Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chapter 7 - "Clues to a Ghost"


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 7 – “Clues to a Ghost”

What windows there were in this basement room had been painted over so that none could see into the hidden lair of The Masked Ghost.

Margaret and her husband Donald Randolf found themselves enraptured with curiosity as they explored the hideout of the vigilante she had only hours before discovered to be her brother and who now laid dead several feet above their heads.

But down here Adrian Brown didn’t exist; there was only The Masked Ghost.

Here were the secrets he had kept from them, from the world. Everything seemed so chaotic in this cold dungeon chamber, and yet the more they explored they found order in everything.

Finally the couple looked to one another.

“What are we suppose to do with all this?” Margaret asked.

“He wanted us to find his killer.”

“But how?”

“He directed us to come here. Cabbie knew we had to come here. So there must be clues in all this,” he gestured to everything around them, “Seemed quite certain we’d be able to find the answer.”

“But what if we can’t?”

“We will, honey,” he hugged her, “we must.”

Margaret looked about her. “Where do we start?”

Donald moved to the table and the wall hangings, “these are rather impressive blueprints. Maybe he thought I could make something out of them. Why don’t you look through those journals? Maybe you’ll see something only a sister could.”

He watched as his wife went over to the shelves of books and pulled one down. Margaret was trying to be strong but Donald knew she was hurting on the inside.

Looking down at the paperwork before, Donald sorted through sheets of notes. Adrian was obviously a stickler for order and research; he had his very own form of the Dewey Decimal System. Each sheet of paper had markings at the top corner, whether they were news clippings, photographs, city documents, or his own hand written notes. Through the pages were references using those letters and number that cited other pages in his collection. Here was a location, here a photo of that location. Here a news article about a gang land killing, here the bios of each victim and the suspects, and even the police involved in the investigations.

Donald turned to blueprints. They were of a building that would dwarf the Empire State Building, and having worked on it this struck Donald’s pride. He hadn’t heard of any such building, but then he had been away from construction for some time now and lost contact with most of the men he had worked with. Again he realized how different a world he lived in now. He loved Margaret deeply and was starting to feel like part of her family, but it was so different from world he had come from.

He shuffled through more pages, and came across a list of names.

“I know some of these men,” he said quite surprised.

He dug through a pile of photographs and found the codes that matching names on the list.

The first that he recognized was Herbert J. Wolf of the architectural firm of Salmon, Wolf, and Dallas. The firm’s name was stamped on the blue prints. Donald’s construction company had once put a bid in with them, but they weren’t willing to pay what he asked.

Next was Philip Eken’s of the city’s development agency. Donald hadn’t worked with him but knew he had replaced their government go to man back from when he was working.

The third was Jacob Saul who was currently leading a unionization battle of several construction sites. Donald had nothing against the labor movement, but didn’t like Saul’s tactics when he approached their company.

Beneath Saul’s name and description was listed Petras Nikolas who had worked for Donald before he got married. The man’s family had emigrated from Greece. Not only was he a good worked, he understood running the company. So Donald expected the man to do quite well for himself.

There was a hand written note next to Nikolas’ name. ‘Must find a way to ask Donald about him.’

But his brother-in-law never did get the chance to ask him about his former colleague. Now Donald wondered exactly what Adrian had been thinking.

He kept reading through the names and descriptions. There were a lot of other names he knew vaguely from the construction industry, but a lot more he had no idea who they were. But there was one that he knew, not personally or from business, but a name that had gotten more press then the ‘The Masked Ghost.’ Joe ‘Crackers’ Castella a local mob boss the police hadn’t been able to pin anything on but the press loved to talk about. Beneath ‘Crackers’ name was a hand written note: Needs to be taken care of, but not connected to primary investigation.

For the next hour he read through all the notes related to the planned Wolf building and the associated names. It was too much. Donald worried that all this was part of another novel Adrian was writing, but he knew too much about the underpinnings of the New York construction trade just to be making it up.

“Dear,” Margaret spoke, but had to say it a second and then a third time before Donald finally looked at her. He had been so deep into his thoughts.

“Think I found something,” she held up a red binder different from the rest, “It’s Adrian’s journal… or I guess, the Masked Ghost’s journal about Sheila’s death.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chapter 6 - "Home for a Ghost"


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 6 – “Home for a Ghost”

“Do not move,” said the man holding the gun on Donald and Margaret Randolf. Slowly he got out from behind the wheel of the taxicab and came around to them.

Donald wondered if he could move fast enough to take this man before a shot could be fired. Fearing for his wife’s safety, he thought it best to stay still and find out what was going on.

Margaret stood there frozen; she had no idea what this strange man wanted, her only thoughts were of her brother Adrian.

Keeping the gun pointed on them, the taxicab driver looked about in all directions but there was no one around. The storm had chased everyone into the surrounding buildings. After being certain they were along he gestured at the rolled up rug leaning against the wall.

