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.”

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