Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chapter 24 - "Funeral For A Ghost"


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 24 – “Funeral For A Ghost”

Margaret Raymond was screaming, and she couldn’t stop.

Only seconds before she had witnessed the warehouse of Spade Imports and Exports explode in a massive ball of fire. Inside was her husband Donald dressed as the Masked Ghost.

Days ago her brother Adrian had been killed while wearing the costume of the vigilante and now Donald.

She started running towards the burning warehouse. Cabbie and the police detective Monroe grabbed hold of her and pulled her away.

“Wow, girl, you’ll get yourself killed.”

“Sorry, there’s nothing we can do for him now.”

Brewster just stood off to the side, unable to do anything for anyone.

Margaret glared at them in anger and struggled to get loose. She was nearly free when the remaining front wall of the warehouse burst into flames and collapsed towards them.

They all dove into the guard shake for cover. Miraculously the little box withstood the blast. As the smoke cleared, they stepped out and looked at the burning remains of the building.

That’s when they saw it.

Something moved among the flames. A dark shape grew and became a figure. A ghost emerged from the burning wreckage: The Masked Ghost.

He struggled to climb through the debris while dragging the unconscious body of Spade behind him.

“Donald!” Margaret ran forward wanting to throw loving arms around him. But he held up a hand to stop her as he dropped Spade in a relatively safe place and than pulled off his still burning overcoat. Once that was tossed aside he took his wife into his arms and kissed her. It was a kiss neither wanted to end. They were alive, and at that moment nothing else in the world matter.

When they finally broke apart, but not letting go, they found one of the other masked men kneeling over Spade’s body.

“He’s still alive,” Detective Monroe said, quite surprised, “What happened to Dodds?” The guy was a traitor to his uniform, but he was still a fellow cop.

“He was pretty messed up, and started shooting wild. I had just gotten the fat man to cover when one of his bullets struck just the right crate and everything went up,” Donald paused for a moment and then turned to the others.

“None of you ran back in after I gave orders to stay out.”

“No, why?” They all shook their heads in the negative.

“Nothing I guess,” Donald turned back to the burning building and wondered exactly what happened in there. From there he looked down at the bodies of Spade and his hitman.

After a moment he turned back to the others with resolve.

# # #


Spade awoke to find himself tied up. Next to him, his hitman remained asleep. He didn’t even know the man’s name; he did the job he was paid to do.

They were inside the grungy guard shack; through the door he could see the smoldering remains of the warehouse, of his company.

“Look! See the ghost that is all you built with your evil and greed.”

The Masked Ghost stood over him. In this light there was no way of knowing which of the masked men it was. Sirens wailed in the distance.

“The police will be here soon. You are being left for them. They won’t like finding the body of one of their own. If you survive them I’d suggest you get out of New York and never come back.”

“This city is protected!”

# # #

Two days later there was a funeral for Adrian Brown.

Margaret oversaw a lot of the preparations so her mother wouldn’t have to, but at the service the woman was very strong. She broke into tear over the loss of her son, but she showed great strength for her family. However, it was Margaret who became the backbone for the family as her father remained cold and distant. You could see it in his eyes; the son is not supposed to die before the father.

Dozens of people showed up at the church and at the cemetery. Family members, friends, fellow writers, and editors; even a few publishers who had printed his stories. As horrific as it was, his books were selling more now as people learned that the author had died so tragically. There were even a few ‘celebrities’ whom Adrian had interviewed in the past paid their respects.

Donald had even noticed that Mr. and Mrs. Brewster stood a distance away from the gravesite. They couldn’t bring themselves to approach the mourning family, not after what they had accused Adrian of. Plus Brewster knew the truth, even if his mind hadn’t solidified the idea yet. Donald would have to talk with him later.

“Raymond,” Margaret’s father came up to him when the graveside service had concluded.

“Yes, sir,” Donald said. He kept an eye on Margaret with her mother as they talking with others who began to disperse and head for their cars.

“I expect you in the office Monday morning.”

Donald was stunned that his father-in-law would think of work at a time like this, but it was so much like him. Holding in all that emotion.

“Of course, sir,” he replied. He’d be at work as requested, just to prove his commitment to the company and the family.

“You need to be strong, Raymond,” the older man sounded harsh, but then his voice broke, “I need you to be strong, Donald,” he never called him by his first name.

Donald remained silent.

“I need you to be strong. Be strong for Margaret,” suddenly he was breaking and was doing his best not to cry, “be strong for her. She’s all we have now. Promise me you will protect her.”

“I will, sir. I promised Adrian I would, and I promise you. I will do everything I can to see that Margaret is safe.” He had never seen the old man emotional, and this was the closest he’d ever get. It was a shocking sight, but he would never see it as a weakness.

