Sunday, March 17, 2019

1st TEN Pages of Moody & The Ghost!

Read  a bit, see what you think...

                                           DEAD AHEAD

Chapter 1

Five months ago, I was perfectly capable of more than descending a staircase on my own. I often took two stairs at a time.
These days, I must be helped down stairs by my younger cousin, Eve. Being dependent on someone else 24/7 was on my This Totally Sucks list, along with having someone buy my groceries and lead me to a car I can no longer drive. And, although this next one doesn’t keep me from functioning, I have a large cut on my face that’s “healing nicely,” according to the plastic surgeon. The wound I originally named “Frankenscar” runs from my cheek to my chin and is responsible for introducing me to scads of doctors and nurses at Seattle’s Swedish Hospital in the last few months.
There have been many adjustments since the accident, not the least of which was the loss of my soul mate, Harrison Moody. But, I can’t talk about Harry. Not yet. I’m trying to concentrate on the positive, as suggested by everyone who knows me. Including the woman helping me down the stairs, Evelyn Xio Primrose, a woman with whom I used to share that last name until I married Harry last year. Then I became a Moody.
My name is Bryndle Moody and I have a YouTube show called Moody Paranormal Investigations. Ghosts are my specialty. They love me. In the biz, I’m known as a medium, but I like the more badass term Ghost Hunter, even though my small team of investigators hunts to help ghosts, not annihilate them. I’m a bit of a celebrity in paranormal circles. At least I used to be.
I’m known to my YouTube followers as Moody, which is appropriate as I attempt to adjust not only to being a young widow but being as blind as a bat. This expression, I have recently found out, isn’t accurate. Bats are not blind. I looked it up online with the help of my vocal software that translates screen to audio.
As I walked to the car, on Eve’s arm, I thought how this day was getting stranger every hour. First, I woke to my mother, Rachel Primrose, calling my cell phone to say her neighbor and friend, Mrs. Giovanni, had died mysteriously.
 “I watched the ambulance take her away just now. Horrible. She was such a good neighbor.”
My mother wanted me to come over to do a reading. “Why not let the police handle it?” I asked, knowing better than to engage with her, but I was fuzzy from sleep and temporarily forgot her history of being a dangerously aggressive budinski.
“They think she died in her sleep, but that daughter of hers . . .”
“I’ll call you later,” I said, ending the call. My mother and I have a complicated relationship. That doesn’t stop her from calling me three times a day. Or me from hanging up on her at least twice. We have a strange dependency on each other.
Then, while walking from the houseboat to my car an hour ago, a crow landed on my shoulder. Eve screamed when she saw the big thing alight on me, but I happen to love crows. At the age of eight, I once befriended one who could say “Shut the god-damned door.” It flew away after a few days of hanging around my uncle Ogden’s house, where we lived temporarily. They are so incredibly smart. If my telepathy wasn’t dead-in-the-water right now, I might have known why this morning’s crow came to me. I’d often had fleeting glimpses into my dog Hodor’s mind. But, I didn’t get anything from the crow except that it thought I was its private launch pad. I just stood very still, enjoying the moment with the weight of a large bird on my right shoulder until Eve shooed it away.
“Scram,” she said, after her little yelp to see a large black bird on me.
Eve is very protective, sometimes taking her job as my assistant a little too seriously. I later wished she’d gotten a photo of the crow sitting on the shoulder of my favorite pleather jacket. I choose not to wear real leather, but I don’t judge. I eat hamburgers, so go figure.
With social media such a big deal now, and me a business owner, I was constantly telling either Eve or my tech guy, Carlos, to take a picture for our Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts. Today was no different except I was too thrilled to have the weight of a crow on my shoulder that I didn’t dare say anything. You could say Moody Investigations is as big on social media as we are on ghosts. YouTube is our livelihood, our bread and butter.
