Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chapter 12 – “A Ghost on the Streets"


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 12 – “A Ghost on the Streets”

The mask was uncomfortable; it was tight and chafed at the ears. It also distracted Donald’s peripheral vision.

The Masked Ghost ran through the dark alleyway, the large trench coat billowed out behind him. His destination was only blocks away, and so far no one had seen him.

Donald Raymond found it surprisingly easy to slip from one shadow covered doorways to the next. Watching to see if the street was clear, he darted across into another alley and along to the next block. Though there were more people on the streets this evening, the rainstorm of the night before was long past, they paid him little notice. With his face down, they didn’t even see the mask. They ignored the stranger moving about as long as he wasn’t approaching them. Their own little worlds of depression and torment were enough for them.

Donald couldn’t help but think of his wife back at the penthouse and what torment she must be going through right now. He could picture her standing at the balcony window staring out at the city and wondering where he was at ever moment. Margaret knew his intention of playing the role of the Masked Ghost.

“Someone out there killed Adrian because he was the Masked Ghost,” she said with great concern.

“Right, and hopefully they believe they killed the Masked Ghost.”

“But they could kill you too.”

“I’m trusting they’ll be too startled by seeing a… er… ‘ghost’.”

“What about the police, they’re intent on capturing the Masked Ghost.”

“Well, I’ll just have to be extra careful not to let them catch me.”

He wasn’t as positive as he sounded, but Margaret knew he had to do this and ushered him to the back stairwell of the building.

The Masked Ghost now crouched behind a dumpster looking across the street at the front of the building which was his target address, the offices of Shoelle Investments.

The windows were dark. He hovered in his shadows for nearly twenty minutes before finally deciding it was as safe as it was going to ever get to make his move. Darting across the street, he dove behind a car parked just a few feet down from the door of the office he had been watching.

Holding his breath, Donald noticed the stenciled sign on the door of the car. It was a logo that belonged to the Spade Import/Export Company. The very company the Masked Ghost had been investigating in relationship to Sheila’s murder.

“How exactly do you plan to get inside,” The sound of his wife’s questions were still in his ear and so clear that it felt like she was with him through the entire journey.

“Your brother apparently has done this before. He’s prepared for nearly every situation.” Donald answered her in his mind as the Masked Ghost knelt in the alcove of the office door and pulled out a small lock pick kit.

Donald had no clue how to use these little rods of metal and wire; he was more accustomed to the hammer and welding torch. He looked at the lock and then at the case to make a decision of which exactly to use. Choosing a medium size pick the Masked Ghost put it to the lock and the door swung open.

“That's not good,” Donald said under his breath.

Slipping the kit back into a pocket, the Masked Ghost moved soundlessly into the building. Someone could have left it unlocked by accident. Not bloody likely, he thought to himself. Donald felt for the weight in his left pocket, and prayed he would not have to pull it out.

Donald had no idea what he was looking for, yet the Masked Ghost moved through the building as if it was second nature. It was a financial and investment firm and so there were several desks, each immaculate and orderly, and behind them were multiple filing cabinets.

Where to start, where to start? He thought to himself.

The plan was to look for any file that identified itself as connected to the Spade company, as that seemed to be at the heart of the investigation. Finding nothing in the first set of filing cabinets he headed towards the other corner of the room. As he did so, something caught his eye.

A loose sheet of paper lay on the floor just in the threshold of an inner doorway. Picking it up, the information printed on it was immaterial but it drew him forward. Inside the room, files were scattered everywhere, accounting books ripped open.

Someone else was looking for something. That part was obvious and they weren’t being as cautious as the Masked Ghost about not to leave evidence behind. He moved further in and saw that his competition was also far more fatal.

Atop a pile of paperwork, a thin little man in suspenders lay dead. But only by a few minutes, his face was pummeled into ground beef and three of his fingers were bent in the wrong directions. Someone wanted information and was willing to do anything to get it.

Donald felt sick with the realization that as he waited, just outside, while this man was being tortured and killed. Standing up from the body, he paused at hearing a sound. He turned quickly and saw a shadow emerge from a closet. He couldn’t move fast enough as the figure shoved him against a desk. Dressed all in black, his face completely obscured, the unidentifiable man pulled out a knife and thrust it forward.

The Masked Ghost blocked it with an accounting book and knocked the knife aside. The man paused only briefly, almost stunned.

“They said you were dead,” he said in a horse whisper.

The Masked Ghost leaped up, but the stranger was gone. He had darted through the doorway and into the main office. Donald didn’t think as he found himself running after.

The murderer was out the front before the Masked Ghost was half way across the room.

Running outside, he was nearly blinded as the lights of the car came on with the sound of its engine.

The car moved, but so did the Masked Ghost. He grabbed the handle of the passenger’s side door as his adversary hit the gas and took off with a squeal down the road.

Donald didn’t know what he was doing, so held on for dear life. He felt as if he was being carried on a ride, not just the car but also in his own body. The Masked Ghost was in control and pulled the door open as the car picked up speed.

The murderer wasn’t going to let this vigilante get inside, and so spun the wheel tightly and the Masked Ghost tumbled out as the car made a sharp turn at high speeds. Surely the noise the vehicle would awaken the entire neighborhood.

