was keeping an eye on Tom McFarley, following him near Wall St.
before he entered his office building nearby. He entered the lobby
and headed towards the first empty elevator with Sarah following
behind. The doors cycled closed and he punched the 50th floor button.
Feeling a little nervous, he glanced around, but there was no one
in the car with him. Exiting the elevator, he headed towards his
office, unlocked the door and entered with Sarah closely behind
him. Glancing around the office, he locked the door to ensure his
privacy. Good, he was alone. Tom also closed the hallway blinds
on his office window; what he was going to do had to be private.
McFarley was all about greed. No matter how much he made at his
brokerage firm, he had to have more. Life was just so damn expensive
with kids in Ivy League colleges and a wife who wanted and had become
accustomed to a certain higher standard of living. What the hell;
he loved money too and the power and prestige it brought.
was about the right time. Sarah reached into her stomach and pulled
out a small DV camcorder. Tom turned on his PC and was met by a
hard drive and bios password. He had to be cautious. Sarah had already
started recording so that she could capture everything. Plus she
was behind him so the camera couldn't be seen.
logged into another server across town via a secure VPN connection.
There he set up a private chat session with 'Niles', his insider
informant at a Fortune 500 company.
are the tips for this week?'
split, right? fifty/fifty?'
list of stocks and securities along with their anticipated changes
in value came up on the chat text screen. 'Oh man, these look great!'
nilesthese look like real winners. we'll do the usual place
for the split once I do my part'
had been a good assignment. Sarah had caught everything they needed.
The boss would be pleased and this brought her a feeling of fulfillment.
She closed down the camcorder and inserted it back into her stomach
so that it was invisible again. Jumping up effortlessly, she flew
through the wall of the building into the morning sun and headed
back to the office.
Mann made his way through the revolving doors into the building
where his office was located in lower Manhattan between Pine and
Wall St. He pushed the 34th floor button after entering the empty
elevator. It was good to get out of the heat and humidity of the
New York summer. Thank goodness for air conditioning; all he could
figure was that people were more cranky and irritable back in the
days before AC.
was a handsome man, what with his German background and stylishly
cut blond hair. Women sought after him while men were jealous of
his rugged, Aryan good looks. Ah well
you get what you were
given. On the business side, he was a professional. In private life
he was quite gregarious. The two sides mixed well to his advantage.
family had moved to the U.S. when he was ten years old after his
father's business had opened up new ventures in New York. His father
had made it a priority for them to all learn English and gain their
a dual citizenship is always an advantage, or vorteil, in any country,'
he had said. They wound up staying in America, and their father
had made sure that their German citizenship stayed current.
late as usual, Boss," a voice spoke close to his left ear.
You know the rules."
Boss. See you in a minute."
turned right after exiting the elevator and headed towards his corner
office. Business as a private investigator had been lucrative enough
to allow him to afford that luxury. Not many private investigators
had his advantages. Several items from his past helped his present
business. He had been with the New York City police department several
years, and promoted within to detective, where he excelled. Then
came the break where he applied to and was accepted by the FBI.
From there he was promoted up to the Missing Persons Bureau. He
had a knack for the job, but in his zeal to get a collar, he had
tampered with evidence to incriminate a felon that he knew was guilty.
But someone else in the department had found out about the tampering
and he was let go from the FBI. Gunter felt justified in his actions,
but what he did was way out of line by FBI standards, hence the
fell back on the one thing he was good at: crime and missing person
investigation. Being a private investigator let him continue practicing
along with obtaining a good income. His other advantages helped.
Gunter opened his office door, which led to the receptionist area.
Tami, his secretary, was already here. That was usually the case.
He was a late riser, setting his own hours, whereas she was here
around nine AM to get started on her work in the office. She was
a beautiful blonde with striking blue eyes whom he had hired partly
for PR purposes and other personal reasons. He just happened to
like blondes. That was his preference and he paid the bills. 'So
shoot me,' he thought. She messed with her nails, hair and makeup
too much, but did a fantastic job on the office scheduling and receptionist
end. She also knew how to treat the clients; made them feel special.
No hanky-panky, of course; she just put a tad bit of flirtation
in her dealings with them. Plus, Tami was a born organizer, which
was what he needed, since Gunter happened to be unorganized to a
fault. Tami kept his business dealings and schedule in line, for
which he paid her well.
handsome," she pretended to kid, but down deep the thought
at ya, gorgeous. With that blonde hair, you could easily be German.
