Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 17

(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)

They shrieked, recoiling like a snake struck at them as the screeching scrape of the window opening raked through the room. In an instant JD regained his composure enough to dart forward, snatching the video recorder from the table and moving quickly -- but not too closely -- to the end of the table nearest the rising sash.

"OHMYGODJDLOOKATTHISSHITDUDE!" Dillon was rattling in full abject terror, his chair already pressed back against the wall.

Wendy was cowering next to him, her hands clutched over her mouth to stifle the scream. JD flicked the camera on, his heart pounding in his chest and shaking his hands so badly he had to breathe through his mouth to slow his body. The sash rose about halfway up its runners and then stopped. JD managed to get the lens cover off the camera and pressed the recording button.

The camera failed to go on. He scrambled to check it.

A shadowy shifting, morphing from out of the blackness of the open window, formed beneath the sash.

JD was frantic, trying to steady his hand as he pressed the record button again.

There was an electronic beep, and a red LED flicked on at the rear of the camera beside the view finder.

JD raised the camera quickly to his eye -- too quickly, and there was a hollow "thunk" as it knocked against his forehead. He cursed under his breath and tried to steady the camera, but the room was too dark for him to get the camera in focus.

"Shit!" he swore softly, trying to adjust the camera to the dark environment.

The morphing shadow seemed to pour itself through the open window, right through the taut metal screen outside, and started to stand, rising in front of them.


"Shh!" JD spat, his eyes flitting with furtive glances from the window to the recorder as he tried to get the camera settings to cooperate.

"Oh my God ... JD ..." Wendy was near tears as they watched.

"Shh!" JD repeated, sweat rolling down his face as he tried again to slow his breathing.

The shadow began to form from the black mist.

JD opened the tiny LCD viewer, and the sudden burst of bright gray light temporarily blinded him.

"DUUUUUUUUUUDE ..." Dillon whispered, his voice quavering.

"Be quiet, dammit," JD hissed through his teeth, snapping the viewer closed again. "C'mon, you stupid piece of ..."

The camera finally started to show the room; he'd found the setting.

A man's shadow knelt at the window, and pulled the sash closed again, faster this time, the screeching less pronounced on the path back down. JD pointed the camera and was hunched over, in a position to spring if necessary, shuffling sideways to get the black silhouette into the center of the shot.

When the window closed all the way down, the shadow shifted as if the figure crouched on the floor were turning toward JD.

He froze, breath catching in his throat.

The shadow remained motionless, then the head cocked first one way, then the other.

As if it were listening into the dark room.

JD held perfectly still except for his trembling hands, and tried to steady the camera to no avail.

Wendy and Dillon were stock still, frozen in terror.

The seconds ticked by ... soon it was a minute. The crouching shape was still except for the head, which swiveled from one side to the other. Two minutes passed. Finally, slowly, the figure stood up between the window bays and held again, the head again cocking to listen.

JD watched wide-eyed, trying to keep perfectly still and silent. The figure moved then, across the room, deliberately, and JD again side-stepped to follow, watching carefully through the view finder and moving along behind the tables. He nearly fell when he stepped on the stock-still and cowering Dillon, who yelped in surprise. JD jumped, nearly dropped the camera, and caught himself on the table's edge.

"Damn! MOVE, Dillon!" he whispered harshly, and Dillon obediently scooted to let him pass. Wendy followed suit, getting out of his way quickly and quietly as he followed the figure toward the end of the row of windows and toward the corner where he'd aimed the wireless camera earlier.

The figure moved toward the corner, stopped for an instant, the faceless, featureless head again moving back and forth in the darkness, and then the figure pulled open a door that wasn't there.

JD gasped, and Wendy clutched his arm and pressed her body to his.

"DUUUUUUUDE ..." Dillon repeated, and the figure vanished into the darkness of the poorly lit corner.

They were silent for a moment, staring in disbelief.

JD finally cleared his throat. "I ... I think I got it."

"Oh, JD," Wendy said, a shiver wracking her body violently. She shut her eyes and pressed her face into his arm. "Oh my God ... That was ... that was creepy ..."

"It's okay," JD said, putting his arm over her shoulder, but he was trembling too. "It was sort of frightening. It's over now."

"Dude," Dillon choked out, "what was that, man? A door? Was that, like, a friggin' door, dude? 'Cause there ain't no door there, man. There is so no door there, JD."

"I know," JD said, nodding. "I ... I know."

"Dude, what's goin' on, man? What's that all about, dude?"

"I don't know, Dill," JD said, shaking his head slowly, still staring into the corner. "I really don't ... don't know."

"You recorded it, JD? You got the whole thing on the recorder, right?"

JD nodded, stroking Wendy's arm with his still draped over her. "Yes. I got it."

"Dude, that was ... that was freaky, man," Dillon's voice was still wavering. "I ain't never seen nuthin' like that before, dude."

"I haven't either," JD agreed.

"JD, what now? What do we do now? I'm still shaking."

"It's okay, Wen," JD soothed softly, "it's the same thing you saw last night, except we got it in full detail this time."

She shivered again, and he held her more fully, putting both arms around her.

"Dude, I could use a hug too, man."

"You're on your own."

"Dude. Hold me."

"You're on your own," JD reiterated. "Right now, we've got to get ready. We have a few minutes -- ten, maybe? -- before the replay outside begins. I want to be certain that we get that on video too, and I don't have a wireless camera I can use out there."

"Should we take the one up there?" Wendy pointed to the camera mounted in the corner.

"No, I don't have time to move all the recording equipment. We'll take this one and the flashlights. That should be enough. I hope."

"Dude, I need a hug, man."

JD scowled at Dillon, but Wendy moved and embraced him, kissing him on the cheek. "It's okay, Dilly. It's over now."

"It's so not over, Wen," he shook his head, voice tremoring slightly. "The crap we're gonna see outside's gonna make this look like a kiddie ride at Disney World, dude. We are so gonna get the crap scared out of us."

She nodded and laid her head on him. "It's going to be okay, though."

"Remember," JD spoke as calmly as he could, "the stuff we're seeing happened already. This is not something we're seeing unfold now. It's old stuff already."

"Dude," Dillon shivered violently and hugged Wendy's arm tighter, "I don' EVEN care 'bout that crap. This shit's all kindsa creepy, dude. It's, like, Stephen KING creepy."

"I know it's frightening if we don't remember what's happening," JD restated, "and if you want to go home, Dill, you can take my car and go. Or, Wen, you can drive him if you're too scared, too. This looks to be a bit more intense than it was last night."

"No way," Wendy said, shaking her head emphatically. "No way. I'm in for the whole thing. I'm staying with you, babe."

"Dude, I am so not driving back through this creepy-ass place alone," Dillon said. "I'm stayin'. I guess."

JD shrugged. "Okay, then. It's time for us to get ready for whatever comes next."

"Outside we go, I guess."

JD nodded.

"Dang, man. That part kinda bites."

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Narrowing the Field ...

Well, I've shut down one of my blog sites.

Actually, it wasn't exclusively a blog site, but I wasn't going to do any social networking there, and as far as I could tell, it had a LONG way to go to catch up to MySpace or FaceBook.

Nevertheless, even though it wasn't my favorite site, I'm hesitant to delete it completely. So, I guess I'll leave the space in my control and have it available to check on in case it becomes more interesting later.

And despite that it's boring, I was having a hard time doing it. I don't know why, but surrendering web spaces is really, really hard for me. Something inside tells me that if I have more web sites, I'll get more visitors, and maybe then something good will happen to me with regard to my writing. And while I know that's patently untrue, I still wonder about doing things like that.

Still, it's nice to know I have one less blog to update. Since all four of them are exactly the same, it shouldn't be so emotionally stretching for me to do that. Each of my blogs has exactly the same content, and my Wikis all have the same content too, so what difference does it make? I think I was getting about 2 hits a day on it anyway.

Good riddance, I say. Now, if I can bring myself to do something with my LiveJournal space -- of which I'm not overly fond either -- I can actually start thinking about breaking things up a bit and focusing the topics and subjects.

Now that I pause to think about it, I can have the fiction stuff be all in one location -- well, one location and the Wikis, of course -- and let one blog be nothing but my journal. And the third? Hmm ... well, I seemed to get a lot of hits when I did a football blog. Maybe I can do that. My wife said my little piece read like a sports article by a real sports writer, but ... she's my wife.

Anyway, it's done, and for some reason, I feel as though I've dropped a little weight. That's patently untrue also, but it makes me feel better.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 16

Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.

"Dude, I'm tellin' ya ... NO one can beat 'im. He's, like, the greatest of all time."

"No, he's already been beaten ... and more than once."

Dillon threw his head back. "That's a load o' crap, dude."

"It is not, check for yourself."


"Online would be fine. I'd guess that even Wikipedia has something on it."

"It just seems so ... impossible," Wendy said, shaking her head slightly in disbelief.

"No one is completely unbeatable," JD said, shrugging.

"Dude, he's Superman. Who can beat 'im? He's all ... SUPER an' stuff."

"Yeah, who beat him?"

"About 15 years ago, a villain created specifically for the purpose called Doomsday beat him. Well, sort of. And in the epic 'Kingdom Come', Captain Marvel beat him as well."

"Captain who?" Dillon said, screwing his face up with doubt.

"Captain Marvel. You know ... Shazam."

"That wuss beat SUPERMAN?? Come ON, dude, you're yankin' us."

JD held his hands up as a profession of innocence. "I'm serious. Shazam almost killed Superman by calling lightning down on him repeatedly."

"But lightning can't hurt Supes, dude!"

"You'd have thought he was more durable than that, yes, but if Captain Marvel hadn't stopped, Superman was toast."

"That's really too bad," Wendy said. "What a pathetic story line. He's Superman, for Pete's sake. Why would lightning hurt him? I thought only Kryptonite could hurt him."

"Well, apparently, they've made some adjustments to that over the many years of his existence."

"Aw, dude, that's bunk," Dillon said. "That's ... that's crap, man."

"I don't write them, I just report them."

"Next thing you know, Batman'll hafta go t'the cops for help an' shit."

"I don't think it's that bad yet."

JD knew the time would pass more quickly than they expected it to. He didn't realize exactly how quickly, though.

JD thought about the investigation only briefly. He'd promised himself he wouldn't, to help the time pass. He felt ready; he couldn't think of anything else to do. There were no more preparations to make; there were no more cables to check, no more tapes to insert ... nothing more could be done. He was as ready as he could be, and even though he wanted to watch the second hand on his watch tick away the moments, he knew it would only make the waiting worse.

He forced himself into the conversation repeatedly. He knew that letting time get control of him wouldn't really help. It wasn't like there was an exact moment when the mechanism would trigger the ethereal playback, and even if there were, he didn't know when it was. All he had was an approximation. So he made himself look anywhere, everywhere, but the face of his watch.

