Reviewed July 1, 2020

Chapter III

              “Fifteen minutes until closing,” Dottie announced.  Everyone bustled about finishing their drinks and cleaning up.  The people who performed began to file on stage for a brief meeting with the owner who distributed blank envelopes to everyone.  “A portion of the profits from tonight, thank you for helping our business stay afloat,” he told them.  They thanked him, and Lizzy stayed back from the group as they left and pulled Dottie aside.

              “Do you think Ted is looking to commission any artwork, or needs any new logos,” asked Lizzy?

              “I know Ted has been thinking about updating our cups.  Why do you know of someone?”

              “Betsy is an artist, she showed me her sketch book well she has a great talent.  We also got to talking some and she just got fired from her job and she doesn’t know I’m asking you.”

              Dottie looked over at Betsy milling about the table helping everyone clean up.  “If he isn’t, maybe I could hire her on temporarily as a waitress.”

              “I think anything would be helpful, apparently she was looking at the wanted posters and trying to hunt down bounties.  Can you believe it?”

              “She has spunk, I like that.  Tell her to come by tomorrow afternoon and we’ll talk.”

              “Thanks Dottie, you’re the best.”  Lizzy hugged Dottie and went back to the table.

              “Betsy, I know its not my business, but I asked Dottie if she or Ted could use any help and they suggested you come by tomorrow afternoon to talk if your interested in some work,” Lizzy said hoping Betsy wouldn’t mind her interference.

              “Really?  That’s awesome!”  Abound with excitement she sprang up and hugged Lizzy with a couple tears streaming down her cheek.  “Oh, you all have made my month.  I’m so glad I stupefied Ghost on accident.”

              “Seemed on purpose to me,” Henry said grinning.  Both Lizzy and Betsy frowned at Henry and he put his hands up in the air, “only kidding.”

              “Are you ready to go Lizzy,” asked Abram?

              “Let me grab my purse and I’ll be ready.  Do you have anything planned for tonight?”

              “How about going out dancing, would you like to go?”

              “I’d love too,” she smiled and turned to the rest of them, “I know we just met Betsy, but would you and Henry like to come too?”

              “No, I should go home and pick out something nice to wear tomorrow,” Betsy responded with a great amount of excitement.

              “I’d like too, but Mr. McFreenie has me coming in for the early shift.”

              “Maybe we can plan something then for the weekend,” Lizzy said digging through her purse for her phone.  “Here I will give you my number Betsy, text me tomorrow and we will work something out.”  They exchanged phone numbers, and everyone started on their way out the door.

              “Oh, I need to go find Ghost,” Henry exclaimed!

              “He is a big boy Henry, I’m sure he can find his own way home,” said Abram.

              “If only I had as much faith as you, he’s been a bit worse for wear and I better make sure the other ghosts haven’t brought down his spirits.”

              “You’re a good friend Henry,” said Betsy.

              Henry left the group and started around back to the stairwell that led to the vacant upstairs apartment.  He knocked and an unfamiliar face stuck itself out from where the peephole was, “yes may I help you?”  Henry took a step backwards a bit startled, having been around ghosts during his school years and spending time with Ghost, still had not eased how much sudden appearances and happenings startled him.  “I’m looking for a Spirit, goes by Ghost?”             

              The unknown Spirit ducked back inside, and the door opened allowing Henry through.  He looked around the eerie, cobweb filled, empty apartment.  Walking forward through the entrance hall he began to hear light sobbing.  He passed a door on the right and saw a shimmering figure of a boy sitting on the floor playing with a ghost train, running it around in circles.  Henry waved at the boy who only stared back at him.  Gulping and unnerved Henry continued through the place and called out, “Ghost, ready to go home?”

              The sobbing sound grew louder as he approached the kitchen.  Henry was familiar with the layout of the apartment, having to find Ghost after most of their visits to The Crispy Bean.  His familiarity still did not ease the creepy feeling he felt every time he visited.

              A strong figured female ghost peeked around the corner of the kitchen into the hallway, “Ghost is in here, he’s had a bit of a bad night Henry.”  He moved past her into the kitchen and saw Ghost sobbing with a large piece of glimmering, wadded up cloth in his hand, pushing it to his face and sniffling.

              “I don’t know who I am Henry,” Ghost said with an extreme amount of sadness in his voice.  “I don’t know where I am from, who my family was, what I did when I was alive.”

              “We will figure that out,” Henry said trying to comfort Ghost.

              “We’ve looked all over,” Ghost said slightly confrontational.  “I’m not named Ghost for nothing am I?  No one cares about me because I am a big nobody.  I don’t even know why you keep me around?”

              “You’re my friend, and you helped save my life.”

              “Ha…” Ghost laughed sarcastically, “you were well on your way out of the cave before you found me.”

              “Yes, but you helped me through my darker times after getting out of the cave.  And we are supposed to be hunting down the Dark Spirit who did this to us,” Henry said pulling down the collar of his shirt revealing a large pulsing black spot that emanated a low vibration of dark energy.  “I have something to tell you Ghost.”    

              “What’s that,” Ghost snipped back?