On the drive to Seattle’s downtown, I wondered if the crow was Mrs. Giovanni, then realized that was not possible. It was a strange thought, even for someone who believed in some pretty wacky stuff.
The next unusual event occurred when we arrived at the lawyer’s office, were seated, and were told that I’d inherited a house from someone I had no recollection of ever meeting. I’d previously been informed there was something left to me in this woman’s will, and I’d thought maybe as a fan of the show, she’d left me a weird statue or a favorite black cape. But the woman, Belinda McMahon, had left me a house. On a piece of property. In Oregon, which was the next state over. I didn’t know yet if the house was a dilapidated shed on a sliver of swampland, but the fact that someone wanted me to have her house was both touching and mysterious. Unless the house came with a curse.
Unfortunately, the lawyer, a man named Sheldon Rinkle (who Eve had secretly renamed Seldom Wrinkled), knew nothing about the structure, only that I was the recipient of the house.
The deal was that if I accepted the house, I couldn’t sell it for five years. I immediately wondered how many years of upkeep I’d have to contribute to warrant inheriting real estate. And how much I’d need to spend on taxes. Then, Mr. Wrinkled told me five years’ worth of taxes and repairs had been factored into an account his office was paid to manage.
Very mysterious.
Walking across the parking garage, I suggested Eve and I both pretend to be blind when we saw a car coming. “Keep your eyes open a little to tell me if they look horrified,” I said. But no cars approached, and I didn’t think Eve was totally on board with my little joke. Knowing her, she’d think it was unsafe for her even to partially close her eyes in a parking lot.
 Eve and I arrived at my car, a 1961 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite, I’d named Austin, years ago. I used to drive that little wonder all over Seattle. Until the accident. Of course, now I didn’t drive. I couldn’t even find Austin in a garage without help. Even though he was bright red.
I fastened my probably inadequate lap belt, which only kept me from flying out of the car in an accident, not hitting my head on the dashboard, and waited for my cousin to get into the driver’s seat. I fingered the belt, thinking about another car, one that was now in a scrap heap somewhere, crushed on the driver’s side. Whenever my mind took me to that scary day, I pushed the memory aside, like a dreaded house chore to be tackled later.
“I’m gobsmacked that someone I do not know, would leave me a house,” I said.
This new turn of events was all very strange and left me feeling like I was in a dream. But then, the whole last five months had felt like a dream. The difference was being left a house was a good kind of dream, especially if the house was paid for.
According to the attorney, the property was near a small town named Smuggler’s Cove on the Oregon coast. That sounded charming. And slightly illegal. I was intrigued, because I’m drawn to bad things--always have been. Harry was the exception. My therapist had approved of my choice in men when I fell for the slightly nerdy-looking but steadfast and hugely funny Harry Moody.
As Austin roared to life, I asked Eve what she thought. “Did the attorney seem legit?” It wasn’t necessary to turn my head to look at my cousin. I couldn’t see, true, but I knew what she looked like. She’d be wearing ripped jeans, a Hello Kitty jacket and skull jewelry. Or something similar. Her long black hair would be in high pigtails or in a bun planted on the very top of her head maybe held together with chopsticks. She might even have the ends of her hair bleached with pink tints. Eve’s style was unique and often involved anime characters. Half Taiwanese, her mother was Asian, and her father was a lily-white with black hair Primrose. The anime thing was because she loved that stuff. Most days, she looked like an anime character herself.
“He had a radical office,” Eve said. “In a building that would rent for bundles. He seemed on the up and up.” Eve drove Austin a little too fast out of the parking garage and I had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting something about Mario Andretti. You’d think that surviving a car accident would make me feel I’d cheated death and was invincible. It didn’t.
“The first thing I want to do when we get home is investigate the deed. Tomorrow, I want to go look at the place.” I doubted the house was much, although I did wonder if it was willed to me because it was haunted. That would be something.