But you're an all-American blonde, right?"
course, you're probably a closet Nazi."
Gunter exclaimed. "I keep my secrets too, Blondie."
office banter would seem offensive to some, but they had a great
working relationship. Worth every penny.
have to tell you, Gunter, business is really booming. I'm not sure
how you do what you do, but you always solve a case. And your rep
has spread so much that we've had to turn away some business. How
do you do it?
some outside sources that really help."
some sources who always get the right kind of leads, info, etc."
I never see them on the payroll. You must pay them off somehow."
they get paid. Just can't say how."
just keep paying them however. They really seem to help the business."
problem; they're invaluable."
entered into his office and shut the door behind him. The room was
comfortable with a large couch and several comfortable chairs for
clients along with a large desk which sported a new PC. He liked
to have plenty of working space. The couch was on the door side
of the office facing him. Even though he had a great view out the
wrap-around corner windows behind him of Battery Park and beyond,
he was always reluctant to have his back to the door. That included
anywhere. He had developed the habit after a friend of his was shot
in the back of the head as he was facing away from an entrance.
Some protection also came from the shoulder holstered, Sig Sauer
forty-five automatic under his coat jacket for which he had a carry
permit. Of course it came in handy for the job also.
three employees were sitting on the couch obediently, waiting for
the day's assignments.
quit being the trickster and morph visible. There's a time and a
place for that."
Boss." Tony quickly assumed his visible form.
was his most recent employee and still plenty feisty. 'He'll learn
eventually what his situation is and hopefully settle down,' Gunter
thought. It was amazing that he had to include some training for
the new ones.
and Thomas, sitting on the couch with Tony, had been around longer
and knew the ropes. They'll help Tony stay in line and keep reinforcing
the rules to him. Business was booming and he had to pick up a third
employee; hence Tony. And he couldn't just pick up any employee;
they had to have certain attributes.
spoke up. "So, Gun, what's on the docket for today?"
me check." He keyed the intercom. "Tami, can you bring
in today's case files please?
thing," the intercom responded.
heard some rustling in the outside office, and then Tami walked
through the office door, files in hand. From her perspective, there
was only she and Gunter in the office.
you go," she said, laying them on his desk.
having been a young man, couldn't help himself. He flew up into
the air and started swirling around Tami.
This girl is it! She's gorgeous! Tell me you haven't been tapping
this fine thing."
had to bite his tongue and keep from laughing while Tami was in
the room, ignoring Tony, lest she think him crazy. He did crack
a smile though.
just was admiring your hair. Have you done something different?"
some highlights, why?"
admiring it. Looks great,"
for noticing. Aren't you the sweetie?"
back at ya."
Now about these cases; don't tell me you're going to take all of
them on by yourself. You should delegate some of the case load out
to your mysterious employees."
I might just do that for your peace of mind, okay?"
better. Don't want to lose a good job because the boss overworked
himself," she chided, walking out the office door.
who suddenly developed a pissed look, jumped up from his desk chair
and walked over to Tony.
Casper, you need to learn your place and quit the hijinks! We both
know only I can see and hear you, but it's damn distracting while
I'm trying to talk to her. Do you want to keep your job?"
rattled Tony, who sat down on the couch with a 'my dog just died'
look on his face.
Boss, definitely not."
two other ghosts on the couch looked nervous as well.
let the kid go, Gun," Thomas said. "He'll learn his place
soon enough. Besides, he needs the job. It's all he has."
better, or I'll let him go in a heartbeat. There are always others."
like Gunter were highly prized among the ghost community, since
they were among the relative few who could see and hear them, unless
the ghost chose to become invisible.
were stuck in a void with no purpose or motive, feeling empty and
void. At least that's how it was explained to him. Employment by
a mortal was invaluable. It gave them something to do with purpose.
That was their payment: purpose. Once they found a 'job' they did
whatever was asked of them so as not to lose it.
and Sarah had been around for a while, where Tony had been dead
only a few months. Gunter had hired Tony on their recommendations.
Thomas had been dead five years, but had been a New York detective
killed in the line of duty. His knowledge was invaluable. Sarah,
who was formerly a homemaker and successful romance writer, had
died seven years ago in a home accident. She was just handy to have
around for her female perspective. Tony was still up in the air.
Gunter had hired him on the impression that he was street smart,
hailing from Brooklyn and only being gone a few months.
hiring criteria had to be selective. If they had skills he could
use, then they were 'hired'. Not all ghosts were easy to work with.
