Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chapter 10 - “A Body for a Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 10 - “A Body for a Ghost”

The Packard Touring Car took the corner sharply and went faster than it was intended to, especially on the streets of Manhattan. Harris J. Brown refused to believe what his son-in-law had told him only minutes before.

Donald Raymond held tightly to his seat as Brown sped down the road barely missing two pedestrians and a fruit stand. He hated having to tell his father-in-law that his son Adrian was dead, and really hated the fact that he was also lying about how it happened.

Margaret and he had quickly worked up a story that morning. She had gone over to visit her brother with a friend only to find the door open and Adrian dead on the floor. They hoped Brown and the police would believe that a thief had shot his son. They couldn’t tell him that Adrian had been a masked vigilante.

Ten minutes later they pulled on to the street of Adrian’s apartment. The road was crowded with onlookers wanting to know why police were coming in an out of the building. Two men in white smocks were carrying a gurney between them with an ominous shape beneath a sheet.

Even before Donald could get his door open, Brown was out of the car and rushing toward the truck the men were loading the body in to.

“Damn you, out of the way. That’s my son, let me see!”

He pushed one of the men aside and yanked back the sheet.

“Oh, Lord. What happened here,” he shouted, “who did this to my son?”

“That’s what we intend to find out, Mr. Brown.” He angrily turned and saw a police detective approaching him flashing a badge, “Police Detective Monroe.”

“You know who I am?”

“Yes, I just got done speaking with your daughter and her friend. They had the terrible experience of finding the body.”

Donald had joined his wife who looked more concerned than frightened. Her friend Vivian, on the other hand, was shaking with terror. Margaret hugged her husband.

“How are you,” He asked her as they made eye contact. She was more upset for having to lie to her father and friend than the death of her brother. After all she had over twelve hours to deal with that all ready.

“I’m surviving.”

“Who would do such a thing to Adrian,” Vivian said through tear-chocked breaths, “he was always so nice.”

“I’m sure the police will figure it out,” Donald tried to reassure her.

“Oh, yes, the police,” Margaret said as if it was a forgotten thought, “that’s Detective Monroe talking with daddy. We should ask if there is anything else we can do.”

They approached her father and the detective and found them in deep discussion.

“They need to take the body to the coroner to complete their report,” Monroe was trying to lead Brown away without much success.

“I will not allow my son to be further molested after everything that has happened.”

“Sorry sir, but I must insist.”

“Do you know who I am,” Brown rose himself up to face the policeman.

“You’re a father grieving over the loss of his son. That’s all you are to me.”

Brown growled at the detective, but the fire was going out of his belly.

“Daddy, please!” Margaret came up to her father. “Don’t make this any worse. It’s going to be hard enough telling Mommy what happened without you getting arrested.”

Brown looked at his daughter and he seemed to shrink several inches, she was right of course. He was going about this the wrong way.

“Raymond,” he shouted at his son-in-law, trying to stoke that fire once more and handed over the keys to the Packard, “get my daughter away from this horrible place. I’m going with Adrian.”


“No argument out of you young lady, and don’t say anything to your mother. I’ll tell her,” his voice fell to a whisper and then climbed into the truck, next to the body of his son.

Seeing that made Margaret cry again, but she held it in as the Police Detective turned to them.

“Mr. Raymond,” Monroe addressed Donald, “may I speak with you and your wife for a moment.” His tone was clear.

“Vivian, would you mind waiting for us in the car,” Donald said to the distraught girl who only nodded and headed for the Packard.

There were several people on the street that lived in the apartment building, and they were all staring at them. The Detective saw that and lead the couple to a more secluded location.

“You’re brother died sometime last night,” Monroe informed them, looking up from his notebook and putting it away.

“Yes?” Donald asked.

“His neighbors are rather closed lipped. They’re good at keeping secrets, but did say he was visited by a couple late last night.”

Donald and Margaret exchanged glances.

“A young couple much like yourselves.”

“We were at home…” Margaret realized she had snapped a little too quickly, and the Detective recognized it.

“Yes you were. I had one of my men call back to the precinct and found that you were being visited by some of my fellow offices about the same time. A break in, I understand?”

“That’s correct,” Donald covered for his wife, “a man had gotten into our apartment but was gone by the time the police arrived.”

“Gone from your penthouse apartment?”

“Yes,” they knew he didn’t believe them.

“Well, it does provide you with an alibi.”

“Why would we need an alibi?” Margaret said, she was getting scared again.

“You wouldn’t Mrs. Raymond, but I believe the body was moved.”

“Moved? How would the body have been moved?” Donald asked now sounding worried.

