The Ghosts and Mrs. Standish

by Nadine

This story is in the Brother’s Keeper series (Brother's Keeper, A Home of Ma Own, Hole in the Wall Gang). If you like Maude don’t read this story for I’m most unkind in my depiction of the woman. My thanks to Mog for the ATF universe.

Vin Tanner sat on the front porch swing of the elegant Victorian home of his friend Ezra Standish. He was enjoying his morning’s coffee and the last day of a three-day weekend. He was house/cat sitting while Ezra was working undercover. The blue-gray animal was making the most of the lap offered to him, enjoying the tummy rub he was getting. Vin had a way of massaging all the right spots and Ghost was purring his pleasure; twisting and turning even if he was in danger of falling off said lap.

“Ghost you’re getting too big to do that.” Vin had to put down his coffee to catch the falling animal with both hands. The young tom was less than a year old and already tipping the scales at twelve pounds. He was going to be a big cat. His full name was Colonel John Singleton Mosby. He named after a Confederate cavalryman of that time, but he went under the Colonel’s moniker; The Gray Ghost. For as the Southern gentleman put it, since his cat was wearing Confederate gray then his name should recognize the uniform.

The name had been shortened to Ghost, not only cause of his coloring, but because he was silent as one when he wanted to be. Of course there were times when youthful enthusiasm got the better of him and he sounded like a heard of elephants running through the house after imaginary beasts. They had to be imaginary for the Victorian was free of any varmints. Ghost came from a long line of mousers. His mother (who lived next-door with her humans) had taught him well. Together they went through the Victorian and cleaned out any mouse or rat foolish enough to try and set up housekeeping in the old house.

Vin had reclaimed his coffee and was watching the neighbor children play in the cull-de-sac, when a long airport limousine pulled into the circle. Vin wondered who was getting a visitor when the limo stopped in front of the Victorian. Before Vin had a chance to speculate on who was in the vehicle, the driver got out and opened the door. An elegant blond woman stepped out and gave the neighborhood a bored stare, before giving the driver orders to unload her bags.

“Hell and damnation.” scowled Vin softy to the cat; it was Maude, Ezra’s mom. Maude wasn’t one of Vin’s favorite people; hell she wasn’t even Ezra’s favorite person. Every time the woman blew through town she left chaos in her wake and her son’s nerves a shattered mass. She never showed up unless she wanted something or had another scheme to get Ezra out of Denver. She had never forgiven Ezra for his choice of a career in law enforcement. She believed that being a civil servant was beneath him and an embarrassment to her. This she told to anyone in range of her voice, any place anywhere no matter if it embarrassed Ezra or not.

Vin slowly got up. The big evergreen trees that grew in the front yard blocked the view of the front porch from the street. Hopefully Maude wasn’t yet aware of him and he could sneak back into the house and lock the doors behind him.

+ + + + + + +

Maude Standish-Hunter-Thomas-Vanerbuilt-Robbs of the Boston Robbs descended from the limousine like a queen from a throne. In a light colored cashmere suit right off the show room floors of Paris, she looked and acted as if she didn’t belong in the family oriented neighborhood.

“Take care of those bags young man, they’re worth more than a year of your salary,” ordered Maude.

She gave the cull-de-sac the once over, hiding her aversion of what she saw. Ezra how could you, she thought to herself. First you lower yourself to the level of a civil servant, now your living amongst them in this middle class neighborhood. Shuddering she turned her attention to the house. The Victorian did have a kind of charm she supposed, but her son should be living in a penthouse. The CPO of a large corporation, that was the kind of life she had envisioned for him, not running around as an ATF agent. If he had wanted a career in law he could have been a lawyer. That would have been acceptable, a high-powered corporate lawyer defending corporate America. That would have allowed her to boast on her son’s achievements and make the right impressions on would be suitors. Now she never brought up the fact she even had a son to spare herself the shame of his profession.

“Bring the suitcases in to the house driver.” Maude told the man as she started toward the porch, never sparing him another thought or looking his way. If she had she would have caught the bewildered expression on his face.