“Is that him?” He asked. Margaret looked where they had put her brother’s body. She felt sick, and looked back to her husband.

“We’ve done what you asked,” Donald said maintaining a tone of control. “Who are you? What do you want?”

The driver looked at him, thought for moment, and then lowered the gun.

“I am sorry for the theatrics Mr. and Mrs. Randolf, but I had to be careful.”

“You know who we are?” Margaret asked, scared.

“Yes, but we have to move now. The Masked Ghost must go home,” and he moved towards the rug.

“Stay away from my brother,” she responded.

“Ma’am, I mean no disrespect to you or your family, but we must get him away from here.”

Donald gave his wife a reassuring glance, that he hoped would get her to relax, then moved past her before he could tell if it worked. He lifted the rug wrapped body and carried it towards the taxi. The driver had already opened the trunk and Donald laid the rug inside.

“Sorry about this buddy,” he said closing the lid.

“Now, please, we must go.”

Donald didn’t have to encourage his wife to get into the taxicab; she was going wherever her brother was going.

Once in, the taxi pulled out on to the main road and turned left heading north. About six blocks later it turned left again. Three blocks later a right, and then a left again.

“This isn’t the way to Adrian’s apartment,” Margaret said.

“It is if you do not want to be followed.” Answered the man behind the wheel.

Donald glanced out the back window. Who would be following them? The police? The killer? Someone else?

He leaned forward towards the driver, “You said you knew us, Mr.—“

The driver snapped up his visor so his I.D. wasn’t visible, “Call me Cabbie. That’s what the boss man calls me. Of course I know the both of you. I’ve driven you to work numerous times sir, and drove the Mrs. to Macy’s twice this week.”

“You’ve driven us before? I don’t recognize you,” Margaret asked.

“Comes with the job, no one remembers their taxi driver,” he said with a smirk in his rearview mirror. “It was something that made the boss man happy.”

“The boss man? You mean the Masked Ghost,” Donald was figuring it out.

“You work for my brother?”

“I work for the Allied Taxi Service, but when the Masked Ghost calls I’m there for him.”


“Lets just say I owe him a debt I’ll never be able to repay.”

“And you became his personal driver.”

“That’s right, and running errands when needed, and a few other things.”

“Like what?”

“Keeping an eye on you two.”

“Why would Adrian want you to watch us?” Margaret asked.

“The Masked Ghost has many enemies.”

A moment later, the taxi pulled into the alley behind Adrian Brown’s apartment.

Cabbie helped Donald carry the rug role into the back of the building and on into Adrian’s ground floor apartment while Margaret stood watch at the corner of the alleyway. The storm had cleared the streets in this part of town. It was drizzling now, but she paid it little notice. Margaret hadn’t visited her brother’s apartment very often, but standing here now she realized just how different the neighborhood was from her Park Avenue penhouse world.

A few minutes later her husband whistled for her to join them, and she found herself in the doorway of her brother’s small apartment. Adrian once told her he didn’t need much of a place since he was always traveling, chasing his stories across the globe. Now it looked very empty except for dozens of books, scattered magazines, and an old typewriter on the kitchen table with piles of manuscripts.

She watched as her husband and the Cabbie unrolled the rug letting Adrian’s body lay on the floor.

“Now remove everything of the Masked Ghost from him,” the Cabbie ordered. Donald obeyed simply because he didn’t know what else to do. This strange taxi driver knew far more than they did.

Margaret knelt down to help her husband remove the mask and outer over coat from her brother. They also remove his double-breasted suit coat containing the guns.

Once he was dressed only in his pants and blood stained shirt, they stood and looked at the Cabbie for what to do now.

“Tomorrow you will come by to visit your brother and find him here. That’s when you call the police.”

“But we can’t just leave him—“ Margaret spoke, but her husband squeezed her hand to reassure her.

“You seem to have this planned out,” Donald asked.

“Not I, sir,” and he nodded down at the body, “The Masked Ghost still has much unfinished business.”

Donald looked the Cabbie in the eye and an unspoken understanding passed between them.

“I’ll dispose of the rug,” The Cabbie said as he picked it up and turned for the door.

“What do we do with these clothes? The mask and guns?” Margaret asked, feeling useless.

“Through there,” the Cabbie indicated an inner door opposite the bedroom, and almost hidden from the front door, which he closed behind him and was gone.

The couple looked at one another uncertain what to do next, then down at Adrian.

Donald knelt briefly and adjusted the position of the body, “This should make it look like he was shot by someone at the door. There was a knock, he answered the door and then was shot.”

“But that’s not what happened.”

“Do you want the killing tied back to us? Do you want the police to discover that he’s the Masked Ghost?”

