|Shots in the Shadows
Author: sharpiewritesforfun PM
Tales of a Ghost Adventures crew photographer. Zak/OCRated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 35 - Words: 134,296 - Reviews: 44 - Favs: 64 - Follows: 25 - Updated: 01-12-13 - Published: 10-09-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8596667
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It's claustrophobic. It smells. Worst of all, it's loud. It's a bar, and I would rather be standing behind the dumpsters at the local Chinese restaurant.
I had never been interested in the sport of alcohol consumption. Virgin for me, please. The only bars I had ever been near were restaurant bars, as if those even counted.
Yet here I was in a dank little country bar located out behind the Philips 66 off of the highway, being led by the hand by my Aunt Patch. It was four in the afternoon and the woman was dolled up in a teal, flowing blouse that was decked out in Bohemian medallions and rhinestones, blinged-out jeans and tan knee- high boots. She had left her long blonde hair down and caked on the eyeliner behind her favorite pair of purple glasses. The old hippie looked ridiculous, and yet, she still had more style than I did.
"Come on, come on," she sang over a Toby Keith song blasting from the speakers mounted on the wood panel walls.
As if I didn't already have indigestion from stress at work. Country music was NOT going to help me.
"Patch!" I whined as we weaved around the tables.
"Oh Michael, please relax. A little drink is what you really need," she said.
Yeah right. Budweiser for the soul. Right again, Aunt Patch!
"Patch, you know I don't drink," I said as we approached the bar.
"With the way you wait hand and foot on that job of your's, I'm surprised you don't."
I groaned. All I wanted to do was go home. There was a cheesy musical waiting for me on the Turner Classic Movie channel. I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my phone and checked it once again for any messages or missed calls.
"See what I mean, Michael?" she asked, "Put that phone away!"
Aunt Patch lightly slapped my hand. I glared at her.
"Patch, I told you in the car that I've been waiting for an important call," I told her.
Aunt Patch's gray eyes watched me over the rims over her Willy Wonka purple glasses.
"Since when?" she asked.
I looked down at the countertop and to the dark screen on my phone.
"This morning," I murmured.
I jumped when she replied.
"Oh dear Lord, Michael. That job has got you tied down tighter than Elvis Presley's pants. How's about getting tied down to a man? Put that phone away. I'm sure there are some nice guys here," she said.
I stared at Aunt Patch.
"You're kidding," I said flatly.
She gripped my forearm tightly, her robin's egg blue fingernails digging into my skin. I knew she was trying to make it looked like she was amused and not secretly irritated. Everyone in my family had been trying to get me to find someone, but not as much as Aunt Patch. My time was dedicated to my job and that is how it was going to be. I enjoyed my independence.
The front door burst open and in walked several older men, probably in their mid to late 60's, wearing flannel shirts, Wranglers, and cowboy hats and boots.
"Hey Charlie! Look!" one of the gruff ranchers shouted over some awful piece of music, if one could call it that, "It's Miss Patches!"
The men whooped and shouted and Aunt Patch squealed in delight as she made her way over to them, giving them all a hug and a few a kiss on the cheek.
I groaned and turned back to face the passing bartender.
"What would you like, miss?" he asked.
I opened my mouth to reply when my phone buzzed in my hand. I looked up from the screen to the bartender, who waved me off understandingly.
"Sorry," I said and quickly answered the call.
I had to plug up my free ear with my index finger to even hear who was speaking on the other end.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Is this Michael Wilde?" a man asked.
My mind was rejoicing and mouth almost could not react.
"One moment please," I said.
I could sense aggravation through the phone. I winced and quickly dove out of the bar as fast as I could. I knew the man could probably hear the loud music and voices, and probably even the clinking of beer bottles that was distinctly bar noises. Not the sounds you want your new boss to hear.
I stepped out into the gravel parking lot. The noise was not much better outside. The wind was picking up and the whirring of semis could be heard from the highway. However, it was better than inside the bar.