The limo driver had also looked around the cull-de-sac as he unpacked the car and liked what he saw; a clean friendly place with children playing in the yards and houses well kept up. The kind of place you enjoy coming home to at the end of a long hard day. Whoever this woman was visiting he hoped for their sake she wasn’t staying long. The blond was beautiful but she was also trouble, big time. The driver bent to pick up the suitcases he had just gotten out of the trunk and was baffled they weren’t there. Searching round the car he couldn’t find them. They had just been there and no one else had come even close to the vehicle. It was then that he glanced into the trunk. There they where, all of them. He pulled off his cap and scratched his head. He knew he had taken them out and placed them on the sidewalk. How did they get back in the trunk?

A sound of fretfulness had Maude checking on the small hairy form in the crook of her arm. The diminutive Yorkshire terrier looked up at his mistress and tried to tell her he wanted down. He was a gift from a suitor trying to win her favor, as husband number five was on the way out and Maude never divorced a husband without having other prospects waiting in the wings. Maude had kept her good looks over the years but now found she had as many admirers for her intelligence as for her beauty. Her judgement in money matters had made her a wealthy woman in her own name. Many men now admired her ability in the boardroom as much as they did the boudoir. Maude never left a marriage without gaining more than she started with. The tiny dog on her arm made another noise.

“How’s mother’s little Maxie?” she cooed to the dog, as she rubbed it’s head. The dog leaned into Maude’s hand enjoying the attention. “I’ll put you down as soon as we’re inside Maxie, wouldn’t do for you to get your feet dirty now would it?” Maude made her way up to the door and was displeased to find them locked.

+ + + + + + +

Vin stood out of sight of the doors. He was hanging onto the phone whispering into the device. “Come on cowboy answer the damn phone.” Vin knew Chris was in the office today to finish a project for their boss even though he had this Monday off as well. Finally the phone was picked up and a voice growled.


“Chris I need back up, I need your help and hurry will ya..?”

“Vin where are you and what’s wrong, are you all right?” demanded Chris.

“I’m okay for the moment, I’m still at Ez’s. Maude just showed up and you know Ezra hasn’t told her about the house. So how did she know to come here?” Vin risked a look through the window and saw Maude gaze round the circle at the other houses. She didn’t look pleased. In fact if Vin was reading her right she was down right repulsed at what she was seeing. “You got to get here quick and get rid of her before she hurts Ezra again.”

Chris rubbed his forehead as he listened to the panic in Vin’s voice. The last time Maude showed up it had taken Josiah and Vin both to get Ezra out of his depression. The man pulled into himself and way from the team when his Mother started in on what she thought of her son’s life choices. Chris couldn’t really blame him. Maude was hard to take and she didn’t spare Ezra’s feelings or his friends when she started in on one of her rants. The fact Ezra was able to stand up to her and not let her run his life said a lot about what kind of man he was. A good man, a man whom Chris called friend and was glad he was on his team, even if the Southerner could be a pain in the butt at times.

“Vin listen, she’s still Ezra’s Mother maybe she just came to see how he’s doing.” Chris really didn’t believe that but he could hope.

“Chris, I’ve met snakes with more maternal feelings and a hell of a lot warmer personalities than Maude Standish. The only time she shows up is to try to get Ez to quit his job and join her on her pursuit for more money.” Vin risked another look; Maude was trying the doors. “I need you here before she tries something, like redecorating the place or selling Ezra’s stuff. Or adding something neither he nor anyone else would like.” She’d done it before with the townhouse why not the Victorian?”

Maude had done just that once when Ezra and the team were out of town working a case. On their return Ezra had found his townhouse redecorated to Maude’s taste and most of his personal belongings gone. It had taken the entire team weeks to locate the items she had sold. Some were never found.

Vin held suspicions that it was Maude who had caused all the trouble in Atlanta when Ezra worked there when he was a FBI agent before joining the team. Not only for the gift of the Jaguar, but for the rumors that followed it that made Ezra appear to be on the take. Vin had never told his friend that he had found out that Maude had been in Atlanta for weeks before going to see her son. The situation had gotten so bad at the Atlanta office that if Chris hadn’t believed in the agent and offered him a job on Team Seven, Ezra probably would have given up on his law career and left with his Mother.