“No, but--”

“Right. Me neither, but we have to protect him somehow.” Donald reached in his pocket and pulled out the ring of keys. He had no trouble identifying the one for the apartment door, so now he had to figure out the rest. The inner door appeared to be a closet, except that there were two locks. After several tries he matched both with keys on the ring. The door opened.

“Bring the clothes,” he told his wife and stepped through the opening. It was dark, and he could just make out a sidewall was missing and the edge of the floor dropping away into darkness a couple feet from the door. Looking about he found a pull chain, which turned on a single light bulb overhead. The new illumination revealed a wooden staircase, which appeared to be hand made, and descended down through what would have been the closet’s floor.

“Follow me, but watch your step,” Donald said as he took the first steps. Having formerly worked in construction, he was surprised at the quality of the work, and that the stepped didn’t creak beneath his weight.

A second bulb at the bottom lit up along with the first; reaching it he took Margaret’s hand to help her down the final steps while carrying the bundle of clothes.

“Where are we?” She asked.

“It looks like he built the stairs himself to go down into the basement. There’s another door here. Let me try another key.”

As he opened this door, they heard the one above them swing closed.

“We’re trapped,” Margaret nearly shrieked.

“No, I don’t think so,” Donald reached to the top hinge at the door in front of him. A cable was attached to it and ran diagonally up the wall of the stairwell, “Adrian must have wanted to be certain the door above was closed once he came down here, and the same when he went back up.


“Let’s find out,” Donald said reaching his hand into the darkness beyond the door. Along the edge of the wall he found a switch box. Multiple lights came on around the room.

“Oh my God,” Margaret said, it didn’t take long for her to realize what this room was.

There was a table in the center of the room, with paperwork laid out. A chalkboard stood on one side, and corkboard on the other. There were maps of the city and blueprints of different buildings attached to open wall space. The chalkboard was written up full of notes; at the top were two time lines. One line made out in days, and another in hours of one of those days. On the pegboard were news clippings, police blotters, and mug shots of criminal suspects as well as street level candid photos of some of the same and others. Against one wall was a bookshelf filled, not just with books and phone directories, but also a dozen or more journals and notebooks. Next to that was a police band radio.

“I don’t think we need to worry about his clothes anymore,” Margaret said stepping further into the room. A wheeled clothing rack stood to one side. At least half a dozen suits and overcoats hung from the rack, and just as many hats sat on a table next to it. Beyond the clothes was the weapon’s cabinet.

“The Masked Ghost was ready for anything.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chapter 5 – “Phone Call a Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 5 – “Phone Call a Ghost”

Why had they lied to the police?

Why had Adrian hidden from the police?

Why had he been running around town masquerading as a vigilante ghost?

Who had shot him? And why?

Donald Randolf picked off each question as he fingered one key after another around the ring Adrian had given him before dying, like rosary beads. None of the keys provided answers to his questions. Most of all the answer to the most pressing question: What were they going to do now?

For more then half an hour his wife Margaret cradled the head of her dead brother. Tears finally subsided and she laid him back on the bed and stood.

She looked at her husband and he looked at her. Neither spoke as both had the same questions and no answers to provide the other.

They both jumped at the sound of the phone from the other room.

“What do we do?” Panic filled their eyes. The phone rang again.

“I suppose we answer the phone.” He took her hand and headed for the phone in the front all. It was a good excuse to take her away from the body.

“Hello? Randolph residence,” he said politely. It had taken Donald some time to sound like the ‘upper crust’ that he had married into. He wasn’t comfortable in it, but he loved Margaret so tried very hard. It was better than his normal answer of ‘What?’

A man’s voice with a rough accent spoke.

“Is Mr. Adrian Brown there? May I speak to him?”

Donald’s blood froze and he looked at his wife in horror. He finally found his voice and answered, “No, I’m sorry. He’s no longer here.” Then cursed himself for admitted that Adrian had been here.

Margaret shook in fear. Who would have called for her brother here? Now?

There was a long pause; Donald could hear traffic sounds in the distance. Whoever this caller is, was on the street, possibly at a pay phone. He glanced towards the window fearing that the stranger was just outside the building.

“Hello, are you still there?” Donald asked and wished he had just hung up.

Finally the voice spoke again, this time deeper, colder.

“The Masked Ghost must walk.”

Good God, Donald thought, he knows.

“Who is this?”

Another silence and then.

“All your questions will be answered, Mr. Randolf. But first the Masked Ghost must travel. The Masked Ghost must walk.”

“How exactly can a ghost walk?” Donald was getting upset and regretted his words at the site of his wife’s horror filled face.

“There is a back entrance to your building,” the voice came again, “The Masked Ghost must descend. I will be waiting for him.”

“What? We can’t do that. We can’t move a—People will see--.”

The line went dead. The stranger had hung up. The empty sound echoed through the phone. Donald held on a moment longer before putting the handset into the cradle.

“Who was that?”

“I don’t know, but he knows Adrian is the Masked Ghost,” he looked at her. Margaret was shaking. He held her in his arms.