The room was darkened now. They'd turned the lights off after they finished eating, and the three of them sat side by side behind the monitors glowing softly and gray, casting eerie light over their faces and shapes in the parlor. The temperature cooled with the heating system waiting quietly to be turned back on, but it was nowhere near as bitingly cold as the previous night. They were in sweatshirts and hoodies, and no one really noticed the coolness in the ancient house.

Dillon was contemplating the conversation, and Wendy sipped delicately on the remnants of her soda, shaking the cup to rattle the ice lightly. JD stared into the middle distance.

"Well," Wendy sighed, "I'm going out to my car and get my other clothes. I don't want to spend any time running around in my work clothes."

"I'll go with you," JD said, locking his eyes on her and smiling.

"Dudes, I am SO not stayin' in here alone."

"We'll only be gone a minute," JD said flatly. "You watch the monitors. Make sure you record anything that happens."

"Happens??" Dillon said. "Like what? DUDE, I'm so not stayin' in here alone!"

"Nothing's going to happen," JD spat, mildly irked. "It's only for a minute. Sheesh, quit being such a coward."

"Dude, I toldja last night -- that ghost's so comin' for me next. If anything's gonna happen, it's gonna happen t'me, and I ain't into it."

"Nothing is going to happen I said."

"You said that last night too, dildo! Look what happened! Spooks, dead cop spooks, I fell in a bush ... all sortsa crap happened!"

"Dillon, it's not time yet. Just stay here."

Wendy was heading out into the hallway. "Let me know when you decide who's coming with me if anyone," she said over her shoulder.

"I'm coming!" JD said and he started for the door. He stopped dead in his tracks when Dillon clutched his arm suddenly.

"Don't leave me here alone!" he said mournfully.

"Dillon, for God's sake," JD said, "just relax. I'll be right back."

"Lemme go too!"

"No! I want to be alone with Wendy for a few seconds."

"Is that all you need? Sheesh, dude."

"Oh for ... just watch the screens, will you? I'll be right back."

"JD, c'mon, man! I'm ... I'm scared."

"Really? Who'd have guessed?"

"Seriously, dickhead! I don' wanna be in here with a ghost alone!"

"You're not going to be alone for more than thirty seconds, Dillon! Grow up! And there aren't any ghosts!"

"Are too, and 'is ass is comin' for me, dude! You want that on your head, man??"

"I can live with the risk, yes."

"You're an ass, dude."

"And you're a baby. Now will you just let go so I can ..."

"I'm back," Wendy said, carrying a bundle of clothes beneath her arm. "And look, love -- I'm still whole. Isn't that amazing? I can go out to the car all by my widdew ow' sewf." She winked and grinned at him broadly.

"Sorry," JD said, his facing sinking. "I tried to go with you. Someone's a bit nervous."

Wendy caught Dillon clinging desperately to JD's arm. "Aw, are you scared, Dilly?"

His face drooped into a puppy dog frown and he nodded sadly. "An' JD's a dick an' stuff."

Wendy giggled and snaked an arm around Dillon's shoulders, kissing him on the cheek. "It's going to be fine, Dilly," she cooed. "Big JD is here to take care of us. He always knows what to do."

"Naw, he's tryin'a get me killed an' stuff, leavin' me here with a ghost cop an' shit."

"For crying out ... Dillon, I'm going to say this one more time. There. Are. No. Ghosts. Do you understand?" He spoke the last part of the sentence as though he were a recording slowed down and warbling.

Dillon did a fair imitation of him. "I don't believe you," he slurred back, "'cause you're fulla shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit."

Wendy roared with laughter. "You guys kill me. Where can I change, good lookin'?"

"Right here," Dillon said quickly.

"There's a room at the top of the stairs to the right," JD corrected quickly and glowered at Dillon, who shrugged an I-can-try-can't-I shrug.

"Now, I just want to warn you both," Wendy spoke with the cautionary tone of a baby sitter, "I'm going to go back out to my car with my work clothes when I'm finished changing. Okay?"

"And I'll accompany you," JD said, glaring at Dillon.

"And me too," Dillon said, a helpless expression on his face.

"Nnn-oooo," Wendy said, still using her parental voice, "I'm a big girl, all grown up and everything. I'm going all by myself, and you'll be okay with that, all right?"

JD sighed heavily. Dillon shrugged again. "Long as I'm not by myself up in here, I'm good."

She blew a kiss at JD and darted up the stairs.

"You baby. You must want me to kill you."

"Dude, I ain't stayin' alone in here. Toldja. Can'tcha make out with 'er at home when we ain't doin' this kinda crap? C'mon, man, please?"

"How can you possibly be so annoying? Is it a gift or do you practice?"

"Little from column A, little from column B."

JD shook his head. "Remember when I said I was glad we were friends? I'm re-thinking that."

"Dude. Hostile."


"And nobody can beat Superman, dude."

"Yes they can."

"I don' believe you, dude. You're wrong 'bout these ghosts an' you're wrong 'bout that too."

"I can prove the Superman thing. I have copies of the initial fight with Doomsday, and I have a copy of 'Kingdom Come,' too."

"Dude, I so ain't gonna read 'em."

"You don't have to. They have pretty pictures you can look at instead. It's more your mental speed, just a notch below 'See Jane Run'."

"Hostile, dude."


"Doin' it on purpose?"


"You're tryin'a hurt my feelin's, ain'tcha?"

"Will that make you be less ... you?"

"Do you really wanna hurt me, dude? Just like Boy George said?"

"Um ... kind of, yes."

"Why'd they call him BOY George? Dude was practically a chick."

"What makes you think I care?"

"Dude! Hostile!"

JD sighed as Wendy bounded down the stairs. "Okay, kiddies," she sing-songed, "I'm going out, all by my little lonesome, to put my work stuff in the car."

JD appraised her in her jeans, a sweater that clung to her form without being tight, and her sneakers that had pink trim and laces. He couldn't help smiling.

"Hurry back," he whispered softly.

"I will," she said, tipping her head and biting on her lower lip happily as she raced for the door.

"Dude, you can amp down on that crap now. You told 'er ya love 'er an' all."

JD scowled at Dillon. "Amp down? What are you talking about?"

"You're all up in 'er grill now."

"I am not!"

"Are too. You're all mushy an' shit."

"Oh, stop it. You're mushy ... between the ears."

"You're all PW'd, dude."

"I'm what?"

Dillon rolled his eyes. "Puh-LEEZE, dude. PW'd. You're pussy-whipped, dude."

"I beg your pardon!" JD said, his face flushing instantly. "My level of intimacy with Wendy is none of your business!"

"I ain't sayin' you been screwin' her, dude, I'm sayin' you're all ... dorky an' shit now. Now thatcha 'L' worded her back, you're all sappy an' goofy an' shit. Pussy-whipped, man. She's gotcha all macked up."

"She's got me all ... you're being ridiculous. Besides, who're you, Dear Abby?"


The door opened and closed again, and Wendy appeared at the parlor entrance half a beat later. "Fast enough, baby?"

JD smiled and nodded. "So long as Dillon approves."

"Uh ... did I miss something again?"

"JD's all PW'd over ya, Wen."


"Aw, are you feeling all sappy and ooey-gooey inside for me, lover?" Wendy said, and pressed herself to JD's chest, kissing him lightly on the lips. "Well, you don't need to worry, baby. I'm not a ball-breaker. I like my men to be manly. I love you for who you are, not who I expect you to be. So you and Dilly can relax and be yourselves with me."

Dillon snorted. "HIS self is an ass, Wen."

She giggled. "I like his ass, Dilly."

"Just ate, Wen -- don' need the pictures, 'kay?" Dillon held his hands up to stop her from going any further.

They all jumped and Wendy yelped involuntarily when a shrieking screech tore through the room, and the window sash at the opposite corner of the room began to rise.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 15

Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.

JD stood up and started pacing behind the table, eyes not seeing the room around him. Wendy watched him intently, studying every movement as he strode like a caged tiger.

"Okay," he uttered as much to himself as to them, "so if the window opened while we were outside with Wendy, that explains several things. It explains why the thermometer registered the drop in temperature ..."

"And the amount of the drop," Wendy added, "almost 10 degrees I think."

"... yes, that's right," JD agreed, briefly turning to her before going back to pacing. "We were on the far side of the house then, opposite the parlor. If the window opened, we wouldn't have heard it over Dillon's din anyway."

"Wen fuffin' 'cared me, mofo," Dillon mashed through another bite of his burger.

"I know, I know," JD said, "but still, it was noisy. We wouldn't have heard the sound, even though it's not quiet. And when we came back inside, the event had passed. It was only a few more minutes before the two of you saw the silhouette. So, based on Wendy's assertion that she arrived about nine, we have ..." JD checked his watch and noted the time, "about an hour and a half before the replay starts. If it's time triggered, that is."

"Dude," Dillon said, swallowing a large gulp of milkshake and leaning back in his chair, "whatta we do 'til then? More boring crap?"

"Well," JD said, "if we find a wireless router in the house we may be able to do some research on the Internet, but I don't have a laptop with me. Do either of you?"

Wendy shook her head no, Dillon held up his hands with an expression that emphasized his answer to the negative.

"So, that's out," JD said, going back to pacing. "What I'd be interested in finding is what the weather was like on the day of Officer Brown's disappearance."

Wendy nodded. "The fog."

"Yes. It was part of the playback, so I'd like to know if it was part of the original events. That'd help us understand how accurate the playback is."

"Dude, what if it's really ghosts?" Dillon said, sucking on his milkshake again as he wadded up the last grease-soaked burger wrapper. "I mean, what if the fog's, like, a ghost-fog thing?"

JD stopped and looked at him. "It's probably not ghosts, but it would help to see if the events we're seeing are just the ones we're witnessing, or if they're a jumble of time periods."

"How, JD? The fog could be from a different time period, but what's to say it wasn't foggy on that night too? We're pretty close to the river here, and it's foggy quite often I'd bet."

"Yeah, dude, what she said."

"That's true. That's why having access to the Internet would be helpful. Of course, the house is extremely old. If the recordings are coming from the house itself, it'd be hard to ascertain. But at least we'd be sure whether we could rule it out or not."

"But we'd have no other way of knowing if the fog was from another day, and if so, what day."

"Yeah, dude, what she said."

"True again, but it'd be a starting point. We try to eliminate the possibilities as much as we can. If we can't, we have to go about doing what we're doing anyway."

"Nuthin'," Dillon snorted.

"Our hands are tied here a bit, I'm afraid."

"What preparations have you made?"

