Authors: Rose Pressey
It was almost time to close when I finally finished placing the books on the shelves. I’d even gotten in some reading time for Marilyn. I plopped down on the stool behind the counter and rolled my shoulders in an attempt to ease the tension. The customers who’d come into the shop today were a little confused by the mess, so I was sure I’d missed out on some business. Roger and Marilyn stood in front of me as if they were waiting for me to say something. I’d been wondering if Roger had seen the dark shadow I’d seen in the house on more than one occasion, so now it was my time to ask.
“Roger, did you notice another spirit in that house often?” I asked.
He stared at me as if he had no clue what I was talking about.
I asked again, “Did you notice other spirits in the house you were haunting?”
I couldn’t make my question any clearer. I stared at him, waiting for an answer.
He shrugged. “No, I never saw anything.”
I hadn’t known Roger long, but I could already tell when he wasn’t being honest. He was definitely hiding something. How would I get him to tell me the truth?
I asked again, “Roger, Did you see anything at the house?”
He turned and walked across the room. “When are we getting out of here? I want to see something else. This place is boring.”
I stepped out from behind the counter and over to where he stood. His back was still turned to me, so I moved in front of him, placing my hands on my hips.
“What are you, my mother or something?” he snapped.
I pointed my index finger at him. “I will keep asking you until you tell me the truth.”
Dealing with Roger was exhausting.
Marilyn moved over beside us. “You tell her the truth right now.”
Roger seemed stunned that Marilyn had scolded him. She quirked an eyebrow as if she dared him to defy her.
He threw his hands up in the air. “Okay, maybe I saw something, but I don’t know what it was. That’s all I know, so leave me alone, okay?”
I watched him for a moment, but he wouldn’t meet my stare. I still thought he was hiding something. It didn’t appear as if we’d be able to force him to tell us more though, even with Marilyn’s help.
I released a deep breath. “Fine.”
I might let him off the hook for the time being, but I would revisit this topic soon. Right now, I needed to close the shop and head home. I had a date to get ready for.
I wondered where Callahan was taking me. There weren’t a lot of options in Magnolia. It was a small town and not a lot to do. Maybe he was taking me to the movies. That would be fun, although it seemed a little more mysterious than that. Marilyn was whispering to Roger. I wondered what she was telling him. If anyone could get him to talk, it would be her. I’d leave them alone and see if she could get through to him. I shut down the computer and grabbed my purse.
I’d almost made it to the front door when the man’s face popped up at the window. He had glowing green eyes and his skin was ashen gray. He glared at me and snarled showing his mouth full of fang-like teeth. I screamed and jumped back. I hadn’t expected to see his face. I’d been trying to put the thought out of my mind and now he was back. Roger and Marilyn stopped talking and raced over to me.
“What happened? Marilyn asked.
All I could do was point to the window.
“You saw the man,” she said.
I raced out the door and onto the sidewalk. I was scared, but I had to face my fears and see if this man was really out there. I knew he was a spirit, but I wanted to confront him to see what he wanted. Why was he looking into the store? What did he want? I peered to my left and to my right, but I didn’t see him. Roger and Marilyn stood beside me as I stared down the sidewalk.
“Where did he go?” Marilyn asked.
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
Cars drove by and people walked up and down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. No one acted like anything unusual had happened. They hadn’t seen the spooky specter. I tried to calm my nerves as I released a deep breath.
“Larue,” Mindy called out.
I turned around to see Mindy coming toward me on the sidewalk. Was I ever glad to see her! Just then, a growl sounded from my right. I looked over and saw the man standing right beside me. My heart sped up. He moved in a flash and rushed toward Mindy. I didn’t know what to do to stop him. I dashed forward, reaching out to grab him, but I missed. Instead, I fell to the ground, catching myself with the palm of my hands.
When I glanced up, I saw the man fly toward Mindy and then move right through her. Once he’d passed through her body, he disappeared. She fell back onto the ground. I jumped up and raced over to her.
“Are you okay?” I asked as I helped her up.
Mindy seemed stunned and unable to focus on my face. She didn’t speak and her hands were shaking.
I looped my arm around her. “Come on, let’s go inside and sit down.”
She stared straight ahead without saying a word, but she followed me into the shop.
“Is she okay?” Marilyn asked.
“I think she’ll be fine,” I said. “It probably knocked the wind out of her.”
I helped Mindy over to the stool. “Are you better now?”
She finally looked at me. Her eyes were dark and blank, but then, they changed back to the big brown eyes I’d always known.
She pushed the hair out her eyes with her shaky hand. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Apparently, she’d snapped out of it.
“What happened?” she asked.
I wasn’t sure if I should tell her what really occurred, but I didn’t know how else to explain it.
“It was like the strongest wind I’d ever felt.” She shook her head as if trying to get rid of the thought.
Had she not seen the man? Of course she hadn’t. He was a ghost which meant only I’d seen him. Well, Marilyn and me.
I knew I had to be honest with her. I would want her to do the same with me.
“I think a ghost ran through you.” I rushed the words so maybe it wouldn’t sound so bad.
Her eyes widened. “A ghost?”
I hoped Mindy would still come around me. If she was still my friend after all this, then I knew she’d never stop being my friend.
“Is the ghost still around?” she asked.
I shook my head. “No, he’s gone.”
“Good, I hope that never happens again.” She straightened her shirt and brushed off her pants.
“Me too,” I said.
Mindy tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “I feel better now. I’ll be fine.”
I stared at her for a moment.
