HEARTS IN ECLIPSE
By Fritz Baugh
GBI Case File GBNY-1998-16/387
He clutched the newspaper in his hand..."Back In the Saddle?" the headline read "Original Paranormal Investigators Officially Return; 'Extreme' Team to Stay On" was the subtitle. And pictured underneath it were four men in flight suits and bulky electronic packs. From left to right, a black man wearing aqua and red. A brown-haired man in brown and blue. A slightly chubby red-haired man in tan and brown. And looking vaguely uncomfortable at being photographed, a tall man with blond hair (going white at the back) and red eyeglasses, wearing light blue and pink.
He studied them for a moment. "Irony can be pretty ironic, huh, Doctor Spengler?' he muttered, his left hand reaching up to his own lightening hair.
Speculation had run rampant after the threesome had returned to New York on November 21, and the Thanksgiving battle with a monster that Venkman described as "The Bermuda Triangle gone bad."
The release states that the four original Ghostbusters will mostly serve in an advisory capacity, and then goes on to answer questions concerning the team of teenagers Spengler assembled earlier this year, sometimes referred to as the "Extreme Ghostbusters". Roland Jackson (19), Kylie Griffin, Eduardo Rivera, and Garrett Miller (all 18) will be retained by the New York office, and will continue to handle the bulk of the field work.
"Hey, those kids are good." Venkman told reporters. "Not as good as me, of course, but when you got a monster trying to turn everyone into stone, the more particle throwers you have the better. They've saved this city a few times and it'd be rude to just throw them out on their butts--even if we wanted too."
He skimmed the article...
With full benefits? Including dental? he smirked to himself. I'm not letting him screw me out of dental this time...
Further down the page was another photo, this one depicting a red haired woman of about the same age as the four men in the earlier picture, and with her four younger Ghostbusters--all in their late teens.
Look at her... he couldn't help but remark to himself. She's practically glowing. I never saw her look that...happy...
"You look like someone with a problem on his mind..."
He looked up to see a tall man dressed in patchwork clothing. There was a vaguely unsavory smell wafting about. "Penny for yer thoughts, Mister?"
He knew that he should probably shoo the bum away and report him, as Mayor MacShayne's civic initiatives directed, but he didn't feel much need to deal with city officials right now. He dealt with legal matters enough as a matter of course--no sense making extra trouble for himself if he didn't need to.
"I'm not sure a penny wouldn't be overpaying--even though most predict that within twenty years the penny will be so devalued as to be even more effectively worthless than it is now, and be phased out. It would be simple for retail to round all prices to the nearest nickle or even dime, though since credit and debit cards will eventually replace hard currency maybe it won't matter."
The smelly man smiled. "I'm guessing a woman is involved."
He was struck speechless. "Two, actually..." he found himself admitting.
"Ah...methinks I see the problem..."
"No, no, it's not like that at all--one of them was my neighbor, and the other was, well, er, my ex...I'm thinking of changing jobs and one of them works there, and the other is married to the guy who'd be my boss and..."
"None of my business." the man reached into his pocket. "Might I interest you in a good luck charm? If there's two women involved, you might need it." He pulled out a purplish gem, almost opague, and even darker on one side. In fact, when he held it up, it resembled a purple moon being eclipsed. "Only five bucks..."
He actually found himself pondering it--and he made it a rule never to buy stuff from peddlers. Warranties were usually non-existant, for one thing.
But then again... "Aw, why not?" he said out loud, and pulled out a five dollar bill. "I won't even ask for a reciept."
The shabby man handed him the gem and took the bill. "Pleasure doin' business with you...I hope it helps you with your problems."
"You know, my ex was into 'lucky charms' and stuff...maybe I'll tell her about you."
"You do that..."
It certainly wasn't the return to action of the other three original Ghostbusters--Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore. After a few tense moments early on, it had become clear to Eduardo's young comrades--the "Extreme" Ghostbusters, as Garrett Miller had unofficially dubbed them--that they weren't being pushed aside. The team's mentor--the fourth original Ghostbuster, Professor Egon Spengler--had taken the four of them aside after the recent bust of "Medusa" (or at least a reasonable facsimile) and had told them point blank: "I hope this puts to rest any illogical talk about quitting."
