When Fireballs Collide, Part 2 – Fiction Writing by S. H. Marpel
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The story so far:
When John and his spirit-guides Sal and Jude are confronted with thrown fireballs when attempting to rescue a ghost, they had to do a fast retreat.
Sal and Jude find that fireballs actually don’t affect them, and so disappear into another space of the Library to practice. Meanwhile, John boned up on fiction and non-fiction about the subject of ghosts.
But the gals decided to take him to out to dinner to discuss their next tactics…
We then arrived at a banquet hall. It was long and narrow, lit by several chandeliers at intervals along the ceiling. In the center was a long mahogany table with sturdy tall-backed chairs lining each side. Along its center, running the length, was a table runner, with short floral arrangements that appeared every few feet. Dwarf roses alternated with violets, complemented the neutral dark-green runner they stood on. Between these were simple salt and pepper holders, held by simple stainless metal hoops to a small pad beneath them.
Nearby, on one side of the room was a buffet every bit as long as the table that held a variety of food. Salads, roasted meats of all types, cheeses, vegetables, and breads – every type you could think of. On the other side of the room was a matching buffet that had all types and sorts of drinks, from wines and beers to clear water in pitchers and bottles as well as draft from kegs. Also teas, both hot and iced, in pitchers, bottles, and tall cans. That buffet also had a huge assortment of desserts, enticing and varied. Pies, cakes, sweet buns, you name it.
Jude and Sal went to the end of the food buffet first and loaded plates up with salads, meats, and vegetables. I got the makings for a poor-boy sandwich.
By the time I completed finding everything, I carried my plate down to one end where the women had already set theirs down. They were already returning from the drink and dessert bar.
We met at the end. Sal had gotten us all cans of sweetened iced tea while Jude had picked up a tray of various small cheesecakes.
The room was quiet for a while other than our eating.
At last, Sal asked between bites, “So how is all that going to help us handle the ghost of the L. A. Observatory?”
Jude spoke up, “I think that we can now fend off the fireballs while John deals with the ghost’s mystery.”
I had finished off my long sandwich and was sitting back sipping my tea and sampling a cheesecake square. “Our advantage is just as you two first pointed out when you recruited me. Every mystery has a solution. An open mind will find those solutions more easily than not. My background in detective stories gives me the edge as that’s a workable format.”
Sal finished her plate and pushed it away, picking up her own can of tea. “Well, that seems to be an approach we can use. Now that we have thrown away that other belief, I’m open to test some others as well.”
Jude had also finished her plate and a few of the cheesecake squares. Also her tea as well. She wiped her mouth with the cloth napkin and pushed back from the table, suppressing a burp. “So? When can we start?”
She and Sal stood at that. I took the cue to set down my own tea and stood to join them.
Sal gestured with one hand and the room shimmered again.
As we arrived, the ghost of a girl was just appearing out of the fog and mist into a recognizable form. Sal looked to Jude, and she nodded. They disappeared, only to reappear about a dozen large paces on each side of that ghost, facing the direction she came from.
The ghost just continued with her blank stare, coming straight at me.
I walked to meet her this time, stepping out with my long pasture-covering pace.
When she saw this, she slowed her walking and showed a puzzled look on her face.
That’s what I was counting on. People usually hide or run from ghosts, few come right at them.
My next action really stopped her cold. I asked her, “Excuse me, but could you help me? I think you have a story to tell and I want to hear it.”
The ghost was clearly visible now. Blond hair, pulled back into a ponytail. An oversized athlete’s Letter-jacket covered her shoulders and a pink sweater underneath was buttoned only at the top. That in turn covered a white frill-collared blouse buttoned up to her neck. Poodle skirt, bobby socks, and saddle-shoes finished the almost stereotypic look. Her red lips contrasted with her pale face and dark eyes and eyebrows.
I asked again, “You look like you’re going somewhere. All dressed up for a dance, I expect. I don’t want to keep you, but I’m writing a story for research into how teenagers live and wanted your view of this. You’ve been living OK and probably have your own story. Can you tell it to me?”
The honest flattery got her attention. She now looked at me like a person, and tilted her head to the side, with a raised eyebrow to match. “Why should I talk to you? It’s not like we’ve ever met before.”
I replied, “Oh, I’m sorry. My name is John and I write for a living. I write stories about people and their lives. What’s your name?”
She said, “My name’s Julie. And you’re right, I’m headed for a dance. My boyfriend is going to pick me up any second.”
I said, “Well, that’s great. I can walk with you if you’d like. And tell me all about yourself meanwhile.”
I fell in alongside her as we took a slower pace across the empty parking lot. She started to tell me her life’s story and got up to the point where she was going to meet her boyfriend. Then she stopped with a worried look crossing her face.
I asked, “Is there something about your boyfriend that’s got you worried?”
She replied, “Yeah, Bobbie’s been acting strange lately.”
I stayed silent, just looking at her with interest.
“He’s standoffish now. And said he’d be bringing my best friend Sally with him for our date. I thought we’d be able to ‘make out’ afterwards, but Sally’s house is right down the street from mine, so that doesn’t make sense. And I’m not interested in sharing Bobbie with anyone, even if it’s my best friend. And I’m certainly not going to be intimate with him in front of someone else looking on – or worse.” Her eyes began to tear.
She started walking away, on her earlier path. I went along with her, at her side.
I asked, “Do you think he’s being unfaithful?”
She pulled out a man’s handkerchief from a jacket pocket and dabbed her eyes. “I don’t want to think so. But he says that Sally and him are coming from the Library where they have been doing homework. And that doesn’t make sense. They wouldn’t be dressed that way to go to a dance. So something is funny here.”
