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    Geron Kees
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Every Boy Should Face His Demons, Charlie Boone! - 4. Chapter 4

They made good time going back. The trip was short to begin with, but at this time of the evening there was no traffic to speak of. They reached the lane and turned into it, and Ricky drove it faster than he had in the light earlier that day.

"Slow down, Rick," Adrian said, reaching out to place a hand against the dash. "The house will still be there when we get there,"

Ricky took his foot off the gas and the SUV immediately slowed. "Sorry. All this spook talk has me worried for Moped. This might be the first time she's been left alone at night."

Charlie reached forward and put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "She'll be fine. I'm sure Annie has arrived home after dark before. Especially at this time of year."

Ricky nodded, and blew out a small breath. "Yeah, you're right. I was just thinking...well, I don't know what I was thinking."

Kippy sighed. "We can deal with this, whatever it is. If it's anything at all. So far, this is all just talk and speculation. But if it's actually spirits, like Billy and Will, we can talk to them, I'm sure."

"Yeah, I know. " Ricky laughed. "Whatever it is can't be worse than the Moth, right?"

They rounded the last bend in the road before the driveway, and a strange sight appeared out of the darkness on the shoulder ahead. Ricky stepped on the brake, and the SUV ground to a halt. "What the hell is that?"

Charlie leaned forward and peered at the odd vehicle parked on the shoulder just before the driveway, and smiled. "Wow. I think they used to call them 'woodies'."

Kippy gave a short laugh. "I like the name!"

Charlie smiled at his boyfriend, then gave Ricky a gentle prod with his fingertip. "Get closer, will ya?"

Ricky nodded, and eased the SUV forward. The strange vehicle was a deep burgundy in color, with serious bulges, curves, and lines that were totally dissimilar to the cars of the day. In a way it resembled an SUV, but was lower and longer. The tailgate and upper sides of the vehicle seemed to be sheathed in wood, which was as shiny and well cared for as an elegant coffee table. The car sat on tires with large white sidewalls, and seemed encrusted with more chrome than Charlie had ever seen on a single car before. One long chrome piece ran along the side from back to front, mimicking the curve of the body lines. Charlie squinted at a word written in polished chrome on the rear quarter panel of the car, and smiled. "Dynaflow. I may be wrong, but I think it's a Buick."

Kippy gaped. "That thing is a Buick? It looks like an antique vacuum cleaner."

Charlie nodded. "It's a classic, and this one is in great shape. Early fifties, I think." He laughed. "I like old cars, but I'm not an expert."

"He said," Ricky appended, with a snort. "Britannica Brain strikes again!"

"Oh, shut up," Charlie said, giving the seat ahead of him a playful push. He looked over at the car again. "I wonder what it's doing here?"

"Probably broke down," Ricky responded dryly. "And you probably need a time machine to find parts for a thing like that."

"I would have left a note on it, if I had to leave it along the road," Adrian said. He quickly unclipped his seat belt and opened the door. "I'll look."

He climbed out, and entered the glow of the headlights as he walked along the length of the car, peering into the windows. He arrived at the front and inspected the windshield, shook his head, and then returned. "No note. It's all the way off the road, too, like it was parked. Not like it stopped and drifted over."

"Maybe someone visiting one of the neighbors?" Kippy suggested.

"They all have driveways," Charlie pointed out. "Even if you decided to park out here, why park in front of a neighbor's house?"

Ricky suddenly stiffened. "Maybe someone went up to Annie's house."

Adrian got in and closed his door. "Let's go."

They pulled forward past the old car, and Ricky turned the SUV into the driveway and started up the hill. As they reached the curve to the left, Charlie caught a glimpse of movement in the woods beside the drive. Ricky stomped on the brake at the same moment, and the SUV slid to a stop. Ricky whipped open the center console, grabbed something, and then was throwing off his seat belt. He pushed his door open and slid out, and raised his arm towards the woods. A bright beam of light flashed out, moved around a moment, then paused.

