Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chapter 25 – “The End for a Ghost”


by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

(Copyright 2011 Kevin Paul Shaw Broden)

Chapter 25 – “The End for a Ghost”

Donald Raymond was hanging up the phone when his wife entered their penthouse apartment. Margaret laid a large garment bag and hatbox on the chair in the entranceway. The woman loves to shop, her husband thought.

She turned to give her husband a kiss.

“We have guests,” Donald stopped her before it became more than a smooch.

“Oh, hello,” she said, entering the living room to find a couple sitting on the couch. Both looked tired, nervous, and somewhat scared. It was Mr. and Mrs. Brewster.

Margaret took a seat across from them and tried to hold a pleasant smile. Here were the people that blamed her brother for the death of their daughter. Even though she knew the truth, she wasn’t certain how she felt for them. Mr. Brewster didn’t look so old as he had days earlier when she helped him escape Spade’s warehouse building moments before it exploded.

“That was police detective Monroe on the phone,” Donald said as he sat next to her.

“He wanted to let us to know that city inspectors are going over every construction site where Spade might have had explosives implanted. So far they’ve come across six, but are having no trouble removing them.”

“Thank God,” Mr. Brewster said and put his head in his hands.

“The hardest problem they’re having is keeping it all a secret. No need terrifying the rest of the city. Monroe also says they aren’t finding evidences that would connect you to Spade or his criminal plans.”

“Haven’t yet?” Brewster’s wife asked nervously.

“No, I think he said ‘aren’t’ and I believe he’s making certain nothing will be found to be connected to your husband.”

The woman narrowed her eyes at that.

“Pardon me,” Margaret spoke up, “but I have to ask, what got you involved with such a terrible man?”

“My husband is a good man,” the woman was insulted.

“Quiet dear. She needs to know what caused all this to happen.” Brewster finally looked up at the others.

“I met Spade through some business associates of mine. Guess it was over two years, now. Suggested that Imports would be a good investment. But it soon turned out not to be, but by then I had invested so much that it was hard to get back out without loosing it all.

“So I went to Spade and said I was pulling out my investment, he blackmailed me by telling me exactly what his company had been doing. That if I stopped funding his agenda he would let it be publically known that I was funding a criminal organization. That I was the money behind their crimes, that even though I had never known it, the police and the press would claim my hands were as stained as the rest of his organization.”

“How did Sheila get involved,” Donald asked.

“It wasn’t long before Spade began inviting himself into the rest of my life. Even coming over for dinners. That way there would be clear evidence I had a relationship with the criminal if it ever became public. He was intent of keeping me in his grasp, and my money would keep flowing.

“Both my wife and daughter realized something wasn’t right with our now frequent visitor.”

“We could tell that he was upset ever time Spade would show up,” Mrs. Brewster interjected, “But he told me to let it be and everything would be fine.”

“My wife was willing to remain quiet, but Sheila wasn’t. She didn’t like this man invading our lives. Against my instructions she began investigating him. She got close to discovering the truth a couple of times. I was so happy when your brother Adrian showed up and asked her to marry him; perhaps then she’d stop trying to learn more about Spade. But no, she kept at it. Then one evening when Spade was at the house, she confronted him with what she knew. He simply laughed at her and said ‘what’s for dinner’. A week later, she was dead.”

He lowered his head for a moment, and then looked up at Margaret.

“We should have never blamed Adrian for her death, but we were terrified of what would happened if the police were involved. Spade had already introduced us to Dodds, so we had no idea who to trust. It took a visit from the Masked Ghost for me to realize that.”

They were all looking at him when said that.

“Can you forgive us?”

Margaret didn’t really know how to respond, and then finally spoke.

“I think I would have liked Sheila. Sounds like she really fought for her family. Hope I would do the same, just like Adrian.” She gave them a smile.

“I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to your brother,” Mrs. Brewster said, “did that really happened because of us as well?”

Her husband shifted in his seat, but said nothing.

“Well, the police seem to be slowly investigating that as well,” Donald answered, “though some believe he was killed by the Masked Ghost. Don’t know how they got that idea,” he glanced at Margaret who shrugged apologetically, “but it’s at least a story that no one will be able to prove or disprove. Because that vigilante is gone for good.”

Still feeling uncomfortable, the Brewsters eventually excused themselves. Margaret tried to be as kind to them as she could, “Please, if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitated to call,” though part of her prayed they would never call.