“For one thing,” the Detective looked at him, “there wasn’t enough blood for someone who had died that way. He bled out someplace else.”

“Oh, God,” Margaret whispered.

“I should put this into my report,” Monroe looked at them both, and saw their fear growing.

“Of course you should, Detective,” Donald was trying to act strong, “there was a crime committed.”

“I should put it in my report,” the Detective repeated, “but he wouldn’t approve.”

“He?” Margaret looked up at him.

“Who wouldn’t approve?” Donald asked.

A razor thin smile grew across the Detective’s serious face.

“The Masked Ghost.”

They were both stunned by the worlds.

“Go home Mr. and Mrs. Raymond. The day is only beginning.” With that he turned and walked back to his men leaving the couple frozen in shock.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CHAPTER 9 "A Ghost, The Day After"


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 9 - “A Ghost, the Day After”

“I just cannot believe it.”

“What’s that dear,” Margaret Randolph asked her friend Vivian Caldwell who sat across the table just inside the front of the small cafĂ© overlooking the park.

“How New York is basically this big island.”

“Well, Manhattan is.” Margaret corrected, but Vivian went on.

“But it’s still an island and all those immigrants keep coming. You’d think the place would be full by now.”

Margaret shook her head, was her friend really that dumb?

“Hey, you don’t think New York might sink if it gets too heavy?”

Yep, she’s that dumb.

As silly as this conversation was getting, Mrs. Randolph was glad for it. It was a breather from the strange, horrific world she had suddenly been thrust into. Only the evening before had she discovered that her brother Adrian was the costumed vigilante the Masked Ghost and then held him in her arms as he died.

It was nearly one in the morning when she and her husband made it home from Adrian’s apartment and the secrets that were hidden there. Once they were inside the penthouse and she saw the blood stained floor once more, Margaret began to shake.

“What are we going to do, Don? What are we going to do?”

“We’re going to carry on, dear. We’re going to carry on. We must, for Adrian, and most of all for ourselves. We have to live.” He held her in his arms.

“Then we’re going to find out who did this,” he said as her body went limp. She had passed out from exhaustion.

Margaret woke the next morning to the sun shining through the window. It took a moment to realize where she was; the sun didn’t usually come into the bedroom like that. Turning her head she realized that this was the guest bedroom. Donald must have put her in here when she fell asleep. The sleep, the dreamless sleep, had done her a world of good. She remembered everything from the night before, but now felt like she could face it all.

She got up and washed her face in the guest bathroom and began searching for her husband. Margaret found him on his hands in knees scrubbing away the last of the bloodstains from the marble floor. His eyes were red and swollen.

“Oh, Donald, you didn’t have to do that,” she knelt beside him.

“I had to Maggy,” he replied, pouring bleach into the cracks between the marble slabs, “for you.”

She took his scrub brush and put it aside, then held him tight as he had held her the night before.

Margaret found that he had already cleaned up the bedroom.

“You’re going to have to go shopping for some new clothes,” he tried to sound light hearted, “I gathered everything that had blood on it and took it down to the incinerator.”

“Oh, honey, you’ve been up all night,” she felt for him, “you need to get some sleep.”

“Can’t. I have to get to work. There’s a major meeting, and your father’s going to be there.”

“Oh,” she knew how Donald always feared he’d do something wrong and look bad in her father’s eyes.

“And we’ve both got another appointment to make later in the day,” he said grimly.

Donald got a shower and headed off to work, and Margaret called up one of her society friends to have lunch. Which brought her mind back to the present.

“I don’t think you have to worry about the island of Manhattan sinking, Vivian.”

“I guess you’re right,” her friend said with a smile, “what would happen to Macy’s bargain basement?”

Both women started laughing at that. It was good to laugh.

The laughter died in Margaret’s throat as she looked through the window and saw the taxicab parked at the curb. Looking in at her was the Cabbie she had met the night before. The Cabbie who had helped them move her brother’s body. He stood there next to his vehicle and nodded firmly. She knew what that meant; it was time to go.

“You know,” Margaret said as she put her napkin on the table, “speaking of Macy’s reminds me that I need a new set of clothes for the coming season. Actually, I need a whole closet full. Let’s go shopping.”

Vivian, one never to miss a shopping trip was on her feet in seconds, “let’s.” She didn't question once that there was a taxi already waiting for them, or that Margaret didn’t tell the driver their destination.

It wasn’t until they had driven several blocks did she realize something was wrong.

“This isn’t the right direction for the stores,” Vivian said looking out the window.

Margaret exaggerated the turning of her head to look around at the neighborhood they were entering.

“Hey, you’re right. Wait a minute, we’re not too far away from my brother’s apartment.”