“Chris, get your ass over her now, you’re the only one of us she’s afraid of,” hissed Vin into the phone.

Chris rubbed his forehead; he felt a headache coming on. “I’ll be there as soon as I can. Just stall her if you can, don’t let her unpack maybe we can get her to go to an hotel or something.”

“Ok but hurry.”

Chris hung up the phone and put his paperwork away. At least he wouldn’t worry about getting it done today, Travis didn’t like Maude any better than anyone else on the team. The DA had met Maude at a social gathering of Denver’s big wigs. How or why she was there was never established. She’d cornered Travis and spent e most of the evening telling him why her darling boy shouldn’t be an ATF agent. Some of the reasons were legitimate, but Travis had known intuitively that the woman didn’t have her son’s best interest at heart. It did make him question Chris’ choice of the undercover agent. But not to a point of dismissing the southerner out of hand. Travis trusted Chris’ judgement and Standish had proven himself.

No, there would be no problem with Travis over Maude, if they kept him out of it. Chris was about to leave when the phone rang. Thinking it might be Vin he answered it.

“Larabee.” The answer he got in return had Chris sitting down and pulling out a pad to make notes on. “No that’s not the case.” Chris listened some more and wrote down names and numbers. “Tell your client the matter will be taken care of at this end. Yes and thanks for calling.” Chris sat back in his chair and smiled. His headache was gone. That call was going to make a few things a lot easier to deal with.

+ + + + + + +

Maude tried the door again, she was about to dig into her purse and get out a lock pick (Maude had many un-ladylike skills she’d never admitted to having) when Vin Tanner opened the door.

“Hi, Maude what brings you into town. Thought ya didn’t like Denver?” Vin leaned against the doorframe.

“Mr. Tanner what are you doing here?” inquired Maude instead of answering Vin’s question. She knew very well that Ezra was on an undercover assignment and had hoped to have the house to herself. “Haven’t you any better manners than to stand in the middle of the doorway?” She pushed past him, making him step back out of her way.

“I’m house and cat setting while Ez is undercover. So I guess ya have to come back later if’n ya want to see him.”

“Nonsense. Ah can wait here and relieve you of watching the house. Ah’m sure ma darling boy will wrap up what ever he’s doing quickly when you tell him Ah’m here.”

“No I can’t allow you to do that,” Vin fumbled for a nicer way of saying what he meant. “I mean that would be too much trouble for you to go through. Anyway Ghost doesn’t cotton to strangers right at first. I don’t think he’d allow you to feed him or anything.”

Maude raised an eyebrow and inquired. “Ghost?”

“Ezra’s cat, he’s a big gray, full name Colonel John Singleton Mosby. But most of the time we call him the Gray Ghost, cause he...”

“Ah am familiar with the Colonel moniker, Mr. Tanner and you’ve shortened it even more haven’t you?”

The subject under discussion was watching in fascination the small moving form on the woman’s arm. Ghost wanted to get an even closer look. The distance from the floor to the woman’s arm wasn’t far, but he was a gentleman cat and had been taught not to jump on people unless invited. Still he’d never seen anything like the creature up there. What was it? It was small for a rat, bigger than a mouse and hairier too. Ghost had never seen a mouse with ribbons in its hair. The woman was getting closer to the wingback chair. It would be all right to get on top of the chair wouldn’t it? He wouldn’t even touch the woman and if it was a rat or mouse she’d be glad he was there to get rid of it for her wouldn’t she?

“A cat, a common house cat at that.” Maude remarked offhandedly. “Ezra always did seek out the most inadequate acquaintances and possessions.”

Vin was trying to come up with a comeback when the tiny terrier made a noise, drawing Vin’s attention. “What the heck is that?”

“This, Mr. Tanner,” Maude held up the diminutive Yorkshire terrier in one of her hands, “is Maxemillian. He has a better pedigree than most humans,” She looked down her nose at Vin as she spoke about the tiny dog, letting him know what she thought of him, his family and background in that one sentence.