Maybe it was what happened right after that--the attack at the Opera House that had left Spengler hospitalized...no. Couldn't be. Spengler had survived the attack, the monstrous evil that had caused it was defeated, and in fact Egon's fiancee, Janine Melnitz, and Venkman were at the hospital checking him out to bring him home right now.
The phone rang. Being the only one in the garage, he answered it. "Ghostbusters. You got something goin' boo, we'll make it go boo-hoo..."
"Have they returned yet?" an even female voice asked on the other end.
"Miss Spengler to you, Mister Rivera."
Bitch. "Yeah, whatever...listen, I thought Miz M made it clear she'd make your uncle call you as soon as he got back. Don't worry about it."
Eduardo heard several large crashing noises, and a loud male voice cussing a blue streak. "(Sigh)...I have to go, Mister Rivera. Not a dull moment around here..." she muttered as the line cut off.
And people think we have bad attitudes? Eduardo thought to himself. Was it the newly-formed satellite team--the Ghostbusters franchise calling itself Nightsquad that was putting him on edge? He certainly didn't find himself liking them very much--their leader, Bo Holbrook, was an obnoxious jerk. Bo and Garrett had especially gotten off on the wrong foot (to pardon the phrase) leading to an actual fistfight. And bad feeling on both sides.
Nah...Holbrook's crew of reprobates were safely miles away, in Brooklyn.
"A call?" a voice broke into his contemplation.
The speaker was a young man, albeit one five years older than himself. Dressed in the standard tan flight suit denoting a junior member of Ghostbuster New York, he had long dark hair and his intense eyes peered at Eduardo through a set of deceptively frail-looking eyeglasses. "BELMONT" was what the red lettering on his left chest patch read.
" 'Fraid not." Eduardo responded in clipped tones. "Just the Professor's niece callin' for like the fifth time." Eduardo found Vincent Belmont more than a little irritating. For one thing, he was wearing that uniform without putting up the slightest bit of argument. Even Roland and Garrett had argued just a little, and it wasn't far off from what they were wearin' anyway. Eduardo hated the thought of wearing a uniform--he'd seen the way it made certain people (Carlos) act like they were better than everyone else.
The firehouse's resident ghost--the green, potato-shaped Class Five that Ray Stantz had dubbed "Slimer" almost fifteen years before--drifted down the stairs, downing a bag of potato chips as he did.
Slimer stopped. He looked at the front door with interest.
"What is it, Boy?" Eduardo asked. "Too early for the Professor and Dr. V to be back..."
The phone started to ring again.
"You might answer that..." Vincent said flatly.
"Hey, look over at the name tag on the front of the desk--it says 'Janine Melnitz, Client Administrator', not 'Eduardo Rivera'..."
"No doubt...but Miss Melnitz is not here..." Vincent replied, a tinge of annoyance edging into his voice. He then picked up the phone with a deft move just as Eduardo, grumbling, was about to give in and do so. "Ghostbusters...how may we be of service to you?" Vincent grimaced. "You might want to turn down that...oh. I see."
Vincent nodded a few times as the caller filled him in. "Yes...I understand. We shall arrive shortly..."
After Vincent hung up the phone, he moved toward the alarm bell...
Eduardo intercepted him with a facetious grin, and pushed the button himself.
Within moments, the other four employees of Ghostbusters New York--Eduardo's comrades Roland Jackson, Kylie Griffin, and Garrett Miller, along with Gabriel Angelo Martin, who had been hired at the same time as Vincent--scrambled into the garage.
"We have a call in Queens." Vincent announced. "I'll give you the details on the way...Eduardo, if you would open the garage door?"
"Awful pushy, isn't he?" Garrett grumbled under his breath.
"Tell me about it..." Eduardo nodded, not seeming to be making much movement toward the door.
They still moved toward the ECTO-1; Roland stood there for a moment.
