Episode Eight

July 4, 2010

Ghostly Happenstance

The final day of the Moonshine festival always had a sort of somber feel about it, kind of like the day after an exceptionally crappy birthday.

Catty Broadsides swept the floor of The Boneyard carefully, as she was still trying to clean up all the shards of glass from a few nights ago when she’d brought Captain Tullis back into her establishment. As she swept, she reminisced about the events of the past few days.

To say the ghosts were displeased with her when she brought the Captain back into the bar was quite the understatement. True enough, most of them were meandering around the festival before it got too crowded, but there were two who never left the bar. If Catty had had to bet about it, they’d be the two least likely to care if the Captain set foot in the bar again. Luckily, Catty was not a betting woman.

As the Captain crossed the threshold, all the glasses on the shelves behind the bar shattered in a brilliant display of glistening shards flying through the air. The Captain instinctively stepped back outside, shielding both himself and Catty with the door.

Once the shattering had desisted, Catty brushed past the Captain into the bar. She stood with her hands on her hips, and a face so drawn with anger, it could have frozen ghosts in their spot, which is exactly what happened. The O’Toole twins stood transfixed as Catty stormed up to them. She was wearing her favorite stompin’ boots that day, and a pretty yellow dress. The twins held hands and trembled as she approached.

Alice O’Toole pointed an accusatory finger at the Captain, who still stood sheepishly in the doorway, and said in a tattletale’s tone, “But he’s not allowed in here!”

“I think I’ve heard about enough of that,” Catty informed her, as though the 12-year old ghost had any authority over the others. She continued, “This is my bar, and if I can stand having Captain Tullis around, I should think a bunch of non-corporeals wouldn’t be so put out. So stuff it, you little pre-teen brats!”

The twins put their heads together in a whisper, and then eerily spoke in unison, “What will you give us if we don’t tell the others?”

“What do you want?” She sighed, and regretted the question the second the words left her lips. Asking ghosts open ended questions was not the best idea.

“I don’t have all day, brats,” she said, tapping her foot, as the twins huddled together in conference.

“We want full amnesty,” the informed her.

“Kids, I’ve had too much moonshine to remember what that word means. You’re going to have to be more specific.”

“We want protection from the Baron, he scares us,” they said.

“I will see what I can do,” Catty sighed, rolling her eyes.

“We need more reassurance than that,” the twins demanded.

“Fine, I will do my best, if I can’t offer amnesty, perhaps a compromise?”

The twins conferred briefly.

“That is acceptable,” said Alice, the only one who ever spoke alone. Catty liked to think of her as the Alpha Twin.

“But you have to do it now,” they continued in unison.

“Oh, for the love of Pete!” Catty said, annoyed.

The twins giggled, because Pete was one of their fellow ghosts who happened to have a giant crush on Catty, but she never gave him the time of day. They stored away an image of her saying that, because ghosts can totally do that, if you didn’t know, so they could show it to Pete later. He would be delighted, as would the twins, as this would definitely mean he was going to up his game in pursuit of Catty.

As Catty ran upstairs, her owl, Holmes, hooted disapprovingly at the Captain, who was still loitering in the threshold. Holmes, ever protective, was under the impression that he was there for Catty, and not on a mission entirely unrelated to her bloomers.

The Captain tiptoed into the bar the second the two ghosts disappeared. He helped himself to a bottle of whiskey that had been spared from the ghost induced glassplosion. As there were no drinking glasses left unbroken, he drank straight from the bottle, just like his mother used to do.

Meanwhile, Catty was on a hunt for the ghost who the others referred to as “The Baron.” He was actually one of Catty’s favorites, and even Holmes seemed taken with him, which was ironic since the Baron had once been a bright orange tabby cat. Catty liked the Baron because of his tendency to keep the other ghosts in check, which is actually the same thing that endeared him to Holmes, who didn’t give much of a hoot for the human spooks. The Baron somehow managed to manipulate the other ghosts into doing his bidding, like some kind of feline mafia don.

Catty found him in the first place she looked, snoozing in his empty litter box, which was sitting in his favorite sunbeam. It was funny how she could hear him purring as she approached, and she felt compelled to reach out and pet him, but the one time she did that, he scratched her arm so badly that she needed seven stitches. His meanness was another thing that molded her favorable opinion of him; it was so genuine. She found authenticity so lacking in pretty much all living people, so became quite found of all the ghosts, even when they did things of which she did not approve, like shattering all her glassware, or causing her physical harm. It was all kind of cute, really, the way the netherworld liked to reach out to the living.