Vin bit his tongue in an effort to keep from getting mad and walking out. No way was he going and leaving the house with her there by herself. She’d have Ghost at the pound before the day was out. It would hurt Ezra something awful if anything happened to that cat.

“Maude I wouldn’t put that thing on the floor, it looks like a hairy rat and Ghost doesn’t allow any varmints in his house.” Vin told her.

Vin had no sooner got the words out of his mouth than Ghost’s curiosity got the better of him; up to the back of the tall chair in one easy jump, right next to the woman. Maude screamed and dropped the dog. Maxie hit the floor running. He had seen the monster watching him and he wasn’t waiting around to find out if it was friendly.

Ghost was right on its trail. This was fun. He wouldn’t catch the little thing too quickly. He wanted to play with it for a while first.

Vin watched in amusement as Ghost took out after the mini dog. It was Maude yelling at him to save her dog that got him moving.

“Don’t just stand there you fool! Save ma Maxie!” Maude demanded.

Thinking she was worried about her dog and would stay out of trouble while he got the dog back for her Vin went in search of the animals.

+ + + + + + +

Maude smiled as she watched Tanner take out after the animals; she couldn’t have planned it any better. She had seen the big gray cat watching Maxie and had dropped the dog from a safe distance to the floor. Tanner would be able to retrieve the terrier from the cat before any harm was done him. The little terrier was fast when he wanted to be and should be able to keep out of reach of the cat. She’d have to think of a way to get him out of the house for the rest of the day. In the meantime she would take a quick look around before he returned.

Maude admired the dark walnut flooring and the beautiful wooden wall panels in the hallway, living room and dining room. She found antiques everywhere. The more she saw the more the house’s value went up in her mind. If the upstairs were as full of treasures as the ground floor perhaps she’d do better stripping the place before selling it.

Maude poured herself a glass of excellent sherry she found in an Edwardian hutch that had been turned into a liquor cabinet as she waited for the Texan to return with her Maxie.

“Yes Ezra you did well buying this place but you’re holding on to it too long. Mother will sell it for you and you’ll thank me for it later,” she said aloud to herself. She was startled when a woman’s voice spoke next to her; she hadn’t seen anyone enter the room.

“This house doesn’t belong to you.” A middle-aged woman in a flower-patterned housedress said to Maude.

Maude turned to the woman. Where had she come from? Either she was a friend of Tanner or the cleaning woman.

“Ah do not see where it would be any concern of yours what happens to this house.”

“Mr. Standish and his brothers are very happy here,” the woman insisted.

Maude knew the woman’s place now, hired help. A friend of Tanner’s would be calling Ezra by his first name. She was no one of importance, the cleaning woman or the housekeeper either way she needed to be reminded of her place.

“This house belongs to ma son, Ezra Standish, and he doesn’t have any siblings. ”

“Your Mrs. Standish?” asked the woman in disbelief as she stared at Maude.

“Ah believe Ah just said that…Ms…”

“Eleanor, you may call me Eleanor.”

“Very well then Eleanor.” Maude picked up her glass and was surprise to find it full. She didn’t remember pouring another glass. Taking a slip she wondered where the driver was with her luggage. Turning her back to the woman she walked to the hallway to see if the driver had brought in her belongings. She found her bags sitting by the front doors. She returned to the living room with the intention of ordering the woman to take the luggage upstairs to the master bedroom, only to find an older version of the woman standing beside her.

“Mrs. Standish this is my sister Harriet.”

Maude nodded to the woman. Now there were two of them staring at her. Maude didn’t care for it one bit. Especially their expressions, as if she wasn’t living up to their expectations. How many people did it take to clean this house? She drank the rest of her sherry and sat the glass on an end table by the couch. She’d have Tanner take up her things and dismiss the cleaning staff.

“Ladies Ah will not be needing your…”

“Eleanor, she’s not what I expected.” Harriet broke in ignoring Maude completely. “She’s nothing like our sweet Ezra.” It was an action that didn’t endear her to Maude. Not one little bit. Maude Standish didn’t like to be ignored.

