"JD, seriously, don't fool around, man ... what was that??"
Dillon sounded worried, and JD wouldn't take his eyes off the monitors. He was watching to see if there was a repeat of the flash, something he could record, measure. He wasn't really sure what had occurred; he only knew it couldn't be a ghost.
"JD??" Dillon said, his voice trembling.
"Relax, Dill," JD said impatiently. "Keep quiet. I want to see if it happens again."
Dillon was moving his head rapidly back and forth, his eyes crawling over the other screen. He had no idea what he was looking for -- but if there was anything to be seen, he wanted to be sure he saw it.
"Man ... aw, man ... what do we look for? What am I looking for, dude??"
"Be quiet I said!" JD snapped. Dillon fell silent, but JD knew it was only temporary.
"Just ... be still, okay?" he said more softly. "It's nothing for you to be afraid of. It wasn't a ghost."
Dillon looked at him nervously. "How d' ya know, dude? How?"
"Because there are no such things as ghosts, Dill. I already told you that."
"Aw, dude," Dillon groaned, "gimme a break. I'm supposed to take your word for it?"
"Why wouldn't you?" JD said, never even looking over. He kept watching the monitors, watching the instruments, listening ... he wasn't really focused on Dillon at all.
"Because you're a jerk, that's why," Dillon said chuckling.
"Oh, really?" JD said casually. "Well, I think it was a light from a passing car. I don't see any indication here of any changes in --"
"A CAR? A freakin' CAR?? Do you seriously think I'm gonna fall for that, JD??"
JD shook his head and snorted. "Believe what you want, Dillon. It wasn't a ghost. Nothing else here indicates anything happened. No sounds, no changes in temperature, no EM readings ... just a flash. And that could've been something wrong with the camera, or an external light shining in the room, or --"
"Yeah, a light from hell. From SATAN, man. C'mon, JD, you can't seriously believe that crap you're spewin' right now. You can't."
"You need to think more rationally. When you hear hoof beats, look for horses, not zebras."
Dillon slowly turned his head, his face completely incredulous.
"What in the hell are you talkin' about?" he said, his voice strained. "We've got a damned spook or somethin' flashin' shit at us, and you're tellin' me about ZEBRAS??"
JD shook his head. He set his jaw, took a deep breath and looked Dillon square in the eye.
"Dill, listen. It's a metaphor. What I mean is, when you see something that can be ordinary or unusual, don't go for the unusual first. Natural, logical explanations work best. In my metaphor, I said to look for horses when you hear hoof beats. In the Americas, horses are a normal part of the wildlife, so when you hear the sound of hoofs, you should go ahead and think it's horses until you have a really good reason to think it's something else. Don't think it might be zebras until you know it's not horses, because it's much more likely for --"
"I know what it means, numbnuts," Dillon said lazily, cutting him off. "Really, JD, you think I'm a moron, don'tcha?"
JD sat staring at the side of Dillon's face.
"You said you didn't -- oh, forget it. Listen, you don't really care to hear this for some stupid reason, but the fact is that I've been on a LOT more of these cases than you, and I've never once -- not even ONCE -- failed to find a logical, natural, rational explanation for everything going on in the situation. AND, I've been able to document it, and provide that to whomever called me. And they felt better and accepted the explanation. I've never been called back to a location ONCE, EVER. Investigations closed, period."
"Ever stop to consider that the people just didn't call you back?"
Dillon turned in his chair to face JD, his elbow resting on the table's edge in front of him, eyes dancing in the dim glow.
"Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, those people didn't call you back? Doesn't mean they didn't go 'head and call SOMEone -- just means it ain't you."
JD's brows knitted over his eyes. "Why wouldn't they, unless they no longer had a problem?"
"You ever go back an' see if they do?"
"Still have a problem! NOW who's a dumb-ass?"
"I never said you were a dumb-ass," JD snapped.
"You don't hafta, JD ... you show me you think that, dude."
"Dillon," JD sighed, "this is hardly a time for a 'I'm feeling put down in our relationship' moment."
"It's not just me, dumb-ass," Dillon said, settling back in his chair and returning his gaze to the monitor. "It's Wendy too. And I ain't about tellin' ya how bad you treat me ... even though you DO. I'm about tellin' ya that the people who do have a problem after you leave ain't callin' ya back 'cause they know you ain't gonna believe 'em anyway. I bet they're callin' other people -- people who don't try to make 'em feel stupid for even bringin' it up, and don't try to make 'em feel like Springer show rejects for bein' afraid.
"You're kinda full o' yourself, J-bird, and it comes through real bad sometimes. You should work on that, dude. At least pray about it or somethin'."
"I'm not ... I don't act like ... I've never ..." JD stammered, shocked. He'd never considered the idea that he never got repeat business because he came across arrogant, aloof and superior. He just assumed the problems were resolved with his sound, documented, identifiable explanations and left it at that.
He'd never even made a follow-up phone call to anyone. Ever.
"Okay, I don' see nothin' now," Dillon said, sitting back, eyes darting around the monitor carefully. His words brought JD back from his self-examination, and he shook his head to clear the thoughts swirling there.
"I don't either," he said slowly. "But, that's not to say there isn't anything we can do to follow up. C'mon."
"You're kiddin' me! We're gonna DO somethin'??"
"Well, we need to identify what that was. The houses here are large and secluded; we can have a good look around without getting too far away, and we can make sure things are copasetic in the general area."
"Make sure things are --"
"Make sure things are all fine outside. Grab the flashlight."
Dillon rummaged through a duffel bag under the table where the equipment was set up. He found two MagLites, each with a red filter over the fronts, and handed one to JD as they headed for the door.
"Whoa, whoa," Dillon said suddenly as JD approached the foyer at the end of the central hall to the majestic old house. Behind them was the staircase that wound up the three floors, accessing all the sleeping quarters and eventually the Widow's Walk. In front of them the gorgeous, richly inlaid wooden floors ended at the double front doors, flanked with side lights and topped by a Tiffany glass transom. The foyer stretched up two floors, a huge and sparkling crystal chandelier tinkling above them at its center.
"What?" JD said, stopping, his hand in mid-air as he reached for the door knob.
"You meant we're goin' outside?"
"Well ... yes. How else are we going to see what's there?"
"Couldn't we ... I mean, can't we just shine the lights outta the windows or somethin'? I mean, it's ... cold. And ..."
JD raised his eyebrows. "And?"
"Well ... JD, if there's a ghost, it's prolly out there, dude."
JD shook his head, tried to remain patient, and was mindful of his words.
"There's no ghost out there. If there was a ghost, Dill, it was in the parlor. Do you want to stay here while I go check outside?"
"The ghost was in here?"
"I said IF there was a ghost. There's not, though."
Dillon quickly glanced over his shoulder as he hurried to join JD at the door.
"I'm cool. I'm ... yeah, I'm cool. Let's go."
Technorati Tags: fictionReady to go on to Part 3?