"Well, I've pointed the camera at the corner where you and Dill said the silhouette disappeared," JD said, gesturing past Wendy toward the corner of the room. "And I brought along a portable video recorder, so we can record outside when -- IF -- the playback begins. Dillon also suggested having an audio recorder on hand, and I keep one around for unexpected EVP, so that's ready."

"EVP?" Wendy tilted her head, her brows knit in confusion. JD's heart leapt into his throat at the sight of her expression.

"Uh ... y-yes," he stammered, regaining his composure. Somehow confessing his love for her made him even more vulnerable to her charms. "It stands for electronic voice phenomenon. The idea is that audio recordings sometimes capture voices of the dead, or spirits, or whatever. It's ... questionable. Like the stone or water tape theory."

"So you're ready for sound," she finished.

"Well, I'm going to try and gather as much information and data as I can, and then I'll be able to analyze it in greater detail later."

"You're so smart," she smiled, and blew a kiss at him.

He blushed furiously.

"Gag, dudes, gag," Dillon said. "But JD, man ... like, the people that live here didn't say nuthin' 'bout none o' this, man. How d'ya know this stuff's parta their stuff?"

"How do I know ... what?"

Dillon sighed. "How d'ya know that the stuff you're lookin' at with the whole thing goin' on with the stuff outside an' the stuff the people that live here called ya 'bout are the same stuff, dude?"

"I don't. That's part of the problem we have. I don't have any way of knowing what's connected to what."

"So, if y'do all this tweety crap an' get all this stuff together an' shit, whatcha gonna do about it?"

"Not surprisingly, I'm confused."

"Dilly's asking how you're going to examine the evidence you gather in more detail until and unless you know where the data comes from. If you don't know that up front, there's no way to tell what's related to the case and what's just ... spew, I guess."

"Yeah. What she said ... I guess."

"Uh ... well, it doesn't matter, first of all."


"Yeah, dude, whuh?"

"Just getting evidence of a water tape replay would be a boon," JD said, and smiled. "But, all we really need to look at are the major events. The entire scenario we witnessed last night is clearly something of import. We can examine those details and see what actually occurred."

"Then you're convinced that we saw the murder of that cop? Robin Brown?"

"But we ain't seein' no ghosts, right?" Dillon added.

"Not entirely, and yes," JD said. "I don't know if we're seeing the murder of Robin Brown. No one even knows if he was murdered. But we did see something terrible happen. If it's a playback of actual events, we may be able to get close-ups of the players involved, audio bytes of their conversation, things like that. It will help us figure out what's going on."

"I suggested we were being asked to solve that murder we saw," Wendy said, "what do you think of that theory?"

JD smiled at her and dropped his gaze to his shoes. "Your theory means it's a ghost. I still don't think it is."

"DUDE," Dillon said, throwing his arms out in disgust. "What the hell's wrong with ya, man?? This is so a ghost!"

"Not again," JD said quietly.

"Seriously, man! C'mon, what's it gonna take??"

"We don't have any solid evidence yet, period."

"Will you be getting that tonight, Jaded?"

"Yes," he said definitively. "Tonight I'm going to be ready. If something happens -- if anything happens -- I'll get it recorded somehow. Then we can be sure."

"Sounds pretty exciting to me," Wendy said, smiling.

"It might be, yes," JD agreed softly, smiling at Wendy warmly. "If anything happens."

"I'm sure it will, baby," she cooed seductively. "I believe in you. You're not going to be wrong here, sexy."

He blushed again, sharply, casting his eyes down but smiling.

"GAG, dudes! C'mon with th' love-bird crap, I just ate!"

Wendy giggled. "Okay, so we have about 90 minutes. What do we do until then? Computer research is out."

"Yes, and I don't want to leave just in case there's a variable in the actual hour of the day. So ... I don't know. I'm content to just wait, but I'm going out on a limb to bet that Dillon can't keep interest that long without falling asleep."

"Dude. Hostile."

"You do have a short attention span."

"Dilly's not a child, though," Wendy coddled as she went around the table and hugged Dillon from behind, draping herself over his shoulders. "Are you, Dilly?"

He turned his head to let her hug him and slurped the last drops of milkshake out of his cup. "Whuh? Whudja say Wen?"

She giggled wildly. "Never mind." She pecked him on the cheek and turned to put her arms around JD. "We could go upstairs," she said, running her tongue lightly over her lips and teasing with her eyes, "and do some ... chemistry."

JD blushed again, eyes bulging. "Wendy!"

"Seriously, Wen, I mean it dude ... I just ate. I don' need the visuals, 'kay? I'ma hurl."

"It's less than 90 minutes. We can be grown ups for that long," JD said as he kissed Wendy lightly on the forehead.

"Dudes," Dillon interjected. "I'm bored. What're we gonna do?"

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 14

Just joining us? You may want to start from the beginning.

JD was leaning against the front door, staring out into the darkness. The stillness of the quiet, affluent subdivision left an unearthly silence in the house. He pondered, wondering what would happen, watching the eerily lit and strangely shadowed trees and shrubs in the front yard of the ancient, regal Victorian mutate into horrific, Van Gogh images of hell and torment. Black talons stretched toward him and innocuous limbs and trunks morphed into slithering demonic shades and wraiths, entwining ever more tightly to block out what little light the night offered.

A voice from somewhere in the echoing, hard-surfaced house overlaid with fluff and softness drifted to him.

"JD? Dude, where you at?" It was almost a reverent whisper as though spoken in an empty church.

"Here, in the foyer, Dill. Why are you whispering again?"

Dillon emerged from behind the wide stairway that wound up to the upper floors, looking trepidatious and skittish.

"Whatcha doin'?"

"Waiting for Wendy," JD was droning, monotone and flat.

"She gonna get lost 'tween the car an' the door?"

"I don't know."

Dillon paused. "Are you serious?"

JD turned to look at his friend. "What's wrong? Are you nervous?"

"Hellz yeah, dude," Dillon affirmed. "Ain't you?"

"No ... why would I be?"

"We're gonna see a ghost, dude!"

JD shook his head slowly and turned to look out the blackened sidelight again.

"Dillon, I've told you about six thousand times since we've started this investigation, there are no such things as ghosts."

"Yeah, right. I hear ya keep sayin' that. And I keep tellin' ya you're fulla crap."

"I know you're convinced, but it's not a ghost."

"What is it, then, Einstein?"

"I don't know yet. We may never know. But it's not a ghost."

"How d'ya know?"

"Are we going to go through this three times a day every day?"

"Naw, jus' 'til ya answer me straight about it."

JD leveled his gaze on Dillon. "I've tried to answer you straight about this, innumerable times. You aren't willing to accept a straight answer unless it's the one you want."

"So ... what's your answer, then? I keep forgettin', 'cause y'lose me in all the bullshit ya sling with it."

JD chuckled. "You're quite a piece of work, Dill." He looked squarely at his friend. "I'm glad we're friends. You're important to me."

Dillon blinked. "Dude," he said seriously. "Save that shit for Wen, okay? You're creepin' me out. Ya ain't gonna kiss me or nuthin', are ya?"

JD laughed. "No. You needn't be concerned about that."

"So what's the answer, then?"

"The answer is, I believe that it is appointed for a man to die once and then the judgment. I believe that our souls, our spirits, our life force -- whatever you want to call it -- when it departs our bodies is sent to its holding place until that judgment. I believe that those who have fallen asleep in Christ will have their judgment and be brought into His Kingdom, and those who did not will pass through that judgment into eternal damnation. I do not believe in purgatory, limbo, or any bright lights or long tunnels. We are alive and then not, on earth and then not, and so the idea of incorporeal spirits roaming about the earth is not what it appears to be. I believe that most apparitions can be explained by natural occurrences, by visual mistakes or optical illusions, by misinformed or flat out lying eye witnesses, by people under the influence of suggestion or mass hysteria, or by ordinary things appearing to be extraordinary by people reacting to what they believe to be true. I do not now believe, nor have I ever believed, in ghosts."

Dillon cocked his head in a bird-like fashion, narrowing his eyes.

"So ... wait. Can you repeat that?"

A knock on the front door made JD jump and Dillon cackled evilly. "'Bout time you got scared 'steada me!"

JD glared and opened the door, and his heart nearly leapt from his chest as Wendy flashed him her amazingly winning smile, her arms loaded with bags atop a precariously bowing paper mache drink tray with huge polystyrene cups mashed into it.

"Hi, baby," she said brightly.

"Hi!" JD said, his voice quivering at the site of her. He rushed forward and took the white paper bags from the top of the gingerly balanced tower and she exhaled her relief.


She laughed. "Look, Dilly, chocolate shake for you!"

Dillon darted forward and took the drink tray from her, heading off toward the parlor happily. Wendy threw her arms around JD just under his own and squeezed.

"MMM!" she grunted. "Good to see you!"

JD was startled momentarily, but quickly put his arms around her shoulders and hugged back, warmly. He kissed the top of her head.

"I ... I missed you," he said uncertainly.

She looked up at him, her flashing green eyes dancing. "Yeah?"

He nodded. "Yeah. A lot."

"That's nice to hear," she said, "but it's really unlike you. Everything okay, lover?"

Her face was a bit concerned, and he put the bags of food down for a moment and cupped it in both his hands. "Yes. I'm just ... I love you, Wendy. And I've never known this sensation before."

She was stunned into silence. "Oh ... Oh my God. JD ... I ..."

"HEY! We gonna eat or have Harlequin moments in the damn hallway all night??" Dillon bellowed from the parlor and it echoed in the foyer.

JD closed his eyes and smiled, shaking his head slowly. "What are we going to do? He's my best friend." He stooped around Wendy's embrace and picked up the bags from the floor. When he stood she was eyeing him suspiciously.

"Is this ... is this the same JD I've been dating for the last eight months?"

JD's brows knit over his eyes. "Eight months, one week, four days, and ..." he glanced at his watch, "... two hours, twenty-seven minutes ... mark. But who's counting?"

She laughed uproariously, throwing her head back and tossing her wavy, thick auburn hair. Then she nestled deeply into his chest, never removing her arms from around him, and shut her eyes, squeezing him again.

"I love you too, JD," she said softly. "So much. So, so much."

She turned and planted a warm, slow, lingering wet kiss on his mouth fully and sensually. JD, startled at the sudden outpouring of emotion, gradually melted and returned it.

"YOU GUYS??? WHAT THE HELL???" Dillon was nearly screaming from the parlor now. "I'm starvin' over here!"

They parted reluctantly. "Okay, Dilly, okay, I'm just loving my man for a minute. Keep your shirt on."

"Oh," Dillon said, subdued. "Well bring the food in here first, okay? JD porn so sounds boring as hell."

She laughed again and took the bags from JD's hands, then skipped lightly in her child-like way toward the parlor. JD smiled watching her go, and followed a moment later.