“Is it… Is it the killer?” She asked.

Donald didn’t answer right away, he just held her. Looking over his wife’s shoulder he saw the ring of keys he had laid on the table when answering the phone. There were numerous keys. One or two keys were for Adrian’s apartment. Another was for a similar door. One appeared to belong to a locker at a bus depot, and another might be for a safe. Wasn’t certain about that one. It was obvious that his brother-in-law had many secrets locked away.

“No,” he finally spoke, answering her question, “Who ever it is, he isn’t the killer. At least I hope not. But he may be someone who can help us?”

“How?” Margaret thought of something he had said before hanging up, “What did you mean ‘people might see’? What people? See what?”

Stepping back from her, Donald put his hands on her shoulders and looked in his wife’s eyes?

“I’m thinking about it, honey. I’m thinking about it.”

And so he thought about it. He knew what was going to have to happen next, but didn’t know how he was going to make it happen.

“Stay here,” he ordered her. Margaret wanted to follow but he shook his head. He went back into the bedroom, looked briefly at the body that lay there. Donald went into the closet and began to pull out clothes that weren’t blood stained and something they could wear out in this weather. There was going to be a lot of work to do.

“Put these on,” he told his wife and handed her a pile of clothes. Some of it was her clothing, some his. He had a feeling she’d need to wear slacks for what they were going to do.

“Why? What are you planning?”

He started to change clothes, and she followed suit even though her question wasn’t yet answered.

“There is someone downstairs waiting for us. Or more correctly, waiting on the Masked Ghost to come down and join them.”

She listened as she pulled on a woolen top she had worn at the sky chalet in the mountains last winter.

“And we need to get the Masked Ghost down there.”

“What, but the Masked Ghost is Adrian—“ she realized, “NO! We can’t just move my brother around like he was some sack of potatoes.”

“We don’t have a choice, Maggie. The police are likely to return when they don’t find the Masked Ghost or his blood trail leaving our building. If they come back they should find the apartment as they left it. Even with the extra blood in the bedroom, it should still appear to be the mess they left it as. Otherwise, they will find him here and we’ll be arrested for harboring a fugitive, or at the very least lying to the police.”

She thought about what her husband was saying. Margaret didn’t like the thought of what they were going to have to do. It seemed so disrespectful to the dead, to her brother. But then she thought of what had already happened to him. Someone out there in the dark had shot him, killed him, for God knows why? Because Adrian had chosen to put on a mask? Why had he done that, to hunt down criminals? Did this have anything to do with what happened to Sheila?

Tightening the belt on Donald’s pants around her thin waist she looked at him and spoke.

“I hate doing this, but we’ll do it for Adrian.” Then she pulled on the heavy work gloves he handed her. “We will find out what happened to him.”

Donald didn’t reply, but scooped up the keys and headed back to the bedroom.

They rolled Adrian’s body (mask, guns, and all) in a large Persian rug. It was very cumbersome, but Margaret surprised herself by her own strength when she had to lift it on her own. Donald did most of the carrying, except when they had to go around corners and she had to take an end. She would then move ahead to keep watch in case someone was coming.

They found the halls, and even the elevator to be surprisingly empty. It must have been the storm that had driven everyone into their apartments instead of mingling in the common rooms and hallways. Even Willy, the boy who ran the elevator, wasn’t at his post. Mrs. Thompson must have convinced him to come inside for some hot chocolate, again. The elevator shaft can be very cold.

It was almost too easy, Donald thought, as they made it to the ground floor. They’re luck didn’t hold.

When the elevator doors opened the couple from 7C was standing there. They looked at Donald and Margaret and then at the large rolled up and stained carpet they held between them.

“Uh…,” Donald didn’t know what to say.

It was his wife that surprisingly came to rescue.

“Hi, Betty, Jim. This horrible storm blew in our French doors and totally soaked the rug. We wanted to get it out of the apartment before it made any more of a mess.”

Jim looked at the big stained roll and watched as it slumped forward. “Here let me help you with that.”

“No, no—“ Donald started, but again Margaret was there for him.

“Don’t touch. The rug is full of broken window glass. Don’t want you to get hurt, that’s why we’ve got gloves on.”

“Oh, of course,” said Betty, it made some type of sense, “come one honey let’s leave them to their mess.”

The Randolphs carried their bundle down the lobby corridor toward the back door, as Betty and Jim stepped into their vacated elevator.

“That was really quick thinking back there,” Donald said as they laid the rolled up carpet on the ground just outside the door. It was still raining, but not as fiercely. There was no sign of the police.

“I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m running on pure fear and—Hey, look.”

Down the road about half a block a taxicab was parked. It flashed its headlamps twice.

“Do you think that’s him? Should we wave,” Margaret raised her hand but dropped it as she thought better of the idea.