“I need a drink,” Donald said after the door was closed. As he headed into the other room, Margaret picked up her shopping and carried it into the bedroom

After mixing himself a drink Donald walked through the house and found himself staring at the French doors of their penthouse balcony. It was a warm evening, without a cloud in the sky. He wasn’t looking at the weather, but at the doors themselves. How long had it been since that stormy night when the wind blew them open and changed their lives forever?

“What do you think,” Margaret spoke a few minutes later when she entered the room.

He took a sip of his drink and turned towards his wife to see what the latest evening gown was she had purchased.

Donald was stunned and didn’t know what to say. Margaret posed before him in a long, yet fitted, red trench coat and a matching wide brimmed hat.

“It’s nice,” he fails at giving her a compliment, “but they aren’t expecting rain for the rest of the month.”

“It’s not for the rain, silly. Don’t you think this goes much better with that scarlet mask?”

It took him a second to catch on.

“No! No way. The Masked Ghost is gone. I’m not doing that again, and neither are you. It’s over!”

“What about all those people the Masked Ghost helped?”

“That was Adrian. He was able to help them, we can’t.”

“But there are others that need the same time to help.” She pulled off the hat.

“I said no!” He turned and walked away.

Margaret felt hurt; she took off the coat and laid it on the couch along with the hat. She wanted to do something to remember her brother, to keep all his work alive.

Eventually she took a firmer stance and spoke again.

This city is protected

Donald froze in his steps at the sound of the Masked Ghost’s whispery voice. He thought Margaret and the others were back at the taxi when he gave his little melodramatic speech to Spade in the guard shack. He had hoped it would scare the villain from doing such a thing in the future. He didn’t intend to keep running around in a mask, had he?

His shoulders slumped and he looked down at the tile floor where he had spent hours scrubbing away the bloodstains.

Finally, Donald spoke, but couldn’t look at her.

“I promised your father, I promised your brother that I would protect you.”

Margaret moved around him.

“When did you promise Adrian?”

He didn’t have an answer for her. Couldn’t tell his wife that her dead brother had visited him in a dream and made him promise to look after her. In the same dream Adrian seemed intent that Donald would remain the Masked Ghost. It was only a dream. His head was getting beaten in after all. Yet, was his subconscious telling him something? Was he supposed to be the Masked Ghost? He didn’t want to be the vigilante. No one should want to do the type of thing.

“It’s wrong and far too dangerous. We’re not talking about this again!” He dropped into his chair and snatched up the evening newspaper as if to create a barrier between them.

Margaret wanted to yell at him, but couldn’t. In a huff she sat on the couch across from. She stared at him, as if she could burn holes through the paper. It felt oddly familiar, like a night only days ago, as she scanned the headlines of the paper he held up to ignore her.

The Masked Ghost had all but vanished from the papers now. The terrible fire at the import house on the side of the river was now a small story at the bottom of the page. The main stories were about Roosevelt’s attempt at economic recovery and how others were opposing him.

There was also one other story.

Above the fold was a headline that read:


The story told of how the police had a ‘lack of evidence’ in the death of one of Mr. Castella’s ‘business rivals.’

“Hey, wasn’t that man’s name in Adrian’s notes?” Margaret said aloud, “Yes, I remember now. Once he knew Castella wasn’t involved in Sheila’s death he put the name aside to investigate later.”

Donald tried to ignore his wife, but curiosity finally won and he turned the paper around to read the story she had indicated. Margaret was right, ‘Crackers’ Castella had been listed in… in the Masked Ghost files.

The news story left little doubt of the crime. The victim’s skull had been crushed like a handful of crackers. Which was Castella’s trademark. However, the gangster was either good at covering his tracks, had some very well paid lawyers to get him off, or there was police officers on his pay role. After what the Raymonds had just been through, that was very likely.

He stared at the paper for a couple of minutes more, not really reading, then looked up at his wife. She was sitting on the edge of her seat, very anxious, but not saying anything. He knew what she was thinking, because he had the same thoughts, and it scared him.

Donald slowly folded up the newspaper and laid it on the side table, his drink long ignored. Decisively, he stood up.

“Margaret,” he said sternly.

“Yes, dear?” She joined him.

“Get your coat.”

In the next edition of the newspaper, the Masked Ghost was once again steeling the headlines, as was his beautiful and allusive companion, the Scarlet Spirit.

Only the beginning.