There wasn’t much to Jeremy Beard. He was a slight fellow with dark hair and almond eyes. Today he was wearing a black T-shirt with the Ghostbusters logo on it over a pair of dark denims with a hole worn in the right knee. Staff surmised that the young man’s wardrobe choices would be similar the next day, and the day after. He might change out Ghostbusters for the Batman insignia or Green Lantern, but that would be about as far as he was willing to branch out. Staff caught his eye and nodded at the shirt.
“What do you think about the remake?”
Jeremy rolled his eyes. “Never saw it. Heard it was awful, though. I don’t think the fans appreciated it much. I would know. I’m in a cosplay group that does the Ghostbusters at conventions all over the state and it’s pretty much still a sausagefest.” He beamed. “I’m kind of the Ray Stantz of the group, I guess. I keep the ECTO-1 running.”
“What’s the ECTO-1?”
That provoked another eyeroll from Jeremy. “The Ghostbusters car,” he replied. “I’m one of two of us who keep the car running. I drove it over here, as a matter of fact. After I’m done here I have to get it over to my friend John’s place so we can take it to the comic shop in Uptown. They’re doing an event today.”
Staff smiled at him. “You’re a budding historian and an auto-mechanic? That’s quite a double-major you’re headed for there.”
The young man shrugged. “Yeah. I guess.”
This exhausted Staff’s supply of relatability to Jeremy. He muttered a “Yeah” in response and went about setting up the outdated Channel 6 camera and lighting equipment. After some discussion, Afia and Patsy eventually settled on the set of modern chairs in front of the fireplace for the interview, which would create a nice visual reference when they later interviewed Patsy herself in the same spot. Staff made a mental note to close in tight on his subjects so as to crop out the art deco piece hanging above them. Afia looked perfectly natural on camera as she seated herself on the edge of her chair, leaning in so that viewers could see how interested she was in Jeremy’s story. Jeremy himself looked swallowed by his surroundings, like a toddler sitting in grandpa’s recliner. Even so, his face came to life when Staff switched on the lights and indicated that they were rolling. He was eager to share what he knew.
Afia smiled at him. “So, Ms. Blankenship says you were hanging around in the Gordon house on Hollow Creek Road and that you heard something strange. Tell me about it.”
“Jesus! We’re just going to jump right in? I thought you’d ask for my vitals first, like Lois Lane did in Superman.”
“We’ll make sure we have your name right and everything afterward,” Afia assured him. “Don’t swear on camera, please. We can bleep you or cut it out when we edit everything together, but it creates more work for us.”
The young man blushed a little. “Sorry.”
“Now tell me about your experience in the Gordon house. Why did you go in there? Didn’t you know you were trespassing on private property?”
Jeremy glanced at his hands. “Well, I guess I knew it was trespassing. We—I mean my buddies and I—weren’t thinking about all that. We’d just heard the rumors and wanted to check them out for ourselves.”
“About the screaming. There were some other kids at school who told us they were going to go in there to explore the place. One of them, Brandi Wakefield, is big into haunting shows. She was thinking she might try to start a new ghost investigation series, sell it to Travel Channel. Like Ghost Adventures, you know? Except with some girl power instead of somebody like Zak Bagans running around and shouting at dust. I asked her why she wouldn’t do something new and original instead of gender-swapping a B.S. show like that. She called me a misogynist incel and said it was her business.”
Afia chuckled. “Ok. What did they tell you about the screaming?”
“Only that they heard it.” He shifted in his seat. “And that they didn’t go in the place after that. Brandi said that they had parked her car on the street at the end of the driveway and were starting to unload when they heard this godawful screaming coming from somewhere inside the house. She said it was this horribly shrill and long shriek, some real ear-drum piercing kind of shi—uh, stuff. At first it startled them. Then they figured they must have been busted, so they hauled ass back to the car and drove off.”
“Yeah. They thought someone had told on them, alerted the owner or something. If I owned an abandoned house that’s exactly the kind of thing I’d do to keep people away from it. Hide a set of high-power speakers where no one would think to look and setup a motion sensor trigger and bam! You got yourself a haunted house, talk of the town.”
“Uh-huh. What was it about their story that made you want to check it out for yourself, then? I mean, your friends assumed they had been had. Weren’t you afraid you’d get caught?”
Jeremy grinned. It was the sheepiest of sheepish grins Staff had ever seen. “I guess. But I think what I really wanted to do was debunk the screaming itself. Brandi thought it was probably the owner. I wanted to prove it. I mean, everyone knows that Constable Gordon owns the place. Before that he worked at the Media Place Smarty Bar. I mean, come on! If you’re a guy with some power and access to the right equipment, why wouldn’t you mess with people?”
Afia grimaced comically. “It would certainly keep me away. So you went to the constable’s house to see for yourself. You knew it was the constable’s house and you weren’t afraid you’d get in trouble?”
“From him?” The grin on the kid’s face would have betrayed his lack of fear and respect for Lost Hollow’s law enforcement if the tone of his question had not. To her credit, Staff thought, Afia chose to ignore that path.
“Tell me what happened then.”
Jeremy leaned back in his chair. His right ankle was propped on his left knee. He knitted his fingers together in his lap, steepling the index fingers so that they pointed at Afia.
“This is where things get weird.”
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