When Caesar my partner, who happens to be a cat and I drove up to the great brick building we saw the girl at the window and knew we were at the right place.
“Crystal Payne Spirit Investigations” I’d replied concisely when my phone had rung earlier that day.
“I’m Julian Lastranger and I need your assistance at once!” said a soave gentleman’s voice. He seemed to have a slight Australian accent and was strangely not at all perturbed. I’d heard his name before … it was all the news back then. You might say he was a spook who’d become famous by exposing skeletons in famous people’s closets. Of course, if he was calling me at this number he needed my assistance, that goes without saying, as this number is not only unlisted but nonexistent for all intents and purposes!
“Could you give me a brief outline of your problem?”
“Well, last winter I bought a house in Australia, then had it dismantled and shipped here to the United States. All the furniture was included so I could reconstruct the building and furnish it in all it’s glorious Gothic beauty. However, it seems that now I have a ghost and she’s really very upsetting, she howls constantly! A ghost was not part of the bargain by the way.”
I wondered if he’d ever read the “Canterville Ghost” but said: “I understand sir, could you give me the address, I’ll be there in the morning.”
“Excuse me, but couldn’t you come around now. I mean, she’s present at night but sleeps in, or whatever, in the morning.”
So, here we were in front of his “glorious Gothic beauty” and there she was at the window.
I grabbed my bag from the trunk and Caesar went boldly for the front door. He was in a feisty mood and meowed imperiously at the front door to be let in. I got my camomile candle lit just as the door opened.
Before us stood what looked to be an English butler right out of a Victorian novel. You know what I mean, as rigid as though he had a pole up his backside, a dead-pan face the works! But looking closer, I noticed that he was a she!
“You rang? Whom may I say is calling?” she intoned in the most classic voice of a female Jeeves that I’d ever heard, a few octaves too high of her male counterpart.
“Ah let off Murphy!” shouted a voice from inside the house as we heard a tick tick ticking on the hard-wood floor coming towards the door.
The butler looked disappointed and in a broad Bronx’s accent went off mumbling to herself.
“Hello, I’m Julian Lastranger, but you can call me Bill.” he said.
He wasn’t what I’d imagined. He was about 5″ foot 8″ with steel-blue eyes, long straggly grey hair, very thin. He wore a t-shirt that read “Keep abreast of the news!” across the front of it and as I saw whilst he led us up the staircase, “Have you backed it up!” on the back. He had a can of beer in his hands, which despite his calm demeanor shook.
OOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! came a moaning sound from the second floor.
“There! She’s off again! This will go on all night long! I can’t stand it any more!” the poor man’s voice trembled.
Caesar went straight to a door and hissed … the door flew open of course. There in the middle of the room was an elegantly attired young woman. She’s must have been 20 when she’d passed.
“Right,” I said, “Take these leaves into the kitchen and boil them in about a liter of water, 5 minutes I think should do it. Then you and Murphy come back up with the pot and three cups. By the way, are there any other people in the house?”
“No, just us.”
“Good … Well off with pop then.” I shooed him away.
Looking at the ghost I told her who I was and asked her name.
“I’m Mary-Ann Faithless. This is my house and that, that creature stole it!” she howled.
Caesar went up to her purring, the rubbed across her legs, his tail straight up like an exclamation point!
“Oh! What a sweet kitty.” she cooed and picked him up. Caesar often had that effect on ghosts. One of his greatest talents was to be able to sooth irate spirits..
“My heaven’s! But I’m able to hold him!” she said. That was another of his qualities.
“Miss Faithless, could you please tell us what the problem is?”
“It’s that monster! He’s a crass, eavesdropping, womanizing wombat … he’s a …” as the epitaphs grew so did her chagrin. “And he stole my house! It’s been awful. One moment I was minding my business and the next I found myself in a sort of limbo then in this, this horrid country!”
I could completely empathize with her feelings. It seems she’d been a quiet soul and the former owners had never known of her existence. So technically, she’d not been part of the bargain when Lastranger had bought the house. On the other hand, he’d never informed the former proprietors that he’d be taking the house and furniture away from Australia.
Murphy and Lastranger came into the room at that point with the tray. I had Murphy place the tray on the table and invited all three of them to sit down and with Caesar’s assistance I drew a pentagram around where they were sitting and lit a camomile candle for each of the points of the star-like diagram. I then invited them to drink a cup of the liquid I’d had prepared.
At this point it was easy to get them to tell each other what the problem seemed to be from their point of view. Dialogue is so important in these cases.
The conversation went on until midnight and finally they were able come to an understanding. Lastranger apologized for his tactlessness in moving the house without informing the former proprietors, and thus Miss Faithless of his intentions. Miss Faithless, now admitted that the climate was by far better than where the house had been in Australia and admitted that she really quite enjoyed the new setting … there was a lovely English garden around the house now whereas before there had only been scrub land. She’d basically been put off by the sudden dislocation of her spirit during the transfer. Murphy just drank without saying a word. She’d never had problems with Miss Faithless’ howling anyway.
I erased the pentagram. Miss Faithless was chattering away amiably with Lastranger as I walked out the room with Murphy, who paid my bill without a blink.
“By the way ma’am, what was that concoction you had me brew.”
“Why tea of course. There’s nothing like a cup of that congenial beverage to create friendship. This is my own special blend. Kukicha and Houjicha.” I gave her a bag of my special mixture as I left saying, “If there are any further problems, just make them a cuppa!”