"Damn, dudes, 'bout time," Dillon sniped as they came in. "Hey, if you're gonna make out an' shit, do it on your time, 'kay? I SO need t'seriously CHOW here."

"Shut up," JD spat flatly. "Eat your burger."

"I got you two, Dilly," Wendy stated, passing him two large blocks of wax wrapping paper spotted with translucent grease spots. "I know how you are."

"You're a helluva woman, Wen," Dillon said, glancing at JD. "I hope y'know that."

"She does," JD smiled, winking at his friend. Dillon smiled back.

"What?" she quizzed, catching the exchange. "Did I miss something again?"

"Naw, you're good," Dillon said, partially unwrapping one of the char-broiled burgers bursting with tomato, lettuce and dripping with mayonnaise. "It's all good, Wen."

She looked at JD and he beamed at her. "I'll explain later," he mouthed.

She passed out fries and drinks to all, and pulled out a huge salad in a plastic container, topped with cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices.

"So," she said, dropping into a chair JD pulled over to the table for her, as she cleared a place of wires and connectors to eat, "what'd you learn today? You said it was big."

"Aw, dude," Dillon uttered around a huge mouthful of food, "it was so huge."

"What was it?"

"It was, like ... well, it was kinda ... JD, you tell. I can't 'member what it was."

JD did explain, carefully, everything they'd learned from their time at the library. Wendy listened, nodding, watching JD as he spoke, amused inwardly at his focus as he related the account. He watched his french fries and burger, almost never looking up, as he absently nibbled on his food between sentences. She noticed every subtle nuance of the way he spoke, his body language, his expressions. She watched him intently, listening carefully, but seeing him come alive as he objectively conveyed information stored in his powerful, vast mind.

When he finished, he looked up and noticed her staring at him, munching softly on her salad.

"What?" he said, wiping at his mouth with a napkin.

She giggled. "Nothing. Nothing at all. I love you, that's all."

He blushed deeply. Dillon turned to look at him, his cheek rounded with a large bite.

"Dude?" he said, raising his eyebrows. JD blinked.

"I love you too," he said softly.

"Finally," Dillon stated, and turned back to his burger.

"Shut up and eat," JD snapped at his friend playfully.

Dillon shrugged, mouth too full to speak as he demolished the messy burger in massive gulps.

"So now what, hon?"

"Ho wodda muffin," Dillon muffled around his food.

"Nothing?" Wendy repeated, deciphering the message.

"There isn't anything we can do for now," JD said slowly. "We have to wait, and hope the events are played back again. There just isn't anything else we can do, unfortunately."

"Isn't there some way we can cause the events to play back, JD?"

"That'd be doin' SOMEthin', at least."

"Not really, at least not that I can think of. We didn't do anything to cause it last night."

"We went outside, dude."

"Wendy was already out there though, and nothing happened until we came back in. That's when the thermometer registered the drop in temperature, and shortly after that, the two of you saw the silhouette."

"You mean th' ghost," Dillon corrected.

"The silhouette," JD insisted. "And it was later yet, by at least a few minutes, that the main playback started."

"JD, if this is all a recording, was the shadow we saw part of that?"

JD narrowed his eyes in thought and shook his head slowly. "Good question. I don't know. It was almost certainly playback, but I'm not sure it was necessarily part of the same recording, now that I think about it."

"Two ghosts now??" Dillon said, his eyes bulging equal to his cheeks as he looked up at JD.

"Recordings," JD corrected. "They could have come from different time periods. If the water tape theory is even the explanation for all of this, then the recordings could be indiscriminately intermingled. The two separate events we saw last night may not even be related, for all we know."

"Three ghosts??"

"No ghosts at all, Dill," JD said patiently. "It's possible the beating we saw during playback had nothing to do with the silhouette you saw. I think, based on what we learned today, that the interaction we saw and the playback of the beating may be related, though. I just can't be sure until and unless we see it again, and possibly see more of it."

"How can we do that though if we can't even be sure if there will be a replay tonight?"

"I don't know, Wen," he said softly. "We're really at the mercy of whatever device we witnessed last night."

"The water DVD thing," Dillon said, sucking down milkshake.

"Or whatever it is. I suggested that last night because I have no other explanation right now, but that's not a very supported theory, as far as I can tell."

"It's not?" Wendy looked confused.

"Not really," JD sighed. "I've only seen one, maybe two web sites that talk about it, and neither of them give specific sources of information. Credible paranormal investigators don't seem to rely on it for explanation. There simply isn't any valid evidence that it works, how it works, and what if anything is being recorded. I just suggested it because what we saw last night fits the classic definition of a residual apparition. A lot of paranormal investigators -- most of which take a more faith-based or psychic approach to the field -- feel the theory explains those satisfactorily. Even without evidence."

"JD, are you saying this could actually be a real ghost?" Wendy was nearly excited in her statement.

"I don't think so, Wen," JD said patiently. "But anything's possible, I suppose."

He considered for a moment, with that thoughtful look over the top of her head that she adored so much.

"Do ... do you remember what time you got here, Wendy? Last night, I mean."

"Um ... well, it had to be close to nine. I'd think so, anyway. I went home and took a little nap, changed, ate, and came here. I got home around 5:30 or so, so I'd say by the time all that was done, and the drive out here, it was near nine. No later, I don't think."

"What if ... what if the time was the trigger?" JD pondered to no one in particular. "What if we just happened to be here, at the right time of year, at the right hour of the day, and these events are calendar related and not weather related?"

"What makes you think that?"

"His brain, same as all th' other crap that comes outta him," Dillon said, unwrapping the second burger.

Wendy giggled. "What specifically makes your brain think that the playback is time triggered, love?"

JD was still staring off into nothing. "I don't know. Just the chain of events, I guess. The homeowners contacted me but mentioned nothing about anything this dramatic. The fact that what you two saw was an escalation of what they called about, and what we all saw was an escalation of what you saw, perhaps ... I was just wondering."

"What did the homeowners say when they called you?"

"Yeah, dude, you ain't ever said what was up with that. How'd they know 'bout the ghost?"

"They called me because they heard a window opening in the parlor at night. But every night when the window was checked, it's closed and locked.

"And they said it happened every night for a week before they called me. The police found no evidence, including footprints, fingerprints, pry marks or any other indication of breaking and entering, but it continued for a week. They were leaving on vacation, so they called me to come check it out while they were gone."

"Okay," Wendy said, "that explains why you set up in here. But what makes you think it's time triggered?"

"The fact the homeowners said they always watch some show in bed. It's after that show that they hear the window opening and then closing again. So it's happening at the same time every night."

"Dude, when were you gonna let us in on this crap, man??"

"I just thought of it now myself. I just can't remember the name of the show they mentioned."

"So they watch this show in bed? How'd they hear the window then?"

"When I got here on Wednesday night, to meet with the homeowners before they left for vacation, they told me what they heard, and they demonstrated it. It's a very distinct, and loud, sound."

"DUDE, why didn't you say nuthin' 'bout this before??"

"Because we never heard it. I didn't think it had anything to do with what happened last night."

"But you do now?"

"Yes," JD said heavily. "I wonder now if the window opening is why the thermometer alarm was going off when we came back inside."

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Ready to go on to Part 15?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 13

Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.

JD checked the wires and connections for the umpteenth time, making sure everything was soundly hooked to its respective device. The camera posted sentinel at the back of the room showed he and Dillon sitting at the folding table set up just inside the parlor door, its sharp image providing detail that was somewhat grainy in the waning hours of sunlight. In the dark, the picture would be sharp and clear. It was directed toward the wall, adjacent to the door, that ended at the exterior wall across from the tables where the tall, narrow windows looked out over the side yard opposite the parlor door. The corner of the two was centered in the shot.

The lengthening shadows of the afternoon began to infringe on visibility in the room. It was dark, precisely, but only the strong sun made it bright and cheery. The dusty rose hues that dominated much of the decor and the soft, non-reflective surfaces like the velvet camel-back sofa and loveseat set, the deep and rich area rug that sprawled over the dark hardwood planks, and the high-back wing chair with its toile and throw pillows drank the light as it weakened toward dusk.

Dillon watched JD, his eyes glassy and his lids drooping.

"How many times you gonna check the tweety crap, dude? It works already."

"I just don't want to miss anything for a stupid reason like a shoddy connection," JD said distractedly, still following wires and cables behind the gear.

Dillon sighed with an exaggerated volume and length.

JD ignored him. He put his feet up on the table with an overly heavy thud, but the equipment was not disturbed. JD ignored him. He sighed again, louder. JD ignored him. He dropped his feet onto the floor with a loud FLAP! and leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees and dropping his forehead on the table with an audible "clunk". JD ignored him.

"Dude ... this is boring. When's Wen gonna get here, man? This sucks, and you're 'bout as much fun as a root canal, y'know?"

"She didn't say, and I didn't ask," JD said absently.

"Why didn't you ask?"

"Because it doesn't matter, that's why."

"Why don't it matter?"

"Because she's going to get here when she gets here, I guess," JD said, still not really paying much attention to Dillon.

"But don'cha wanna know when that's gonna be?"

"Not particularly, no."

"Pff. I'd wanna know, that's for sure."


"'Cause, if I was datin' Wendy, I'd want her by me all the dang time. Whenever she wasn't workin', I'd want her around me. 'Cause that's what cool BFs do. But ... she's got you."

JD stopped what he was doing. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Oh, nothin'" Dillon said absently, pretending to be intensely interested in the images on the monitor suddenly.

"Nothing? You make a crack like that and then say it's nothing? What do you mean by that statement?"

"Well," Dillon said, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms over his body to tuck his hands in his armpits, "I guess it means ... you're a sucky BF."

"What's a 'BF'?"

"Y'don' even know what a BF is?? DUDE!"

"No ... is it ... well, what is it already?"

"Boy-Friend, dumbass. Where ya been for, like, ever? No wonder you're a sucky one."

"How do you know? I've never dated you."

"Like I'd go out with you? Puh-leeze!"

"You'd be lucky to date me. It's I who wouldn't stoop to go around with you."

"Dude, you'd so be all fallin' on yourself an' crap ta get ta me. An' I'd turn ya down flat, and walk away laughin' an' stuff."

"That's ridiculous. I'd never ask you out. You're not at all what I look for in a person."

"Why not? I'm cool."

"No you're not, you're an idiot."


"And you're verbose."

"I said I get checked twice a year, ass-pimple!"

"And, you're a man."

"Wull ... yeah, there's that, I guess."

"But that's all irrelevant, because I still say you don't know what you're talking about."

"Well, I ... waitaminnit. What was I talkin' about?"

"You were talking, again from your rectum as usual, about how I'm not a good boyfriend for Wendy. And as usual, you're wrong. I'm a very good boyfriend."

