Sunday, February 17, 2013

Steph and the Ghost

Enjoy a short side story of Stephania the best friend of Danielle Labouleaux of The Body Hunters

Stephania opened the pantry door in the kitchen to put her mop away.  She turned around and screamed.  The confederate soldier standing before her was a bloody mess and the hole in his temple was an oozing wound where a bullet was still lodged. His blonde hair barely concealed the wound and his grey uniform was tattered and dirty. He was no more than a boy, 18 or 19 possibly.  He didn’t say anything to her; he just stood in his ghostly form with pleading blue eyes gazing at the basement door. 
 She’d seen him a few times before but only for a few seconds at a time. It still jarred her nerves every time he appeared. She had asked her roommate Danny who was a psychic and used to this sort of thing about the spirit and she blew it off saying he was harmless. Regardless, Stephania had enough of his antics and decided to confront him once and for all.
She stood looking at the apparition wagging her finger as she scolded him. “You, stop scaring me! I don’t know this thing you want.” She said in her deep Sicilian accent.  “What you think I can do for you?”  
The ghost to her surprise acknowledged what she said.  He hung his head down in shame for scaring her.   “Look at you! Coming to me this way, all bloody and disgusting! How you expect me to help eh?” 

 The young soldier smiled at her as light shimmered around him. Stephania stood in amazement watching his features change from grotesque to handsome; he now stood before her in a clean uniform and flawless face.  He leaned in closer to her and whispered in her ear.
“I’m Malachi.” He said. “I need you to help me.”  The specter said in his deep southern gentile accent. The air around him was cold. Stephania could see her own breath in front of her. 
“Malachi?  No, no! I no good at this, there are others here they can help Ok? I talk to them for you. They will help you.”
Malachi gave her a frown. He shook his head back and forth.  His voice registering just above a whisper. “It has to be you, please Stephania.”
She stood startled seeing through his frame. But locking into his eyes as he once again came close to her.  “How do you know my name?” she asked.
“I live here.”  He whispered. “I know everyone who lives here.”
“Then you know I don’t do this speak to ghosts thing. I am not psychic. Why you come to me?” Stephania tore her eyes away from his and turned to walk to the kitchen sink where a pile of dishes waited.  Malachi followed her and sat himself up on the counter.
“I like you, you’re very pretty.” He grinned. “I like the way you talk and walk, I like the way you smell.” Malachi leaned over like he was going to kiss her.
Stephania stopped her dish washing and looked at him. The last thing she wanted was to be hit on by a ghost.  She threw a dishrag at him only to see it hit the back of the counter wall. 

“You are just a boy!  You watch your mouth! Or I not help you.“  She stood staring at the ghost with her hands on her hips. “I’m losing my mind; I’m talking to a ghost!” She threw her hands up in the air. “Please go to Danny she can do so much for you.”  She said waiving her hand at him, shooing him away. 
Malachi smiled a boyish grin. “But I do really like you! And only you can help. You are close to me. You are part of my family.”
“What? No no! I not close to you! All my famiglia in Sicily, so tell me how should I be famiglia to you?  You no paisano!” she resumed doing her dishes.
Malachi laughed. “Stephania, just trust me. I know you are in love with Victor and he is my family.”
“Then go to him, why you haunt me?”  She put her hands back on her hips waiting for him to answer.
“You’re so much prettier to look at!” Malachi laughed at his own joke. “Victor doesn’t believe in ghosts and doesn’t see me so I need you to convince him that I need to be found. Please Stephania!”
She gazed at him confused. “Found? But you are here, I see you. What you mean found?”
Malachi jumped down from the counter and walked over to the table. “Please, make yourself a cup of tea and I will tell you.”  Stephania sighed and did as she was told figuring it was going to be the only way her almost invisible visitor would leave her alone. Soon she was sitting at the table with a hot cup of tea and Malachi telling her his history.
Malachi joined the confederates in his home state of Georgia and after one year he decided to desert.  He snuck his way into Savannah under an assumed name where he fell in love with Emily. She was the beautiful auburn haired daughter of a local merchant who helped hide runaway slaves. They had created a false room in the basement of the stately home Stephania now shared with Danny.  When approaching confederate army men came snooping around looking for homes that were part of the Underground Railroad, Malachi would don his old uniform and give misinformation to throw them off the scent. 

The plan worked well till an old school chum recognized him and knew him as a deserter. Luckily the home’s extra occupants were gone and the house was empty at the moment except Emily and her parents. The confederates checked the home’s interior for any evidence of runaways.  Unfortunately for them there was some. Torn and dirty clothing that had been carelessly forgotten in a small cubby hole was found.  Malachi was marched to an encampment where he told a tale of deserting for the love of the beautiful Emily. After hours of enduring torture he stuck to his story knowing he was going to be executed for deserting anyway. He saw no sense in living anymore. Emily and her parents had been executed with a single shot to the head for hiding runaway slaves. His own truth was that he was an abolitionist and tried to sabotage the confederate army from the inside, passing secrets to the Union army and spying for them. He had deserted when his sergeant heard there may have been a mole in their midst. Malachi was brought back to the home where he was executed in the same manner as his beloved and her parents, buried alongside their bodies in the basement. The home was ransacked of all of its goods and left abandoned for 10 years after the Civil War’s end.
Stephania sat stunned by the story. She could have sworn Malachi was crying. He told her that his spirit was stuck in the home and he couldn’t find Emily or her parents.  He recounted the day he felt Victor Turner’s presence at the home and knew he was a descendant. He was some 5 times great nephew or something like that, Malachi told her.  Victor had been recommended by a friend and subsequently hired by the girls to remodel and restore the home. Victors tearing down to the original walls and fixtures  had brought Malachi’s ethereal state to a stronger presence, enough for Stephania to actually see him even though she could see through him.
“What you want me to do for you?” Stephania asked. She had forgotten he was in spirit form and tried to reach out for his hand but hers fell to the table unable to grasp it. Malachi touched her face, his spirit entered into her being, his hand gliding through her like a knife through butter. The sensation chilled her but she didn’t pull away.
“Tell my nephew to find me. Find Emily and her parents, maybe then we all can be reunited and leave.  Well, after the wedding of course.”
“Wedding? Ghosts get married?” Stephania wondered how that would work.
Malachi laughed and waved his hand in front of her. The room spun as Stephania fell into a deep sleep her head now resting on the table. Malachi showed her in her dream state a future that was meant for only her to see.
“Steph, Steph ! wake up!”  Danny shook Stephania in her chair, as she groggily lifted her head and cleared the cob webs from her eyes. 
“Where is he?” Stephania asked as she frantically looked around the room. “Mio Dio, I think I should be losing my mind. All you psychics! Now you got me seeing ghosts!”  Stephania laughed pulling her long hair from her face.
“What ghost?” Danny asked.
“You know I tell you about him before, the grey coated man in the army, except this time he tell me many things. “ Stephania relayed to Danny the story he had told her of his desertion, Emily and the story of his demise. Danny sat with her hand to her mouth stunned at the revelation of the history of her house.
“Steph, I think we should have Victor do it! Let’s dig up the basement!”
“You want me to dig up the basement ma’am?”  Victor Turner said to Danny as he came through the back door. He leaned over and gave Stephania a quick kiss.  “What are you looking for?”
“Buried treasure!” Danny said with a sly smile.
Malachi smiled from his perch on the counter. Danny gave him a discreet thumbs up. The two of them had finally found a way through Stephania to release him from his earthly prison.

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