The cab’s lights came on again and slowly rolled forward until it was even with them.

“Can I give you a ride?” The driver said once the window was rolled down.

“No, I don’t think so. We’re waiting for—“ Donald remembered the same accented voice from the earlier phone call.

“Get in the cab,” said the driver pointing a gun at them, “the Masked Ghost must take a ride.”

To Be Continued…

Chapter 4 – “The Police for a Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 4 – “The Police for a Ghost”

“What do we do?”

“I don’t know,” Donald Randolf answered his wife as he put the mask back on the face of his dead brother-in-law, and put the guns back where he found them. “But we better go answer the door before the police break it down.”

“Open up in there!”

Margaret was terrified, but her husband pushed her forward, and she opened the door.

A large round man, wearing a suit two sizes too small, held up his Detective’s badge. Six uniformed police officers stood in the hall behind them, each with their guns drawn.

“Detective Dobbs. You called?” He had a gruff voice.

“I… I did.” Margaret answered now more scared of them then of the intruder.

“Well,” the detective measured up the couple, wondering if they were worth interrupting his evening, “Where is this ‘Masked Ghost’? You better not be messing with me, because we’ve had enough calls from people claiming they had captured him ever since the papers announced that there was a reward.”

“Reward?” Margaret glanced at her husband. Donald knew what she was thinking. Had someone shot Adrian in an attempt to capture the mysterious ‘Masked Ghost’ in hopes of claiming the reward?

“He came in from the balcony,” Donald said trying to stay calm, “Don’t know how he got up here. He then collapsed on the living room floor.” Margaret grabbed his arm in fear as the police moved passed them and into the other room.

“And this would be the room,” the detective asked.


“Then where is he?”

“What?” The couple said in unison and pushed through the line of police officers and couldn’t believe their eyes.

The room was empty. The French doors still swung open as the wind blew in the rain.

“You said he was dead.” Dobbs grumbled.

“I couldn’t find a pulse,” Donald replied.

A look of joy and hope passed across Margaret’s face, but she had to suppress it in front of the police.

“We’ve got blood here,” one of the uniformed officers examined the floor where Adrian had fallen only moments earlier, “lots of it. Trail leads in from the balcony and pools here.”

“Looks like you weren’t lying after all,” Dobbs said to the Randolphs through gritting teeth.

“Why would we lie?” Margaret said and realized too late there was a tone of guilt in her words.

“Good question,” the detective answered.

An officer came in from balcony, holding a long rope connected to a strange metal grappling hook. The rope was wet from the rain and blood. “Looks like this is how he got up here.”

“Yes, but did he also leave that way?” Dobbs considered aloud. “Spread out, he’s probably still here.” The order given and the officers moved through the penthouse apartment.

“He’s alive!” Margaret whispered to her husband, she tried not to hope. Donald looked grim, and didn’t reply.

“More blood over here,” came another officer, “trail of it leading in here.”

They all headed in that direction. Margaret and Donald could not stop themselves from following, but the detective put a hand up to stop them before they entered their own bedroom.

Margaret watched as he raised his gun and followed the other officers. She was trying not to cry. Her brother was alive, and there were seven guns in there ready to kill him again.

“The window,” she heard an officer say.

Donald and Margaret leaned to the side trying to look into the room as the detective approached the window on the opposite wall. They couldn’t see much except that the window was open and something large and dark was hung from it.

The police were in the bedroom for several minutes more before Detective Dobbs emerged holding a large overcoat soaked in blood.

Margaret gasped.

“Looks like the creep escaped out your bedroom window. This bulky coat must have been slowing him down, so he left it behind.” Dobbs turned to his squad, “Okay, everyone, let’s get out of here. A man bleeding that much can’t have gotten far.”

He turned back to the terrified couple. “Thank you for calling. We’ll have this twit in custody by morning, or he’ll be dead. Either way he won’t be bothering you again. Have a good night.”

With that the detective left with the rest of the police, taking the coat and other evidence with him.

Margaret and Donald found themselves very alone.

“Wh… what happened?”

“I don’t know,” Donald answered his distraught wife.

“Where’s Adrian,” she broke from his arms and ran for their bedroom. The room was a complete wreck as the police had pulled apart practically everything in their search for clues. The window was left open and there was a dark red stain from where the coat had lain.

She turned back to her husband, “Do you think they’ll find him—“

“Sorry about the mess, sis.” Came a whisper and they turned to find the masked man dragging himself out of their walk-in-closet. The police had been in there, but only given it a cursory glance.

“Adrian!” Margaret shouted, and ran to him. He took a step forward and fell into her arms.

Donald helped get him to the bed. Margaret held Adrian’s head in her lap and pulled the mask from her brother’s face.

“What happened Adrian? How did this…”

He looked up at her, his eyes focused and unfocused. “Sheila.”

“We’ve got to get you to the hospital,” Donald said, trying to maintain some clear thought in the midst of all this chaos.