“You both will be needing to find employment elsewhere.” Maude finished. Both women turned to look at her. That’s better, Maude thought, they’ll pay attention to her now.


Eleanor shook her head sadly at Maude and restated her first observation. “You can’t sell what doesn’t belong to you.”

Maude laughed. “Ah do as Ah please, always have always will. And Ah please to get ma son out of this appalling city and away from those dreadful men he calls friends.” Maude picked up the small glass going to refill it and found that again it was full. When did that happen? No matter, what had she been saying? “He doesn’t belong here, he’s wasting his God-given talents as a civil servant when he could be making millions with me.”

Maude saw that the one calling herself Harriet was about to speak. She cut her off. “Ah didn’t raise ma son to settle in one place, to get attached to anything or anyone. Take what you want out of life and make as much money along the way as you can. That’s what Ah taught him.” Now why did she say that, she usually didn’t express her true opinions very often and never in front of strangers. Not that it mattered what these women thought; they were only the hired help.

“Aren’t you scare of going to jail?” Eleanor asked.

“Ma son will never press charges against his Mother. Besides by the time he gets back from this undercover operation the papers will be signed and the house sold, then it will be too late.” Maude smiled a nasty little smile and added. “This should be the last straw that breaks him and sends him back to me. Away from Denver and the Magnificent Six.”

Harriet looked at Maude in puzzlement. What kind of Mother could think so little of destroying her son’s happiness?

“Sister and I will not allow you to destroy his happiness or sell this house to anyone we don’t approve of.”

Maude laughed. “What have the two of you got to do with it?”

“We are the last of the line, grandchildren of the original owners.”

“Nonsense, all the O’Brians are dead and have been for years.”

“That’s right. We are.”

+ + + + + + +

Vin was outside looking for Ghost and the tiny terrier. He had caught a glimpse of them as the dog took out the cat door with Ghost close behind him. Vin had been tracking them through the yard by the paw prints of the little dog. The tracks had lead into the side yard under the trees where they suddenly disappeared. He looked up but saw no sight of the cat in the branches overhead. Now Vin was searching under bushes for the pair. He was pretty sure the big tom could tell the different between a rat and a dog. Well he hoped so anyway.

+ + + + + + +

High up in one of the evergreen trees in the front yard the cat and dog sat on one of its large limbs. “What are you?” asked the cat of the small animal under his claws. “You’re too small for a rat and to hairy for a mouse.” Green eyes studied the shaking animal. “Oh stop that. I’m not going to eat you. You’re all fur and no meat.”

Maxie opened his eyes and looked up at the gray monster that held his life in his claws. “You aren’t going to eat me?” he asked

“No, I will not consume what I haven’t identified. Less stomach aches that way.” Ghost told Maxie.

“If I tell you what I am then are you going to eat me?” Maxie didn’t like this conversation at all.

“No, you’re to little and it wouldn’t be any fun, maybe when you grow up and there’s more of you.”

Maxie wasn’t sure if he had been insulted or not, but somewhere in there he was sure he heard the monster say he wasn’t going to eat him.

“My full name is Maxemillian but please call me Maxie. I am a toy Yorkshire Terrier one of the smallest of my kind and I won’t be growing any bigger.” Sighed the terrier.

Under all the layers of soap and perfumes there was the scent of dog, not very strong but there. Now that Ghost was close enough he was able to smell it.

“Don’t you like being a toy Yorkshire Terrier?”

“No! I hate the ribbons, all the baths and never getting dirty. I haven’t sat foot on the ground since I left my mother’s yard.”

Grey Ghost felt sorry for the little fellow. “Well I can help you get dirty.” Ghost picked up the little dog by the stuff of his neck and carried him down the tree. There was a lot of loose dirt where the gardener had been working in the flowerbeds, putting in new plants and fertilizing with manure from Chris’s ranch. It would suit Maxie’s needs perfectly.

+ + + + + + +

Vin worked his way around the house checking under bushes as he went. He saw the airport limousine still parked in front of the house. Wondering why it was still there he walked over to the vehicle just as the driver got out and popped the hood.