"Stop right there!" Ricky yelled, his voice sounding amazingly commanding.

Charlie and the others pushed open their doors and got out.

Just then a weak voice, tremulous with terror, called back to them: "Oh, don't shoot! I'm unarmed!"

Ricky started forward, and Charlie hurried after him. He was conscious of Kippy and Adrian close behind him. The four of them advanced along the beam of Ricky's flashlight, and into the edge of the woods.

Charlie did a double take at what he saw next. There, revealed in the beam of the flashlight, stood a short, dumpy man in a khaki-colored business suit, but one that looked two sizes too large for him. A narrow black tie hung outside of the unbuttoned jacket, laying slightly to one side along the curve of the man's paunch. Wide, dark eyes stared at them from beneath the brim of a light gray tweed deerstalker hat. The man's arms were raised, and one hand held a small flashlight, currently unlit.

Charlie found himself smiling at the man's appearance, despite his first thought that they had nabbed themselves a prowler.

"What are you doing here?" Ricky asked.

The man squinted at them, obviously unable to really see who stood behind the bright LED flash. "I was just looking, that's all. I meant no harm! None at all!"

Charlie stepped up beside Ricky. "Is that your Buick Woodie parked down on the road?"

"Yes. Yes, it is. See? I wasn't hiding. Right out in the open, I parked. I had only just walked up here a short time ago, before you came along."

"What are you doing here?" Ricky asked, some of the edge now leaving his voice.

"I just wanted a look at the house at night. I had heard so much about it, you know. But I needed to see it at night."

"This is private property," Ricky continued. "Do you always go prowling around other people's property at night?"

"Well...sometimes I do. But...oh, no! I'm not a prowler! I'm not a burglar, if that's what you're thinking! I just wanted to see the house. At night, I mean."

The man looked on the verge of tears now, and Charlie felt some real sympathy for the guy. Unless every sense he had was wrong, the man really meant no harm. And there was something odd about his insistence on seeing the house at night. A suspicion came over Charlie then.

"Someone told you about this house?"

"Yes. That was it. I received a letter from someone who had worked here."

Then Charlie was certain. "Mrs. Viggerol."

The little man's eyes widened, and hope came onto his face. "Yes! It was her! She had worked here, and she told me some things about the house, and well, I just needed to see it."

"At night," Charlie finished.

"Well, yes. At night."

Charlie extended a hand and deflected Rick's arm down a bit, so that the bright beam was no longer directly in the little man's eyes. "She told you the house was haunted."

The man's mouth dropped open, and then immediately snapped close. "But...you do know!" He held up a hand now and tried to shade his eyes, and peered more closely at them. "You're not the police?"

Kippy laughed, and Charlie heard a distinct snort from Adrian.

Charlie smiled. "No, we're not the police. Why don't you come on over here?"

The man waved the hand holding the flashlight, and then his other hand. "I'm not armed. You've nothing to fear from me, no sir!"

Charlie waved a hand. "Come on over."

The man nodded, and moved carefully forward, one step, then another, watching them the whole time.

"We're not armed, either," Charlie finally said.

The little man's shoulders sagged in relief, and he took a deep breath. And then he was striding towards them. "Now that's good to know. You never know in this day and age who might be carrying a weapon. Can't be too careful, not too careful at all!"

Charlie nodded, and pushed Rick's light down even farther.

"Is this a good idea?" Ricky whispered.

Charlie grinned. "Does he look like he could take all four of us?"

Ricky chuckled. "Not tonight, anyway."

The little man made his way through the underbrush, his shoes crunching in the dead leaves, and arrived before them.

"Why...you're just boys!"

Ricky bristled playfully. "Smile when you say that!"

The little man shook his head, and then blew out a short breath of relief. "You certainly had me scared. Who yelled for me to stop where I was?"

Ricky laid a hand on his chest. "That was me."

The man nodded. "You sounded like you meant business." He sighed, and patted himself carefully. "I think I'm a year older now."

