“You two sound like an old married couple,” Dr. Lasker said. “Heaven forbid,” Shelly replied.
“Oh I don’t think it would be so bad,” Allen said, “Except of course we’d have to use your name since I can’t for the life of me- hey, that’s funny- for the life of me?”
“You’re a riot,” Shelly remarked, feeling so exhausted she was almost glad the professor was putting her up for the night in this building.
“Well, anyway, we’d have to use your name since I can’t remember mine.” Allen sighed. “Do you really think this quack can help me? He looks like he can’t help himself off the chair.”
“I don’t know, but if he can help me get rid of you that would be well worth all this.” “I can’t believe you can still feel this way after I saved you….”
“Three times. You’re right. I’m just pooped.” Shelly said. “Dr. Lasker could you please show me where I’m going to sleep tonight?”
Dr. Lasker walked to a locked cabinet behind his desk and extracted a ring of keys.
“Please follow me. Your room is at the other end of this hall. I think you’ll be very comfortable.”
Shelly no longer cared where she was going to be. She just wanted to flop down on a clean bed and crash. It had been a really long day. She felt like she was going to stumble as she
followed a slight distance behind the professor who was guiding her with a flashlight since the hall lights were shut off automatically at 9:30 each night to conserve power and cut costs.
Nobody was supposed to be here this late at night, except in the dorm. “Are all these doors your offices,” Shelly asked.
“Some,” Lasker replied, “Funding cuts have caused many to be vacant at this time. Bean counters are a curse to science!”
“You scientists would spend every dime you could get your hands on if it weren’t for so- called bean counters,” Allen shot back.
Shelly was surprised by his vehemence. This kind of response didn’t sound like her ghost at all. “I’m too tired to argue this with you tonight,” she replied.
“I suppose you support the bean counters,” Dr. Lasker said, clearly not happy with her response.
“No. I was talking to Allen.” Shelly said.
Dr. Lasker stopped in front of a door marked B66. “This will be your room.” He slipped his master key in the lock and found the light switch on the wall.
Shelly was pleasantly surprised. She had expected a room resembling a prison cell, but this room was carpeted in a soft tan with clean, beige colored walls broken up by regularly placed abstract paintings. A red fabric love seat took up one of the walls with a flat screen television- she guessed forty inches- directly opposite.
“Is this satisfactory,” Dr. Lasker asked.
“It’s very nice,” Shelly said and promptly yawned. “Where is the bed?” “In the bedroom of course,” Dr. Lasker replied. “Right through that door.”
“Door?” Shelly pushed open the door and found herself facing a real bed, not just a dorm cot with its thin mattress, but a queen sized bed with what looked like a thick mattress covered by a neatly tucked in tan blanket and tan sheets. Two pillows were leaning against a white headboard. The sight of the bed almost made Shelly cry. “Is this for real,” she asked.
“You know why the bed is so big don’t you,” Allen hissed.
Shelly wished she could hit him in the mouth and shut him up once and for all. “I’m so tired I wouldn’t care who crawled into this wonderful bed with me.” She thought about that and added quickly, “Except you.”
Dr. Lasker’s mouth dropped wide open. Was she inviting him? He couldn’t deny he had some thoughts of something more with this girl…that was natural given her pretty face and
attractive vulnerability…but was she really inviting him?
“Well then I’ll stay right here and keep you safe,” Allen said.
“Oh no you don’t! Dr. Lasker, before I settle into this heavenly room, can we please take my friend to his ‘locked cell’?”
Dr. Lasker extracted another key. “How do I know he’s following me,” he asked as he started for the door, turning to look for footprints in the carpet, but seeing nothing, not even the tiniest of indents.
“Because if he doesn’t, I’m not going to help him,” Shelly said, “Have I made that
“Loud and clear,” Allen replied and muttered, “Ungrateful brat.” “I heard that,” Shelly said.