"Some problem, Mister Jackson?" Gabriel asked.
Roland looked at him. "Why would there be? Eddie, go open the garage door..." Eduardo smirked, and moved toward the door.
Kylie glared at Roland, then at Eduardo. "What is up with you two?"
"I don't know what you mean, Ky..." Eduardo replied nonchalantly, pushing the door open with maybe just a conspicuous amount of force.
There was a thud and a tenor voice shouting "OW!!!"
"Great, Eddie...you plastered a pedestrian..." Garrett remarked as he rolled into the back of the ECTO-1.
Eduardo, Kylie, and Vincent moved outside. The man whom the door hit was short, with a wiry frame, wearing matching brown slacks and a sport coat. He had a wide face and short brown hair that was going white below the ear line (A lot like the Professor's Kylie couldn't help but notice) "Hello, um, I'm sorry but I seem to have lost my glasses..."
Slimer squealed excitedly, and bear-hugged the little man.
"Well, Slimer seems happy to see him..." Eduardo deadpanned.
"Would these be your spectacles, Sir?" Vincent asked, reaching down to grab a pair of wide-lensed eyeglasses sporting a piece of tape on the temple.
"Heel, Slimer, heel..." Kylie called. "I think our pet likes you..."
"Heh heh..." the little man laughed uncomfortably. "It's funny, when I first worked here Dr. Venkman told me he was some kind of pest that moved in during their first shutdown and told me if I took care of it because they were busy dealing with the river of slime and those criminals from the future he'd be really grateful. Ray didn't think it was real funny when he found out later after I had to explain why there was fried chicken in one of the ghost traps..."
"Whoa, whoa, slow down, Poindexter..." Eduardo waved his hand in front of the guy to shut him up.
Vincent and Kylie exchanged a look of mutual comprehension. For some reason, that really pissed Eduardo off.
"You must be Louis Tully..." Kylie said. "You were the Ghostbusters accountant and legal advisor..."
"Certified Public Accountant since 1979." Louis nodded. "I got my legal degree in night school--New York City Community College class of 1988..."
"It's...interesting to meet you at last, Mister Tully. I've heard...interesting things about you..." Vincent said, shaking Louis's hand. "Dr. Vincent Belmont, one of the newest hires of Ghostbusters Inc."
"Louis Tully?" Eduardo asked incredulously. "That Louis Tully? The Rick Moranis dude, the one who..."
"Yes, that Louis Tully, Eddie..." Kylie hissed. "I'm Kylie Griffin and this is Eduardo Rivera."
"I was born in 1979!" Eduardo blurted out.
Louis shook both their hands. "Heh...I guess I'm amazed you heard anything about me at all...I can't imagine Doctor Spengler or Janine really wanting to talk about me..."
"It was kind of like getting Cheesy-Poofs away from Slimer..." Kylie laughed, causing Vincent to laugh too. Eduardo found himself once again getting pissed off.
There was a loud honking of the ECTO-1's horn. "Belmont, drag your ass in here!!!" Gabriel shouted out the window.
"My apologies, Mister Tully--we have a call to go on. We shall have to continue this later..."
"Hey, no problem..." Louis replied, waving as they sprinted to the idling ECTO-1. "I know my way around here...be careful, and don't forget to make sure your client initials all the release forms and the damage waiver!!!"
The ECTO-1's engine gunned into action, and the refitted Cadillac Miller Meteor rolled into the streets, sirens and alert lights blazing.
"If I am diagnosed with carpal tunnel any time within the next six months, I shall have to consider this an exacerbating factor..." Egon replied, cocking an eyebrow. The redhaired woman holding onto his left arm chuckled.
"Careful, Spengs, that sounded like a joke..." Peter Venkman deadpanned.
"Morphine." Egon replied.
"Is that what made you tell that joke, or are you asking for some?" Janine Melnitz teased as Egon signed the paperwork.
Venkman rolled his eyes and donned his oft-present sunglasses--an affectation he'd picked up by living in Hollywood the last six years. "Let's get you out of here before the nurses sign you up for the comedy club."