"Oh, tha's right ... no you ain't, ya stink."

"No, I don't."

"Yeah y'do, dude. Y'don't even care if she shows up or not. That so is lousy."

"I didn't say I didn't care if she showed up, I said I wasn't concerned about what time she did. Big difference."

"Still shows y'don' care."

"What the hell are you yammering about?? How??"

"'Cause if y'cared, you'd wanna know when she's gonna be here."


"'Cause then if she's late an' stuff, y'can call 'er and tell 'er you're worried."

"Why would I worry?"

"'Cause you'd be carin'. Since y'don', y'don'. Er ... yeah. Y'don' worry, 'cause y'don' care ... yeah. That."

"That's stupid. Of course I worry if there's a reason to."

"So how come y'didn't call an' ask 'er when she was gonna be here? See, that'd tell 'er you're worried and wanna make sure she's okay."

"If she needed help she'd call. She does have a cell phone, you know."

"But a good BF would so make sure she's okay, that's all I'm sayin'."

"I am a good boyfriend. I care about her very much and her well being, and when it's called for, I follow up to ensure she's all right. Thanks for your input."

"I'm jus' sayin' is all. You could show some love, y'know? Where's the love, JD?"

"I could euthanize you ... would that show love?"

"Dude ... hostile."

"Pff. You may not even know what that word means."

"Dude ... hostile."

"Whatever. I'm going to go get some things out of the car. Don't touch anything."

"Okay, dad."

"Just see to it, please," JD said as he rounded out the door to the foyer. He opened the door, stepped out on the porch and took a few steps down the walk before turning to the right, away from the parlor side of the house. He stopped, looked carefully around, and took his cell phone out of his pocket, quickly dialing.

"Hi, Wen? It's me. Listen, when are you going to get here, do you know?"

"Well, HI, baby!" Wendy's voice was slightly distorted on the other end of the phone, but it still sent an electric thrill racing through him and he nearly shivered. "How sweet of you to check on me."

"I ... I wasn't trying to nag or anything. I just ..."

Wendy paused. "What? Missed me?"

JD blushed deeply, furiously. "Well ... yes, sort of, and I wanted to know when to expect you. So that I would ... you know, so I can plan ... just in case ..."

"Aw," Wendy cooed. "Are you worried I was going to mess up your investigation again, lover?"

"NO!" JD said, too quickly. "I mean, of course not, no. I was just ... you know, that way if ... for some reason if you run behind, I can ... I wanted to be able to ..."

Wendy giggled delightedly. "How cute! Are you worried about me, sweetie?"

JD blushed even further somehow. "I ... don't ... yes."

"You're too sweet, my love," she said, hearing him squirm. "But don't worry your gorgeous little head. I'll be there in about ten minutes, and let Dilly know I brought food. He's probably starving by now."

"How did you ... how did you know that?"

"Know what?"

"Never mind. I can't ... wait to see you." He blushed again and quickly interjected. "I have a lot of information to share with you. My research was very productive."

"Ooh, I can't wait to hear all about it, and I love you too, sweetheart. Bye, now."

She disconnected the call before JD could respond. He stared at the phone for a few seconds, grinning stupidly at it with her image stamped firmly in his mind. Slowly he turned around and nearly knocked Dillon over.

JD yelped in start, but Dillon was just grinning like a Cheshire cat, shaking his head slowly.

"Dillon! Jeez! What are you doing out here??"

"I so heard all that, dude."

"Will you go inside and watch the equipment, please?"

"'Quipment's not goin' nowhere, dude," he said chuckling. "How's Wen? When's she gonna be here?"

JD blushed again. "Not that it's any of your business, but she's fine and will be here in about ten minutes. And she said to tell you she's bringing food."

"Aw, SWEEEEEEET!" Dillon said, jumping up and clapping his hands. "Did she say what?"

"You'd be lucky if it were road-kill. Come on, help me get a tripod from the car, butthead."

"So she didn't say what it was?"

"Will you come on, please?"

Dillon followed JD to the car parked beyond the tiny gates that opened between the hedges onto the sidewalk.

"Oh, dude. A good BF would have left this open for Wen."

"You didn't mention that when we parked."

"I'm so not the BF, dude, you are, 'member?"

"She'll be fine."

"What if she's carryin' drinks 'n stuff, dude? She's gonna hafta walk more with all that crap."

"No she won't. You're going to wait for her on the porch and help her carry the bags and drinks or whatever in."

"I am? But you're the BF, dude!"

"I'm also the paranormal investigator, and have to make sure we're ready if anything happens, so you will help Wendy ... this time."

"Naw, man, you should --"

"You will, Dillon."

"Oh. Okay."

The sun was a brilliant slick of orange liquid poured out over the horizon, spreading across the rolling, dense treetops of the hills surrounding the little town. The hills were darkened against the dimness, fading from a deep purple hue to pitch black as they slipped down away from the retreating sun. JD watched the azure sky for a moment as the last flattened disk of the sun blotted out behind a hilltop before returning to the task at hand, which he suddenly realized he'd manufactured to get away from Dillon and talk to Wendy. He checked his watch briefly, and wondered when -- or IF -- the events of last night would play themselves out again. And how.

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Ready to go on to Part 14?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ex-pat Pats Fan

Yep, I'm proud to be a Patriots fan, folks.

Yes, I was sickened by the idea that the best coach of this era resorted to cheating and illegal activities to gain a competitive advantage over other teams.  Yes, I was appalled that he so blatantly and arrogantly chose to continue those shenanigans against a man he'd mentored, who had inside information about his football operations and techniques, and didn't expect to be punished for it.  Yes, I was disappointed by his use of the term "my interpretation of the rule."  All of that is true, in spades.

For a time, my football heart (as my loving wife expresses it) was broken by this.  My beloved Patriots ... cheaters.  I was so embarrassed and downright ashamed.

You know what, though?  There isn't any team out there that isn't trying to get a competitive advantage over its opponents.  There is no team that won't steal signals by whatever means they have at their disposal.  There is no coach that won't use whatever technology they can avail to give them the edge.

In the end, the only real question remaining is, why, Mr. Belichick, did you do this against a man and a team you know would do anything in their power to hurt you?  Eric Mangini has already demonstrated that the relationship you once had is meaningless to him, and it probably is to you too.  Why didn't you think he'd play whistle-blower when you knew he was aware of what you were doing?

Fine; that being said, it's done.  Belichick has paid his fine (or will) and the Patriots organization has (or will) paid its penalties -- the quarter-million dollars and the loss of what will almost definitely be a first-round draft pick.  Those are heavy penalties.  Most wanted to see him suspended, too.  Okay, I can see that -- but then drop one of the other two punishments.  A suspension?  All right.  A fine?  Sure, why not?  But then no loss of draft picks.  In this case, I believe the punishment is enough.

It's finished for now.  The ongoing (if any) investigation into the extraneous and unauthorized radio frequency use remains to be seen.  I would be willing to bet that Mangini and his bruised band of tattlers will ask for an investigation.  I don't know whether or not they'll receive it, but I'm guessing they're going to ask.

So, all that aside, what have we learned?

Well, we learned the Jets are still no match for the mighty Patriots on the field.  They were hardly one last year two of the three times they played, and that was against a team hamstrung by loss of its best receivers and working with a cobbled-together corps that was never great, and a battered and weakened defense.  Now, against an offense that has tremendous talent at all positions, and a defense that is back to a level familiar to the organization, the Patriots have re-educated "Mangenius" about what a winning franchise looks like.

They still have some ways to go, I'd say.  The camera was seized before the end of the first quarter.  The commissioner has stated the tape(s) in no way affected the game's outcome.  The Jets, or should I say the Jest, simply had their asses handed to them, neatly carved and served on a silver platter.  Revere silver.  You know ... from Boston.

Last night, the San Diego Chargers came to Foxboro to visit a long-held, oft-anticipated, much ballyhooed grudge rematch against the team that "stole" their first-round playoff victory in the waning moments of the game and left them slack-jawed, bitter-pilled, and with no other statements to make than how classless the winning players (and their coach) were to celebrate a hard-fought victory.  A victory, might I add, that few, if any, gave them any chance of attaining.  They were "classless" because they mocked Shawn "I'm a Juiced-Up Junky Jackass Jumpin' like  a Monkey on Steroids" Merriman's "lights out" dance at midfield on their own stadium sod.

Well, that's interesting.  You're not classless to initiate the stupidity, but you don't want it shoved in your faces.  That's classless, is it?  There is a solution.  To avoid this, you must win the game.

On Sunday, to his credit, Merriman didn't perform his ridiculous spasm ... at least not that I saw.  He did, however, have two sacks and played a very good game.  He is still a spastic monkey, in my opinion, but he was a bit more subdued a monkey last night.

There was no cheating in this game.  The commissioner -- and Robert Kraft, the Patriots owner -- saw to that.

So, the Chargers watched as the Patriots rolled to a 24-0 lead in the first half.  A lead they never surrendered.  The Chargers, out-classed (no pun intended ... okay, maybe a little one) and manhandled, were pushed around the field and shoved off the dance floor.  The over-ballyhooed "rematch" turned out to be nothing but a good ol' fashioned ass-kicking by a superior team.

Last year, Brady didn't have Moss, Welker and Stallworth to throw to, and they still beat the Chargers.  LT ("Loser 'Tude", as someone on a sports forum so aptly dubbed him after their playoff loss and his subsequent "I'm a classy person" press conference) was formidable, dominating and impossible to stop for the Patriots last year.  They didn't have Adalius Thomas and Junior Seau on the field then; they were on the field last night, and LT ran for a whopping 43 yards on 18 carries.  Did I mention he has the lowest yards-per-carry average in the league?  Did I mention he was completely and utterly stuffed and stifled?  He's a classy guy, though, because after this shellacking, when asked if he thought the Pats were now the team to beat in the league this year, he nodded and said he would concur.  Genuine class.  Nothing like admitting you got your ass kicked to clear your conscience of the childish stupidity of your remarks 7 months ago.

What did we learn?  Did we learn that cheaters do, in fact, prosper, as some have accused?

We learned that the San Diego Chargers, a talented team in their own right, have not yet adjusted to the new system instilled by new head coach Norv Turner, nor have they grown accustomed to the other members of the coaching staff since the departure of Cam Cameron, et al., to other points on the map.  (Cam misses you too, LT, I guarantee it.)  They will, and when they do, they will again be a team to be reckoned with; in the end, however, they are not a match for the New England Patriots.

The much-anticipated rematch was to be so physical, such a contest of mutual hatred and vehemence that it was slated for the very first Sunday night game of the year.

