Friday, June 18, 2010

Until Death - Part 9

This is Part 9 of a Serial Story. The Story began here.

"Maybe it was a normal law school, I don't know. Maybe they're all haunted, possessed, and overrun by zombies. And my friends and I just happened to learn about our school's dirty secrets, so the place seemed stranger than it really was," I said.

We were in my apartment on the second floor of the old grain silo, sipping hot chocolate. Charlotte was sitting in the middle of the cot that served for a guest bed while I sat on the beat-up red sofa. The Mirandon wedding ring sat on the center of an upturned box between us.

"Do you hear yourself, Maryanne?" Charlotte demanded. "That stuff isn't normal. It's weird beyond description."

"But after a while it seemed normal. That's the point I'm trying to get across. I'd be chased through the library by a vampire, go home, study, get an hour or two of sleep, grab a quick breakfast, go to class, talk with a ghost, hide from vampires, eat lunch, go to class, go to the library to study and hey, what do you know? Get chased by a vampire. Then you would call and ask me how things were going - I didn't know what to say. It was like your phone calls would throw open the shutters and let light into the room. I would see clearly how weird everything was, and all I wanted to do was close the shutters and forget."

"I thought you hated me."

I smiled. "I'd hate myself before I ever hated you. And I don't even hate me. Actually, the closest I've ever come to hating living beings was this dark and toothy emotion I felt towards some of the professors," I said.

"What did they do?"

"Different things. Some of them just had to stand there and look at us. But the ones that caused a zombie uprising really ticked me off. I hate zombies."

Charlotte stared at me. "You're not making it up, are you?" she asked.

"They totalled my truck, Charlotte! You know what that old pickup meant to me."

"The professors?"

"The zombies. Never mind, its not important right now. All you need to know is that my law school friends and I started this group, the Undead Bar Association. And when we graduated we disbanded. And then Anthony showed up in my office blathering about a new case, and I ended up digging around the fountain at Shank's for that," I said, pointing at the ring.

Charlotte looked at the ring. "So what are you going to do with it?" she asked.

"Return it to Mr. Mirandon's daughter. She's apparently offering a reward for it, and I'm supposed to pay my legal fees with the money."

"Why are you getting legal fees, exactly?"

"Between you and me, I don't think I should. There doesn't seem to be a good legal issue. I called Naomi, and she agrees with me that Anthony's theory of the case is crazy. I got an e-mail from Nick tonight saying the same thing. Nick also said that there are plenty of legitimate wedding chapels in Vegas who would love to hunt down the minister of 'Love on the Run.' And there are complaints about the minister in several states. Turns out that the minister isn't actually licensed. But that doesn't help the Mirandons. Under the laws of this state they'd still be considered man and wife, even though the person that married them wasn't a proper official."

Charlotte put her empty mug on the floor under the cot and said, "If there are real people - living ones - who want to find 'Love on the Run' then get them to hire you. Keep away from the dead ones."

"Seeing Anthony really freaked you out, didn't it?"

"Well, yeah! He's a ghost. You could have given me some kind of advance warning."

"I didn't know he was going to appear in the car! He's not supposed to appear if there's someone with me who doesn't know about ghosts. It's a rule."

Charlotte stretched out on the cot and pulled up the covers. "I always thought that ghosts would look gross and stuff. But after you get over the initial shock of meeting him, Anthony's really cute," she said.

No. No, no, no, a hundred times no. "Charlotte, remember when I said I was glad that you broke up with that guy Fred because he was a total deadbeat? You promised me that after Fred you would make better dating choices. Going from deadbeat to completely dead isn't better, Charlotte. It's worse," I said.

"Calm down. I can think a guy is cute without wanting to date him. Besides, I think Anthony's already voiced his preference. How long has he been calling you 'baby'?"

I stood up and turned off the lamp. I stepped around the sofa and walked through the darkness to the hammock I used for a bed. "Goodnight, Charlotte," I said firmly.

She laughed. "Goodnight, Maryanne. Tomorrow we're going to see about getting some real furniture for this place."

"Goodnight, Charlotte," I repeated.

I don't need or want new furniture. I need some peace and quiet. And the only way to get that is to make the Mirandons and Anthony go away.

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