“No time,” came the raspy whisper, “lost too much blood. I’ll be dead before we get there…”

“Don’t say that!” Margaret cried.

“Sorry Maggie. Now listen, there’s too much at stake here,” Adrian reached a shaky hand into a pocket and pulled out a ring of keys. “Go to my apartment. You’ll find all you need there.”

“All we need for what?”

“To catch my murderer,” it was the last thing he said as his head collapsed in his sister’s arms. She held him to herself crying.

Donald stood over his wife, as she rocked her brother in her arms. There was no doubt about it; Adrian Brown was now dead.

He looked at the keys in his hand and wondered exactly what they were supposed to do next.

To Be Continued.

Chapter 3 – “Family for a Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 3 – “Family for a Ghost”

“No, It can’t be,” Margaret shook her head violently.

A masked man had broken into to her home only to die on the floor before her. Margaret struggled to be strong and call the police, and maybe she would have remained strong if her husband hadn’t removed the dead man’s mask.

“It can’t be,” she repeated, now a whisper, as she looked down up on the face of Adrian, her own brother.

“But it is,” her husband said somberly and stood up from the side of the body. Donald took hold of his wife and pulled her to the far side of the room. They held onto each other afraid that if one let go the other would fall. Both were crying.

After several minutes past by in silence Margaret finally spoke.

“What… what happened to him?” Her face remained buried against her husband’s chest.

“I don’t know, but it looks like he was shot at least twice.”

She slowly lifted her head, and they looked across the room at the lifeless body.

“Who would have done such a thing to Adrian?”

“Maybe he upset someone with one of his magazine articles.” Donald said just to say anything. What he was thinking bothered him far more.

Adrian was supposed to have dinner with them, but he was running late. Something the ‘Masked Ghost’ had been involved in may have delayed him. It must have been something unexpected and struck him on the way here. From the way he was bleeding out, it couldn’t have happened too far away or he would never have made it to their building, let alone somehow climb the outer wall to reach the balcony. It must have taken all his strength and last breath to get to them. That meant Adrian’s killer might still be close by. Donald couldn’t tell his wife that.

Margaret pulled away from her husband and ran back to her brother’s lifeless form. Getting down on her knees she wanted to wrap her arms around him. She reached out to grab Adrian’s arm when she brushed the edge of his over coat. It slipped to the side and fell to the floor with a heavy THUD.

“What was that?”

“I… I don’t know,” she answered and pulled her hand away.

Donald came around the other side of his wife and lifted the edge the coat. Something in the pocket gave it extra weight. He reached inside and withdrew what he already knew would be there.

“What’s Adrian doing with a gun,” Margaret gasped looking at the ugly weapon.

Her husband just looked at her, the answer was terribly obvious. He opened the coat further and found another gun strapped in a holster on the other side of the body.

“But why,” Margaret asked as she picked up the dark red mask, “Why would Adrian put on this horrible get up? What would make him do such terrible things?”

“I don’t know,” he answered, “Your brother was always a little odd.”

“Don’t say that about him!” She shouted in tears at her husband.

“Sorry, you’re right. That was rude, but Adrian always did have his head in the clouds. As you said, as a writer, he’s always been imaginative. Whenever we talked he always seemed not to be paying any attention to me.”

Margaret wanted to defend her brother’s honor, but didn’t know how to defend someone who did what he clearly had been doing. She didn’t know him as well as she thought.

“He thought you were boring.” She said matter-of-factly.


“After we first met, Adrian thought you were a very boring man. Then after he got to know you he became completely supportive of my love for you.”

Donald dropped his head, feeling guilty.

“A few months ago he came to me and asked to see if you’d be interested in having him do a story about you.”

“A story about me, why? I’m nobody.”

“He said he wanted to interview you about what it was like working on the top floors of the construction of the Empire State Building. What it was like walking on those thin iron beams thousands of feet in the air.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I thought you’d say no. You always seem like you want to put that part of your life behind you, and keep it separate from our marriage and working for my father.”

“That was never my intention. Adrian could have come to me anytime he wanted.”

“I'm sorry,” she said. “Maybe you were right. Adrian was always full of wild ideas and wilder stories. It’s just that I thought he was finally grounding himself when he met that nice girl Sheila – Oh!”

“Oh, what?”

“Could it be…? Adrian took it extremely hard when Sheila died last year. You don’t suppose that—“

Margaret’s thoughts were harshly interrupted when a heavy knocking came to the door of their penthouse apartment.

“Open up! This is the police. Let us in, now!”

Chapter 2 – “Blood of a Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 2 – “Blood of a Ghost”

After screaming for nearly thirty seconds, Margaret Randolph realized how foolish she sounded and stopped. However, she was still terrified and pulled herself into her husband’s arms all the more.