The Patriots, however, had other plans.  They focused.  They played.  And they taught the Chargers a valuable lesson about holding a grudge.  A 38-14 lesson.  The exact same lesson they taught Eric "Mangenius" and the New York Jest ... sorry.  Jets.

We've also learned that, like any great organization, from the Dallas Cowboys of the '90s to the San Francisco 49ers of the '80s to the Pittsburgh Steelers of the '70s, people love to hate the one at the top.  Just ask Microsoft.  If the Colts consistently start winning Super Bowls and establish their own mini-dynasty, they'll start seeing the same things.  We've learned, in short, that the sour grapes of all the world will be flung fast and furious at your team when they become winners, because no one likes to be a winner's stepping stone to success.  The Patriots being winners means that 31 other teams are losers, and that is going to breed a lot of resentment.

For an example of what I mean, check any football forum.  The team, its owner, its coach, and yes, even its fans are maligned at every turn.  ("Hey, mom!  I learned a new word today!  'Masshole'!  Isn't that great?")  A term usually reserved for other purposes is now applied to the fans of the Patriots because they support a team that is better than, as of last year at least, 30 other teams.

This year, I suspect that number will be a bit higher.

Yes, I'm a "Masshole", I guess.  I'm not from Massachusetts, and in fact have never been there (though it would be my pleasure -- as long as I'm not driving, I suppose).   But I am a Patriots fan, despite the controversy, despite the embarrassment, despite the tarnished reputation and the shadow cast over everything they've done over the last 7 seasons and beyond.  There is a bit of rust on their 3 Lombardi trophies now, but I love them anyway.  I guess that makes me a Masshole.

Last night I was convinced of this when I saw nearly 70,000 people, holding signs that read things like, "We're not cheaters and I have the Tapes to Prove It!", or "I'm Still With Bill!", or a guy wearing a cardboard video camera on his head that said "N0-Body's Cheating" (as an acronym, however convoluted, for NBC) and addressed to LT.   On the fore of that homemade headgear was a statement that embodied the entire crowd's sentiments:  "In Bill We Trust."  Then, they chanted "LT SUCKS!  LT SUCKS!", just to remind Mr. Tomlinson where he was playing.   And what the score was.  I felt the same way.  They said so much to me, with no real words, and that's when I realized that, even if they did cheat and are further punished, it won't matter to me.  They'll pay their fine, they'll serve their penalties, and they will still be my team.

As he strode onto the field, and off it victorious, Bill Belichick received an ovation from his fans.  And, uncharacteristically of the stoic, hoody-garbed "genius" -- he waved his acknowledgement of it.  His players hugged him after the game and he was presented with a game ball by Robert Kraft.  Tedy Bruschi said it was the most satisfying win of his Patriots career -- and he was on the Super Bowl teams and bears all three rings.

Massholes, unite.  Whether by land or by air, we can repel the attackers of our beloved Patriots.  They have made their statement of ability on the field.  Who cares what the rest of the world says about them off the field?

Yes, I am a Patriots fan.  And I always will be.


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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 12

Just joining us? You may want to start from the beginning.

JD put the finishing touches on the camera position in the parlor, and inspected his work. Walking back around the folding table he'd set up the day before, he watched the monitors glowing gray and bluish in the waning daylight. The parlor's lavish decorations and doily-laden surfaces were reflected in crystal detail on the LCD screens, the glint of nickel and pewter winking back at him. This time, the camera was in the opposite corner from where he'd set it up the night before. A clear shot of the corner where the silhouette had vanished last night was in center view, as were all the windows of the room. The wall adjacent to the door was hung from its richly varnished and shiny picture rail with meticulously matted and framed black-and-white portraits of the homeowners and family members, each one done in the Victorian fashion. Even the sharpness of the photographs, the expressions on the faces of the subjects, and the costuming were shown in the tiny screens. If not for the technology in the room, it could have been a 19th century room. The hanging "gas lamp" chandelier was just high enough not to obscure the camera's view as the tearless cornea stared into the richly floral-patterned wallpaper.

Dillon had his feet crossed and propped up on the table and was absently scratching at the stubble on the underside of his chin. He looked into the monitors and sighed.

"Looks jus' like yesterday, dude," he said solemnly. "Boring."

"Yep, nice and boring," JD said brightly, adjusting the recording devices taping the display. After rewinding and watching himself come into the camera's view, staring at the monitors, and adjusting the recording devices, the tape snapped to "snow" and static.

"Recording will be all set. I've got a good supply of tapes. I have a hand-held video camera this time. And plenty of batteries for the flashlights. I'm all set, I think."

"What about voices, dude?"

"I have a digital recorder," he said, remembering he'd brought it. He pulled it out of a duffle bag between his seat and Dillon's, and switched it on. "Testing, one, two, three, testing," he said clearly. Then he hit the rewind button and then played his voice intoning back to him. "Perfect."

"Does that thing work at a distance?" Dillon said, brows knitting over his eyes. "You might not get too close, y'know?"

"Good point," JD said, only slightly surprised. He turned the device on again and tossed it to Dillon, who jumped as it flew at him and caught it sitting upright quickly. "Dude! Whatcha doin'??"

JD walked around the table to the windows, facing away from Dillon. Staring into the slowing browning yard, littered with dead leaves and twigs, he carefully spoke softly.

"Testing, one, two, three ... testing."

He came back to Dillon and took the device out of his hands. Rewind, then play. He heard his voice distinctly, but softly, counting the test tones off.

"Yes, it works at a distance. Good thinking, Dill."

"Yeah, natch, dude. I'm so a good thinker an' stuff."


"Now what?"

"Now we hope the events of last night were indeed a recording of past events and will play back again tonight."

"We hope?"

"There isn't much else we can do, unfortunately."

"Why not?"

"Because I have no idea -- no one does -- how, or if, this recording mechanism works. I have no clue how it was triggered last night, or if it will be again tonight. Last night was a very, very cold snap. Tonight's weather is going to be considerably warmer. If the sudden cold was the catalyst for the playback, tonight may not be a repeat."

"Aw, man," Dillon said disappointed. "You tellin' me ghosts watch the friggin' weather, man??"

"No, of course not. Why would a ghost be concerned about the weather?"

"You just said it wasn't gonna be cold enough."

"To replay the recording."

"For the ghost t'come out."

"It wasn't a ghost. It was a recording."

"It was a ghost."

"How do you know?"

"How d'ya know it wasn't?"

"Are we going to have this conversation every time we come here?"

"How many times we comin'?"

"I'll be coming until I have an answer for the homeowners. You'll be coming until you so irritate me I kill you."

"I'll so haunt'cha if ya do."

"I can deal with that."

"So how come y'know it's not a ghost?"

"Because there are no such things as ghosts. We've had this talk, Dillon."

"Yeah, butcha can't gimme a good reason for believin' that, dude."

"My belief to the contrary is theological."

"Based on Second Corinthians 5:8, an' that don' say what ya said it did, dude. So you got nothin'."

"I still don't have a Bible."


"So I can't show you all the references to spirits not being permitted to roam around randomly."

"Ya can't think o' one? Not one?"

"Umm ... okay, how about the parable of Lazarus and the rich man?"

"There ain't no parable like that."

"Yes there is."

"No, there ain't."

"Is too. Jesus told the parable of the rich man and the poor beggar that lived outside his house, Lazarus. When Lazarus died, he went to rest in the arms of Abraham. When the rich man died, he awoke in Sheol. He begged for a drop of water to cool his tongue, but never got it. Then he begged to have a chance to warn his brothers that they had to change. But ..."

"... But ol' man Abe said no, 'cause they already had ol' Mo' an' the prophets an' didn't listen t'them, so they ain't gonna listen t'NObody, and go cry yourself a river an' shit. Yeah, I know. An' that ain't a parable."


"It's so not a parable, dude."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm talkin' 'bout the story of Lazarus an' the rich dude -- JEEZ, JD, ain'tcha listenin'??"

"Yes, I'm listening, but you're speaking your usual foolishness and I'm lost."

"DUDE, it's like this -- inna parable, the story's kinda ... I dunno -- generic, I guess. It ain't got names an' places an' real people in it, y'know? Now, this story you're talkin' 'bout, Jesus gives the dude's name -- Lazarus -- an' it wasn't Sheol, dumbass, it was hades. An' y'know what else, dude? That ol' rich dude didn't ask to go to his brothers -- he asked that Lazarus go. It's all in Luke 16, studly ... look it up."

"Uh ... well, there you see that Abraham tells the rich man that his brothers wouldn't receive a warning from the dead."

"I see that this guy who was a screw-up his whole life didn't get his wish is what I see, dude. I so don' see nothin' 'bout no ghosts there."

JD drew a long, deep breath and let it out slowly. "Okay. Then I guess I need time to look this up."

"Yeah, I bet you do," Dillon said, and propped his feet back up on the table. "I bet you sure as heck do, huh."

"Don't get too cocky," JD said snidely, "you're just lucky I don't have a Bible with me or I'd ream you."

Dillon chuckled. "Yeah ... whatever, dude. What-the-hell-ever."

JD shook his head. He'd underestimated his friend again. He was beginning to think there was much more to Dillon than met the eye. He felt he'd known that at one time, but somehow, let it slip away. Now, he was too busy being right to recognize when he was wrong.

"So anyways," Dillon said dryly, "when's Wen comin'?"

"She's most likely going to be here later, as she was last night," JD said, the sound of her name sending an electric thrill through him. "She might take a brief nap before coming; she usually does."

"Yeah? How d'ya know that?"

"Because I asked her, that's how," JD said sternly.

"Good boy. 'Bout time y'started showin' some damned interest in her. She's smart, she's cool, an' she's hot. She's got it all, an' whadda you got? Nothin' but 'tude, dude. Did I mention she's hot?"

"Yes, as if I needed you to remind me. And I have more than attitude to offer in a relationship, thank you."

"Yeah? Have you 'L-worded' her back?"


"Did ya tell 'er ya love 'er, dumbass. Didja?"

"Well ... I -- the opportunity hasn't exactly been ..."

"You're a frickin' weeny, dude," Dillon cut him off, shaking his head slowly. "You better decide what the hell you're doin' with her, dude, or she is SO gonna blow you off for a guy with a bigger set o' cajones."

"I just haven't had the chance, that's all," JD said defensively. "Besides, I don't know if ..."

"What? Y'don't know if ya love 'er or not? Gimme a break, dickhead. You do. It's all over you, man. Every time she comes around, you're a mess. Every time she speaks, y'damn near jump. Every time she laughs, no matter what else you're doin', you smile. Tell me you don' love that chick, dude. You're fulla crap."

JD was contemplating his shoes very carefully. "I ... I just meant that I ... aw, hell. I don't know what I mean."

Dillon screwed his mouth up into a disappointed frown and shook his head. "Mm-mm-mm, dude. Just ... just mm-mm-mm. That's it."