"I'm sorry about that," I said into my phone, "This is Michael Wilde."
The man on the other end chuckled.
"That's alright. Sounds like a party is going on," he said quite casually.
My rejoicing thoughts began to fade with oncoming disappointment. By the casual tone of the man's voice, I felt like it wasn't the call I had been waiting all day for.
"Oh, something is going on, I suppose," I said sarcastically.
Automatically, when I got nervous, I would try to be funny. I mentally slapped myself, seeing as this might be a job opportunity and clowning around would not get my anywhere.
The man chuckled again.
"Well, anyway, my name is Aaron Goodwin. I'm from the Travel Channel," he said, the paused at the perfect moment.
Did I hear him right? Travel Channel? The Travel Channel?
"The Travel Channel?" I repeated my thoughts allowed.
"Haha! Yes, The Travel Channel," he replied, "my team and I received your resume and portfolio. We decided a few months ago we needed a photographer and you seem like the perfect person for the job."
"I am?" I asked, surprised.
I was just a dinky little photographer that worked for the local paper. I did not think pictures of the Christmas parade and construction sites were anything special.
"Yes, we really like your work. Would you be interested in coming to work with us?" he asked.
"Of course!" I blurted before my brain kicked in gear.
I didn't even know what I had applied for!
"Wait! Who am I working for?" I asked.
The man named Aaron Goodwin laughed.
"Sorry, I should have mentioned that we're from 'Ghost Adventures'."
If I had actually taken Aunt Patch's advice and had had a drink, I would have either choked or had done your classic spit-take. At the mention of 'Travel Channel,' I thought that I was talking to the manager of shows that did the top beaches or hotels and resorts. But "Ghost Adventures?"
"Um, wow! Well, I should let you know now that I am no paranormal investigator," I said.
Aaron made a noise that sounded like his tongue clicked with the back of his teeth.
"Yes, we were aware of that," he said slowly.
My brain was screaming, "Say something other than that! You idiot! A job is a job!"
"B-but I am a fan of the show," I said quickly.
"Well, Mr. Wilde-"
I'm just going to say now, this always happens. My name may be Michael, but I am definitely not a guy.
"Miss. Sorry," I interrupted.
"Well, even better. Are you familiar with blogging?" he asked.
"Yes, of course," I said.
"Well, the guys and I decided on doing a blog, but none of us have enough hands to carry more than one camera. We saw some of your photography from last fall online and thought you would be perfect. We love the darkness and creepiness you captured on some of your cemetery photos. We would like you to travel with us and do our blog photography. Would you be interested?"
I pulled the phone away from my face and did a small victory dance.
"Yes, I would love to shoot for you guys!" I replied.
"Great!" he said.
Through the phone, I could hear someone else speaking. The person sounded male. Aaron's voice suddenly sounded distant as he replied to the other person.
"Yes, and she said yes, she would love to be our photographer," I heard Aaron said.
Suddenly, a "woohoohoo" and the unmistakable sound of high-fives could be heard over Aaron's laughing.
"Sorry," Aaron apologized, "That was Zak."
Now, even though I am a fan of the show and did not immediately recognize Aaron's name, I could not forget Zak Bagans, the host of the show.
"He sounded excited," I commented.
"Yeah, he is. He's the one who found you online," Aaron replied.
I was not surprised, considering Zak's dark style.
"Makes sense," I said.
"Oh yes," Aaron agreed, "I think he liked your style."
"Awesome," I said.
Aaron was quiet again and I could faintly hear Zak's distinctive voice. Then, Aaron spoke again.
"So Miss Wilde, when are you available to start?" he asked.
I was caught off guard. I had not even had time to process that I had landed a new job. I still had to call my bosses in the morning to tell them I was resigning, not to mention pick my stuff up from my cubicle. Haha, my cubicle. I hated that thing, and now I never had to see it again! This was awesome!