Some wanted only vengeance on a life or person that had supposedly
done them wrong. That left few that were level-headed and useful.
But they were invaluable; invisible and being able to follow anyone
anywhere was an advantage any PI would kill for.
did you get the info on McFarley this morning after shadowing him?"
it's all right here."
reached into her abdomen and pulled out the camcorder and handed
it to Gunter.
winced a little; still hard to get used to that. Turning it on,
he went over the evidence.
this is perfect! This is exactly what the client wanted to see.
smiled like a kid who had just thrown your car keys into the toilet.
I show the client this evidence, I think it will be over for Mr.
McFarley. Okay; for today's assignments. Sarah, I want you to shadow
a Mrs. Anna Hunter on request of Mr. Hunter. He wants to see what
she is up to."
handed her the file so she had all the info, pic, address, etc.
I have a special one for you. A New York patrolman wants his partner
shadowed on his off hours. He wants it handled outside Internal
Affairs for now, but he thinks he's dirty."
handed Thomas his file also.
take Tony with you; he needs the training."
here's another camcorder for you. And here's one for you, Tom. I
need to burn a DVD of the McFarley evidence off the first camcorder.
Okay, you folks get to work. I'm going to take the evidence over
to my brokerage client and fill him in. What are you waiting for?
that, they all took off and flew through the office wall to the
outside. They all stopped and were hovering a good distance from
know, I really hate being treated that way," Tom said.
here," added Tony. "Damn, this view is amazing."
were hovering about fifty stories up above downtown Manhattan.
get used to it in a while," Sarah interjected. "Guys,
come on. Don't you feel good having something to do with some meaning
and purpose? Otherwise, we'll just be floating around aimlessly.
Do you want that?"
not really. Just feel like a slave sometimes."
on then," Sarah said. "Let's just get to work; purpose
guess you're right," Tom answered. "Come on, Tony, let's
fly. See you, Sarah."
quickly flew off in different directions.
was glad they were gone. He had become accustomed to seeing and
conversing with them; that wasn't the problem. It was just that
he could always tell when they were in the room; slight chill to
the air. He also needed to get to his meeting with the brokerage
client. He had a feeling that McFarley would be fired and prosecuted.
One of his favorite sayings was 'you do bad, you get bad.' He put
the DVD in his briefcase, donned his suit jacket and left his office.
I'll be out for about an hour, meeting with a client."
Boss. See you in a bit."
walk was short to his client's building, being right up Wall Street.
He was located in the penthouse office.
be loaded,' Gunter thought.
asked the receptionist if Sam Capino was in.
Whom should I say is here?"
receptionist looked him up and down.
I like that," she said teasingly. "Go ahead in if you
knocked and entered just as Sam was sitting down at his desk.
how are you doing?"
Capino ran the Prosperity Brokerage Firm, and being a rarity in
this day and age, he was an honest businessman. That's why he hired
Gunter. His reputation was stellar on solved cases and Sam wanted
any dishonest inside trader busted good and hard.
your investigation complete?"
Gunter replied as he plopped down in a chair close to the desk,
"and I think the evidence I've gathered will be totally sufficient."
opened the briefcase and handed Sam the DVD he had burned off the
camcorder. Sam took it and inserted into his office player.
Gun! How did you get footage this close?"
you and your team are amazing. Sure you can't tell me?"
you wouldn't believe me if I did. Let's just say they are very resourceful."
say. This will all do nicely. I've suspected Tom for awhile. You
can always tell by a change in a person's lifestyle."
got it. That's the place I start in a case like this."
Let me get you your fee."
took out a check ledger and wrote out one for ten large.
every penny," handing the check to Gunter. "I'm going
to grab Tom and have an immediate meeting with his sorry ass."
keep my name out of it, if you don't mind, unless the feds need
my testimony or something. I don't think they will, though. I'll
be on my way, too, if you don't mind, before your meeting."
both stood up and shook hands.
do the same. And let me know how it turns out."
left the penthouse office and passed Tom McFarley in the hallway.
Funny; Tom gave him a look as if he knew who he was, and he had
that 'deer in the headlight' look. Could be coincidence. Whatever
and what the hell. He made his way back to his own office down the
Tami. Anything new while I was gone?"
a few calls on more prospects. I laid the messages on your desk.
did the meeting go?"
Made ten G."
Gunny! Take a girl to dinner later to celebrate?"
the place and time and you got it."
Mind if I go to lunch in about fifteen minutes?"
I might take a quick nap."
