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…

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