REVENGE OF THE MASKED 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…