“You’re brother Adrian?” Vivian said excitedly.

“I only have one brother,” Margaret said soberly, realizing she didn’t even have that now. “Why don’t we stop and say hello. Driver, pull over here and stop please.” She hoped her friend hadn’t noticed the car was already slowing down out front the apartment building.

“Should we be disturbing him?” Vivian asked as they stepped from the cab and headed for the front door of the building, “I’ve heard writers like to work late and sleep in.”

“Oh, I’m sure Adrian’s already hard at work on his latest expose,” Margaret was forcing herself to sound positive and joyful, “he’ll be happy to see us.”

“You really think so?”

They walked up the stairs and then along the hall to her brother’s apartment. Margaret hated doing this to her friend. She knew Vivian had a crush on Adrian when they were younger. This was going to be so very cruel, but they needed an “innocent” to witness what had to happen next.

Vivian played the role perfectly.

The door to the apartment was slightly ajar, (just as they had left it the night before.)

“Adrian, are you decent?” Margaret said sounding a whole lot more jovial than she felt as she pushed the door open.

There before them lay the body of Adrian Brown. His shirt stained dark with blood.

Vivian screamed.


Across town, Donald stood looking out the window of his twenty-fourth floor office. More then once he wondered about the men who had built the building. Did he know any of them, had he ever worked with any of them? They worked so hard to build such buildings so business men could work inside them. Donald felt odd that he had once been in the one world and was now in the other.

He also thought of his brother-in-law who lay dead only miles away. Last night Margaret had told him that Adrian had been interested in learning about what it was like to walk along the beams of a skyscraper construction dozens of floors above street level. They presumed that it was for a magazine article about the men who were helping to build Manhattan, but now Donald wondered if it was something else entirely. It wasn’t Adrian Brown who was asking, it was the Masked Ghost who wanted to learn about walking the difficult edges of a building without falling to his death. He wanted to learn, to train, for what he would have to do.

Donald put his hand to the glass window and looked down at the few inches of cement facade just outside, hardly enough to place a foot on and stand. Had Adrian ever stood out there in his pursuit of his own form of justice?

“It’s a marvelous site, isn’t it,” came a voice from behind him.

Donald turned to find Harris J. Brown standing in the office doorway. It was his boss, and Margaret and Adrian’s father.

“Yes, it is.” Donald answered as his father-in-law joined him at the window, “The city is extremely beautiful.”

“Oh, the city, of course,” Brown didn’t really agree, “I see a city full of people down there.”

Donald didn’t quite know what to think of that. It wasn’t long ago that he was one of those ‘people down there.’

“They all work very hard to survive and make a living.”

“True. But there are those who seek to destroy and force themselves on the lives of others.”

“I never forced myself upon Margaret, and I never asked for this job. If I haven’t been doing well for you then tell me outright and don’t insult people you don’t know.” Donald snapped unintentionally.

It had been like walking on eggshells around Margaret’s father ever since they were married. Sure, he gave him this job, and a good job it was, but it was more of a way to keep an eye on him so he couldn’t do anything wrong or cause harm to the man’s daughter. But with everything that had happened in the last day, Donald could no long keep quiet.

Brown stared down at the younger man. You dare talk back to me? But that wasn’t it at all.

“My daughter… my children mean the world to me. I only want what’s best for them.”

“I understand sir. Margaret means everything to me. And I will do everything in my power to protect her.”

After a moment, Brown finally spoke, “yes, I believe you would.”

Where the conversation would have gone from there they would never know for the desk phone buzzed.

“Mr. Randolf, your wife is on the phone,” Donald’s secretary said through the speaker, “and if I may say sir. She sounds upset.”

Donald waited as Margaret’s voice came on the line. What was said had been planned out this morning for the ears of whoever was listening on both sides. Even having her father in the room had been part of the plan.

“Honey, I’m busy right now. Can this wait… Oh.”

He glanced at his father-in-law who was staring back waiting for Donald to say one wrong word to his daughter.

Donald reached for the arm of his chair and fell back into, a little over exaggerated motion perhaps.

“God, that’s terrible,” he said just loud enough, “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” And then in an unscripted after thought, “Maggy, I love you.”

He hung up the phone, and silently stared at it.

“Tell me, man. What’s wrong? What’s happened to my daughter?”

After another moment of silence Donald spoke.

“Not your daughter, sir. It’s your son,” he looked up at his father-in-law. “Adrian is dead.”

To be continued…

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chapter 8 - “Birth of a Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 8 - “Birth of a Ghost”

There was only one chair in the dark underground lair of the vigilante known as The Masked Ghost. So Donald leaned against the table as his wife Margaret sat and read from the journal.