"I don't see you doing any better with women, frankly."

"I get more ass'na toilet seat."

"Really? When is that?"

"Uh ... you know ... when ... well, you ain't around, that's for sure."

"Uh-huh, I see. And where are you meeting these women? At the 'He Who Dies with the Least Brains Wins' conventions you attend?"

"Dude. Ouch, man."


"I do awright with chicks, dude."

"I can see by how they beat down the door to reach you."

"I'm just inna dry spell's all, dude, I'll be cool. Yeah. Definitely, I'll be cool."

"Well, until and unless you are, I suggest you keep your mind on the Biblical matters and let me handle my relationship with Wendy. I don't recall asking for your input anyway, Dr. Phil. Or Dr. DILL, I guess I should say."

"Now, if that ain't a cool name for a TV show, what the hell is?"


"The Dr. Dill Show, man. It's gonna be huge."

"You have to be a doctor of something first."

"I guess. What about Dr. Who?"

"Dr. whom?"

"No, Dr. WHO, dipstick."

JD closed his eyes and shook his head. "I mean, who are you talking about?"

"I'm talkin' about Dr. Who, dork-ass. Jeez, JD, are you sure you're gonna be able to do your stuff t'night, dude? You can't even have a decent convo, here."

"I've never had one with you in the room."

"See? You're gettin' all hostile an' shit again, dude. You so need to chill-lax."

"To what?"

"Chill-lax. You know -- chill out, relax ... chill-lax. It's a word that means ..."

"I think I get the general gist, thank you ... you can save what I'm sure is an incredibly interesting education on your vernacular for another time."

"I don' have no vernereal nothin', dude. I get checked twice a year."

"That's ... that's more about you than I wanted to know."

"So, what now?"

"We wait."

"For what?"

"For the recording to do what it does."

"When's that gonna happen?"

"I don't know."

"You don't?"


"Why not?"

JD turned and looked at Dillon seriously. "Because no one knows how predictable ghosts are, okay?"

"So it's a ghost? It's really a ghost?" Dillon leaned forward, eyes widening, excited and perky for the first time all day.

"No, I'm just screwing with you," JD leaned back in his chair. "All we can do is wait and see if the events of last night are repeated ... much like the statement I've just made."

"What statement?"

"Never mind. Watch the monitors."

"Okay. When do we eat?"

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Ready to go on to Part 13?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 11

Just joining us? You may want to start from the beginning.

"Holy ... Lord, that's ... that's terrible," JD whispered. Bea nodded slowly and sympathetically.

"Yes," she said sadly. "It was very sad."

"Bea ... just out of curiosity -- my clients are the owners of that house you mentioned. They actually called me and asked me to do some ... research for them. They never mentioned anything about this. Do you know why that might be?"

"Oh, goodness," Bea said. "I have no idea, unless they didn't know about it."

"But ... you said the homeowners found the body outside their home." JD was genuinely confused.

"OH, I understand now," Bea said, nodding her assurance. "I'm afraid I misspoke a moment ago. The people that owned the house at that time didn't stay there very long afterwards. They moved away. The house has been through several owners since then. Several renovations as well, if I'm not mistaken."

"Ah," JD said, a bit relieved. "I see."

"As I recall," Bea said nostalgically, staring off above JD's head reflectively, "it was unoccupied until just a few years ago. No one lived there for a time."

"Do you know why the house has changed hands so many times, by any chance?"

"Well," Bea giggled, "I must confess, it's a bit silly, and town folklore always springs up around such things ..." she leaned forward conspiratorially, blushing.

JD leaned toward her in response, smiling mischievously with her. "Yes? Is it ... strange?"

"Well, no," Bea said, "it's just children's stories and such."

"Oh, please," JD said earnestly, "I'm very interested."

Bea flushed again. "Well ... there is some rumor through town that the previous owners all left because of strange occurrences in and around the house." She softly giggled, covering her mouth.

JD froze. "What ... what sort of strange occurrences?"

Bea sucked her lips in, embarrassed. "Well ... I suppose the children would say the house is ... 'haunted'."

JD blinked, trying to act natural. "Haunted?"

"Yes," she continued, pushing her glasses farther back on her nose, "but as I said, they're only town stories and children's tales told to frighten each other."

"Hmm. I find that fascinating," JD intoned, but his mind was elsewhere.

"What sort of research were you asked to conduct, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Hmm? Oh, they asked me to look into whether the house might be haunted."

Bea stared blankly at JD as he turned toward the door.

"I can't thank you enough for all your help today, Bea," he said sincerely. "I really, really appreciate everything you've done."

"Oh ... of course, always happy to ... help," she said slowly, a bit stunned, while JD moved through the doors into the bright autumn day.

Dillon was leaning on the hood of the car when JD approached.

"'Bout frickin' TIME, dude," he said impatiently. "I'm starvin' an' whatnot out here, y'know."

"Well, let's get you fed and then we can get set up at the house again. Wendy should be joining us there when she gets off work. Please try not to have a panic attack when she does."

"I didn't have a damned panic attack, jack-wad. She scared the hell outta me. AND you. An' she better not do it again or I'm SO through with her."

JD shook his head smiling, and got into the car, then unlocked the door for Dillon. He slumped like a rag doll into the seat and turned to face JD a bit.

"So, whatdja learn?"

"I learned a great deal," JD said factually. "But very little of that would be helpful or interesting to you."

"Why not?"

"Because you're not interested in the history, you want the adrenaline."

"How d'ya know?"

"You make it clear."


"By your general demeanor. Nothing but the explanation that this is a ghost will satisfy you. Your mind is made up, and you won't be confused with facts."

"You got facts that this ain't a ghost?"

"Well ... no. Not yet."

"But y'don' believe it is one, right?"

"Not yet, no."

"'Cause yer a knucklehead."

"Because I'm skeptical."

"Does 'skeptical' mean 'stupid'?"

JD scowled at him. "I'm not stupid, thank you."

"Maybe not in school an' shit, but out here inna real world ya sure seem dumb t'me."

"Oh really."

"Yeah, really. Look at all you seen an' stuff, dude. What's it gonna take to get you t'believe this is a real, live ghost, man?"

"A 'real, LIVE' ghost? I think that's an oxymoron."

"I think yer a moron."

"Well thank you, Dillon. What else could you think while I bask in the radiance of your genius?"

"I jus' mean ya ain't bein' real 'bout this shit, bro. You got tons o' evidence an' crap all up in yer face an' still won't say it's a ghost. How dumb is that?"

"About as dumb as you leaping to the conclusion that this IS a ghost and never seeking another, more logical explanation. And not quite as dumb as you deciding there was a ghost at the first flicker of a flashlight. Now, who was it you said was a moron?"

"Well, I ... Okay, so maybe y'got me there. But still, you could try t'be more open-minded or whatever."

"I'll be more open-minded when I have reason to be open-minded, Dill," JD said quietly. "Right now, I'm just gathering information."

"An' bein' all closed-minded an' stuff, dude."

"No, I disagree."

"Yeah, there's a shock, huh?"

"I'm not contentious. I'm trying to be practical."

"Craptical is more like it, dude. Lighten up."

"I'll lighten up if you smarten up," JD said, turning the car into a parking space a short distance from a greasy spoon store front a few blocks away from the library. He put the car in park and leaned back, twisting to face Dillon.

"An' dude, couldja be nicer? Dang."

"ME?? What about you? All you've done is insult me because I won't just state emphatically this is a haunting!"

"Well ... yeah, but I ain't as mean about it as you, dude."


"I dunno ... I wanna rip on you an' not you rip on me. How's that work for ya?"


"You sure?"


"Dang. So now whadda we do? What's next?"

"Next we eat. Then we go to the house and get the equipment ready. We check the weather forecast, too, because I don't want to get caught in another cold snap. Then we get ready to see if the events of last night are repeated. If they are, I'm going to be ready for them this time. If they don't, then we're stuck in observation mode until they do ... if they do."

"So more boring?"

JD shrugged. "Sorry. It's tedious work."

"DUDE ... no shit, man. No frickin' shit."

"This is the part you don't see on those TV shows."

"Jeez, yer tellin' me. So how come ya won't tell me whatcha learned?"

"All right, I will," JD said. "I learned that, some years after the disappearance of Robin Brown, Darren Jenkins committed suicide."

"Dude. Awesome. Who's Darren Jenky?"

"Darren Jenkins. He was Robin Brown's partner, remember?"

"Naw. So, he off's himself?"

"Yes. And he did so at the house we're investigating."


"Yes. And, his body was discovered by the homeowners when they returned home that day."


"I know. Very interesting, isn't it?"

"Well, that's a lot worse 'n findin' dog crap on yer lawn, that's fer sure."

JD chuckled. "Yes."

"Did the cops check it out?"

"I didn't ask."

"Why not?"

"Uh ... I don't ... I don't know. I should have, I suppose."


"Well, I don't think it matters, really ... we can still--"

"Don' matter?? Dude, you SO can't say that! He could be the ghost, dude!"

"IF there's a ghost, it identified itself as Robin Brown, remember?"

"Dude, ever heard o' lyin'??"

"Why would a ghost lie?"

"So yer sayin' it's a ghost now?"

"No, I said IF it were a ghost, it would be Robin Brown's ghost. IF it were a ghost, that's how it identified itself."

"So it's a ghost?"

JD slapped his hand over his face. "I don't think so."

"So the dude on the recordin' coulda lied, right?"

JD peeked around his palm. "What?"

"Dude, think about it -- you say we seen a recordin' of the stuff that happened back in the day, right? That whole water recordin' thingy, right?"

"Water tape theory. I was just saying it was one possible explanation aside from an apparition."

"'Kay, fine -- what if? So, the dude says he's Robbie, but what if 'e waddn't? What if 'e jus' says he is?"

"Wait, wait ... why would he do that?"

"Dude, you even got a brain? Think about it. There's all this crap goin' on up in the 'hood, right? Stealin', robberies, junk like that, right? So, Robbie's up there supposed t'be checkin' it out, right? -- but that other dude ain't. So what if Robbie wasn't there, an' this other guy that sez Robbie done it is tryin' t'frame him an' shit?"

"Okay, let me see if I've got this straight," JD said deliberately. "You're suggesting that, in order to frame Robin Brown for the robberies, his own partner is lying about BEING Robin Brown? How does that frame the real Robin Brown?"

"Don'tcha get it, dude? Brown ain't doin' the shit, the other dude's doin' it. So he goes 'round sayin' he's Robbie so any witnesses an' shit'll think it's Robbie, but really it's this other dude."

"But Robin Brown went missing. Jenkins never did. And Jenkins openly accused Brown of doing it after Brown disappeared. Also, we saw the person -- whomever it may have been -- who introduced himself as Brown get beaten with a club in the ... whatever it was we saw."

