Chapter One: Vacation’s All They Ever Wanted
New York – Four Years Later
On the fourth anniversary of what humanity christened “The Ghostbusters World War of ’14,” New York City was still in process of being rebuilt, recovering from the mass destruction left after the Chernabog conflict. Most old enough to remember what happened that day still share their experiences – where they were when the event happened, the ones they lost, and how they have become stronger.
The city’s saviors, the self-proclaimed Disney Ghostbusters, currently operated under Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, along with Max Goof (Goofy’s son) and Pete Jr. (a.k.a. “P.J.,” son of the man formerly known as Peg-Leg Pete).
Christina Melnitz’s services as secretary continued, though she only worked the night shift, since she became a mother to a two-year-old boy. Some who didn’t know this fact would believe the father to be Dr. Sean Spengler, but he and Christina ended their relationship a year after the GWW.
During the day, when Christina was off the clock, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy practically slept near the phone, anticipating it to ring.
One evening, just as Christina arrived on her shift, the trio received a call, excited out of their slumber thinking it’d be another customer.
Instead, as Mickey (who picked up the receiver first) realized, it was no customer.
“¡Hola! Great evening,” spoke the exuberant Hispanic woman on the other end. “This is Leidy Stantz. May I speak with my lil’ hermando Jatniel?”
“Jatniel?” Mickey had to think carefully of who in their headquarters went by that name, mentally going through a list of those still employed with them. “Nope. Sorry. No Jatniel here.”
“She’s talking about J.G.,” Christina said. “His full name’s Jatniel Gonzalez Stantz – I thought you guys knew that!”
Now understanding, Mickey said into the phone, “Sorry. J.G.’s retired now with the other founding members of our business. They’re all the way up in Oregon, last we heard.”
“Oh, that is disappointing. And I came all this way just to see him.”
Leidy’s voice echoed from the receiver to inside the firehouse, as Mickey and the others found her to have arrived in person, her stilettos click-clacking while walking alongside the parked Ectomobile in the garage.
She was quite the athletic beauty, sporting long flowing blond hair, caramel skin, and chocolate brown eyes, dressed in a white blouse and blue skinny jeans.
Christina welcomed her with a hug.
“It’s been a long time, Leidy,” she said. “Hadn’t seen you in nearly twelve years. J.G. should’ve been here. He never shuts up about you.”
Leidy agitated. “Actually, I am glad mi hermano is not here. I have come to apply as a fourth member of your team.” She retrieved a completed form out of her black leather purse. “Jatniel forbade me to ever become a Ghostbuster, but it has always been my dream to become one ever since I see my little hermano take down that marshmallow man and that big diablo in Central Park!”
“I’m happy to hear that you’re interested in becoming a Ghostbuster, Leidy,” Christina said. “But it’s a taxing job. You’re going to need a lot of training.”
“Oh, but I have been training my butt off in the gym every day, Christina!” Leidy professed. “Just watch!”
She rushed to the lockers, taking out the Proton Packs of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy and stacking them on top of each other. Displaying magnificent fortitude, she lifted the stack and performed a few squats as a demonstration.
“Gwarsh!” Goofy bellowed. “And I can only lift jus’ one!”
“Alright, alright,” Christina said, prompting Leidy to abruptly finish her demo. “We do need the extra pair of hands, so…you’re hired!”
Leidy was jubilant, literally hopping with joy.
“¡Este es el mejor día de mi vida!” She cheered in her Spanish tongue. “Thank you! Thank all of you! You will not regret this! I must go and gather my things! I will return soon!”
She turned to leave, surprising her new employers with the sight of her split jeans, exposing half of a butt cheek, undoubtedly caused by her impromptu demonstration. In her moment of exaltation, she didn’t seem to have noticed, neither did Christina or Mickey, Donald, and Goofy had the nerve to inform her.
If there was any place Natalie Venkman would have chosen to spend her first vacation as a retired Ghostbuster, it would have been Honolulu, Hawaii – not a fly-on-the-map town like Gravity Falls, Oregon.
It served her right allowing J.G. to pick the spot for everyone.
The idea seemed fair at the time, since it was his Jeep Wrangler they were taking.
She felt uncomfortable during the whole two-day road trip across the time zones from New York to Oregon. Paranoia-driven scenarios ran through her mind, such as the possibility of running into “redneck mountain men straight out of Deliverance” (her own words) that would put their racial frustrations on her (a Native American), J.G. (a Hispanic American), Spengler (an African American), and Jacqueline (a “supposedly” Caucasian woman).
