Those Left Behind

The Campbells had wondered why such a primo apartment had been available, and so cheaply, too. The neighbors had hinted about mysterious, scary doings and how the previous tenant had disappeared and how all the other prospective tenants always changed their minds once they'd toured the place.

No matter, gorgeous apartment, cheap rent, no dead bodies or drug labs found in the place, we'll take it.

Then the stuff started getting thrown around.

David's DVDs landed on the floor every night, clothes were tossed around, and all of Millie's makeup ended up against the walls.

They debated which movie approach to take, "The Exorcist" or "Ghostbusters," finally voting against demonic possession in favor of carefully asking around for the number of someone who wouldn't laugh at them.

The man they found didn't laugh, but he was a little scary himself. He sounded like a gangster and kept talking about his old boss and all the weird shit the boss had led the old gang through. The Campbells weren't sure if they believed the tales of tentacled creatures in the Metro tunnels, and they wondered if they were being scammed. Still, they did have a poltergeist, and Ricky seemed to know what he was doing.

Until Ricky got barely two steps into the apartment and received a pint of past-freshness-date milk in the face. A scoop of flour followed. Ricky scurried out before he was breaded further.

"OK, he's a mean one," he said, wiping his face. "Or she. You said the last tenant disappeared?" The Campbells nodded.

Ricky took a deep breath and opened the door a fraction of an inch. "I don't want any trouble, OK? I know you're having a rough time, but the Campbells are nice folks, and they'd like to live in peace. OK?"

There was silence for a moment, then heavy thumping broke out. Ricky peeked in, then closed the door. He turned to the Campbells. "Your couch is dancing."

"You said you could handle this," David Campbell said.

"Yeah, I know. But I might need a little help." With a sigh he pulled out his cell phone and hit a speed dial number. He listened and pushed buttons, scowling as he did so. "Please, no voice mail. Please, no--Hey, boss? It's Ricky. I need some advice."

The Campbells listened to Ricky explain the situation. He didn't use words like "ectoplasm" or "free floating repeater," but did talk about missing persons and floating furniture. He didn't not mention being dredged in milk and flour.

Ricky blinked. "You are? You don't have to come all the way down here, boss, I know you're busy. No, sir, not going to stop you if you insist. How soon? OK, we'll meet you outside."

He closed up his phone and grinned at the Campbells. "You're in luck, the boss is coming down. No extra charge," he added with a wink.

They went outside, both to give the poltergeist breathing room and to wait for the mysterious boss. Twenty minutes later, a surprisingly discreet limousine pulled up in front of the building. The Campbells looked at each other, wondering just how much money there was in ghost busting.

A tall, slender man stepped out of the limo, carrying a brief case. In contradiction to the car, the man wore casual clothes and a leather jacket. He was not quite scruffy, but hardly clean shaven. The scar on his neck, though, could explain that.

He glanced cooly at the Campbells, his face very reserved, then stared up at the apartment building. Ricky stepped forward. "Hi, boss. Nice car."

The man smiled faintly, but it looked sincere. "Hello, Ricky," he said in a very well-bred British voice. "Poltergeist, hm?"

He stepped forward, then paused. The chauffeur, a man taller and broader than his passenger and who was already sulking about not being able to open the door, was following barely two steps behind. "Stay with the car, please, Hans."

"I'm supposed to stay with you, sir."

Very little changed in the boss' bearing, but the Campbells suddenly felt colder. "Hans, please stay with the car." If anything, the man's cultured voice became even calmer and more reasonable. Ricky flinched.

Hans deflated just a little. "Yes, sir." He stepped back to the car.

The boss came up to the Campbells and held out his hand. "I'm Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Ricky tells me you're having poltergeist problems?"

He listened closely as they all went back inside and up the stairs, the Campbells and Ricky explaining the situation. Sadness appeared in his eyes when they arrived at the apartment door. He laid his hand against the wood briefly, then reached for the doorknob.

"Stay back," he said, then carefully opened the door.

The couch was hanging in midair in the middle of the room. Dented plaster on two walls showed what had been going on.

"Would you please put down the couch, gently?" Wyndam-Pryce said in calm voice.

Slowly the couch settled to the floor. The Campbells and Ricky gaped at the other man.

"Stay out here," he said. "Don't come in."

"Boss," Ricky started, then stepped back.

"I'll be fine." He went in, and the door closed behind him.


Wesley looked around the room sadly, then put his briefcase on a table, opened, it, and pulled out a small chalkboard and chalk. "Hello, Dennis. I'm sorry no one's come to talk to you."

The chalkboard was ripped from his hands. "Where is she!" The chalk squealed from the force of the scrawling.

"It's rather a long story."

The board was shaken in his face.

"Yes." Wesley went to the couch and sat down, then proceeded to tell the tale to yet another being with the bad luck to be out of sight and out of mind.