That night Cabbie drove Donald and Margaret back to Adrian’s neighborhood, a pub less than a block away from his apartment.

The bar was full of people, nearly as many as those who were at the cemetery. Most of these people didn’t know Adrian Brown or anything about his family. As Margaret and Donald would find out, these people only knew the Masked Ghost. In one-way or another, he had saved them all.

One by one, or couples, or small families, they all approached the Raymond’s and told them what the Masked Ghost had done for them.

A Jewelry story owner who had been robbed of thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, told how the next morning the gems were back where they belonged and the thief tied up out front waiting for the police.

A woman with a little girl, holding her hand tightly, told of how the mystery man had run into their burning apartment and rescued her three-year-old daughter before the firemen would arrive.

A man said that he had been distraught after loosing his job, and attempted suicide, but the Masked Ghosted dragged him from the rapids of the river beneath the bridge. The man now had a new, better job.

The people kept coming, each new story as heroic as the last.

Margaret couldn’t hold back her tears as she saw just how many people her brother had helped, even if wearing a mask, in only one year.

When the last person came up to them, and the last story was told, the party (for that was what it was, a wake for the dead,) ended and the crowd headed out into the street. Each going their own way into the darkness of the city.

The bartender was cleaning the last mug (he himself had been saved from a protection racket who wanted him to pay for just having his store open) as Cabbie escorted Donald and Margaret back out to his taxi.

Before they got in, Margaret spoke, “Cabbie, I have to ask, what did Adrian… I mean the Masked Ghost do for you? How did he ‘save’ you?”

The driver was silent for several moments. Margaret glanced at her husband.

“I’m sorry. You don’t have to say anything,” she said as they climbed into the car.

“That’s okay,” he started the engine, “the Masked Ghost save me from killing my wife.”

The Raymond’s were stunned silent.

After a few minutes the taxi reached a stop sign and Cabbie turned in his seat and looked back at Donald.

“Where to now, boss?”

To be concluded…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chapter 23 - "A Ghost Goes to War"


Chapter 23

“A Ghost Goes to War”

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

“Come on, Mr. Brewster, run!” Margaret Raymond grabbed the man’s arm and pulled him away from the fight. She experienced the same problem her husband did with the mask; her peripheral vision was slightly blocked as she searched for an exit from the warehouse. Once found, Margaret dragged the older, distraught, man outside.

Halfway across the yard Brewster’s legs gave out from under him and he fell to the ground. Tears began to flow. The terror of the night had gotten to him.

“We have to get out of here,” Margaret said, feeling small inside her brother’s costume.

He looked up at her with confusion, “I thought the Ghost was…”

She could see it in his eyes, he had known the Masked Ghost was her brother, but Adrian was now dead and four other people were running around in the costume.

Margaret knelt in front of him, and pulled off the hat and mask, “Look. Everything is going to be okay. But we have to move--”

“Sheila?” He said in confusion, looking into the face he saw as his own daughter, “I’m so sorry. There wasn’t anything I could do to stop them. I tried. You shouldn’t have screamed at Spade. I’m so sorry. So sorry.”

Margaret felt for him as he thought of his dead daughter. He wasn’t going to move any further, so she held him and looked back towards the warehouse as gunshots echoed and she prayed none would strike her husband.

That was when she heard a crunch of gravel behind her. Slowly looking over her should, she found a tall man in black pointing a gun at her. His face bloody from a beating the Masked Ghost had given him less than an hour before. Margaret didn’t need to know this was the man who had killed the accountant and attacked her husband. She did know he would not hesitate to kill them both.

= = =

Chaos ensued with in the warehouse. As the three masked men pursued the criminals between the crates of explosives, the echoes of their footsteps and their shouts made it sounds like an army had invaded the building.

Donald Raymond didn’t like to fight, but had done so in the past. As a kid he got into many scraps with the neighborhood bullies, and later, on the construction sites, fought off those who would threaten his men. He didn’t always win, but none of those battles had ever involved gunfire.

His fist struck one of the guards, who went down after multiple poundings. That’s when the guns got involved. Donald turned to find Detective Dodds’ revolver pointed at his head.

“You should have left it alone, Raymond,” the detective cursed at the man under the mask, “my job was nearly over. Working for Shade would just guarantee a quite retirement with a little extra money. You’re destroying all that.”

Donald had no response as the trigger of the revolver was pulled back.


Dodds fell to the floor with a thud.

Donald looked around to find another Masked Ghost holding a large plank of wood now broken from where it had struck the back of Dodd’s head.

“There you go boss.”

“Uh, thanks.” Donald said and then smiled, as he now knew whom this Masked Ghost was. That accent was unmistakable. But he still had no idea who the other one was. The one who was quite ready to use his guns.

“No guns!” He shouted across the warehouse, he ran towards the third Masked Ghost and Cabbie followed in his own mask.