Only moments ago they had been getting ready to have dinner with her brother and then the storm that was swallowing Manhattan blew open the balcony doors of the Randolph’s penthouse. With the pouring rain, in stepped the mysterious vigilante the newspapers were calling ‘The Masked Ghost’ and then collapsed to their floor.

“You said he’d never break into our home!” She cried, pounding his chest.

“I didn’t think…”

“Obviously,” she pulled away from him and headed for the front hallway, “I’m calling the police.” She kept marching, knowing that if she stopped the scream would come back. Margaret had always been a strong-headed girl, her parents didn’t always know what to do with her, but had to keep herself focused or the terror of what she had just witnessed would return.

Donald was proud of his wife as he watched her walk off. He knew she was scared, so was he, but she fought it. They would get through this together, whatever this was. He realized that if everything had gone as originally planned, they would have been off to dinner with Margaret’s brother Adrian and this masked man would have broken into their home to do who knows what.

So why had he collapsed once inside?

Internally Donald was yelling at himself to get away from the invader, but he carefully knelt next to the figure. As he touched the stranger he realized that the dark stains on the man’s coat were not from the rain. His hand came away covered in blood.

Donald stared at the blood for a moment and back down at the motionless form. He had no medical training, but tried to feel for a pulse and found none. Turning the body over, more blood was visible as it pooled on the floor beneath.

The stranger’s hat had fallen away when he hit the floor. The scarlet covered mask that hid half his face matched the color that was seeping out onto the marble floor. The ginger colored locks of hair looked far too familiar.

Donald reached down and removed the mask.

“Police?” Margaret spoke into the phone trying her best not to sound panicked. “I want to report a break in.”

“Calm down ma’am, tell me what you want to report.” Came the response from the other end. Margaret hoped it really was a police officer and not just the phone operator.

“Don’t tell me to calm down, you’ve got to hurry and get over here now.”

“What seems to be the problem ma’am?”

“Don’t ma’am me, I’m only 22. Send as many of your men as you can. That terrible man is in my home!”

“Alright ma-- Who’s in your home?”

“You know who I mean! That ‘Masked Ghost’ fellow the newspapers are always talking about. He’s in my living room as we speak.”

There was a pause before the voice came again.

“Have you had anything to drink?”

“I am not drunk! Why are you wasting time? Is this how the New York police treat everyone who needs your help? Please, get over here at once! My husband is watching over him, but I don’t know what this ‘Masked Ghost’ is capable of.”

There was another pause, and she could hear people shouting back and forth in the distance over the phone, orders were being given.

“You said your husband is watching him. Does he have gun?”

“My husband doesn’t have a gun, why would he? Oh, no I hadn’t seen any weapons, but don’t take any chances.”

“What’s the stranger doing?”

“He’s just laying there on the floor.”

“What? He’s on the floor? Did your husband hit him?”

“No, of course not.”

“I’d suggest you and your husband leave the premises and don’t go near the man.”

“Yes, yes, we won’t go near him. Now please hurry and take this terrible man away.”

Exasperated, Margaret hung up the phone. She must have sounded like an utter fool the way she was going on. Getting upset with the police officer on the phone had kept her mind occupied, but now she had to face her fears and that awful thing in the other room.

Coming down the hall she realized that everything was just too quiet, even the rain from the open doors had slowed.

“Donald, are you alright?” She spoke with out shouting.

“Yes,” came he flat reply.

“Is… Is he still there?”

“Yes, he’s still here, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be going anywhere,” Donald said to her as she entered the room.

“The police are on their way, but I don’t think they believed me,” she said. Her anger was cooling, but that meant her fears were rising once more.

“I don’t know if calling the police was really a good idea after all,” he said and held up the mask and looked at her in shock.

While working on a construct site, Donald had once witnessed a coworker fall to his death from a girder three hundred feet in the air. He had been too far away to help, and it was unfortunately an expectation while working on sky scrappers. It was terrible, but he didn’t even know the man’s name. The shock and horror eventually wore off. Death was inevitable, but this… this was a shock of an entirely different kind.

“What?” Margaret slowly approached, she didn’t want to be anywhere near this invader of her home. She looked over her husband’s shoulder at the man’s bloody face, and gasped.

It can’t be real, her mind screamed, the man lying dead upon her floor was her very own brother, Adrian.

To Be Continued…

Chapter 1 – “A Ghost out of the Storm”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 1 – “A Ghost out of the Storm”

Margaret Randolph had to reconsider which dress to wear out to dinner this evening. A fierce storm rolled in off the Atlantic, consuming the Manhattan skyline, and a torrent of rain had been falling for the last hour. Thunder repeatedly shook the high-rise apartment building.

Laying aside the light pink silk evening gown, Margaret chose a dark heavy wool outfit. She rolled her hair up into a bun, pinned it beneath her hat, and then pulled on a pair of short gloves. She would grab a fur coat from the hall closet when they were ready to leave.