“This is Adrian’s handwriting,” Margaret said, “It looks like these pages were ripped out of his personal diary. Some of them have been cut apart and pasted together to keep the subject consistent.”

- - -

While interviewing James Bruster and his wife this evening I was introduced to their lovely daughter Sheila.

I hope to meet here again.

- - -

It took some convincing but Sheila Bruster finally said she would go out with me.

- - -

I think she had a good time tonight. Was surprised that Sheila seemed to know so many people at the restaurant. Sheila does a lot of work for her father, and introduced me to several of his work associates. They’d all make interesting magazine articles.

Had a wonderful evening with Sheila. She’s the most fascinating and yet mysterious woman I’ve ever met.

- - -

This train ride home is taking too long. Got my interviews with the movie studio producers and have already written the first draft of the story, but all I can think about is getting back to Sheila.

Am really thinking of asking Sheila to marry me.

- - -

Going to have to write and sell two new books to pay for it, but I just bought the perfect ring for Sheila. Now praying she likes it.

- - -

She said YES! Oh, God, she said yes. Sheila wants to marry me.

- - -

Sheila seems nervous, but that’s understandable. We’re going over to her parent’s house to work on the wedding plans tonight.

- - -

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD! She’s dead. Sheila’s dead.

- - -

Margaret paused in her reading and looked up at her husband.

“I remember him calling us. He was such a mess after the accident.”

“You were at his hospital bedside for days,” Donald replied with an understanding and caring heart.

“He was pretty banged up, but I think his heart was wounded the worst. Adrian kept saying he wished he had died instead of Sheila,” Margaret said remembering those nights she sat up with her brother.

“I can understand that,” Donald said, “My life wouldn’t be worth living if anything ever happened to you.”

She knew her husband meant it, and saw him holding back the tears that such a thought brought to him.

After a moment Margaret turned the page and started reading again.

- - -

The police say it was an accident, or that Sheila and I weren’t paying attention. They’re blaming us for it. They’re blaming me for her death. They refuse to listen to me when I tell them about the truck that ran us off the road into the ditch and killed Sheila.

- - -

The police are no longer taking my phone calls. Sheila’s parents won’t talk with me either. They were polite at the funeral but it was clear they didn’t like having me there. They blame me for their daughter’s death.

- - -

My editor tried to get me to focus on my magazine assignments, but I just can’t concentrate. All I can think about is that terrible night, and that truck chased us down the road and caused Sheila’s death.

- - -

I have to do something, or I am going to go mad.

- - -

Have walked the entire distance of road. From the turn off towards the Bruster’s home to where I first spotted the truck, to where our car was forced off the road, and then on to the bridge over the river. There’s a side street there that loops back on to the main road. There aren’t many other intersections and connecting roads. There is a series of warehouses and a storage yard…

- - -

The yard and the warehouses belong to The Spade Import and Export Company. I told the yard boss that I wanted to do an expose on small local companies but he wouldn’t hear it. Apparently someone doesn’t like a magazine writer snooping around the property. I politely thanked them for their time, but was still forcibly escorted to the road by ‘security guards’ who weren’t afraid to wave their guns in my direction. I don’t know what’s going on there, but there is one thing that I do know: THE TRUCK was on the grounds of the storage yard.

They can now identify me, so am going to have to pursue a different line of investigation.

- - -

The police still are not interested in hearing what I have to say. Even when I told them I had found the truck. The lead detective, Sergeant William Dodd, took me aside and told me to drop it. DROP IT!

- - -

I took a walk around the block and came back home having made a decision.

- - -

Adrian Brown will drop it! He will get on with his life and work. He will let it go so that another can pick up the investigation and go where he cannot go. It must be someone who can move unseen and unnoticed, who will go places that Brown cannot. Someone who will go where the police cannot, or will not go.

This is something that can only be done by a GHOST.

- - -

“The diary entries end there,” Margaret said to her husband, “there are small little notes with numbers and letters next to different parts of it. I don’t know what they mean. The rest of the journal is typed and doesn’t read at all like Adrian. It’s more like a clinical examination of the events.”

Donald contemplated that and the codes he had seen on other pages, photographs, and maps, and had a pretty good idea of what it meant. He looked at his watch.

“It’s getting pretty late. We better get on home so no one can tie us to discovering Adrian upstairs.”

Margaret closed the journal and stood from her chair and looked across the room, “what are we going to do now?”

“I’m not certain,” he turned and saw her looking toward the rack of clothing the Masked Ghost wore, “but I have a few ideas.”

To be continued…