The Masked Ghost rolled and came to a stop in a standing crouch. The car made a fast u-turn and was coming back around to make certain the vigilante was dead this time.

There was only one chance for the Masked Ghost, and he had to time it right to be able to grab the driver as he sped past and not be killed in the process. That’s when things went out of control.

Tim Barris was coming home late from a bar, having spent his last dime to get drunk and forget that he had been let go of his job of ten years earlier today. He wasn’t paying any attention to commotion on the road ahead.

The Masked Ghost, however, saw Barris. He was ready to leap upon the car once more, but watched as the driver took the curve too wide and came up on the sidewalk. His eyes locked on the mystery man and cared little for anything or anyone that got in the way.

Donald felt his legs start into a run, and the Masked Ghost leapt directly in front of the car grabbing hold of Barris and causing them both to tumble down into a set of basement stairs.

“Oh, that’s going to hurt in the morning,” Donald said already feeling the bruise on his leg where he hit concrete. Checking the man under him, he found Barris out cold. More from the alcohol he could smell heavily on his breath than from being struck. The man would sleep it off and be ashamed for whatever he didn't remember happened to him during the night.

Hearing the squeal of the car moving off into the distance, Donald climbed the stairs in hopes of catching what direction the murderer was heading.


The Masked Ghost found himself surrounded by the police, their guns all pointed at his head.

To be continued.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chapter 11 - “A Man For A Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 11 - “A Man For A Ghost”

Margaret Raymond cleared the dinner plates from the table. With each plate she would glance at the journals and papers spread across the tabletop. They revealed so much about her brother and yet made him all the more a mystery.

“I still hate the fact we had to lie to Daddy,” she said.

“We have no choice. At least for now,” her husband Donald answered from the other room. “If it got out that Adrian was the Masked Ghost, your brother would be branded a criminal. The papers would read that he had died in the midst of committing a crime.”

“But that’s not true,” she protested.

“Since when did that stop the presses from printing a scandalous headline? Not only would it destroy his memory, it would ruin your… our entire family. Would your father be able to handle that? What about your mother?”

“Oh, dear,” Margaret whispered, she hadn’t thought of that. Her mother had always been so very proud of her son the journalist, but also had a weak heart. A shock like this might very well kill her.

After leaving the street scene out front Adrian’s apartment, they had driven Margaret’s friend Vivian home. The girl was quite shaken up by discovering the dead body, but now was to the point of being giddy about the whole thing as if it was an adventure and quite exciting. Margaret worried about what the girl’s dreams would be like tonight.

Once home, Margaret prepared dinner while Donald spread out the journals and paperwork they had been able to get out of Adrian’s basement hideaway the night before. He laid things out by dates and locations.

As they ate he would read from different journals, while his wife kept her brother’s diary close at hand. It was all she had of him now, and also held the heart of what may have started this whole terrible mess.

“According to this,” Donald put a finger down on a page of one of the journals and took a sip of his coffee, “Adrian, or rather The Masked Ghost, had intended to investigate the business offices of Showller Investments near Broadway and 54th.”

“That’s only blocks from here,” Margaret shouted, realizing what that meant.

“May have been the last stop he intended to make before visiting us for dinner, and was shot either at that location or nearby. He was just close enough to make it here before he died.”

Margaret had her hands up to her face and was shaking as she remember holding her brother as the last breathe of life left him.

Donald wrote the address down, and made notes of people who Adrain had connected to the location. If his brother-in-law was right, the Masked Ghost was close to tying this financial firm to the import/export company that owned the truck involved in Sheila’s death. He got up from the table and wondered what he was going to do with the information.

When he gave his wife a kiss and headed into the bedroom Margaret knew a decision had been made and things were about to happen. To keep her mind focused she began to clear the table, most of her own meal left uneaten.

“What about that Police Detective Monroe?” She asked after her husband had been silent for several minutes and had remained in the bedroom. “He acted like he knew the truth.”

“He knew something,” Donald responded, “Maybe the Masked Ghost had helped him at some point.”

“That would be good,” she said with hope.

“Or he’s got a clue or an idea that Adrian is the Masked Ghost and was trying to get us to confirm it. Which I fear our expressions may have. It was obvious to him that the body had been moved.”

“But why would he…?

“I don’t know. Perhaps he had been searching for the Masked Ghost and his investigation lead to Adrian. It was obvious from talking with Detective Dobbs the other night that the police don’t like vigilantes. Maybe the cops had set a trap to snare the Masked Ghost. I don’t know. This is all speculation on my part, but maybe Monroe had discovered the truth and shot Adrian.”

“Oh, God!” Margaret sobbed.

Hearing his wife’s tears Donald tried to reassure her, “I’m not saying that’s what happened. I don’t know what happened, and I don’t know what this police officer thinks he knows. Maybe Cabbie will have some answers, but he only shows up when he wants to, strange little fellow. But for now we can’t trust the police, any of them.”

“But… But Detective Monroe acted as if Adrian was still alive.”

“No, not Adrian. He acted as if the Masked Ghost is still alive.”

Margaret turned at the approaching sound of her husband’s voice.

“So for now,” he said, “we must keep the Masked Ghost alive.”

Margaret gasped, as emerging from their bedroom was a very much alive MASKED GHOST.