“Let’s get the hell out of here,” Dr. Lasker grumbled, barely able to walk in Mr. Ross’s overflowing clothes and shoes. He had to hold his pants up with one hand or they would have fallen revealing he wasn’t wearing any underwear. “I will not wear anybody else’s underwear,” he had roared at Chan. “And you,” he aimed his fiery eyes at Shelly, “What kind of Ecto are you that you can’t find my clothing?”
Shelly couldn’t help laughing at his discomfort, swimming around in those oversized clothes. She tried to stifle it seeing he was giving her a dirty look.
Mr. and Mrs. Ross would not let go of their daughter as they thanked Chan for all he had done for them. Chan kept trying to shift the credit to the unseen ghost and Shelly who he felt was somehow responsible for their success. He had other things on his mind as well. He was absorbed with trying to understand if he had finally heard a ghost. That possibility gave him his first positive hope that someday he might be able to speak to his mother and learn the whole truth of what had happened to her when he was a child. Why the ghost came for him was still a mystery he had to unravel. Maybe Shelly would help him? He now understood why Dodd had been so worried about her. He worried now that Dodd could still be out there waiting to do her harm.
All the way back to the university, Dr. Lasker grumbled, “Whoever heard of a ghost who steals a man’s clothing?” and other complaints about the way the night had gone, but then he became quiet when the realization that despite his personal humiliation, something amazing had happened in the house. Somehow, in a way which he did not understand, Chan may have finally heard a ghost, and therefore might someday be able to replace Dodd. He kept speaking of hearing a man’s voice coming from the girl. Could it have been Shelly’s alleged ghost, Allen, or some other benevolent spirit that had miraculously appeared to help them? And what of Shelly? She had been locked in the basement and had been silent once liberated, conspicuously letting Chan take the spotlight, but something told him she was hiding something. Nobody lets another take credit for something they do. It is just not human nature, he thought, his own deviousness coloring his view of others. There is more to this than she is letting on.
Lasker turned to grill Shelly about what she had experienced, but saw the girl’s eyes were closed. As he studied her features in sleep, he found himself feeling something for her that he would never admit to anyone. What it was precisely he couldn’t answer…tenderness? Maybe?
Enough to protect her from Dodd’s fate? He’d have to give that some thought.
Allen was sitting in the seat next to Shelly. He was still weak, and sensed her exhaustion.
He couldn’t deny he felt protective of her as she slept. But he was also conflicted about his feelings for her. He had thought about remaining in the house with the Ross family, but he knew they were now safe and no longer needed him. He was tempted to return to the park and leave Shelly to lead her life without him, but Dodd was still loose and a threat in more ways than one. He had disturbing visions of Shelly, naked, before the enigmatic Dodd, reaching up to give him a kiss, with his long fingers clutched around her slender throat. How could he leave her when her life was still in danger, when her sensations were so intertwined with his? And he still had hopes,
slim at best, that the wily Dr. Loco might live up to his agreement and somehow help him find out about his past…he had to know who had killed him and why?
So Allen had many reasons to stay, but as he saw and felt Shelly sleeping next to him he wondered if it was it? Was it worth risking Shelly’s sanity? Could she end up like Dodd? Could his staying with her risk her life?
As she slept, Allen felt a warmth surge through him. He called his ability to share her feelings, their ‘link’, but he didn’t understand what he was feeling, perplexed that a ghost could still have such feelings for a human being. There were times when he thought he loved her, wished to hold her in his arms and kiss her, but there were other times when he felt angry and jealous and then hated himself for not being able to rationalize those feelings, tell himself that he had no right to love her, want her, because he was not real, not able to touch her, to hold her.
When he contemplated Shelly falling in love with Dodd, or Chan, or even that security guard, he couldn’t help feeling upset, wanting to get as far away from her as he could.
But in the end, Allen knew he couldn’t leave her until he felt she would be permanently safe. There was an undefinable link between them he couldn’t deny, a sense of wanting to protect her. His anger at being forgotten as he stood waiting for her in the basement had mellowed into an acceptance that a ghost to a human is just a ghost, a bodiless being, no feelings, no hopes, no dreams…a ghost is only a rare phenomenon to humans like Shelly and Lasker, that when one
miraculously appears must be exploited fully. It’s not your fault, Shelly, he told himself, it is what it is. And for now, it will do.
In her sleep, Shelly saw a young man, well dressed in a dark suit, tie, and leather shoes. His back was toward her, but she could see he had soft light brown hair and stood very straight,
almost like a soldier. He was powerful looking, muscles well-toned, but not muscle-bound, and his voice was gentle yet masculine.
“Allen,” she called.
The man slowly turned toward her. His hands were clean and smooth as he reached toward her.
“Allen,” she said again as her eyes, pleased by the appearance of his six foot body, moved up toward his face.
But there was no face. There was only a ceramic-like white mask where a face should have been.
She stared in silence… no screams… no fear… “I’d give anything to see your face,” she said, reaching with her hands and lips to touch him. She couldn’t believe how soft his lips felt, how gently he held her and kissed her. “Please show me your face,” she gasped, as he held her in his arms, drawing her breath away.
The dream figure vaporized and she awoke. “Are you here,” she whispered.
“Yes. Are you okay,” Allen asked.
“Yes. Are you okay,” she replied, realizing she cared. “Yes.”
“I was frightened for you,” she said, no longer questioning why.
Chan smiled back at her in the rear view mirror. “And I for you,” he replied, wondering if that meant what he thought it did.
Shelly returned Chan’s smile. What else could she do? How could she explain she was talking to a ghost, her very special invisible friend?
Dr. Lasker wasn’t listening to their conversation. He had little patience for such mush. He was busily thinking of how next he could use this promising new team of his. This first surprising success might be enough to change the ‘bean-counters’ minds? He could see a new van with sparkling new equipment. That would be first on his agenda. Yes, all we need is a few more successes.
His mind raced through his files. He’d search them as soon as he got back and come up with just the right kind of case, one that would make a good book…perhaps a great movie? I’ll need a ghost writer, he laughed, but was serious about the book idea. Which of the many reported hauntings and unexplained phenomenon languishing in his file cabinet would be the most promising, the most lucrative? Which supernatural manifestation would do the most to promote his parapsychology department?
He was itching to get started…or was that itching from that idiot Ross’s clothing? What kind of a ghost takes a man’s clothes, he roared inside, but even that anger did not take away his growing sense of excitement, exhileration. Chan and Shelly! Shelly with her alleged ghost, and Chan, who is finally showing the talent I suspected in him. They will be a good starting lineup for our next jobs. Who knows? Even that insane Dodd might still come in handy? Nothing is impossible.
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