Catty cleared her throat and spoke when the Baron ceased his contented purring. She had long ago learned that was a cue that he’d stopped slumbering and was rapt at attention. Her arm twitched, and she instinctively put her hand over her scar.

“Baron, I’d like a word with you, on behalf of the twins. It’s about the Captain, and his coming into the bar again, I think it’s time we lifted the ban, I’ll get him to promise never to use your box as a toilet again, I just need you to go a bit easier on the twins for awhile, like, say a year, I mean, if you don’t think that’s too long or whatever,” she rambled nervously.

The Baron opened one eye and peered out at her, then his body disappeared, and he gave a cheshire cat sort of grin as his head seemed to hang in the air like a low rising moon. It was his way of saying he didn’t give a toss what happened. He could be a really nice guy when you caught him in a good mood.

The twins suddenly appeared in the room, startling Catty so much she jumped. The Baron opened his other eye and yawned, which Catty took as a sign they were boring him with their request. He disappeared with a slight hiss in the air.

“Well?” Catty turned to the twins, with her hands on her hips.

“It’s okay, the Captain is drinking the last of your whiskey,” they tattled.

“Oh for Pete’s sake!” Catty sighed in exasperation.

The twins stored that image of her to show to Pete, who was going to be overjoyed that she used his name twice in one day. It was going to be a long month of showering and getting changed in the dark before Catty would feel like the unwanted ghostly gaze of Pete was finally off her back, and off her other parts as well.

She ran back downstairs to find Captain Tullis draining the last drops of the last bottle of alcohol in the entire bar.

“Ben!” She shouted as he shrugged sheepishly. Catty was the only one other than his mom allowed to call him that. They didn’t come much classier than Catty Broadsides, he thought. For a moment, he forgot he was on a mission to find his stolen monkey as his mind was consumed with her bloomers. Holmes hooted angrily, as if sensing a change in the air, and the Captain recalled his monkey, and how much he and the owl always fought.

Captain Tullis slid drunkenly off the bar stool and staggered over to Holmes.

“If I find out you’ve anything do to with my missing monkey, I am going to turn you inside out to find him!” He said, pointing a greasy finger at the owl, who stared him down menacingly without blinking.

“Oh please,” Catty replied, “Look at him, he’s not big enough to have an entire monkey inside him!”

The Captain thought about that for a moment, and decided that Catty was probably right.

“Who do you think took him, then?” He asked.

“I’ve asked the twin brats to investigate. I know, I know, they’re annoying, but they’ll pester the other ghosts until one of them tells us they’ve seen something. You know how the ghost grapevine works,” she said.

“Yeah, those bastards have a pipeline straight down to Satan himself,” the Captain said, frowning. “Do you think the devil might have stolen Hopewell?”

Catty sighed and held her head in her hand. “Ben,” she said slowly, “no, I think it was a person, and we’ll find out who, you just have to be patient. In the meantime, we finally got your lifetime ban lifted from the bar, so why don’t you at least take solace in that?”

Before he could answer, the twins popped back into the bar with a sizzling sound. The smell of frying bacon momentarily filled the air.

“We know who took the monkey!” They shouted, excited.

“Who was it?”

“Someone new to the island. No one would say who, just someone new.”

“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” Captain Tullis said, breathing out a long whiskey soaked breath.

From all the way across town where Hopewell was being held, he shuddered, but didn’t know why.

“We need to go to the welcome center then,” the Captain concluded. “Get Janet to give us a roster of new people, and…”

Just as he was about to finish his sentence, someone new came into the room. It was a young girl in one of those “I’m With Stupid” t-shirt. She was wearing a stupid looking green knit cap, which was actually kind of cute, but looked stupid because it was the middle of summer.

She stopped in her tracks when her feet crunched glass and she backed up and looked a little wild eyed at the two people who were sitting at the bar. As the man with the gray beard lunged at her, she squealed in fright and took off running.

“I know you stole my monkey, you little twerp,” he growled as he chased after her.

As she ran through the wooded area, little did she know, she was running right into a trap. Funny thing about that, it was a trap the Captain had forgotten he’d set months ago for a totally unrelated issue.

*****
This episode went live on Sunday, July 4, 2010.

Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode, where some annoying loose ends will get tied up. I think a few stand-alone episodes might be nice in the future, so looking forward to writing some of those over the coming weeks.

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