“You want to drive to the Oregon coast tomorrow?” Eve sounded like she might have other plans. That was fine. I’d have Carlos take me to the house and describe what he saw. He knew words like dilapidated, rundown, eyesore. He even knew how to say holiday trailer if it was one. I had no idea what this house would look like but could imagine. It was free. 
“Go do something fun tomorrow, Eve. Carlos knows how to find Oregon.” It was only a four-hour drive.
“Are you joking? I want to see the place. I don’t want Carlos using up all the ranky adjectives.”
I snort-laughed.
Carlos was my tech expert, the guy who knew the most about recording ghostly noises at high frequencies, filming and mixing our weekly show to look like it wasn’t engineered in a floating houseboat, which it was. He was essential for my business and a godsend, as much as Eve was with her abilities. Eve had two talents I needed, especially these days: her inherited psychic gift and her marketing abilities which, strangely enough, counted for as much in my business.
In our wacky Primrose family, we all had something akin to clairvoyance which made for predictable drama at family gatherings where everyone was reading everyone else’s thoughts. Two years earlier, Eve and I had split off from the crowd of thirty or so after a particularly bad Thanksgiving and haven’t been in touch with our overly-sensitive family much lately, except for Christmas well-wishing and the occasional comment on Facebook. This is how Eve and I preferred to view our family—from a safe distance.
Even after Harry’s death, my mother told me that she’d “seen the accident.” I almost punched her right then and there. Days later, I was tempted to ask why she hadn’t told me, but it wouldn’t bring Harry back. That, and Eve pointed out that my mother’s abilities were spotty for no known reason and she was probably lying about the premonition. She’d predicted Uncle Ogden would travel far this year and when he broke his back, we knew that this man wasn’t going anywhere. My mother’s clairvoyance could not be trusted, something the Primroses knew and that made Rachel about as happy as a caged wolverine. She’d been hungry for a good prediction and might have said she saw the accident just to get a score on the board. That was my mother.
With me on Eve’s trusty arm, we walked to the top of the dock that led to my home, a 1500-square-foot houseboat that was Harry’s pride and joy. He’d bought the place with money from his grandfather and we’d called it Floatville. We both loved living on the water with a view of the Seattle Space Needle on one side and a snowy mountain range in the other direction. Our views were very Pacific Northwest.
“Anything on the dock I should be aware of today?” I asked Eve.
“Clear ahead except for a floating cottage with fairytale window boxes.” Eve had graduated from U of Washington in Communications and luckily knew how to expertly describe everything in sight. Her use of adjectives lately had skyrocketed to admirable levels, and I wondered if she kept a dictionary under her pillow at night. When I was a teenager, Eve seemed a lot younger. She’d follow me around at family gatherings agreeing with everything I said. Although there were five years between us, we seemed to have caught up in age these days.
With my recently purchased white cane which was a long thin stick that folded like a tent pole when not in use, and training from an Orientation and Mobility specialist, I headed towards Floatville tapping my cane in time to, “Bad Moon Rising,” my mother’s ringtone.
“Don’t go ‘round tonight, it’s bound to take your life, there’s a bathroom on the right.”
“Maybe slow down,” Eve cautioned. “And it’s ‘Bad moon on the rise.’”
I ended up at my front door and felt for the ghostly wreath that still hung there from last Halloween. The lights were hot, still plugged in, which I found touching.
“That was your best one yet!” Eve said with such enthusiasm I almost cried.
People were afraid I’d fall off the dock and forget I was a great swimmer, so I was determined to prove everyone wrong by navigating the dock like a pro.
“Gracias, my darlin’,” I called.
Eve’s optimism in the last months had kept me going, made me want to grasp something worth living for. If Eve thought I could do it, I supposed I could.
 At least I wanted to.
I opened the door and entered my floating home as the new owner of two residences. Even if one was a shack riddled with rats, the idea was heady for a moment.
I owned two homes.

