“It’s about time you stopped flirting and got out here,” Allen said. “The van is in the back of the building alright. All the way in the back.”
“I haven’t jogged today,” Shelly said and began to run at a leisurely pace around the adjoining parking fields that separated the two psychology towers. “Look how many cars are in that lot,” Shelly said, noting there were only a few empty parking spaces by building A.
“I’ve got a feeling you’re hitching up with a falling star,” Allen said, easily keeping up with Shelly. “You know, I do remember one thing about my former life.”
“You do?” Shelly stopped running. “Really?” “I remember I enjoyed running.”
Shelly started off again. “That’s not much help,” she muttered, thinking with his personality he would have had to do a lot of running… away from people wanting to kill him. But she suddenly recalled that Allen had been murdered, so this wasn’t funny, not at all. As much as she wanted to be rid of him, she had to admit she was feeling sorry for him, sorry for how he had died, sorry for his being so alone. How can I have feelings for a ghost, she wondered, but knew she did. “A lot of people like running,” she said.
“You don’t understand. The first time I saw you, you were running. I think by saving you I was able to remember that one thing about my past.”
Shelly stopped jogging again. “What about the second time when you saved me from the bus? Did that make you remember anything?”
“I think it did. I remembered I wasn’t a bus driver.”
Shelly groaned. “Really? Did you really think of all the things you might have been you were a bus driver? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but somehow I don ’t see you
driving a bus for a living.”
“You don’t see me at all,” Allen said with some bitterness.
Shelly sighed. She was beginning to realize this whole thing was tough on Allen too. “So we can rule out you being a bus driver?”
“Yes. I think so. But the funny thing is I remembered hearing the sound of a bus…or
maybe a truck…sometime shortly before I died. That bus almost hitting you brought that back I guess.”
“Those aren’t great clues,” Shelly said. “I know, but it’s the best I have so far.”
Shelly bent down and took several deep breaths. “What about the third time you saved me, when you saved me from being poisoned by gas?”
“I only had to leave a note. That wasn’t as hard as materializing like I did before. Maybe that’s why I didn’t remember anything?”
“Maybe you did, but don’t know it yet? It could be something so obvious you just overlook it?”
“Well we can’t overlook the van! Wow!” Allen wondered if Shelly was really going to try and drive this thing.
“That’s the van? Are you sure? What a piece of junk!” Shelly stared at a large Ford van whose hood and sides looked like someone had poured acid on top. The paint looked like it had bubbled up and started to peel. “This can’t be right?” Shelly tried the key in the door and
unfortunately it worked. “Figures he’d give me something like this. I’ll bet he’s got a Cadillac or something flashy for himself?”
“I keep telling you--”
“Shut up, Allen!” Shelly yanked open the door and almost fell over backwards. “What is that smell?”
“What smell? Ghosts don’t smell things. We also can’t taste things, touch things or….”
“What is that awful smell,” Shelly repeated, recoiling from the distinctive odor. “Wait a minute. I’ve got to open the windows.”
“What windows? This is a van, Shelly. There are only the driver and passenger windows.”
Shelly pulled open the rear doors. “I’m not getting in this thing until some of this stink is gone. You can’t smell anything?”
“No,” Allen replied, trying to inhale some of the odor.
“That doesn’t make sense.” “What doesn’t?”
“If you can’t smell anything, how did you know the air in that lab was poison gas?” “I never thought of that.”
“But you did know?”
“Yes, I did. How do you explain that,” Allen asked.
Shelly took another whiff of the inside of the van. “You can’t smell this awful rotten egg odor, but you did recognize the poison. Maybe that was the one thing you were able to
“I recognized a poison gas? It was some form of chlorine, wasn’t it?”
“I think that’s what the professor said. Chlorine? Maybe you were a pool attendant?” “A pool attendant?”
Shelly burst out laughing at the image of Allen as a hunky pool boy in a tight red bathing suit. With a voice like his? Much too old to be a pool boy. “I’m kidding. But you did something where you learned to recognize the smell of chlorine gas.” She sniffed again and withdrew her head. “I think that every time you save me you remember another piece of the puzzle.”
“So you’re saying it’s almost like a gift I get every time I do something good for you? Is that what you think?”
“I don’t know, but you did remember the smell of the gas because you were concentrating on protecting me. Maybe you were right all along? Maybe we are meant to be together, at least until you find out who you are?”
“Don’t you mean who I was,” Allen said, as he watched Shelly swing the van’s rear doors shut, wishing he could help her. He couldn’t help feeling she was in terrible danger and there was very little he could do about it.
“No, I mean who you are. Allen, you may be a ghost, but you haven’t changed. You are still the kind man you were when you were alive.” She realized that she meant it. He really was a kind person even if he was a pain-in-the-ass ghost.
Allen was silent. He wondered if ghosts could cry. He felt as if he could, but there were no tears in his eyes. “Thank you, Shelly. I hope you’re right. I hope I was…I mean, am, the kind of man you think I was…am. Damn, this is confusing.”
“Well, let me concentrate on my driving,” Shelly said. “I’ve never driven a hunk of junk like this.”
“Now you tell me,” Allen said. “I should have known better than to get into a car being driven by you.”
“Uh uh,” Shelly said, “You’re not being very kind.” She gave him a warm glance. “Look out,” Allen screamed.
Shelly peered out the window and saw a man was standing in the middle of the road just fifty feet in front of the van. She stepped hard on the brakes which squealed in pain as they tried to grip the nearly bald tires. The van swung to the other side of the road and Shelly struggled to
bring it back. She turned the steering wheel as fast as she could and held her foot on the brakes. The rear doors exploded open and the van flipped over on its side and then flipped over again and again.