I agreed. “Sure, that doesn’t make sense. Has Sally been helping him with his studies for a while?”
Julie nodded. “All semester. He doesn’t get math very well, but if he doesn’t keep his grades up, he’ll be off the team.”
I asked, “So they’ve been seeing each other during the week.”
She replied, “And on the weekends Sally and I have been going to the games to watch him play, then going out for malts afterwards. Then he’d drive us both home. But she’s started kissing him, right in front of me. He acts like it’s no big deal. And at first it was just on the cheek, but then she planted one on his lips and that’s when I started seeing red.” As if on cue, her eyes got a red tinge to them and her hand clenched the handkerchief while her eyebrows lowered.
“I’m beginning to think there is something going on. But Sally just says that it’s nothing. That Bobby is like a brother to her.”
“But you don’t kiss brothers on the lips,” I pointed out.
We stopped at that point, just in front of the closed-up wooden front visitor’s stand in the Observatory parking lot. The sky was gloomy
Julie looked me right in my eyes, and I could feel the burning from them. “That’s exactly right. There is something going on between them and I’m going to end it.”
She put her hand in the jacket pocket and pulled out a pocket knife.
“Bobby gave this to me so I could keep myself safe. I was scared after a horror movie we went to. He put his jacket over my shoulders and told me to use the knife if I ever felt threatened. That it would scare off anyone long enough for me to get help.”
She opened up the knife, and it clicked, locking into position. Then she held it up between us. “I hope it helps me tonight. Should make them both tell me the truth.”
I asked, “And then what?”
Julie replied. “Dunno. I haven’t thought that through.”
“Julie, I’m not trying to tell you what to do. It seems like you might have some more thinking to do. Now, what if all this is true, and he’s going to break up with you to go with Sally? Is there anyone you can talk to about this?”
Julie thought for a moment. “Well, there is Danny. He’s always been nice to me, like he was always able to understand what I was going through.”
I asked, “Danny doesn’t have a girlfriend?”
“No,” said Julie, “I catch him looking at me sometimes. We make a nice foursome all together, but Sally and Danny just don’t seem to click.”
She thought on this for a bit. “You know, he might just be waiting for Bobby and I to break up. He’s been Bobbie’s friend for a while and has seen him with all his earlier girlfriends. And Danny and I almost got together before Bobby came along. So, yea, I could always talk to Danny.”
The redness was fading from her eyes.
I looked down at the knife and back up to her. “So maybe you don’t need that knife any more.”
She looked down and then pushed the catch to close the knife again, using both hands. Then put it back in the jacket pocket with a sigh. “Ok. that makes more sense.Thanks.”
Julie looked up again and smiled. “You know, I didn’t have to kill us all on the road that night. I could have lived happily ever after with Danny instead.”
Her face had color now, and she was bright. “And I don’t have to hang on to this anymore.” She took the jacket off and folded it, then dropped it to the ground. She then reached under her sweater collar for a thin stainless steel chain that held an athlete’s ring. She pulled the chain over her head and dropped it with its ring on top of the jacket.
“He can come by with his car and Sally and find all this here.”
She paused, looking down at the ring and the athletic jacket. They both started fading out and soon only the pavement beneath was visible.
Julie looked back up at me. “I’ve been sorry all these years about how that turned out. Do you think they will ever forgive me?”
I looked her straight in the eyes. “I think they already have. You can ask them yourself.”
Her face brightened, with a light coming from from the side that lightened it more. “I can see them there, in that light. Look, they are waving at me, telling me to come on.”
I smiled, “Well don’t let me keep you.”
She turned back to me, smiling. “I owe you some thanks.”
Then she turned and walked off toward that light, fading as she went.
– – – –
Then another light came on, behind me. Leaving a hard shadow on the visitor’s center front that I was facing.
This was the light I’d been expecting.
I dropped to the ground, and it roared overhead. Barely. Smashing against the front wall with a smacking thud. Sparks flying. The smell of scorched paint hanging in the air, along with sulphur stench.
I twisted around on that pavement, and saw how Sal and Jude lightened up the scene even more with their own fireballs. They were firing right at that cosmic pinwheel shaped rift where the fireballs originated. And the rift was taking it badly. It had two targets that were now both firing back at it. While the rift could only target only one thing at a time. And the gal’s fireballs tended to explode when they hit something inside the rift.
Those rift fireballs started coming through more erratically, while more of the gal’s fireballs were accurately hitting their mark, something beyond the rift. Something that wasn’t taking the attack very well.
Static lightning started illuminating the edges of the rift, curling around the edges like frosting on a donut. The fireballs weren’t even forming up at the edges any more. The lightning became brighter and wider until the whole it covered the rift entirely. And the whole rift vanished. A sonic boom sounded out, shaking the asphalt pavement and the trees nearby, setting off nearby car alarms at the homes below.
Then the sky was its normal overcast smog again. The L. A. street-lights still stretched to the ocean, and the usual sirens wailed as the police chased down criminal activity through the night.
Sal and Judy were grinning at me. Clearly the best time they’d had in a long while. I was smiling myself as we’d helped a ghost move along.
As I started back across the parking lot, the two smiling gals arrived at my side, each taking an arm.
They fell in step with me, and the scene shimmered.
I arrived alone, walking in the pasture without missing a step. On a beaten cow path heading toward my tiny cabin.
The moonlit sky was clear and cool. Stars were twinkling overhead, along with the moving red lights of planes making their endless trips across Flyover Country.
The lights in my cabin were on, inviting me home.
And I had another story to write.
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