A Vengeful Spirit First 3 chapters
Shelly prayed for wisdom as the phone rang and rang. Finally she heard someone pick up, but could barely hear him speaking.
“Hello? Tucker? Is that you? Why are you whispering?”
“Oh, Miss Gale”—he said, his voice interrupted with huge sobs and hiccupping—“please come and help me. There’s—” Shelly heard the click of his phone hanging up.
“Tucker? Tucker!” All she heard in reply was a dial tone. Confused about what had just happened, she redialed but still got a busy signal. Shelly had been worried about making this phone call, but now she had an even stronger feeling of dread. Something was wrong; she knew it. Her head spun with thoughts of what could have happened. Something is wrong—I’ve never heard Tucker sound that way, and he did ask for help. What do I do, Lord?
Shelly paced her small den trying to decide what to do. She finally decided that she needed to go check on Tucker. Having no idea what she’d find, she decided to call one of her coworkers and best friend, Nicole, to help out. “Nicole, it’s Shelly. I'm so sorry to call you on our first free night, but listen…” After explaining the strange phone call to Nicole, they arranged that Shelly would go pick up Nicole, and they would go over to the Irvins’ house together to check on Tucker. Thank you for good friends, Lord.
Twenty minutes later she arrived at Nicole’s house. She apologized as Nicole climbed in the passenger’s seat. “I’m sorry for dragging you out like this, Nicole, but Tucker sounded really upset.”
“No prob, Shell. Anything is better than having to fix my dad’s TV and remote yet again. It’s really amazing how quickly he can mess up his remotes!” Nicole rolled her eyes and made a comical face to show that she was only joking.
As Shelly drove up to the Irvins’ modest home, she felt like such a fool. I bet they’re just in there watching TV. Oh well, at least they’ll know that I care, and maybe I can set up that parent conference while I’m here.
Knocking on the Irvins’ front door, Shelly tried to peer through the curtains to see if anyone was coming. Thatlooks like Tucker! Why isn’t he answering? “Tucker, are you there? Come on, it’s just me, Miss Gale.” All of a sudden, the door flew open, and Tucker launched himself at Shelly, sobbing hysterically.
“Oh, Miss Gale! I’m so glad you came! I was afraid you didn’t hear me.”
“Tucker? What’s wrong? Where are your parents? Let’s go inside, honey.”
“No!” Tucker pulled away and ran down the front steps shaking his head. “No, don’t go in there! Trust me. You don't want to go in there.”
“Why, Tucker? What on earth is going on here?”
“Miss Gale, when I walked home from school today, I came in and I…and I…and I…”
“Yes? Go on. What happened?”
“I f-f-found m-m-m-my m-mom—oh I can’t—please don’t make me say it!” Tucker flung himself down to the ground, crying uncontrollably.
Not knowing whether to comfort Tucker or go inside to see what was wrong, Shelly looked over at Nicole. Nicole, being the strong, capable person she was, exclaimed, “Don’t look at me. Nuh uh, there’s no way I’m going in there! He’s your student. I’ll hang out here with Tucker; you go see what’s got him so worked up.”
“Figures. Thanks for the help, Nicole.” Great, how come I’m always the one that has to do the hard part? Oh well, I’d best find out what’s going on inside!
Gingerly, Shelly pushed the door the rest of the way open and stepped into a spotless den. Whew, that’s good. Nothing wrong here.
“Mrs. Irvin? You home?” Nothing. Heading toward the kitchen, Shelly thought she saw something on the tile. What is that? Ketchup? Oh no, no, no, please, Lord, no! Turning the corner, Shelly saw her worst fears confirmed. There lay Mrs. Irvin sprawled on the kitchen floor with her eyes wide open and a gaping hole in her chest, like someone had stabbed her with a knife and pulled it out afterwards. Knowing it wasn’t needed, but wanting to be sure, Shelly felt her neck for a pulse. Just as she suspected—none!