"Oh, sorry. Um, immediately?" I said, then chewed my nails nervously.
"That's awesome! We would like you to start on the day of our next lockdown. Travel is paying for your flight," Aaron said.
"When is the lockdown?" I asked.
"Uhh, crap! Just a moment," he said, then from a distance I heard Aaron yell to Zak.
"What?" I heard Zak call.
"When is our next lockdown?" Aaron asked.
"Uh...shit. It's not tomorrow is it?" I heard Zak ask.
"No! You're joking!" Aaron exclaimed.
There was a mumbling and then I heard Zak yell to a guy named Nick, who I believe was the other guy on the team. There was shuffling and noises before I loud thumping across what I believe was shoes across the floor.
"Dude, give me the phone and go call whatsherface at the offices. We're supposed to be on a plane to Louisiana already," I heard Zak say.
"Are you serious?" Aaron exclaimed.
"Go on!" Zak growled.
The phone was exchanged and I heard Zak clear his throat before he spoke.
"Miss Wilde? It's Miss, right?" he asked.
"Yes. Just call me Michael," I said.
My heart was racing a mile a minute. I was becoming slightly starstruck at the fact I was actually speaking to people I had seen on TV.
"Michael, sorry. This is Zak Bagans from 'Ghost Adventures.' I'm sorry we couldn't get a hold of you sooner," he said.
"That's fine," I said.
"Well, it may not be if some people don't get their junk in gear. Listen, we would really like you to start tomorrow. We have a special place to lock down at but I know this is short notice. Where are you located at?"
"Arkansas," I replied.
"Really? We're located in Little Rock at the moment," Zak said.
I looked at my watch, noticing that it was nearly five o' clock.
"Well, look. I'm in Fayetteville. I could pack up and drive to you guys. I could be there before midnight," I said quickly.
That is, as quickly as I could drag Aunt Patch out of the bar.
"Zak!" I heard one of the guys shout.
"Excuse me," Zak said, "What?"
"Dude, there aren't any available flights right now. We're going to have to drive."
"We'll never make it in time!" Zak exclaimed.
"Where's the photographer?"
"Fayetteville. It's not that far from here but-"
"Zak, calm down!" I heard Aaron say, "Travel is rearranging our plans. Lockdown will now be the day after tomorrow."
I heard Zak sigh.
"Michael?" Zak asked.
"Yes?" I asked.
"It looks like we're driving. Just warning you now, you'll be stuck with us in the van from Fayetteville to New Orleans," he said, a hint of relief evident in his voice.
"It's no problem," I said.
"Good," Zak said, now sounding not so tense, "pack up everything you'll need. We're packing the van up and coming to pick you up."
"Really?" I asked, surprised.
"Yes, Michael. Text your address to this number and we'll call you if we get lost," he said.
I turned on my heel and quickly headed back towards the bar to fetch Aunt Patch. I had absentmindedly made it all the way to the dollar store next door to the gas station.
"You guys don't have to drive all the way for me. If it's too much of a problem I could catch a flight to New Orleans from Tulsa or-"
"Michael, you're part of the 'Ghost Adventures' crew. You're our problem now," Zak said jokingly.
A weird warmth and tingling goosebumps spread across my arms. I had never been on any sort of "crew" before. I felt suddenly...included.
"We'll see you in a few hours," Zak said.
"Okay. Thanks for picking me," I said quickly.
"You're welcome. See you soon, Michael," he said.
"Okay, bye," I said.
"BYE MICHAEL!" I heard Aaron scream.
"Aaron, shut up!" I heard Zak shout before he quickly hung up.
I laughed and stuffed my phone back in my pocket.
Finally, my problems were over. No more boring days typing away on an old computer in a stuffy office building and having to listen to boring people during interviews and taking tasteless pictures for the newspaper. Finally I got to fulfill my dream of taking real pictures that matched my tastes. And Aunt Patch said all those black and white shots of tombstones were a waste of time. Ha!