Brutus Sees A Ghost
"No." Jack said flatly. "That's out of the question. I can't be seen."
"But I already told him you were here!" Gregory argued as the thin man dumped his coffee out. "If he sees you…"
"Look, the papers must be returned. You will do it yourself…and then you will forget everything you've learned about my family or me. This is NOT up for discussion." Jack retreated into the living room. Underneath the table, Zero whined.
Gregory jumped off of his chair and followed the man.
"Why are you so scared of him?" Gregory asked after a long pause. "He's a pushover. Edward and Violet pop his tires every week. His son has more control over him then he has over this whole town. You talk about him like…"
"You don't know him like I do." Jack interrupted. "You may see a sad, pathetic man…but you don't understand. He's mad…he always has been. He'll put up with what your friends do, and his family, but he won't put up with this." Jack sighed and rubbed his eyes wearily.
"Your not going to get the papers back yourself…are you?" He asked with a sigh. Gregory raised his eyebrows and shrugged.
"If Brutus sees you it won't make much of a difference…everyone thinks he's nuts anyways." Gregory said. A hopeful note had entered his voice. Jack sighed and cast a look towards Zero who had followed him and was now looking up at him curiously.
"Very well." Jack said reluctantly. "I'll get my coat."
Brutus picked up the phone angrily and dialed the Garret's telephone number. At one point he had known the number of every person that lived in Pumpkin Town. Now, as he began to grow older some of those numbers had slipped his mind. After some consideration this one returned.
As the phone rang Brutus tapped his fingers impatiently on the table and sipped at a cup of hot herbal tea. The phone rang twice, three times, four…it kept ringing. The Garrets must not have an answering machine yet. Brutus almost put the phone back in the cradle when he heard the ringing stop abruptly. He quickly placed the phone once more to his ear.
"She was a pale thing, a frail beauty whose heart was filled with sadness…
She walked each night amongst the briers, and the thorns allowed her passage…
She would sit for hours amongst the shadows, the moonlight and the bats…
Her only joy in living, she wondered through the pumpkin patch." The music sounded far off, as though the phone were filtering it as a tin can would filter a child's voice. It didn't sound real. Brutus slammed the phone down as the verse finished. It was a child's voice…a little girl. Probably a prank. It was after all getting close to Halloween. Some kid had picked up the lyrics for the song that always used to play at the town hall and had found a way to broadcast it. Everyone on the phone would get an earful. Sure…that must have been it.
Brutus jumped as someone knocked on the door. He sighed as his heartbeat settled again and consulted himself, as adults tend to do when their reality has been washed away for a moment.
Just a salesperson…probably. Sure.
Brutus tied the strings of his shoddy robe tightly about his waist and headed for the door. A cold October wind blew, the old house groaned as he reached the knob and twisted it. The door opened and Brutus came face to face with a ghost.
The old retired cop almost leapt backwards. He stepped on something sharp and let out a cry of both fear and pain. In front of him, the tall, pale specter, looking slightly anxious, stepped forward, holding out a long, insipid hand.
The door shut, and Brutus was hoisted to his feet, feeling confused and old. A young voice broke through his trepidation.
"I told you we should have called first." The world snapped back into place and Brutus found himself looking into Gregory's face. The boy looked slightly alarmed.
"Your not having a heart attack are you, Mr. Stiltz?" He asked cautiously. Brutus looked from his face to the face of the man whom he had taken at first for a ghost. He was pale and wearing a long black coat. His shabby hair fell into his dark and concerned eyes.
"Oh my god." Brutus said, as it was the first thing he could think of. "Your alive."
All three of them were sitting in the living room. Brutus had exchanged his tea for something stronger and was currently swallowing it like it was water while staring at Jack in disbelief. The younger man had accepted Brutus's offer for coffee and was sitting uncomfortably across from him on an old battered loveseat.
"What…what the hell happened to you?" Brutus asked after a lengthy silence. Jack took a drink of his coffee and then set it down in front of him.
"What are you asking?" Jack asked as he watched Brutus from underneath the mass of black tangles hanging in his eyes. Gregory was sitting in the corner tapping on the wall and making his own entertainment as children tended to do.
"After that day…your fathers funeral…no one ever saw you again." Brutus said. "We all thought…"
"I went to live with my uncle because my mother died shortly after my father did." Jack interrupted. "Then I got sick. I'm not surprised you thought I was dead. Everyone else thought I would." He took another drink of his coffee and stared off into space for a moment.
