E-mail Message #3; From: BISHOP; To: David Paglia

David,

Well, this just doesn't stop. I had to go so suddenly the other night because I had another visit from Calvin. I got some more information from him, but nothing that makes me feel more comfortable about any of this. Quite a bit less so, actually. But what I've recently heard will make even less sense to you without hearing the rest of what happened that first night.

Where were we? Calvin was trying to get me to talk to him and I was calming down a little, but not completely because of the TV show stunt with the "look, no gun". Normal people just don't do that, or if they do they come off as goofy and affected. He didn't. He gave off the feeling that he generally did have a gun on him somewhere, but just didn't happen to have one tonight. And how would he have known enough about me to know that I'd be the type of person who would wonder if someone was carrying?

I suppose at that point I thought he was probably another private investigator sent to get some information from me about an old case. Once I thought about it, I realized that I had been on Calvin's side of the gate a couple times in the past.

"Okay," I said. "I see from the pulled back window shade across the street that my sweet old neighbor has noticed you and is wondering what I'm up to now with my crazy friends. Come in, slow and calm, and we'll talk on the front porch."

He came into the yard and walked right up to one of the chairs on my little front porch. I followed and took the other chair and he immediately said, "I need you to go somewhere with me tonight to see something. I'm not going to say anything about it and, again, I'm willing to accept just about any conditions you name to get you to go with me..." I started to protest, or laugh, "...hear me out. This has nothing to do with anything in your past. There is nothing sordid or illegal involved. I swear it." And that stopped me dead in the middle of my smirk.

People say "I swear" all the time, and they say it with the same diluted meaning as "damn it" or "go to hell". But this guy said it and meant it.

"Look," I said, "I don't know you. For all I know you're on the payroll of someone I pissed off back when I used to do that for a living. Why in the world would I even consider going somewhere with you?"

He ignored that and just said, "I need you to come to John's pass. Actually, if you don't decide to go soon I'm going to go alone because I can't miss this. Take your own car. Park across Gulf Boulevard at the village, there will still be plenty of people there this time of night. I don't want you to go anywhere secluded or hemmed in, just walk across the street and go down to the beach. I'll be sitting on a bench by the access until 11:40. If you get there later than that I'll be gone down the beach and I doubt you'll find me in time."

"In time for what?"

"You'll never know." And he smiled a smile that told me beyond any doubt that he knew way too much about my particular interests. Then he got up and left. Walked past me with only a "good night", got in his car and drove off.

I'm sure all the internal debate that immediately followed, and continued all the way to John's Pass, would be way too tedious to recount. It’s enough to say that I went. I got to John's Pass Village at 11:25, and it was a couple minutes before 11:40 when I walked on to the beach through the access and saw Calvin sitting on a bench watching the waves shining under the full moon.

I mentioned in the last E-mail that there was a full moon that night and this is one of the reasons I remember it. I don't know if you've been in St. Pete long, or if you have ever been to the beach on a perfectly clear night under a full moon, but it is one of the most beautiful things you can see in this area. And that night was absolutely clear; millions of stars and a perfect blue-white moon. You could have read a newspaper under that moon.

Calvin looked up and said, "We're going to walk over to the South where the point curves around and follows the pass. Then we're going to turn around and follow the beach near the water line back to the North."

"What are we looking for?"

"You'll either see it or you won't," he said as he started walking around the block of condos to the South. It didn't take us long to get around the corner to where the beach rounded off the gulf and became the North side of the pass into Boca Ciega bay. We walked toward the bridge for just a bit before Calvin turned around and started walking back along the beach.

I had no idea what was going on. I was scanning the water line to my left and the condos to my right and even the gulf looking for anything that would have explained why I was there. I wasn't sure at that point if I should be feeling more suspicious or more foolish, but I kept walking.

There were some other people on the beach. Tourists and bar hoppers stroll along there at all hours. Ahead of us, a couple was walking arm in arm toward us. I could make out their features from pretty far off due to the brightness of the night. They were a young man and woman, probably in their late twenties, walking close and comfortably; like lovers do. A good breeze was coming off the water that night so it was just cool enough for the woman to be snuggled close to the guy. They were walking so close that I didn't see it at first.

They were absolutely normal looking. The girl was blond and very pretty. She was about a head shorter than he was, and he was average height. He wore jeans and a black t-shirt and had dark, shoulder length hair. Everyday people.

Calvin and I weren't directly in their path; we were closer to the water line and they were a few feet up near the high tide mark. As we came near to them, still about 10 or 15 yards away, they stopped and, still holding hands, turned together to look out over the gulf. They separated a little as they turned and the rising moon, behind them, cast the girl's shadow, sharp like a silhouette, in front of us. But only her shadow. The guy didn't have one.

I guess I was right in front of them when my brain actually registered what I was seeing. I was just past them and looking over my shoulder trying to stop and stare, with Calvin pulling me to keep going, when they cuddled close again and their closeness masked the insanity. But I got that second look. I saw it again just long enough to be sure; the bone white sand stretching away from the man where the hard edged black should have been.

Calvin kept pulling me along, and they kept walking around the curve of sand where Calvin and I had started our walk. I looked back a couple more times, but he was too far away and their embrace was too close to see what I was looking for. We went a couple hundred more yards, then angled right toward the hotels.

I was speechless. Literally. I tried to talk, but felt like a tight fist was squeezing my chest. Calvin said, "Just try to breathe, and listen. I have to go in just a minute. You saw what you saw, and I saw it too. I was expecting it, so it didn't knock me for a loop like it did you. I don't know when I'm going to be able to talk to you again, but I will. In the mean time you're going to start convincing yourself that it was all a trick of the light. But it wasn't. I saw it too. He did not have a shadow. You know now that I haven't lied to you, so believe me when I say you aren't in any danger. Just go home, do what you are going to do, and I'll be in touch as soon as I can. Okay?” He looked down the beach to where the couple had disappeared around the bend. “Don't go down there, though. I know a little about them and they aren't a threat to anyone. They deserve to be alone tonight." He gave me a last hard look, to make sure I'd be okay, I think, then turned and walked away.

I let him go. And after that I'm not sure of exactly how things went. I calmed down and made it back to my car and drove home. Then I spent the next three weeks wondering what the hell was going on. Then I decided to add to this strangeness by writing to you. Maybe now you see why. I don't know you and you don't know me. I have absolutely no reason to lie to you about this, and you can think I'm crazy without any impact to me.

But I'm not crazy. Writing to you (and thinking about writing to you) has helped me work through a lot of this, and my recent conversation with Calvin has clarified more. But he has raised a bunch of new questions, too. I realize that this may have put you over the edge, but if you'd care to hear it I'd like to talk to you about some of what Calvin has told me. If you're interested let me know. We'll have to make some arrangements to continue to communicate anonymously, but that can be worked out.

Regards,

Bishop

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