willing to sell.
"Damnit Charles, you just couldn't hold on, could you?"
Pressing her palm against her temples, she then covered her mouth as she thought about her options. Could she give someone else a push? Could she do it again… Another sabotage?
It was possible if she could replicate the Maitland incident, then perhaps the Deetz's estates would go to another family member who had no interest in equity.
The Brewster's were a lost cause in selling, but they were her best patrons. She had always been successful when they were involved since money was never an obstacle when they liked a property.
Then there was that cop who had that property in Eagle Hill. A single man with no family had no reason to need that much land.
Thinking on it, with the two accidents in town, now may not be the best time to plot too many incidences. One death every so often could be easily explained, but two accidents after the funeral of someone so valued by the community…
Well, it just didn't look good.
This was where she was, Jane Butterfield, Realtor, and Savvy businesswoman; stuck in a town of stubborn idiots.
Something had to change. Something needed to change.
Detective Bath was a practical person. He knew that people both decent and criminal were subject to both positive and negative traits. He also knew that the most stable, upstanding citizens, could commit atrocities that the average mind would never be capable of conceiving.
He was also aware that a small-town crime like this was never as easy as a simple identification lineup. People in a community like this stuck together, and old ties, trusts, and relationships would be impossible to break.
That was why he wanted Brown and Dichter on his investigation team. They knew the town and surrounding municipalities just as well as any officer in the precinct. However, only Brown knew Mr. Beetleman, Brewster, and the Deetzs collectively. She also knew the medical examiner since their school days. Conflict of interest? Possibly, but truthfully, her knowledge and incredible ability to recognize patterned behavior was an asset.
Dichter, well, the Detective had never seen such a clean-cut record. The kid never seemed to be phased by what he saw on the force, and if anyone could reign in the over exuberance of Officer Brown, it would be Dichter.
Officer Brown's record was riddled with commentary from past assigned partners. The majority had found her to be… a tad clingy. Surprisingly, even with the unfortunate circumstances of the previous year for both of them, the two officers were able to work as a team regardless of Brown's mental and physical recovery period.
As a detective and a practical person, Detective Bath had applied this knowledge and set up his perfect team.
Though, as she looked over the schematic of potential suspects, the look on Bertha Brown's face didn't bode well.
"Uh, Detective Bath? I don't think I feel comfortable with putting Lydia on the suspect side of this board." The notion clearly repulsed her. "I also don't think that Mr. Beetleman…"
"Facts, Officer Brown, not speculations. If you do not want to see them on this board, then I suggest that you find cause to eliminate them." The Detective flipped through a few more photos before selecting two more to add to the board. The first one that was pinned up was a portrait.
"Jane Butterfield: Local realtor and person of interest. Colleague to Charles Deetz, acquainted with all three Deetz women and the Brewster family. Jane is listed here as one who was seen in the company of all three victims on the last day of each of their lives. Now that's assuming that there is a possibility of Charles Deetz being a victim."
Officer Dichter tapped his lips and contemplated the possibilities.
"Jane has been known to be aggressive in her sales tactics." He offered. "She was never one to shy away from selling off the properties of those recently deceased. She has also been seen frequently harassing some locals to sell their loved one's homes."
Bertha scoffed. "She's been after your place since… uh… sorry." When Allen closed his eyes, she clamped her mouth shut.
The Detective smirked at how well the officers were able to read each other. He would have to compliment the Chief for his decision to place the two most observant cops in this district together.
Adding the final photo to the board, the Detective stepped away so the room could now see. The photo, taken in a cemetery full of funeral attendees, was particularly thought-provoking because it featured every person of interest.
"But that's... How? Why?" Bertha stuttered.
"On Tuesday, March 27, 1984, the funeral of Mrs. Evelyn Deetz was attended by her husband and daughter. Along with a friend of the family, Ms. Cordelia ' Delia' Hart. This photo was taken not too long before Delia and Charles started their relationship, and both were reported to have undergone a personality change in drastic measures.
'On March 20th, 1984, Mrs. Evelyn Deetz was murdered with no suspects found. According to the reports, Charles Deetz was discovered unconscious in the hallway outside of the murder scene while Lydia Deetz, age 6, was asleep in her bed. Following that, Charles Deetz had what most would call a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with high levels of anxiety."
"How was Evelyn Deetz murdered?" Allen asked, only to have a photo of the crime scene shoved into his face by Detective Bath.
"Multiple stab wounds. Close proximity. The perpetrator would have been covered in blood, but no trace had been found outside of the room, not even a trail. Murder weapons have yet to be discovered."
The room was silent as the two officers examined the photo. Nothing looked out of order, other than from the puddle of blood, lay the body of a thin woman who looked too much like Lydia for either Officer to be comfortable with.
"Also, in attendance at the funeral was Maxi Dean, his wife Sarah, Otho Fenlock, and Jane Butterfield. All of whom were questioned on Evelyn's death, and only Butterfield remains a person of interest."
"So, what about the Brewster family?" Nodding towards the photo, Allen referenced the young and seemingly bored Claire, who stood between two daunting figures.
Judging by the grin on the Detective's face, Allen had apparently asked the right question, as the Detective retrieved yet another photo.
"As you can see, the accusation of Charles Deetz having an affair was nothing short of a projection of a guilty conscious by Evelyn herself."
Bertha squeaked and covered her mouth before stumbling back into a chair while Allen, on the other hand, stared wide-eyed at the image of a nude Evelyn Deetz in a compromising position with Marvin Brewster.
"And… and Mr. Beetleman?" Bertha asked, pointing to the photo of the funeral posted on the board.
There, behind the tombstones and a few rows back, stood the image of B.J. Beetleman, smoking in a trench coat with a cabby style hat.
"Before the news of your case came to my precinct, I had no idea who the man in the photo could possibly have been. He didn't match any of our archives, and no one had remembered seeing him. I have a hunch that Mr. Beetleman is somehow connected to Evelyn Deetz's murder."
Officer Brown bore a pained expression which contrasted drastically against the determined and focused expression of her partner.
Yes, indeed, these two were going to help him solve this eighteen-year-old cold case after all. If they were lucky, they would finally be able to get justice.