"But you didn't…why didn't you come back when you got better?" Jack looked up. He looked tired.
"Because…he said I was still sick. Only…not…like I had been. My doctor thought I was in shock…but he didn't listen."
"He? Do you mean Alexander? What are you talking about Jack?"
"My uncle sent me to an insane asylum after I got better because he thought my illness affected my mind. I couldn't get out till I turned eighteen." Brutus watched him in shock for a moment. For a second it looked like he was about to say something…but he closed his mouth.
Gregory, who was becoming increasingly bored, (Adults NEVER just got to the point…they always had to talk things over first) now looked up.
"Alex sent you to an insane asylum?" Brutus said when he finally regained his voice. He sounded quite bitter.
"Yes…well…first he talked to a doctor…but I think he had made his own min up at that point."
"But…can all of this really prevent you from owning this town? If you come forward…I mean, they would have to give it back to you. You're the rightful owner!" Jack was shaking his head.
"Listen, Brutus. The reason I came over here was to take Mr. King's papers back to him. Gregory said you have them. Well I want them." Brutus raised his eyebrows. He looked over at Gregory who shrugged, looking sour. Brutus sighed and turned back towards Jack.
"I see. Well, I can't really keep them from you…they are after all, yours." He stood up. He left the room for a moment. Jack happened to look at Gregory, who was watching him. He looked up again when Brutus re-entered with a stack of papers under his arm. He clasped them in his large hand and handed them towards Jack.
The young man reached out for them.
"First…" Brutus said, holding them out from the young man's reach for a moment. "I'd like to know why. Why do you want to give Jeff his papers back?" Jack met Brutus's eyes.
"Because…" Jack said after a moment. "It wouldn't do you a bit of good to keep them. He's thought of everything, Brutus." Brutus raised his brow for a moment.
"I'm dead…legally. I have no proof to say otherwise. You have no proof to say he's doing anything illegal. All your doing is making him angry…and I've seen what he's done to people who make him angry. Please give them back."
Brutus handed the papers over, now in deep thought.
"You're talking about Jeff now? You know him? I've seen him over at Pumpkin House. How do you know him Jack?" Jack carefully took the papers from Brutus and looked through them. He stopped briefly at Hector's Will.
"You know you've got all of the wrong papers." Jack said casually. "Nothing here will hold up in court at all."
"Well…it would if you testified…"
"No…" Jack said. "I told you I'm dead. Even if I told them who I was they wouldn't believe me…they probably have some record in the Insane Asylum…but I don't think that would do me much good. Then I'm just insane and legally dead."
"You don't honestly think I believe that Jeff has the proof of your existence somewhere in his house too? He can't have it. How would he have ever gotten a hold of it?"
"How did he get a hold of my grandfather's will?" Jack said with a shrug.
"But…he…how did he know to keep them…he couldn't have known you'd come back for them. The people who sold him the house would have said that you were dead! He wouldn't have known that it wasn't legal for him to have the town."
Jack, who was still looking at the Will, rose his head.
"No…he knew from the beginning that it was illegal for him to have the town…that's why he kept the papers. Including this…as a precaution." Jack said, holding up the will.
Brutus took it from him and read over it again.
"I don't get it. If he has everything that proves that you're you…then how does this make a difference? Why would he hide this? This PROVES he's legal." Jack smiled a little.
"No, that proves he's illegally in possession of the town. Even if I'm dead."
Brutus looked down at the will again. His eyes washed over the words in a puzzled manner. Gregory, in the mean time, was working something over in his head. He looked up at Jack, who wasn't saying what he was thinking but was hinting at something.
None of it made sense. Jeff couldn't have had those papers unless he had done something illegal. But legally, Jeff could have bought the town if Jack was dead. The will said that clearly. But Jeff had still kept the will…because according to Jack…it proved he wasn't legal at all…but not because Jack was still alive. But the only one who wasn't allowed to own the town was…
Gregory looked up at Jack, startled.
"He's not allowed to have the town." Gregory said, excitement welling up inside of him. "That's why he kept the Will…and how he knows you're alive and why he keeps you in your house." Both Brutus and Jack looked at Gregory. Brutus looked even more confused then he had before. Jack was watching Gregory with interest.
"What are you talking about, Greg?" Brutus asked, looking back and forth between him and Jack. Gregory stood up.
"Whatever happened to your uncle, Jack?"
Once again I apologize for the long LONG wait. I NEED to finish this story. Luckily we're close. I hope the chapter was all right. I'm a bit rusty on this fic.