"A rental, of course--my Beemer's still back in LA." Venkman replied. "But hey, like I keep sayin', the Hollywood thing's really paid off for me..."
"I remember you surprising Dana with that huge check at the wedding." Janine nodded. "It was when Rick Rosen gave him his first commission." Janine explained to Egon.
"Before long I went freelance...started my own agency. Now I'm rollin' in it..." Venkman smirked. "But not enough to get Murray to budge..."
"I'm almost afraid to ask, but what in the world would you do a third movie about? The stuff at Stonehenge?"
"Eh, Aykroyd really liked that story about that guy Siffler trying to push off his extra undead into New York...especially since the TV and comic guys never got around to that one..."
"If you let Ramis write me the same way as in the last one, there will be trouble." Janine said acidly.
"Erm...perhaps we should change the subject." Egon intervened. "So how have the newest members of the new team working out?"
Janine shook her head. "I dunno yet, Egon...Vincent's pretty bright, and Gabriel can give Eddie a run for his money on smartass remarks, but...y'know, I don't think the old new guys and the new new guys are quite getting along yet. Eddie and Vincent especially..."
"Oh?" Venkman asked, cocking an eyebrow. "Spooky have an eye for Goth Chicks, maybe?"
"Spooky?" Egon asked.
"Belmont. He's a lot like you were at that age--so just like I called you 'Spengs' and 'Ziggy' all those years, I gotta give him a wierd nickname to lighten him up."
"Eddie, Kylie and Vince...I've been too busy with other things I didn't even think of that..." Janine mused.
"Might be good for them." Venkman smirked. "The sexual tension between Torgo and Kylie is so thick you'd need a lightsaber to cut it. Maybe a little competition will make something happen...it works, you know. I remember that beautiful fit Egon threw that time you showed up with Paul Smart..."
Egon sat quietly, tuning out the banter. There was something tugging at the edge of his memory...the mention of Stonehenge especially, the strange incident six and a half years before that first brought them into contact with Vincent Belmont...
[Loud, profane rhyming lyrics about the performer performing a grotesque sex act crossing the lines of bestiality and necrophelia]
"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS THIS?" Vincent shouted at the man in the vest standing outside the shop. The doors were closed, and the noise still forced them to scream to be heard.
"SOMETHING'S POSESSED MY ASSISTANT!!!" the owner, a gawky man with a mop of unruly red hair and an eccentric outfit shouted back. 'HE WENT NUTS, TURNED ON THIS AWFUL NOISE, AND DROVE ME OUT OF THE SHOP!!!"
"AWFUL NOISE?" Eduardo replied. "THIS IS 'I GOT A BONER FOR A DEAD BABY ANIMAL'. COMEBACK SONG FROM MC WINK AND THE 2CREW RUN DOA HUMPERS..."
"'COMEBACK'?" Roland asked, afraid of the answer.
"WENT TO PRISON FOR THREATENING HIS MANAGER WITH A GLOCK..."
"OH, GOOD...THIS SHOULD BE QUITE A HIT FOR HIM THEN. IT'S SO TUNEFUL..." Vincent put as much droll sarcasm as he could into a statement he had to shout at full volume.
'THIS IS PAINFUL OUT HERE!" Garrett pointed out, not caring how obvious it was. 'HOW THE F*** ARE WE GONNA GET IN THERE TO DEAL WITH IT?"
Gabriel Martin stepped forward, a wry smile on his face. 'LEAVE THAT TO ME!!!"
He gestured, casting a spell in the area of his specialty, the name magic known as 'Hekau"...
(Insert several scenes of silent violence here)
"SAID IT WASN'T THAT..." Eduardo was shouting, as the Hekau of Silence wore off. "Said that wasn't so big a deal."
Martin rolled his eyes as Kylie reattached the trap to her torso harness. "I learned that trick in college. Helped a lot when the room next door wouldn't shut off his stereo..." Gabriel explained, pulling out a cigarette
Vincent and Roland were cradling the formerly posessed assistant. "I...I just don't know what came over me...Mr. Gyro was yelling at me about not getting the speaker tuned just right and I was thinking how I'd like to show him how a speaker worked..."