Chapter 2

My cane clicked on the hardwood floor as I set out for the desk near the window. Right foot forward, cane tap on the left. Left foot forward, cane tap on the right. Sometimes, I tapped out songs I was singing in my head. It made tapping more fun. It was just a silly game I’d taken to playing while I got used to the cane. A few days ago, I’d gotten so involved in tapping the song “Happy,” I’d completely run into a shelf in the drug store. Eve was a screamer and that moment was no exception. I’d been taught to listen for the tapping echoes, but it was so much more fun to sing.
“Pie arr-alar la bamba,” I sang. It was then and there I decided to name my cane. Yes, I would call the thing TapTap. It seemed appropriate and brought this long, thin helper into my family with a name. I found my way to the chair and plunked down, folding TapTap up into a short, stubby bundle.
No longer could I see the picturesque canal, the other houseboats and the colorful marina with a field of masts to the right. I knew the view well and remembered what my home overlooked. I had memories, something people born blind did not have, as my mother kept reminding me.
“I’m going to my room,” Eve said.
I smiled in the direction of her voice. “Try to find a nice boyfriend,” I said, in a Bronx accent. This was our running joke. Eve was on a break these days from relationships, which worked out beautifully for me, having her available when I most needed her. Eve’s last boyfriend was a controlling loser who took advantage of her and had made an intervention necessary to convince her to dump him. Working for me, a needy blind lady, was a step up, something that made me feel pretty good on days when I asked Eve to find me a pair of clean underwear.
While waiting for my laptop to boot up, I realized I hadn’t eaten breakfast. My last meal had been KFC the night before. Eve wasn’t much of a cook and until I figured out how to slice food blindly, I was not attempting meals. I missed cooking. I did keep candy bars hidden in the bottom desk drawer, however, and found what felt like an Almond Joy with two lumps.
Next, I called my mother to see if she still thought Mrs. Giovanni died at the hands of her daughter. Just because I detested my mother didn’t mean I didn’t phone her to see what she was thinking at any given moment.
“I’m sure her no-good daughter poisoned her, or worse,” Rachel said. “Mrs. G told me that they were fighting, and it got pretty bad. I have a feeling, but I’d like you to come by, see if Mrs. G wants to say something from the other side.”
My mother had no idea I was broken. I hadn’t told anyone that my abilities had left me like a cheating husband’s wife. No one except Eve and Carlos. “Maybe tomorrow.” Appeasing my mother today wasn’t on my to-do list. If the police suspected homicide, they’d investigate. Also, I had good reason to ignore my mother’s plea for paranormal assistance at Mrs. G’s house.
My whole life Rachel had used me like sending a canary into a coal mine to test the air quality. The ability she didn’t have and wanted was mine, something I often thought of as a curse when she’d take my barely adolescent self to haunted houses and leave me in the dead of night to find out what the ghost wanted. This is basically how she financed our life. We never had much but we usually had a roof over our heads, even if the roof sometimes belonged to one of the Primrose Clan. Then she discovered rich older men and our quality of life improved greatly.
Becoming a hired paranormal investigator in the last eight years was so much more credible than what my mother had me doing in place of attending high school. During one of our many knock-down, drag-out verbal battles in my adolescence, she’d once said, “At least I’m not making you turn tricks.” I remembered storming from the room that day, knowing my mother would never be normal and because of that, I had a slim chance of turning out well.
She’d always been beautiful, like a movie star from the fifties, with her dark hair and bright blue eyes. But, in direct opposition to her lovely visage, Rachel swore like a sailor and married men for their money then divorced them faster than you could say, “Too bad there was no pre-nup.”
I set to work on my laptop, feeling determined to do something that counted, besides inheriting a house that someone else worked hard to build, or buy, and maybe maintain. Just because I’d been raised a moocher, I wasn’t without a sense of contributing. I was probably more aware of pulling my own weight because of all the favors I’d been granted in my twenty-eight years.
With screen reader software, a lovely female voice told me I’d reached my site online. After typing in my search, I listened to the woman inform me that the deed to the house on Smuggler’s Cove was recorded at the Clatsop County Office. And according to the voice, the house was now owned by Bryndle Clementine Moody. Me.
How the hell did Belinda McMahon get my middle name? I never told anyone that abomination. I owned the house before I’d even signed the deed. Was that legal?
An email notification pinged on my laptop. It was from the lawyer. My first thought was that he’d written to say there’d been a mistake and the house was supposed to go to someone else named Bryndle Clementine Moody. But, no. The soft voice I thought of as Moneypenny read me the email.

I was instructed to send you this email one hour after you left our offices. It’s from my client, Mrs. Belinda McMahon.

            Dear Mrs. Moody:
            I am trusting to you my most valuable legacy, knowing that your life has been based in paranormal experiences that many pass off as fabricated stories. I believe in your talent.
            Cove House is blissfully haunted, and I want to leave this grand old lady to someone who will appreciate its many qualities.
            It is with great joy I pass along my home to you. There’s only one other request beyond keeping it for five years, and that is that you do an investigation. What you will find in Cove House might surprise you.
            I’m counting on your expertise and generosity to help the ghost.
Belinda McMahon