“Tucker, Nicole!” Shelly ran back outside to them. “Tucker, have you called 911?”
“When did you find her?”
“Shelly, what’s going on?” Nicole demanded, wide-eyed.
“I'll explain in a minute; first I need to call 911.”
Shelly noticed her hands shaking as she dialed 911 on her cell phone. “Hello? This is Shelly Gale; I need to report a crime. Mrs. Cheryl Irvin appears to be dead at 1230 White Rose Lane. I'm her son’s teacher. I tried to find a pulse but couldn’t. She is lying on the kitchen floor and has what looks like a knife wound in her chest. Please, please send someone quickly!”
The day had begun innocently enough as she stood at the front of her sixth-grade class, demonstrating the conversion of percentages into fractions,. Shelly had observed one of her students, Tucker, doodling on the edge of his paper. She called on him, trying to capture his attention, but suspected he would drift off again as soon as she called on someone else. Something has been bothering him for a couple of weeks now, she thought. I really must call his parents to set up an appointment. I’ve already put it off for too long. She finished her lesson and directed the students to begin working on their math assignment.
As her day progressed, she felt the beginnings of a stress-induced headache; she suspected that it was probably due to dreading calling the Irvins. She was going to have to tell Tucker’s parents that he needed a tutor in math; and like most parents, they thought their son was perfect. On top of that, Mr. Irvin could be very intimidating; he was a good parent and active in church but loud and aggressive when he thought he was right. Since she dreaded making that call, she decided to procrastinate once again and call from home during the evening. Since her students were gone to art class, she took some much-needed ibuprofen and also took the time to pray for all of her students but especially for Tucker and that upcoming call. Feeling better after talking to the Lord about it, she went to pick up her class from art. As she approached the art room door, she had to smile as she overheard Jon pestering Kimmy. It was typical sixth grade flirting; the boys were never quite sure how to act around a girl they liked.
“Class, put your things away and line up quietly. Charlie! Quit trying to use that brush to sword fight with Tony. Please put it down and line up now.” Once she had the students under control, she led them back to the classroom and directed them to prepare for dismissal. Finally, the bell rang, and Shelly dismissed her class with a reminder to enjoy themselves over their long Presidents’ Day weekend.
“Bye, Miss Gale,” the students shouted as they rushed out the door to begin their much-anticipated plans for the holiday. Lord, please keep them all safe during this long holiday weekend.
She quickly straightened her classroom and headed to a meeting with her principal, Mr. Lee. He had asked her to preview a new computer program to supplement their reading curriculum. Realizing she was a few minutes early, she decided to swing by the teachers’ lounge and call Mrs. Irvin. Might as well get this phone call over with. Besides, Mrs. Irvin is usually home at this time of day, and I would much rather talk to her than her loudmouth husband. As she dialed the phone number, she found that she was looking forward to the long weekend herself; she had plans to read several good mysteries. Weird, there’s no answer. I’m sure that Tucker said that they weren’t going out of town. Wonder where she could be? Hanging up the phone, she made a mental note to call again later.
Her meeting went well and was over sooner than she expected. Once she was on the way home from school, she decided to treat herself by getting a rare manicure. She really couldn’t afford it on her Christian schoolteacher’s salary, but it always managed to lift her spirits. As she sat in Perfect Nails being pampered, her thoughts drifted once again to the upcoming phone call. Tucker is a really sweet boy, but he’s just given up in all of his subjects. The recess monitor has even noticed that he has withdrawn from the other boys at recess and plays by himself. I’ve got to remember to tell his parents this.
She swung by Wendy’s afterwards and indulged herself by buying a loaded baked potato and heading home to eat.Finally! Home, sweet home! It just feels so good to kick off my shoes and have some peace and quiet. Oh, the Irvins, the Irvins, don’t forget. Ugh! I wish that I could just go to sleep and pretend that I didn’t even know Tucker was struggling. She reluctantly picked up the phone and dialed the Irvin’s number, never knowing how this one act was going to change her life forever.