"Anything...unusual happen to you recently?" Garrett asked.
"Well, I did buy this on my lunch break." the assistant admitted sheepishly, pulling something out of his pocket. A purple gem, darker on one side.
Kylie pulled out her PKE meter. "It's hotter than Garrett's Five Alarm Chili."
"Where did you say you got this again?" Vincent asked.
"Some guy in the park...a smelly bum dressed like a Crazy Quilt..." the assistant told them.
"We better take a look in the park." Roland said firmly.
Ray chuckled as he emptied a bag of donuts that didn't even hit the floor before being eaten by Slimer. "I thought that same thing...and so did Barney Lupin when he helped us move into the house back out West."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't werewolves supposed to have superhuman strength?"
"Well, yeah, but he couldn't exaclty 'wolf out' around the neighbors, right? I..."
Ray's voice trailed off as he and Winston realized there was someone else in the firehouse besides Slimer.
"Ray! Winston! Long time no see it's been like, what, nearly six years since Dr. Venkman got married and then..." Louis was babbling as he came up and gave them some friendly hugs.
Ray and Winston gave each other the same look of Uh oh...
"...But anyway I arrived a little bit ago and the new kids were here and they called about twenty minutes ago saying they're going to go check on a lead or two in the park on the case they're working on so they may not be back until dinner time and not to worry..."
"Nice to see you too, Louis. Is, er, Peter back yet?" Ray asked, gently cutting off Louis's meandering explaination.
"No not yet. I know he was in the paper a few weeks ago but I didn't know if he was going to actually be here or not because of all his activity in Los Angeles I still talk to Dana every once in a while and she kept me informed about how they were doing and all and..."
"He was picking up Egon from the hospital." Winston explained, also intentionally short circuiting the dissertation. "We got held up a little later than we thought moving Ray's stuff in..."
"Aw no problem I..." this time Louis was cut off by the door opening once more.
"Excuse me, Mister Ghostbusters, there's a giant monkey climbing the Empire State Building and I was hoping to get something done about it..."
"About time you got back, Pete." Winston quipped back. "Need help getting the Professor back in?"
"I am quite fine, thank you..." Egon replied "If you'll recall, the doctors said walking some would be good for me..."
"Just don't over do it--or I'll have Ray and Winston tie you to a chair." Janine said with mock sternness.
"Oooh, Spengs, that sounds like a promise. No wonder..." Venkman stopped. "Well, what do we have here? Mister Keymaster Cologne? I take it you got my message then..."
Behind Venkman's back, as he went to shake Louis's hand, Egon and Janine stiffened visibly. They exchanged a furtive glance.
"Well, I saw the article in the paper and figured even though the pay isn't the best it might be fun to try again y'know? Maybe you might even let me drive the ECTO-1 this time one time, maybe?"
Venkman laughed and slapped the smaller man on the back. "Step into my office, Mister Tully, and let me tell you exactly what I have in mind."
The other four waved pleasantly and sashayed up the stairs, casting quick glances behind them.
Venkman noticed this. What? They thought I'd strangle him just because he was madly in love with my wife fifteen years ago and had a fling with my secretary ten years ago? Give me a break here. I'm a reasonable man
"Egon already knows, Ray." Janine said.
"As for Peter, well..." Egon coughed. "Once he decided to hire Louis back we knew we had to tell him, but with all of the commotion over the last few weeks..."
Winston looked back toward the staircase. "He can't know. He'd be throwing the furniture if he knew."
"When I first persuaded Ray and Egon to found this company, I told them the franchise rights alone would make us rich beyond our wildest dreams. Well, it didn't quite turn out that way, did it? I mean, there was a try or two early on, before the lawsuits got us all gummed up in red tape...then the second time nobody bought the idea of anybody but us being Ghostbusters."