"Okay, so here it is, dude: Brown ain't doin' it. Ths Jenky dude's doin' it. He's goin' 'round, sayin' he's Brown, in case he gets caught an' shit. So, the real Brown's not supposedta show up, but he does, an' then this Jenky dude's gotta kill 'im to keep 'im from tellin' an' shit. So he kills Robbie and ditches the bod."

"Why would he kill someone with whom he was partnered?"

"I dunno. You're the brainiac -- you figger it out."

"It doesn't make sense, though. If Jenkins was the one that was murdered, how'd he commit suicide later?"

"Dude, I said the dude we SEEN wasn't Robbie-boy; that don' mean the dude that got whacked wasn't."

"But we saw the events transpire ..."

"We seen part of it. Not the whole crock-load, dude."

JD stared into the middle distance. "I have to think about that ... I don't know ..."

"Well frickin' get me some food while ya think, snot-wipe -- I'm starvin'!"

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Ready to go on to Part 12?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 10

Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.

JD walked across the hallway to the microfiche room, and fully expected to find Dillon sleeping.

In the nearly 80 minutes since they'd last spoken, he hadn't heard a sound out of Dillon. That was pretty much unheard of in his experience, so he was convinced that Dillon would be laying on the floor under the desk soundly sleeping, or that he'd actually already left the room and was off doing something else instead.

What he found make him freeze in his tracks inside the doorway.

Dillon was reading.

He was staring intently at the microfiche screen, and occasionally panning about on the page to move from one to the next. He was actually sitting forward on his seat, leaning in toward the screen.

JD stared in wonder for another moment, then knocked lightly on the open door so as not to elicit another screaming fit from him in the library.

Dillon whirled rapidly around to face him.

"Oh, hey, dude, whattup?" he said casually.

"You're doing the research. You're actually doing the research."

"Yeah, I toldja I would. You owe me lunch, too, by the way."

"I do?"

"Pff ... yeah, dorkwad. I don' work fer free an' shit."

"No one's paying me," JD protested.

"That's YOU, bro. You gotta feed me if ya want work done, dude."

"What have you learned so far?"

"Whaddaya mean?"

JD blinked in surprise. "I mean, what have you found out?"

"Well, a couple things," Dillon said, panning the page again.

JD waited for a moment. "Such as?"

"Oh," Dillon said, and turned back around. "Such as, comics in papers ain't funny at all, dude. Not at all."

"Wh ... what?"

"Yeh, I been readin' Sunday comics an' stuff. None of 'em're funny at ALL, man. It's like, lame or for little kids er somethin'. Stupid."

"Dillon, what are you reading?"

"I jus' told you, dude. Comics."

"Did you even bother to read the articles that Bea found for us?"

"Yeah, I read 'em."


"Before I started readin' comics. Duh, dude. You sure ask dumb questions for a smart guy."

"Dillon, what did you learn??"

"About what, Homey?"

"About the case!"

"Oh, yeah," Dillon said, turning back to JD. "Keep it down, dude, we're in a library an' shit. You wanna get us thrown out or somethin'?"


"Yeah, right," Dillon said, adjusting his seat to face JD more fully.

"So ... there was this cop, see ..."

"Yes, Robin Brown."

"Right, Robbie. So anyways, he's doin' stuff ... you know, cop stuff ... and he goes missin'."

"Yes, he disappeared investigating a rash of robberies in the neighborhood of our supposedly haunted house."

"You heard this one before'r somethin'?"

JD closed his eyes. "Just ... go on, please."

"So Robbie gets a call t'go check this dump out, an' he goes missin', right? So then nobody finds 'im. Ever."

"Yes, the last contact police had with him was as he was going to check the house out. Then radio silence."

"Yeh. So he's missin', an' nobody can find 'im and shit."

"For nearly thirty five years."

"Yeah. An' the cops don' keep lookin', neither, 'cause right after that the crap in that neighborhood stops, an' they figger it's ol' Robbie doin' it."


"Yeah, ain'tcha heard that part?"

"No, there was nothing like that on the Internet."

"No? Damn, you must suck at searchin'. Anyhoo, ol' Robbie's gone, an' all the B.S. down in the 'hood stops."

"The robberies stopped after his disappearance, yes."

"Yeah, an' ol' Robbie's partner, who ain't workin' with 'im that night, says he figgered Robbie was the one doin' all the stealin' and shit, an' then he took off with the loot an' stuff."

"Several hundred thousand dollars in cash and merchandise were stolen over a very short period of time."

"Yeah, like, three, four months. So dude, can we eat now?"

"What of the partner? What was his name?"

"I dunno ... Stinkins, Pinkins, some crap ... he just slammed Robbie pretty good an' then nothin'. Papers don' say nuthin' 'bout him no more."

"Dill, do you remember the name? The exact name? I can look it up."

"Naw, man, y'can't look it up ... I gotta eat."

"I'll feed you, I'll feed you ... IF you find the name."

"Dude, the food's for all the stuff I done already."

"You receive payment when I receive a name."

Dillon sighed in an over-exaggerated and dramatic way, flopping his arms over the desk to work the microfiche reader again. He buzzed about for a few minutes, and then swatted JD's arm.

"Here," he said firmly, "now frickin' gimme some food, dude."

"Yes, yes ..." JD said, bending to read the article. "Darren Jenkins. How'd you get Stinkins out of Jenkins?"

"Whatever. I'm hungry, brain ain't workin' right."

"It never has, why is hunger the reason now?"

"You're a butt-head, dude. Seriously. A butt-head."

JD read on unperturbed. He made careful mental note of the name, and he made careful mental note of the article.

Both Brown and Jenkins had been under investigation. Both were taking rotating second shifts to go on beat patrol in that neighborhood. The affluent tax payers were pressuring city officials, not least of whom was the mayor, for action. Several houses had been robbed, in an area where crime had not existed before, and in each case, the police had failed to apprehend or even identify a suspect. In each case, the complaints were filed but nothing ever substantiated. In several cases, the paperwork about the incident had been lost, so that when the homeowners tried to follow up, there was no record of a report ever having been filed. Pressure was being put on the city to do something about the crime wave, and some residents had threatened to go to the county or even state authorities to get resolution.

JD knew most of that; the Internet information he'd uncovered from the local town paper had most of that information online. What was conspicuously absent from the information currently online, but was clear in the original articles, was that the entire police department was under investigation. Rumors of corruption and suspicion of dirty cops and bribery were rampant.

At the center of that investigation were officers Brown and Jenkins.

Brown volunteered to go on beat duty there to clear his name, vehemently protesting accusations of his involvement in any corruption or conspiracy within the police department. Jenkins took offsetting shifts to assist his partner. On one or two occasions, Jenkins had been summoned to a robbery either in progress or upon discovery by the homeowners. In every case, the perpetrator, or perpetrators, got away and nothing was ever uncovered by investigators. Brown only received one call while on beat patrol in the neighborhood the one he never returned from. That brought suspicion to him more fully. The police suspected that he cased homes on patrol and returned when off-duty to perpetrate the crimes. His partner Jenkins was thought to be involved because he never apprehended the perpetrator or perpetrators, even when he received notice that there was a robbery in progress.

After Brown's disappearance, the police closed the investigation. Jenkins was cleared of all charges, and Brown was considered to be the perpetrator of most, if not all, the robberies. Any accomplices he had disappeared with him, vanishing into the dense fog rolling in off the river. His car was found but never a body, despite a search of the river banks, bed, the home where he'd been dispatched, and the surrounding neighborhood. He simply ... vanished.

JD noticed the address of the last call the officer was dispatched too, also. It was the same address as his client's house, that ancient old Victorian near the river.

"Very, very interesting," JD said slowly and softly.

"Yeah, like watchin' grass grow. Can we eat now, dude?"

"Sure," JD smiled. "I just want to ask Bea one more thing on the way out."

"Whatever, dude, I'll be at the car."

"Sure," JD said, still eyeing that article as if it were a treasure.

He wondered about the events the three of them had seen the night before. They seemed to contradict the story in some senses. Why would Brown be killed if he'd been the perpetrator? Who were the murderers? Under what conditions had that murder taken place?

Was Brown even the one being murdered?

JD stood upright at that last thought. Maybe ... just maybe ... they'd misinterpreted what they saw. They didn't see the whole thing play out. The heavy fog and the immediate belief that he was an actual, living police officer made them hesitate before they followed through the yard. There were likely events being played out they hadn't seen, perhaps a conversation.

What if Brown had been the murderer and not the victim? In the dimness he could only see a figure with a flashlight. Because of what he'd seen before, he assumed it was Brown, but there was a period of time in which other things could have taken place. In fact, he may not have even seen contiguous events. These things, if played back through some mechanism LIKE the Water Tape Theory, may not have all been the same night, or even the same decade. There was no way to know for certain what they'd seen.

"DUDE," Dillon said impatiently, leaning back in, "FOOD. NOW."

"Okay, sorry," JD said and he strode out of the room behind Dillon. They passed by the front desk where Bea was busying herself with librarian tasks, humming ever so softly to herself.

"Excuse me, Bea," JD said softly, and she looked up, tipping her head far back to see through the spectacles that slid far down her nose, and smiled broadly.

"Oh, were the fiches of any help?"

"Incredibly so," JD said warmly. "I don't know how to thank you, and I hate to be a pest, but ..."

"Oh, not at all, that's what I'm here for," Bea said, coming around toward JD and pushing her glasses back on her face. "What can I do for you?"

"Well ... I ran across a name in my research, and wondered if you might have some actual memory of the person, being that you've lived here for so long."

"I can try, but I can't promise anything," Bea said, less enthusiastically.

"I was wondering if you remember a police officer, around the time of the disappearance, named Jenkins ... Darren Jenkins."

"Oh, heavens yes," she said, waving dismissively. "I remember when he was a boy coming in here for his school papers. He lived here most of his life."

"Do you recall what became of him?"

"Oh, yes ... he stayed here in town and did well with the police force for a bit. Then he decided to try his hand at politics. Most folks here were convinced he had something to do with that other officer being missing though. No one voted for him. After that, he left. A few years later, I read in the paper he'd committed suicide."

JD started. "Suicide??"

"Yes, it was terrible. No one knows why. He didn't even leave a note."

"Did he have a family?"

"Oh, not that I know of; his parents passed away long ago, and he didn't have any siblings. He never married, either, that I recall. It was sad, really."

"Oh, God," JD whispered, genuinely surprised.

"Yes, and the worst part of it was that the people found him outside their home, below a window."

"Who? Who found him?"

"The homeowners ... they live in the same house where his partner was last heard from. They came home and found him outside of their parlor window."

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