Dr. Lasker shrugged his shoulders. Either this was the most important discovery he had ever made or he was finally going crazy. Either way he wondered just how this was going to play out. For years this department, Parapsychology, had been derided and cut back mercilessly by the university trustees, the hated ‘bean-counters’, but if this girl was genuine, and more importantly, if her ghost was for real, Dr. Lasker saw a bright path ahead. He had to keep reminding himself to take it slow and enter with extreme caution. But what if she wanted more?
He sighed. A life-long bachelor, too busy for women, he had found some of his assistants
attractive, but never made a move on them. He just wasn’t into it then, and wasn’t that into it now. But if sex would seal the deal? I guess I can think of worse ways to sacrifice myself, he thought as he tried to imagine what she looked like under the lab coat. Her legs are quite nice, he mused.
“I don’t want to be far from you,” Allen said. “Just look at him. I can see what he wants in his face. He’s positively drooling.”
“He wants a room nearby,” Shelly said, ignoring Allen when she saw the Professor was scanning the rooms all the way down the hall.
Lasker nodded and slipped his key in the room opposite Shelly’s. “I think Allen will find this room to his liking.” He pushed on the light switch. “Can he…er…can he manipulate
objects? Can he shut off the lights? Does he need lights?” I can’t believe I’m asking such stupid questions, but I realize how little I really know about ghosts or whatever this Allen really is. I
just hope he’s as harmless as she believes? “I really don’t know what he needs,” Dr. Lasker said apologetically.
Shelly felt the ridiculousness of the situation and couldn’t keep from laughing. “Why are you asking me? I have no idea what a ghost needs either.”
“I don’t need anything,” Allen said. “It’s actually kind of sad. I don’t seem to need anything at all. It’s like I don’t exist…maybe never did? I don’t know?”
The sad tone of Allen’s voice stopped her laughter. As much as she wished he’d never come into her life she found herself sympathizing. Maybe it’s because he saved my life? Three times, as he always says. “Do you like the room,” Shelly asked, seeing the room was almost exactly the same as hers. “You have a nice couch and a great flat screen T.V.?”
“I can’t turn it on. I can’t turn the channels. Who is going to shut it off if I ever fall asleep? Which I never do.”
Shelly sighed. He really had a rotten after-life. “Well if I don’t go to sleep now, I’m going to be like a wild bear in the morning,” she said softly. “Good night Allen. I’ll see you in the morning and we’ll start working on helping you. I promise.”
“Good night Shelly.” Allen suddenly added, “Shelly?” “Yes?”
“I’m glad I saved you.”
The way he said that totally unnerved her. She found herself staring into the corner of the room where she thought he was standing and watching her.
“Is he okay with this,” Dr. Lasker asked before she could reply.
Shelly closed Allen’s door. “If you were a ghost and thought you had been murdered, would you be okay?”
Dr. Lasker sighed. “He really believes he was murdered?” He felt a wave of sadness, a sensation he did not generally give in to.
Shelly yawned and reached for her door. “Thank you for helping me. I really hope you can help him too.”
As he watched her door close, Dr. Lasker wondered if he could help Allen. He also wondered if he did help him or the girl if that would end his one chance to save his department and his reputation. If the girl is freed from her ghost, if he is a ghost, then what good will she be to me? She is perhaps the best Ectoplasmic Researcher I’ve ever found, even better than…He didn’t want to mention the name. It still caused him too much pain and perhaps even a little guilt whenever he thought of what had happened to Dodd.
Lasker’s flashlight danced on a door near his laboratory. A square of cardboard, a name card, taped to the wall next to the door was spotlighted. Dr. Lasker reached for the board and tore it off the wall. He used his fingernail to scrape off the tape residue from the wall.
When he returned to his office, he tossed the paper in his waste bin. What if she accidentally checks that? He fished into the bottom drawer of his desk and found a match. The card burnt brilliantly and was soon reduced to ashes. The ashes were scooped up into a small
plastic bag which he popped into his coat pocket. As he locked his office, Dr. Lasker frowned and thought, “So much for Dodd.”