"Well, Louis, time has passed. People kind of forgot about us...depressing, but it's true. But with that comes an opportunity--maybe this time people will buy the idea of Ghostbusters who aren't named Stantz, or Spengler, or Zeddemore, or...or...or even (shudder) Venkman. There's two new teams out there--Roland's guys here, and Bo Holbrook's Nightsquad gang in Brooklyn."
Venkman pulled out a piece of posterboard with a logo on it, reading "GHOSTBUSTERS INTERNATIONAL"
"I want to make Ghostbusters the international franchise operation I always dreamed of it being...and to do that I need a man to handle the money and the day to day decisions. I'm lousy with all that financial stuff...Ray and Egon are scientists, not accountants...and all of us have or are going to have spouses and families to keep us busy...you did hear Egon and Janine were finally getting married, right?"
"Er...yeah..." Louis said simply, with a note of forlorn that Venkman lost in his enthusiasm.
Venkman pulled Louis close, and made sweeping gestures with his hand as he spoke. "So who else than a lawyer, accountant, and guy with a little bit of experience at media relations? Picture it with me here, Louis...a letterhead. On the letterhead is the GBI logo...right below the logo is the phrase 'Peter C. Venkman, PhD, Chief Executive Officer'...and then, right below that...'Louis B. Tully, CPA, Chief Financial Officer'...ooh yeah...catchy, huh?"
"So...what do you think?"
"You are gonna give me dental this time, right?"
"I'll have a contract faxed to you by tomorrow evening."
"Sounds great..." Louis admitted, finding himself perking up a little. This was easier than I thought...between Dana and Janine I thought he'd hate my guts...maybe we all really can let bygones be bygones
The "Model 2.1" of the famous device, it used the same shell as the "Model 2" Professor Spengler had started using in 1983, after the Gozer case. The display was a little different, and the swing arms had been replaced with two prongs that emitted an electric effect in relation to the PK trace in the vicinity. The arms were currently dark.
"Chica, there's nothin' here...we been goin' over this place for an hour, and nothin'..."
Kylie looked at her watch. "It's almost five anyway, and that's when Vincent said to meet back at ECTO-1. He'll probably agree."
"Oh, yeah, and we always gotta do what Vincent says, don't we? I mean, it's not like we've ever caught any ghosts or golems or Sumerian disease spirits or leprechans or dragons or trolls or anything ever before. How did we ever get along without him?"
"What is your problem, Eddie?" Kylie replied, a little brusquely. " He got his first PhD at age 18. He's attended Miskatonic University, the best place to learn arcane lore anywhere on the planet--he knows what he's doing."
"Oh yeah...that's the funny thing, isn't it? The way your skirt blows up for any guy with letters after his name...first the Professor, then Dr. Stantz, now this joker...best of all, he doesn't have a Mrs. or a Mrs. To Be hangin' around..."
She practically hissed at him. "I don't wear a skirt. And it's not like it's any of your business anyway."
I hit a nerve Eduardo smirked to himself as they headed back to the car.
The other four were already there. "We searched the entire area the clerk mentioned and nothing...I didn't even get any PKE readings..." Vincent summarized.
"Nothing on our end either." Roland added. "Kylie?" She shook her head.
"Then I suggest we head back to headquarters. We might be able to find out something about this gem..." Vincent said, holding up the plastic jar they'd put it in.
"Sounds good to me, Belmont..." Gabriel nodded, opening the door of the ECTO-1. Vincent and Kylie began to get back in the car also.
Garrett looked at Roland. "What do you think?"
Roland waited a few seconds before finally responding. "I agree with Dr. Belmont's assessment. We need to get back to HQ--maybe the Professor or Doctor Stantz know something about it."
"Whatever you say, Jacko..." Eduardo replied brightly, starting to unbuckle his proton pack.
He looked at the stack of papers on his desk. "Aw, here it is..." he said out loud, pulling up a newspaper featuring a large picture of himself and the other three original Ghostbusters. "Back In The Saddle" he muttered to himself Wow? December 16? I really have gotten behind in my reading...
Thanks to Bo Holbrook and Jen Spengler of Ghostbusters: Nightsquad for allowing their use in this story.