Charlie laughed, unable not to like the man. "I'm Charlie Boone. The guy with the light is Ricky, and these two behind us are Kippy and Adrian."

The little man bobbed his head as each name was offered, and then smiled, put his free hand on his waist, and puffed his chest out proudly. "And I am Horace L. Wingspanner, ghost hunter."

"Of course you are!" Kippy said, the delight quite apparent in his voice. Adrian gave a little clap of his hands, Ricky snorted, and Charlie grinned.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Wingspanner."

The man beamed at them. "Oh, call me Horace, please."

Kippy came up beside Charlie and leaned against his shoulder. "Maybe we should invite Mister....um, Horace, up to the house?"

The man's eyes widened again. "Oh...but...oh! You are connected to this house? You live here?"

"The house belongs to my family," Ricky said, vaguely. "We're visiting for a few days."

Horace immediately leaned forward. "And have you witnessed any...manifestations?"

Ricky snorted again. "You mean have we seen any ghosts? Not a one."

"This will be our first night here, though," Charlie said quickly, as a flash of disappointment crossed the ghost hunter's face. "So we haven't been here at night until now."

A new interest displaced the disappointment. "Ah. Now that is important, isn't it?"

Charlie smiled. The man looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties, but Charlie knew he was only middlin' good at guessing ages. But something in Horace's manner suggested more years than that, or even a connection to a different time frame than the current one. The car the man drove, the way he dressed and spoke - anachronism was the word that came to mind.

That...and there was something else. Something odd, yet something familiar. A certain brightness to his eyes, a depth, a sense that there was more there than was visible. Skwish.

Charlie nodded."How long have you been hunting ghosts, Horace?"

The man smiled, and tweaked his chin thoughtfully. "Oh...I don't know, now. Hmm. Oh, it's been a while, surely."

Kippy gave Charlie a careful nudge with his elbow. "Let's go on up to the house."

Ricky sighed, but nodded. "I suppose we owe you a look, after scaring you so much."

"Oh, I'd love to see the interior," Horace said, pressing his hands together eagerly. He blinked, then looked down, and then on the ground around him. "Oh! Wait, wait...where's my bag?"

He turned and hustled back to where he had been standing, while the boys smiled at his uncertain movements. Horace was obviously not a man used to skulking about in the woods at night.

"Guy's an odd fish, isn't he?" Ricky asked in a low voice, leaning close to Charlie. "Are you sure we should take him into the house?"

Charlie laughed. "What's your gut feeling?"

Ricky made an annoyed sound, but then chuckled. "That he's harmless."

"There you go, then."

Horace came back to them, lugging a large, leather-handled carpet bag. The decorative motif of the fabric was of green and yellow flowers, and had been lost in the underbrush until Horace retrieved it.

"Must have the tools of my trade, you know."

Ricky aimed his flashlight at the bag. "Mind if I look inside before we go to the house?"

"Why, not at all, young man. Just be careful not to break anything. But go right ahead."

Horace set the bag at Ricky's feet, stuck a hand down into his pants pocket, and withdrew a small ring of keys. He found a small skeleton key among the others, inserted it into a lock embedded in the wood frame at the top of the bag, and quickly opened it. Ricky leaned forward, shining the light within.

"Huh? Charlie, look at all these gizmos!"

Charlie stepped over and gazed down into the carpet bag. It did seem to be full of largely electronic gear. "Mind if I ask what all this stuff is?"

Horace nodded, closed one eye, and tilted the other one skyward as he did a mental inventory of the bag. "Well, there's a digital voice recorder, a digital camera with night vision, an EMF detector --"

"Electromagnetic field detector?" Charlie asked, surprised.

"Oh, of course. Um...an infrared thermometer, motion sensors, vibration sensors, binary response devices, a frequency scanner, night vision optics, light level indicators, static discharge detectors, pens and paper, several different spectrum of flashlights, a small video camera, some extra batteries, and a variety of knickknacks of my own design."

"No garlic?" Adrian asked dryly.

Horace smiled. "No, young man. Garlic is for protection against vampires."

