Authors: Elizabeth Basque
Tags: #Mystery: Thriller - Paranormal - Humor
“Interesting. Tell me more.”
Not today. And I do know several other spirits who would love to take up quahters in heah. Nevah let them on my turf before, but things change. Even among the dead.”
turf? This is
apartment.” That’s where I lost it. I just took the damned bottle of vodka and stormed down the hallway to the bathroom and slammed the door in his face.
I took a swig, and grimaced into the mirror. My eyes were bloodshot already. With the warmth the liquor sent down my throat came a flush that turned my face red and started me perspiring. I didn’t care. What I cared about was finding this girl, and surprisingly, I cared about Julie, too.
Mack never even waited outside the bathroom door. I knew he was in the kitchen or living room, hovering around. Probably with that wicked grin pasted on his face like the devil had put it there. But this case was hitting me hard. The tears I couldn’t stop coursed down my faintly purple-veined cheeks and just made me angrier.
I’ll give you your cursed
,” I shouted through the door, making fun of the way he talked. Sometimes, I felt so alone and so…
I wondered for the thousandth time whether my neighbors could hear me ranting at Mack, and if they thought they lived next to a madwoman who constantly talked to herself. Maybe I
crazy. It didn’t matter though.
Deal!” I added as I slid to the floor.
I texted Julie to come over tomorrow, that I had information. She said she would rearrange her schedule and make it so.
I took another heavy pull from the bottle and felt it burn going down.
The next day, Julie arrived around eleven. She attended cosmetology school, but had gotten permission to take the day off.
no wonder she looked so gorgeous every time I saw her. That was her job, to make people pretty. And somehow, she channeled Gwyneth Paltrow’s natural look. The things you could do with makeup if you knew what you were doing…apparently, she did because she looked so…natural.
She stood at my door, looking up at me apprehensively as I was just putting new batteries in the TV remote and then, when I finished fumbling with it, set down the reloaded “clickah” for Mack.
Her smile, although congenial enough, couldn’t hide her jumpy demeanor. After all, she was going to meet a ghost today. Though, as a matter of fact, I hadn’t yet told her about Mack. One step at a time, or so I’d heard.
Hello, dear,” I said, stepping aside to make room for her to enter. “Please come in.”
Thank you, Pauline.” Julie stepped inside my apartment. She took a look around the place with new eyes, eyes that were now waiting for something unexpected to happen.
I kept hold of her hand as I led her into the living room, where she took a seat on the couch. I’d drawn the heavy brocade curtains closed over the bay window that overlooked Echo Park, partly due to the summer heat, and partly for privacy. Mostly, it was because the less light in a room, the easier it would be to see a spirit materialize.
I also had the television on—although muted—because I knew that spirits used electricity energy for power. Not many people knew that they did this, and not all ghosts had figured it out. As in life, existing as a ghost was a trial-and-error experience. But they could, if they knew how, capture electricity to enhance their powers, if only temporarily. This was why lights often flickered or power went out when a spirit was near. The energy gave them enough strength to materialize, and even move objects. I’d seen these things happen, and more.
Julie fidgeted with her tiny dangling peace sign earrings, and even got out a piece of sugar-free peppermint gum. I’d told her—after I’d sealed the poker party deal with good old Mack—that she’d be meeting the little girl today. At first, she’d declined, out of fear. It took some reasoning on my part to convince her that this would be the best way to resolve her nightmares and visions, and also perhaps solve a murder mystery. I made it sound exciting and dramatic.
Sometimes, these sessions
exciting and dramatic, but sometimes, they weren’t. Sometimes, I couldn’t contact the ghosts, although I was pretty good at it—better than most, I’d say. I had a feeling that today was going to be something special.
But we waited, each trying to make light conversation. I cursed Mack under my breath for being late.
At 11:45, I decided I didn’t care what Julie thought. “It has to be five o’clock somewhere, and a beer is pretty harmless. Right?”
Right,” Julie answered.
Please. And actually, Pauline, do you think I could step outside for a quick cigarette?”
That was unexpected, that she, too, was a smoker.
“Let’s do it. Right through the sliding glass door leads to the patio. Bottle or glass?” I asked.
Bottle, please,” she called and I heard the crinkle of her cigarette pack as she moved toward the patio door.
I brought the beers from the kitchen, smiling. “Thank God,” I said to her. “I’ve been dying for a smoke. I usually don’t smoke or drink with clients, but I’m with you on this one. Come on.”
The harsh summer L.A. sun hit us both as we stepped out onto my patio. We were used to it. You had to get used to scorching summer sun if you wanted to live in Los Angeles. We simultaneously flipped down our sunglasses from our heads and Julie gave a nervous giggle.
I like your patio,” she said.
Me, too. I used to live upstairs, but I moved from my fifth-floor apartment to the first floor when one opened up with a patio. I had always wanted a patio. Now I have one.”
And you still have such a great view of the entire neighborhood of Echo Park.”
Yeah, it’s great. I know all of the secret stairways in the neighborhood, too, and being on the ground floor, but still high on the hill, makes me feel more connected to it all. I’m loving my apartment.”
Neat. So, what’s going to happen today?” she asked me point blank.
I drew on my cigarette. “You can never be sure,” I told her. “But there is almost always a reason for…situations like this. I’ve learned that, in this line of work, and in the spirit world, there really are no coincidences.”
Julie took a long drink from her cold beer, but looked at her cell for the time. “Do they, you know, keep track of time like we do?”
