“REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST”
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 fiancée 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:
POLICE MANHUNT CONTINUES FOR MASKED VIGILANTE
“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…