“These men wouldn’t hesitate to use their own,” said the other Masked Ghost as Donald tried to figure out who it was, “your brother wasn’t opposed to the use of weapons.”

That disturbed Donald, but he couldn’t waste time on it now, “I’m here in this mask now, and I say no guns. Besides, there’s so much explosives in this place that one stray bullet could send us all to hell!”

The other Ghost seemed to think that was a good argument and put his weapons away, then gave a thin secretive smile which told Donald that he was Monroe, the police detective from Adrian’s crime scene. He wasn’t certain what to think about a police officer that condone the vigilante actions of the Masked Ghost, or one who loved using his guns so freely.

But Donald didn’t have time to dwell on that as he spotted the remaining guard. Moving cat like over a couple of crates and he leapt down on the guard. Slammed into the floor, the guard was no longer a threat.

Looking up at his two masked companions Donald gave an order, “Get out of here now, and make certain Margaret is safe. I’m going after Spade.”

“You’ll need backup,” Monroe said from behind his own mask. Both men looked eager to continue this fight.

“I said go! Now!” The Masked Ghost leapt to his feet.

Cabbie nodded and gave a smile that recognized that Donald was finally taking to the part of the Masked Ghost well. He then pulled on his partner’s sleeve and nodded towards the exit. No more arguments were made.

As they made their escape, the Masked Ghost headed further into the darken pathways between the massive crates.

Coming around a corner, he found Spade moving about as if lost, with a panicked express on his fat face.

“Trapped with in your own maze.”

The Masked Ghost spoke as he approached the crime boss.

“The ghosts of this city will not let you destroy it.”

“Stay away from me,” Spade shouted, scared for the first time in his sorry life.

The Masked Ghost leapt forward and grabbed hold of the man.

Donald had intended to drag him out of here, but now the Masked Ghost was ready to pummel the fat man for everything he had done. For the poor accountant, for Sheila who had stood up for her father, for Adrian who sought justice, and for Margaret—

Wait. Why for Margaret? His wife was safe outside. She wouldn’t want him to do this. Donald’s conscious regained control, this was wrong. The delay in his actions was enough to turn the tide.


Dodds was moving down the corridor, stumbling against the crates, one hand on his head where he had been struck, and the other outstretched with the revolver wavering at the Masked Ghost.

Believing help had arrived, Spade pushed The Masked Ghost away and towards the oncoming instrument of death.

“You are going to die and stay dead, if it’s the last thing I do,” Dodds said.

Donald could see how woozy the detective looked, his eyes weren’t focusing. The blow to the head obviously had caused a concussion.

There wasn’t anywhere for the Masked Ghost to run, so Donald was going to see this to the end.

“You can not kill the ghost that is your guilt.”

He watched Dodds stumble and pause, eyes flickered one way and then the next and then upward as if spotting something.

“You won’t trick me again, Raymond,” the Detective said, “another masked man isn’t going to stop me from killing you.”

He raised the revolved from Donald up towards the top of the crates.

Donald glanced upward wondering if Cabbie or Monroe had disobeyed him and returned, he also prayed it wasn’t Margaret. There was no one up there.

“Come down here and die like a man,” Dodds shouted and swung his gun wildly towards the other side of the corridor. The action nearly caused him to loose his balance.

Donald took the only opportunity he was going to get and dove at Dodds. As he struck, the detective fired and the shot went wild. The sound echoed through out the warehouse as the bullet struck one of the hanging lamps overhead. It caused shadows to dance about around them.

Dodds kicked to get away from the Masked Ghost, but then one of the shadows moved and he fired into it. What he saw, Donald could only imagine.

“Why won’t you stay dead!” The Detective shouted at the shadows.

“Stop you fool, you’re going to kill us all!” Spade shouted.

Donald had to agree with the villain as another shot rang out.

“Move!” He shouted and pushed Spade into a side corridor as another bullet struck one of the crates.

= = =

Cabbie and Monroe made their way out to the yard and saw a body laying on the ground. The night was dark and made it hard to see until they got closer. Both their thoughts were of Donald’s final command to protect Margaret.

Cautiously, they approached and knelt.

“It’s a man.” Monroe said as he examined the body, “and he’s alive. Though just barely.”

“I… I didn’t want to hurt him.” They looked up to see Margaret in her costume stepping from the guard shack. “But had to do something.”

“Never saw anything like it.” Brewster said following her, his head finally clear, “she disarmed and had him down on the ground so fast, I didn’t know what was happening.”

“Where’s Donald,” Margaret asked with panic.

“He’ll be out soon,” Monroe said, removing his mask.

“The Masked Ghost has some unfinished business to--” Cabbie’s words were cut off as the entire warehouse exploded into flames.

Margaret Raymond screamed!

To Be Continued…