              “The Ministry sent me a letter asking me to go back to Ethiopia.  Apparently, the Dark Spirit I released has been causing havoc among some of the villages nearby.  They said something about finding villages void of life and empty, with trails leading into the jungle.”

              Ghosts attitude diminished into curiosity.  “They suspect it has something to do with the Spirit, well maybe we could find time to visit the cave and see if we missed any clues on our hurry to escape.”

              “My thinking exactly, we need to know what were dealing with before we face it down.”

              “I agree.”

              “Now we only have to get Mr. McFeenie to agree to let me leave for a month to investigate.”

              “Good luck on that, weren’t you in trouble with him last week?”

              “Yeah, no thanks to you Ghost, thanks for causing the refrigerator unit to flood.  He blamed me for not checking the temperatures.”

              Laughing Ghost performed a summersault in the air.  “It was fun watching you mop up the mess.”

              Henry shook his head, “well you ready to go, I have to be in early tomorrow.”

              “I suppose, I was losing anyway.”

              Henry finally noticed the floating card table, “I hope I can spend my afterlife playing cards.”

              “Oh, it gets boring after a while, but we make it interesting by creating new rules,” piped up one of the Ghosts on the far corner of the table.  “See instead of betting money, we dare each other to scare Muggles in a particular way if they lose the hand.”
              “I see,” said Henry.  “Well,” he asked to Ghost?

              “Oh right, well I’ll be seeing you all sometime soon,” Ghost told the other Spirits and after his goodbyes followed Henry out of the apartment.

              “I always get the chills going in there to find you.”

              “I know the way home you know?”

              “Yeah, like the time a few weeks ago I found you on the bus riding the city because you claimed you forgot where I lived.”

              “Even Spirits need their alone time.”

              “I suppose your right, sorry.”     

              “Did I hear you right, Henry apologized, well.”  Ghost pumped himself up with a little satisfaction.

              “I did apologize, you’re my best friend Ghost and I need you.”

              “It’s nice to hear you admit it.”

              “Hey, you need me too.”

              Ghost sighed, “we do have mutual goals.”

              “How do you think I should approach McFeenie?”

              “You may need to charm him.”

              “I’d rather not, bad things always happen when people try to force others to do what they want them too.”

              “Then your stuck asking him, worst is he says no, and we go off anyways.  Do you think you can buy me my own seat on the plane?”

              “Won’t need one, I got permission to pick up a permit to allow me to fly my way there on my own.”

              “Neat, but what are you going to fly on?  You don’t have a broom anymore.”

              “I’m going to borrow McFeenies delivery van.”

              “You wouldn’t dare!”

              Laughing Henry asked, “have a better plan?”

              “Let’s visit the junk yard.”


              The next morning Henry found himself opening shop alone which was peculiar.  McFeenie being a morning person always loved opening his shop and sharing a cup of coffee with Henry.  As Henry was sweeping the back aisle, he began to have a feeling he was being watched.  He turned around quickly and sure enough two men in pin stripe suits were standing at the end of hardware aisle looking over a power strip and staring at Henry.

              “Ministry need something,” asked Henry?  He recognized one of the men as a Lieutenant on the Ministries task force against misuse of Muggle artifacts.  The other man was younger, probably right out of school and working an internship.

              “Did you receive the letter,” asked the Lieutenant?  He handed the power strip to the young lad.

              “I did, I was planning to be on my way in a day or two, but…”

              Cut off the Lieutenant roughly said, “the letter was marked urgent, we expected you to be picking up your pass and flying off tonight.”

              “I do have a life you know, affairs to get in order before I can just jump off to who knows where,” Henry said bitterly.

              “Your affairs here have been taken care of.”

              “What do you mean?”

              “The shop owner won a vacation to the Florida Keys and won’t be back for a month.”

              “What about the shop?”

              “That’s what I brought him for,” the Lieutenant pointed at the young man with him.

              “He doesn’t know anything…”

              Cut off again, Henry showed his frustration on his face as the Lieutenant spoke again, “you will show him what he needs to know, and if he has any questions he will send you an owl.  Also, the Minister gave me this for you.”  He pulled out a long package, “I believe it’s a broom.”

              Henry accepted the package and hefted it a few times, “definitely a broom.  Well I guess I will go home and pack.”

              “After you show Ned how to operate these infernal machines.”

              “Right,” Henry sighed regretting all his life choices which led him to this moment.  “Let’s get on with it then.”  As Henry pointed Ned towards the front, the Lieutenant disapparated.  It took four hours for Ned to have a basic understanding of how to work the store without using magic, and a lot of frustration on Henry’s part.   Finishing up and putting away his work things, Henry made his way to the front of the store, “remember, this is a Muggle’s livelihood, please treat it well.”

              Concerned, but confused as to what else to do Henry walked home.  Ghost had requested to stay home today so he could visit a friend who lived in the basement of their apartment so Henry would find him after he had packed for the trip.  The sky was darkening as a storm blew overhead.  ‘Great,’ Henry thought, dreading the idea of flying in the rain.  He would have to look up a weatherproofing spell before they left tonight.

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