“I promise,” she added.
“So, why did you stop by?” I asked.
“I came by to check on you. After you told me what happened with the books, I was concerned. Looks like you got it all taken care of though.” She peered around the place. “I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner to help.”
I waved my hand. It was no big deal. “I’m used to putting the books up anyway.”
“Yeah, but not that many all at once.” She picked up one of the books and set it back down again. “Do you think what happened to me is related to the event with the books?”
I wished I could tell her no, but I couldn’t. I nodded. “I think they are related.”
“So, you think it was the same ghost?” Mindy asked.
I studied my shoes for a moment and then finally met her stare. “Yes, I do.”
She sighed and then asked, “Where do you think he came from?”
I glanced at Roger, but he avoided eye contact.
“I’m not sure, but plan on finding out.”
Mindy pushed to her feet and grabbed her purse from the counter. “Well, I’d better get out of here.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked.
She placed the purse strap over her shoulder. “You know I’m tough.”
Sometimes being tough wasn’t enough when these bad spirits were involved.
She walked toward the door. “Call me when you can and let me know what Callahan’s big plans were.”
Something was making me nervous about her leaving. I guess I was worried the ghost would be out there waiting or her. She waved and then stepped out onto the sidewalk. Mindy paused and looked to the left and then to the right. I knew she was searching for the ghost too. After I second, she turned to the left and disappeared from view.
“Let’s get out of here,” Roger said.
I nodded. “Fine. We’ll go to my house.”
“Cool,” he said as he followed me out the door. “I hope the place isn’t a drag.”
Marilyn sat in the front with me and Roger was in the middle of the back seat with his body leaning forward.
“Do you have to be so close?” Marilyn asked.
He leaned back slightly, but not all the way. I was like the mom trying to make the kids behave on the car ride. I felt like saying, “Don’t make me turn this car around.”
Gray clouds formed in the distance as if a warning of things yet to come. I could try to outrun them, but I knew they would eventually catch up. After the short drive, we arrived at my house.
“This is an adorable little place,” Marilyn said as we got out of the car.
I opened the door and motioned or the ghosts to enter first. “Make yourself at him.”
What else could I say? They would make themselves at home whether I invited them to or not. My place was a small old farmhouse. The rooms had been redone, so I was proud of the hard work I’d put into it. Roger plopped down onto my oversized white sofa. If he hadn’t been a ghost, I would have told him to take his sneakers off first. But there was little chance he could get it dirty anyway.
“Hey, can you turn on the TV?” he asked.
I sighed and then grabbed the remote. “What do you want to watch?”
“The guy at the last house watched ESPN a lot. Do you have it?”
I flipped through the channels. I can’t believe I’m turning the television for a ghost.”
“You need to get ready for your date,” Marilyn placed her hands on her hips. “Where’s your makeup?”
“It’s all in my bedroom,” I said and motioned for her to follow me.
Was I really going to get fashion advice from Marilyn Monroe? I stepped into the room and she came behind me. At least Roger was occupied with the TV. This was like a girls’ night.
“What are you wearing?” she asked, scanning my room. My bed sat on the far wall between two windows. On the other side of the room was a fireplace with a comfy chair next to it. A sunny yellow color that reminded me of summer covered the walls. The small bathroom was attached to the room.
“I guess I hadn’t thought about it,” I said.
She motioned toward the closet door. “Well, let’s see what you have.”
I opened the door and Marilyn stepped closer. She was silent for a long time as she peered into the depths of my closet. I took that as a bad sign. I hoped she didn’t look in the back where I had stored the outdated jeans and T-shirts.
“I guess we can come up with something. You want it to be sexy, but leave him wanting more, too,” she said in her sex kitten voice.
She obviously knew more than me about this, so I would do as I was told. She’d made a career out of being a sex symbol, so I knew she knew what she was talking about.
“What about this?” I asked, holding up a yellow dress for her to examine.
She shook her head, blonde curls bouncing with the motion. “Do you have anything in a deep blue? I think that color would look great on you.”
“Oh, I have a dress.” I fished around in the closet and pulled it out. “Here it is.”
She eyed the dress up and down. “That will be good for now. We should go shopping though.”
I nodded. “Okay.”
I figured I should take her advice on fashion and glamour. Soon, I found myself wearing the blue dress that hit just above my knees. It had a full skirt and small straps. I wore black strappy heels with it. Marilyn had helped instruct me with my makeup. Of course, I’d been wearing makeup for years, but I didn’t argue with her. I did feel like I might be a little overdressed. What if Callahan was just taking me to the movies? What if he wanted to go to the local pub? I guess I’d just be overdressed.
Even though I was excited for the date, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mindy. I should have gone with her and made sure she was okay.
The doorbell rang and my stomach did a little dance.
“Looks like your date is here,” Marilyn said. “Now, go get him.”
I hurried toward the door. Roger was already standing beside it. How would I convince the two of them to stay at my house while I went out with Callahan?
When I opened the door, Callahan’s eyes widened. “Wow, you look gorgeous. Not that you don’t always look gorgeous.”
His cheeks blushed and he grinned. I knew what he meant.
“Thank you,” I said.
I turned to Roger and Marilyn. “Okay, I’ll be back later.”
Marilyn moved around Callahan and now stood on my front porch. “I’m going with you.”
I wouldn’t even bother arguing with them. I just wanted to have a nice evening. The chatter of ghosts in my ear would be distracting, but I had dealt with it in the past. What was one more time, right?