I tapped my cigarette into the ashtray and laughed. “Some do. Some don’t. Mack usually does.”
Well.” I didn’t quite know what to say for once. “Mack is a…friend. Don’t worry, he’s harmless.”
But who is he?” she persisted. “Why is he coming here?”
He’s bringing the girl,” I told her. “He’s the one who found her for me.”
Is he a Medium, too?”
Um, not exactly.” God.
I told myself.
Always try for the truth.
“He’s another ghost, dear.”
Julie barely had time to register this when we heard a loud thump from inside. She jumped.
I drained my beer and stubbed out my cigarette, and Julie followed suit. “It’s time,” I told her. We stepped inside and walked to the living room.
I saw Mack immediately. Julie saw the large wingback chair overturned. Mack, unfortunately, was in not-so-rare form.
“What happened here?” Julie asked.
I call it chair bowling. It’s kind of a running joke between Mack and me…usually, it’s a
joke,” I added meaningfully, for Mack’s benefit.
I guided Julie gently back onto the couch and stepped over to right the chair. “He doesn’t do this often,” I lied. Mack grinned from ear to ear at the pale and nerve-wracked young woman on the couch.
it,” I hissed to him.
Julie looked over at me. “Stop what?”
“Never mind.” To Mack, I said, “Where’s the girl?”
Julie gulped. “Are you talking to a ghost?”
I was about to explain, but Mack cut me off. “She’s outside. She’s not convinced this is a good idea.”
Well, go convince her,” I snapped.
The least you could do is recauh’d the Sahx game,” he snapped back. “I forgot which button it is.”
I looked at the TV; he’d changed the channel to a Red Sox game. That was practically sacrilegious in Echo Park. The Dodgers and the Red Sox had a long history of rivalry.
I picked up the remote and hit
. “Happy, Mack?”
Yuh-huh.” He headed for the door and passed right through it. I glanced at Julie, who was now utterly confused, as well as a little frightened.
Did he just ask you to record a baseball game for him?”
Yes, darling, he did,” I answered.
My answer apparently did little to enlighten the poor woman.
“Does he like, live here?”
Most of the time. But don’t worry, he won’t be in our way. He’s gone out to fetch the girl.” I smiled at Julie. “She’s nervous, too.”
This did seem to relax her a little. I sat down next to her, and she took a brave, deep breath.
But neither of us were prepared for what was about to happen. Mack passed through my door again, this time with the girl.
The girl, just about twelve, I’d say, took one look at Julie, laughed with utter joy, and ran straight into her arms.
Julie was almost bowled over. Her reaction was surprising, too. She wasn’t scared, she didn’t cry out, and there were no goose bumps on her arms. She just…took it in. She was smiling, and her face took on a rosy glow.
What’s happening?” she asked me.
The girl is hugging you,” I said. I was a little confused myself. “Not really hugging, you know, she’s got her spirit arms around you, though.”
I can feel her!” Julie’s eyes were moist. “Wow! She’s not scary at all!”
Mack stood next to me, grinning. We both folded our arms in satisfaction and looked down at the pair. I knew he was thinking the same thing as me: soul mates.
Soul mates lived their lives together in all sorts of relationships, usually as spouses, or twins. Most people didn’t realize that spirits could choose to live their next lives as soul mates in any capacity. For example, I’d seen several siblings who were soul mates. Also, parent and child soul mate relationships weren’t as uncommon as most people would think.
This one caught me by surprise, although it was no less endearing than any other kind of relationship based on unconditional love from the very depths of the soul.
The girl finally drew away, smiling from ear to ear, although I could see the gunshot wound and surrounding blood on her chest; it had been imprinted there upon the death of her body.
Julie sat up straight. “She’s not gone, is she?”
“No,” I told her, and the girl took Julie’s hand. Julie felt it and smiled again. To the girl, I said, “What’s your name, sweetheart?”
She hesitated only a second. “Carla. What’s her name?” Carla asked me, nodding at Julie.
Time to play relay Medium. “The girl’s name is Carla,” I said to Julie. “And she wants to know what your name is.”
Julie looked straight at Carla, even though she couldn’t really see her. Not yet, anyhow. “My name is Julie. Are you okay?” She directed the question directly to Carla.
“Tell her I’m fine,” Carla said.
Mack was hovering above us now, which is what he did when he didn’t want to converse with me. I looked up at him and could see by his expression that he was touched by this reunion. Not much was lost on Mack, even in death.
Carla was fingering one of Julie’s large, cheap hippie rings. She had a mood ring, a peace sign ring, and a ring made out of a vintage baby spoon.
in fact. Just a little psychic tidbit I gleaned from her jewelry. Julie started when she felt the ring on her right hand turn a little. When Carla put her hands on Julie’s face, almost like a blind person trying to get a feel for another, Julie quieted, but said, “What’s she doing?”
I told her. Then I asked, “Julie, would you like to see Carla?”
They turned to me in unison, both nodding emphatically. I held out the TV remote for Carla. “Touch it, honey,” I coaxed. “It will give you a boost.”
Carla grinned and touched the remote, still holding Julie’s fingers with her other hand. The TV turned to static for a moment. And the lights in my apartment dimmed a little. Carla knew what she was doing. Unlike Julie, Carla wasn’t the least bit apprehensive. She had waited for this, for Julie. I could feel it in my heart. I could see that Julie was starting to understand the link between herself and Carla, although she couldn’t quite articulate it.