“Me?!” A baffled Jacqueline remarked. “What’d they have against me?!”
“Oh, c’mon, girl.” Natalie said. “You’re not foolin’ anybody with that sistah booty! Hell, it’s bigger than mine, and I’m only Cherokee…or was it Choctaw?”
Meagan Tully and Lisa Stevens, two other Ghostbuster retirees, joined them.
Of course, Natalie’s paranoia was unnecessary the second they arrived in the town of J.G.’s interest, particularly with the literal signs of praise and recognition for Ghostbusters.
Kids on the crosswalk wore t-shirts with their emblem printed.
Window displays of merchandise like action figures and video games.
And a banner advertising the four-year anniversary celebration in the town square that very evening.
“Whoa,” uttered Meagan, adjusting her glasses. “We’ve got some serious mega fans here!”
“Ready to admit I was right about this place, Venkman?” J.G. asked Natalie.
She couldn’t help but to smirk at him. “You big ol’ kidder! You knew I wouldn’t pass this off!”
Truthfully, J.G. didn’t know. He found all the praise just as unexpected as the others, yet he dared not to let Natalie know that. He reveled in her sudden change of heart while it lasted.
“Doesn’t it appear odd to anyone that all this was established the very moment we arrived here?” Spengler suspiciously questioned.
“He’s right,” Lisa said. “I mean, look at that sign over there – ‘Gravity Falls: Home of the Ghostbusters’?! Our home’s in New York, last I checked.”
“It’s just a term of endearment, that’s all,” J.G. presumed.
“Yeah, like Burger King,” Natalie said. “Just ’cause it’s the ‘Home of the Whopper’ doesn’t mean it’s the home of the Whopper.”
Jacqueline cringed. “That’s exactly what it means.”
The sudden topic of food urged the vacationers to pull over to the nearest diner, a place called Greasy’s, for breakfast. Sitting at the counter together, they were approached by a waitress with a beehive hairstyle and one closed lazy eye, her nametag read “Susan.”
“What’ll ya have, ladies and gents?” She politely asked with a pencil and notepad in hand. “Might I recommend the Ghostbusters Special?”
“What is the Ghostbusters Special?” Natalie inquired in notable curiosity.
“A stack of flapjacks served with marshmallow toppings and green pancake syrup,” the lazy-eyed waitress illustrated.
Jacqueline’s stomach turned. “I don’t wanna know how you get the syrup to turn green. I’ll take mine with regular syrup, thank you.”
After their specials were delivered, Natalie let her curiosity best her.
“How long did it take you guys to get everything set up for us? I mean, we didn’t even tell you all we were comin’.”
Susan frowned. “What’re ya talkin’ about, lady?! I don’t even know who you people are!”
“We’re the Ghostbusters,” J.G. identified to the uproar of laughter from the entire diner (except for two black-suited men occupying one booth).
“You kids aren’t the real Ghostbusters,” Susan denied. “For one thing, there aren’t any men in our town heroes.”
“Yeah, they’re all chicks!” A teen goth boy stepped forward. “The Gravity Falls Ghostbusters saved the town four years ago from that thing that happened over in New York City.”
In the teen goth’s recount of the GWW event (or the Gravity Falls version), J.G.’s attention diverted to a beautiful young blonde entering the diner in a turquoise waitress uniform. She was a definite sight to behold, a near-perfect clone of a twentysomething Meg Ryan. The nametag on her uniform read “KaeLeigh.”
He was instantly infatuated; the melody of Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” playing at such a high volume in his head that he hardly heard Natalie bickering with other diner patrons.
“I hate to break it to ya small-town hillbillies, but your Ghostbusters – whoever they may be – did not save the world. They only just had help – our help.”
The murmurings of disbelief among the patrons only fueled her aggravation.
“Alright, fine! My friends and I will just have a chat with your so-called ‘Ghostbusters’ and settle this!”
She forced the others away from their unfinished pancakes, much to their annoyance, and out of the diner. J.G., on the other hand, took a little longer, still fixated on the waitress, KaeLeigh.
“You…uh…work here…every day?” He awkwardly queried her.
She gave him a welcoming smile. “As often as I can. You new here, stranger?”
“Uh, y-yeah, I…I am…for a while,” he confirmed. “M-Maybe we can—”
“J.G.!” Natalie screeched from the diner exit. “C’mon, dude! You got the keys!”