When Veronica was leaving for work one evening, she found Kirby Hawkins standing by the gate, grinning at her. “Care to comment on woohoo with a dead thing?”
Veronica stared him down coldly. “Ada told me you were harassing my sons at the park. Do it again, and I will call the cops.”
She watched him smirking at her as she drove away. He knew as well as she did that the thread had no teeth. The police hadn’t been helpful when they were living with one.
Veronica had to come up with some other way to retaliate. She couldn’t keep them out. She couldn’t reason with them. And the police couldn’t do much when her family wasn’t under physical threat.
“All right,” she said to herself. “I’ll give them something to write about.”
Not long after, Veronica received a summons to Sunset Valley City Hall. Long ago, Charmaine had put her in for an award for her ghost work, and apparently the city agreed with her.
She was received by city officials with intimidating pomp and circumstance. The kids were in school, but Charles was able to attend the ceremony with her.
She was presented with the Key to the City and a medal of honor. The ceremony was performed by Vice Mayor Tamara Donner because Toya was on maternity leave.
“I want to thank you again for your amazing work in protecting the city from paranormal threats,” Tamara Donner concluded. Her handshake was firm and professional.
“I see,” Veronica said. “Vice Mayor, I would like to show you something.” She pulled a canister out of her carrying bag and glanced over her shoulder.
Charles was waiting patiently. He had no idea what she had in mind.
“You see,” Veronica said, “we bring all variety of spirits back to our labs at the science center. We examine them and ask them some questions. Then most of them, we let go.”
The spirit uncoiled from the canister with a happy sigh. It seemed to wave at Veronica as it dissipated.
Tamara Donner shrieked. “What were you thinking! You let that thing out at City Hall!”
“And what do you think it’s going to do?” Veronica demanded. “What makes you think it’s a threat at all? Because you think it looks creepy?”
“I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I’ve collected a ghost that was causing anyone any trouble. Most of these spirits aren’t looking to bother anyone. Some of them want to protect a home or person they remember. Some don’t want to exist at all.
“They’re nothing like my husband Charles here. Most of them are memories of something that was once alive. But we can learn something from all of them. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
“These are memories of real people. They were someone’s parents and lovers and children. They didn’t ask to be caught between worlds, and you all are treating them like vermin. It’s the same way you treat the real, living ghost people who live in your cities and pay your taxes.
“I don’t need your medal for protecting the city from spirits. I should have one for protecting spirits from the city. Think about that.”
Charles’s eyes almost popped out of his head, but he couldn’t think of anything to say, so he didn’t say anything.
Veronica called over her shoulder. “Hey, paparazzi, did you get all that? I can help you spell if you need it. I’m looking forward to reading the paper!”
Charles and Veronica rode home in silence. Finally, as they were getting out of the Vaguester, Charles asked, “What was all that about?”
Veronica sighed. “If we can’t beat the media, I thought we could use it as a pulpit to do some good.”
“You could have warned me,” Charles pointed out.
Veronica nodded. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know what I was going to do until I did it. But if it helps, everything I said was true.”
“So you’re releasing the ghosts you capture?”
Veronica nodded. “Well, some of them are angry and potentially dangerous. But the rest we are just relocating to places where they can hopefully be happier.” She took his hand. “Come with me. I’ll show you.”
She took him to the balcony outside their bedroom and pulled out her canister again. “I thought maybe you’d like to release a few together.”
After she released the first one, a surprising face peered through the wall.
“I felt a spirit nexus somewhere around here,” the ghost of Cyclone Sword said in an echoing voice. “Did you see it?”
Charles laid eyes on his father’s face for the first time.
“You’re the ghost of my father,” Charles said haltingly. “My father was a ghost like me, not like you, but you’re still him.” It sounded even more confusing when he said it.
Cyclone gave him a blank smile. “So you’re my son? I think someone told me I had one. Pleased to meet you.”
It wasn’t exactly a tearful reunion, but they floated together with Veronica for hours, greeting spirits and wishing them well.
At last, Cyclone’s ghost said, “This has been lovely, but I’m starting to think that three’s a crowd.” And he drifted off the way he had come.
Maybe three WAS a crowd.
“You’re amazing,” Charles whispered. “I was only looking to marry a partner. I didn’t expect to find an advocate at well.”
“I know I’m amazing,” Veronica said with a laugh. “But I like to hear it just the same.”
“I have a better idea,” Charles said.
It annoys me that you don’t even get a moodlet for releasing captured ghosts.
Sorry that both of the main characters were oozing green stink for the whole scene at City Hall. Ha! I can’t remember why they had so badly neglected their hygiene.