Shelly grew up in a small town in northern Ohio and was the oldest of four children. Her two younger brothers still lived in Ohio with their wives and families. Her oldest brother, Jeffrey, was a fighter pilot in the air force and was currently serving a tour of duty in Iraq. The youngest brother, Marcus, was in construction work and was always full of life. Of all of them, she was the shortest at five-foot-three and had her mother’s brown hair with her father’s brown eyes. She was thankful that she had inherited her mother’s ability to eat anything and not gain a pound.
She had always known that she would be a teacher one day. It had seemed that she started teaching as soon as she started talking! When she was a little girl, she would arrange her stuffed animals in straight lines in front of her play chalkboard and “teach” them. When she accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of fourteen, she felt the Lord calling her to be a teacher. Being assured that God wanted her to head in that direction, it was just a matter of waiting to see if God would lead her into public or Christian education. She had known many good Christians that were teachers in public schools, but God made it abundantly clear to her when she was a high-school senior that he wanted her to be in Christian education. After being assured of God's leading through much time spent in prayer, the Lord led her to a small Christian college in North Carolina that had a well-qualified education department.
While Shelly attended college in North Carolina, she fell in love with the South and the gentler ways of the people. She was also quite glad to be rid of those very cold and nasty winters, especially the never-ending snow! As graduation day drew near, she began praying and asking the Lord to lead her to the school where he wanted her to teach, preferably one in the South. After praying about it, she sent out her résumé to all the Christian schools in the United States that were looking for an elementary teacher. Once she had spoken with several schools through many long interviews, God answered her prayers and led her to Lighthouse Christian School in Pilotview, North Carolina.
Even though Lighthouse Christian School (LCS) wasn’t a huge school, Shelly immediately knew when she talked with the principal, Mr. Lee, that LCS was the kind of Christian school where she could minister wholeheartedly. LCS made it a priority to teach students to be godly, as well as to teach quality academics. Several of the other schools that Shelly had interviewed at were Christian in name only. At many of those schools, she couldn’t even tell that she was at a Christian school. It was obvious that LCS focused on godliness by observing the students’ behavior and listening to their conversations.
Although small, LCS had a very attractive campus. Dogwoods lined the entrance drive and were breathtaking in the spring. The school committee and the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church were responsible for overseeing the operations of the school and had built housing on-campus for single teachers. Since Shelly was single, she lived in one half of a duplex built to house two teachers and only had to step out of her door to be at work. It really helped her budget because she rarely had to buy gas for her car, but sometimes her privacy was sacrificed. Students, parents, and church members felt free to drop in on a regular basis to talk or to ask for a key for the facilities. Shelly learned early on to always be dressed once she got out of bed in the morning! Even so, most of the time she enjoyed her simple two-bedroom apartment; and she spent many hours at yard sales and flea markets finding furniture and special decorations for it.
Shelly longed to marry a godly man and have a family of her own. She had always thought she would marry someone while in college or shortly afterwards. Even though she had dated several nice guys through her college years, none had been that “special someone.” She wanted a relationship like her parents had; they were still happily married after forty years. Currently, she didn’t even have a guy that she could go to events with as a friend. However, this wasn’t from lack of trying on her church family’s part! She was constantly being invited over after church, only to arrive and find that a “wonderful” male relative or friend had been invited over as well She continued praying that God would send her “the one” he wanted her to have for a husband. Meanwhile, she would just keep working on being content with the life God had given her and would pour all of her time and energy into her students. Her single ladies’ Sunday school class had been studying what it meant to be a godly woman, and one of the lessons had been on contentment. Above all else, she wanted God to be glorified through her life and ministry.
When she dismissed her students for that long weekend, she never suspected that God was going to work great things in her life through Tucker Irvin.