"Yeah," Ricky said, smiling. "One scary thing at a time."

Horace steepled his fingers and tapped the tips lightly together. "I am accustomed to some cynicism from spectators. It doesn't bother me."

"Oh, we're not cynics," Charlie said. "We believe that the dead have rights, too."

Horace stared for a moment at Charlie, and then squeezed his eyes closed and barked out a laugh. All four boys grinned.

"I love a sense of humor in young people!" Horace told them. "You're a card, sir. A card."

"I try." Charlie pointed back at the drive. "Why don't you get your nice old car off the shoulder of the road before something happens to it? Just drive on up to the house. We'll be waiting on the front porch."

"Oh, my, that will work just fine," Horace said, chortling happily. "Yes, yes, I must get my car. See you shortly!"

The little man snatched up his carpet bag and clapped a hand to the top of his deerstalker cap, and started off at a run down the driveway. He got about ten feet past the SUV, and then they could just see him pause. A flashlight came on, and then they could see it swaying back and forth as Horace hastened down the drive.

"I hope you know what you're doing, Charlie," Ricky said, watching as the light disappeared around the curve in the drive. "That one's a character, I do believe."

Charlie smiled at him. "Do you know how many characters we know already? What's one more?"

Kippy hooted, and Adrian put an arm around his boyfriend and smiled. "I think he's right."

Charlie turned to his boyfriend. "The man has a strange feel about him. Did you get it?"

Kippy patted Charlie's arm like it was obvious. "Certainly. He has active skwish, just like Mrs. Viggerol."

"Only stronger," Adrian said. He turned to Rick. "I figured you and Charlie would sense it, too."

Ricky frowned. "You mean how he seemed all bright and eager somehow? But...something more than that?"

Adrian nodded. "Pretty much." He turned to look back down the dark driveway. "He's not as strong as any of us. But considering we haven't really met any other humans with skwish...it's kind of hard to tell."

Kippy grunted. "Yeah. Two new people with skwish, all in the same day. Maybe three, if you count Annie."

"You really think my cousin has it?" Ricky asked, not looking particularly happy about the idea.

"I do," Kippy replied. "But I think hers is asleep. Dormant. It's never had the right thing happen to wake it up so it could be used." He pointed the way the ghost hunter had gone. "Horace - and Mrs. Viggerol - their skwish is awake."

"This is getting interesting," Charlie decided. "What's your skwish say about Horace, Kip?"

"It likes him. So do I."

That jibed with what Charlie felt about the man. "Yeah. Well, I guess we should get moving."

Ricky nodded. "Come on. Let's head on up to the house."

Copyright © 2020 Geron Kees; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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15 hours ago, Headstall said:

Horace is a great character, Geron. So is the 'woody.' ;)  I suspect Horace knows his business, but he might be surprised at what the boys collectively know about the worlds around them. Great, entertaining chapter that advances the journey. Great dialogue too. Cheers. 

Thanks, Gary. Horace would be pleased to hear that! :)


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I'm way behind but gonna catch up!

I like Mr. Wingspanner and his car is fabulous--I love those woodies, and though they came from more than one maker, the only real color that suits them is that awesome burgundy.
I think my favorite one from a movie has to be that from 'Murder By Death' driven by Inspector Wang who is a satirization of Charlie Chan.

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15 hours ago, ColumbusGuy said:

I'm way behind but gonna catch up!

I like Mr. Wingspanner and his car is fabulous--I love those woodies, and though they came from more than one maker, the only real color that suits them is that awesome burgundy.
I think my favorite one from a movie has to be that from 'Murder By Death' driven by Inspector Wang who is a satirization of Charlie Chan.

I used a '51 Buick Roadmaster woodie as the model for Horace's car. I looked at the car, and then imagined just the sort of ghost hunter that might drive it!

It was either gonna be Indiana Jones, or...Horace L. Wingspanner! :)



1949 Buick Roadmaster Woodie Wagon | Classic Cars | Hyman LTD

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