Finishing, she reached for a golden necklace as an accent. Even in the rain, there was no reason why a girl should not look her best.

“Where is that good for nothing brother of yours?” Her husband Donald said as he came around the bed, fighting with his tie.

“Oh, don’t be so hard on him. Here, let me do that for you,” she said taking hold of his tie and wrapping it around itself until it fit snuggly and straight.

“Sometimes I think you’re trying to choke me with that thing.”

“If that was my intent, I would have done it long ago,” she joked and tugged a little tighter, “Adrian probably got caught in the storm. He’ll be here soon enough.”

“Perhaps,” Donald said as they entered the main living space of the penthouse apartment. The storm really was bad, he could see the rain striking the balcony windows in sheets, and the wind rattled the glass of the French doors, “but that brother of yours always has his head in the clouds flying off on one crazy whim to the next.”

“That brother of mine helped convince mummy and daddy that I should be allowed to marry someone like you.”

That was true, and Donald knew it. To her parents he was from the wrong side of the tracks and had too many calluses on his hands to become part of their high-class family. However, Adrian had seen how much they were in love and stood up for them. It did require that Donald had to quit his construction job and come work for their father’s company. He felt guilty walking past building sites in these expensive suits instead of up there in a hard hat and boots with the rest of his fellow workers.

“Adrian’s a writer dear, you know how imaginative and flighty they can. I am certain his mind is just full of wondrous thoughts he has to put down on paper. The magazines are sending him all over the world to interview this celebrity or that politician. He has even met with scientists; the last article he wrote was about some new energy source. Atom something or other, I didn’t understand a word of it, but I really enjoy reading Adrian’s words. He sent me his latest novel a week ago.”

“Another novel now? Does that boy ever give himself a moment of rest?”

“Well, I think he threw himself into writing this one after the terrible car accident that killed his fiancĂ©e Sheila.”

“Oh, right. That was over a year ago, wasn’t it?”

“He took it really hard. Blamed himself for a while, but seems to have pulled out okay. Which is why I was looking forward to having this dinner with him.”

“You’re right of course, dear,” Donald glanced at the grandfather clock, “but with this rain we will certainly miss our reservations. And you know how Alfonse hates late arrivals.”

He dropped into a wing back chair and snatched up the newspaper from the side table. In an exaggerated flurry, he opened the paper to no page in particular.

Margaret walked over and looked out the windows at the storm. Honestly, she really was worried about her brother. The streets of Manhattan were not the safest on any night, but with a storm like this, it became down right dangerous. She prayed he had found a taxi, but also knew her brother well enough he might attempt to walk the entire way. The boy would catch his death.

Margaret sat on the couch across from her husband and was about to say something, to further to defend Adrian, when she noticed the headline on the front page of the paper. Along with stories about how President Roosevelt was handling his first term in office, and troubles quietly brewing in Europe, the banner headline read:


“Why haven’t they captured that horrible man? I don’t feel safe at night with someone like that out there.”

Donald folded back the paper and glanced at the headline that was bothering his wife.

“That so called ‘Masked Ghost’? The police will get him eventually. He cannot really disappear into shadows like they say. That’s all hype to sell newspapers.”

“I know that,” Margaret replied, “but what if he broke in here some night. When we’re asleep?”

“I doubt he’d bother with us. We’re not important enough,” he tried to reassure her.

“He broke into Mrs. O’Brien’s building.”

“The newspaper said he was in a city councilman’s apartment five floors above Mrs. O’Brien. A week later that councilman was arrested for taking bribes.”

“Did this ‘Masked Ghost’ plant false evidence?”

“Doesn’t look like it. The councilman pled guilty and gave the names of three businessman who had paid him the bribes to get city contracts.”

He went on, “This ‘Masked Ghost’ appears to only go after mobsters and corrupt political officials and we’re neither. At least I’m not, are you a mobster?”

“Oh, you!” She tossed a pillow at him. They both laughed.

Suddenly a flash of lighting and a clap of thunder made them jump. The balcony’s French doors blew open and a torrent of rain poured in onto the ornate marble flooring. Turning at the crashing sound, they were horrified to see someone standing in the rain as if some menacing apparition created by the storm. The figure took a step forward into the light and they knew at once the very vigilante they had been talking about, and Donald had reassured his wife wasn't a threat, now stood in their midst.

Donald pulled his wife into his arms, he did not know how but he would protect her with his last breath.

A mask covered half the man’s face, and a wide brimmed hat shaded it even further. His double-breasted suit was dark; yet, a darker stain soaked the front of it. A large black overcoat billowed in the wind around him.

‘So… sor…” the stranger spoke, but it sounded more like a gurgle as if his mouth was filled with liquid. The intruder stepped forward and collapsed, landing face down with a wet thud at their feet.

Margaret could not stop herself from screaming.

To Be Continued…