I'll leave quietly."
took off his suit coat and sat down in his chair. The ghouls must
still be at work. Good, he wanted a little privacy. It didn't take
him long to nod off, leaning his head back on the comfortable leather.
felt something cold on his neck. He jerked awake.
make a move, dirtbag."
was McFarley, holding a silenced forty-five automatic to his neck.
the hell did you get in here?"
secretary was kind enough to let me in as she was leaving. Luckily
she didn't recognize my face. I told her I needed to talk to you
about a case. Pretty much the truth."
Tom had the drop on him. He grabbed for his Sig .45. All he got
was empty holster.
I took the liberty of removing your piece."
showed it to him just out of arm's reach in his left hand.
not as stupid of a mark as you think I am. Although I don't know
how you got the footage of me doing my trading. Hidden camera, maybe?"
pressed the silencer harder against his neck.
left him dead in the meeting room with his Human Resources witness.
He said I was through and that he would be calling the Feds shortly.
I couldn't let him do that. I had to get away where no one could
find me, but I wanted to take care of you first, you snoop-ass bastard!
You and Sam ruined my life. Now I'll have to fake an identity and
probably take off out west somewhere. I'll start with taking your
car and be gone before your secretary gets back. That should throw
them off my track long enough to get some fake ID."
did you know I did the investigation?" Gunter asked nervously.
told you I wasn't stupid. You're close to the firm and have the
best rep for a case like this. Plus you just confirmed the fact."
stupidity on my part!' Gunter thought. He might have been able to
talk him out of this if he hadn't opened his mouth. Stupid!
reached into Gunter's pockets and took car keys and wallet.
kind of car do you drive?"
Lexus, and I'm not telling you the license number, suckass,"
he said, spitting in his face for emphasis.
wiped the spittle from his face.
you got some spirit, my PI friend. But this is the absolute end
of the line for you."
front office door opened unexpectedly.
make a sound," Tom whispered.
in there, Gunny? Got down to my car and realized I left my wallet
and license up here. Is your visitor still here? Gunny, you awake?"
opened the inner office door slowly and entered.
was too late. Tom quickly shifted the gun and drilled five whispering
rounds into Tami's chest and head. The thud of the rounds hitting
flesh and bone was the loudest part. She collapsed to the floor,
smashing the glass in the inner office door as she fell. Blood started
to pool around her.
took the opportunity to lunge at Tom, trying to get an advantage.
But Tom was too quick. Swiveling fast, he fired five rounds almost
point blank into Gunter's chest.
felt himself falling backwards, head hitting the floor, although
he didn't feel it. Everything was fading into blackness. 'So this
is what it feels like to die,' he thought, and he was gone.
felt like he was out for a short while. He came to and stood up
slowly. 'Maybe I'm okay after all.' He turned around and saw his
body on the floor in a large pool of blood.
body was still over by the office door, and Tom was long gone.
for the love of shit!" was all he could come up with.
mess. He looked around and everything had a washed-out, monotone
color. He could walk around okay. He discovered he was able to put
his hands through objects or pick them up. He could even walk through
the office wall and back in again.
Sarah and Tony flew in through the building wall.
what the hell happened here?" Thomas said, taking in both bodies
dead on the floor.
bad meeting with a pissed mark, and now Tami and I are both dead.
I'm not sure what happened to her. I haven't seen her since I came
to, so to speak."
probably panicked and ran or flew off somewhere. She'll come to
her senses in a while; they all do."
now, though? What am I supposed to do?"
starting to set in already," Sarah said, glancing at the others.
feeling of absolute uselessness, having no purpose, nothing to fill
I can feel that. But I should go after Tom. He needs to pay for
what he did."
spoke up quickly. "Gunny! Snap out of that. He will pay some
day. There's nothing you can really do, and it will just drive you
insane. Then you won't be good for anything."
I'll fight the urge. But it's strong."
worry, it will pass, trust me."
worry, Boss. We'll show you the ropes," Tony piped in.
can stop calling me that now."
thing, Gunny. But we'll help you through this transition; it takes
some getting used to."
do appreciate it."
importantly," Thomas spoke up, "is that we three and now
you need to find employment. The three of us know most of the mortals
who can see and hear ghosts. So we need to start pounding the pavement,
so to speak, and find a job. Having something to do, a purpose,
is all that helps stave off the emptiness. And purpose is the only
commodity that someone can give to us in payment. So, are you ready,
four of them flew out the building wall into the afternoon sunlight,
high above the Manhattan landscape.
figured he would have to polish up his resume.