There was a catch! I knew it. But an extremely good one, it seemed. I’d inherited my own ghost. Today felt like Christmas, with me getting the best toy ever imagined. My heart pounded in my chest and I felt like punching the air in enthusiasm. What did blissfully haunted mean? I wasn’t sure what to make of the letter, but the prospect of a ghost investigation where no one was hanging over my shoulder waiting for a report was appealing to me. In my business there’s always a client, and demands, and a time frame, and sometimes disappointment.
Even though the house was mine, Belinda McMahon felt marginally like a client, but because she was dead, time wasn’t a factor. Nor would there be disappointment at not finding a ghost. Occasionally, a client expected more ghost action besides me just sensing occupation and telling the ghost to move on. Some clients wanted to see the ghost themselves and I had to explain to them it didn’t work that way unless they were psychic. Only a select few got to see ghosts. Not even Carlos and Eve were lucky enough to get in on the action, most times. Eve was on the verge of tapping into her inherited talent and I was trying to speed that process along. Carlos had the standard five senses. These days, I was down to five myself, possibly four, if my clairvoyance didn’t kick in soon.
I texted Eve, who was twenty steps away in her bedroom, to tell her our exciting news about inheriting a house that was haunted and was now a hundred times more interesting. A thousand times.
Even if it was a two hundred square foot trailer, I owned a ghost.
Eve emerged from the other part of Floatville, the area with two bedrooms and a bathroom. “I knew it!” She sounded as excited as I felt. “Now we have two haunts,” Eve said.
We’d recently been given the go-ahead on a restaurant investigation east of Seattle. The owner had emailed me about setting up the date to explore his haunted restaurant and I was excited at the prospect of gently working my way back to the land of the unliving. My calling card in the paranormal industry, if you can call a bunch of mediums and psychics an industry, is that I hold the honor of being the only ghost hunter who has ever captured a clear image of a moving ghost on video. A stroke of timely luck. The footage of a white apparition crossing a room in a Seattle warehouse went viral last year. It’s five seconds of ground-breaking video. Non-believers said the tape was fake, that it had been doctored, but believers knew it hadn’t. I was used to skepticism.
“Which place shall we investigate first?” Eve asked.
I hadn’t felt anything telepathic since the accident and hoped it was because I’d been blocked by grief. For five months we’d been referring cases to another ghost hunter in Washington State, but now I felt ready to get an investigation on our books and uploaded.  “Maybe The Eatery in Roslyn,” I said to Eve. Our new case was a small restaurant less than two hours from Seattle in a town called Roslyn where a famous TV show was filmed in the 90’s because the town resembles Alaska. The restaurant had a resident ghost—a female spirit that had been seen several times. I’d taken the case knowing it was a slam dunk for a skittish rider getting back on the horse and was hopeful we’d be able to help The Eatery’s owner, Jim.
Although visiting haunted houses wasn’t financially lucrative, our show on YouTube was and we needed to get product online after so much time of nothingness. Having a ton of subscribers on YouTube allowed me to pay two employees a decent wage only because I had sponsors and clicks and everything you need to get money on YouTube.        
When I’d decided to take The Eatery case, I was sure the haunted restaurant would produce something wonderful and had been cautiously hopeful. But, having inherited a haunted house in the opposite direction, I was torn between two haunts now. Although Mrs. McMahon’s letter was ambiguous, I was thinking that exploring my inherited house could be my psychic litmus test with no client watching me. It was an opportunity for me to see if what Carlos called my “loco mojo” was still alive. “First on the list, we’ll check out the Oregon house with no formal investigation, then head off to The Eatery, see what that ghost has to say,” I said.
It was with a glimmer of hope that I emailed Carlos to tell him my news of the inheritance and invite him to road trip to Oregon’s wild coast tomorrow. I would figuratively look at my inherited property and if I felt the presence of a ghost, I’d be farther ahead than I was today. If I didn’t feel anything, I’d deal with that at the time. Even if my inner sight had gone AWOL, Eve could handle things in Roslyn. Her abilities, although undeveloped, were strong enough in a situation where the ghost had appeared multiple times. She and I would play that one by ear having already discussed working in tandem to make it look like it was business as usual for Moody. Nothing wrong here, folks.
Carlos would film me lying my face off about feeling a ghost.

To Be Continued ...

For Sale at Amazon

KIM HORNSBY is the bestselling Amazon Author of The Dream Jumper's Promise, Book    1 in a Supernatural Suspense series. She lives in the Seattle area and writes stories for       women about overcoming tragedy, adversity and coming out the other end.
Find her on Amazon Books.

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