“Need any help?”

The driver looked up and answered. “Don’t know yet, not sure what’s wrong. She starts then shuts off. Doesn’t sound like there’s any thing wrong, doesn’t act like it’s stalling out. More like she’s been turned off with the key.”

Both men were looking under the hood when the front doors of the Victorian flew open.

+ + + + + + +

Inside the spacious living room Maude stared at the two sisters. “What do you mean by ‘you are?’ You are what?”

“We are the last of the O’Brians and yes we are dead.” Eleanor told her.

Thinking Maude didn’t understand Harriet tried to explain. “We’re ghosts.”

“Nonsense, there are no such thing as ghosts.” Maude declared. To herself she said softly, “There’s no such thing as haints, no such thing as haints...”

“Of course there are Maude.” Said Eleanor as she walked through a chair and an end table on her way to the liquor cabinet. “Would you like another sherry?”

“There something in the sherry that’s making me hallucinate, isn’t there?” her eyes never leaving the decanter as it rose up into the air and floated over to her and stopped. “There’s nothing there and Ah’ll prove it.” Gingerly she reached out to verify it was an illusion, only to find it was all too real as her hand wrapped around the bottle. Maude flung it away from her only to watch as it stopped in mid air.

“Really Maude, there’s no need to break the crystal, besides sherry stains.” Eleanor scolded her.

Harriet floated over to Maude’s side. “You must understand we love this house, we grew up here and want someone living here who will love it the way we do. Someone who’ll think of this house as their home, not an investment.” Maude backed away from her.

Eleanor was directing the sherry decanter to pour a glass of sherry for herself and Harriet. “Over the years we’ve scared off anyone we thought wanted it only for it’s value, an investment to resell.” Eleanor said, “We’ve never harmed anyone…yet.” Eleanor looked straight at Maude. “But there’s a first time for everything you know.”

“Now Eleanor, hopefully we won’t have to do any thing that rash.” Said Harriet as she took hold of the glass of sherry as it floated by and took a sip. “My this is good, I’m so thankful we can enjoy some corporeal acts.”

Maude flinched and started to scratch her arm. Looking down she saw to her horror a bright red rash was spreading across both arms and she felt her skin under her suit twitch. As a slow burning feeling spread across her body, the itching got more intense. It was everywhere.

“What’s going on?” she demanded.

“Well dear it seems you’ve developed an allergy to the house.” Harriet told her. “Ever time you set foot on this property you’ll develop this rash. And it will continue until you can come here with acceptance of Ezra and his friends; without any ideas about trying to sell Ezra’s home away from him ever again.”

“And the longer you stay here the longer it will take the rash to go away. Do you understand what we’re saying Maude?” asked Eleanor.

Maude tried not to show her discomfort. She would not believe in ghosts no matter what, she would not show any weakness, she would not be run out of this house by apparitions she refused to believe in. A mirror floated in front of her and she got a good look at her face. The rash had spread to her neck and on to her cheeks. The skin under the rash was wrinkling, leaving her looking old and haggard. Maude screamed, turning toward the doors she ran.

The O’Brian sisters decided to help Maude depart the premises. Each took an arm and lifted her into the air.

+ + + + + + +

Vin and the driver both jumped when they heard the scream. Before Vin could start for the house Maude came flying out the doors and off the porch; her feet never touching the ground as she was carried by unseen hands through the air. She was dumped in the street beside the limo. Vin started to check if Maude was all right but had to duck as a suitcase flew by his head. Maude’s luggage was flying out the doors one piece at a time landing around the frightened woman. The driver and Vin hugged the ground till the luggage stopped flying.

Maude kept looking at her hands ignoring what was going on around her as she waited for the red rash to fade. Slowly it turned to a dull pink but didn’t disappear. Maude wanted to get as far away as possible from this hellhole before anything else happened.

“Driver get ma luggage back in the car now.” Maude started to climb to her feet when a pair of black clad legs blocked her. Looking up she saw Chris Larabee glaring down at her.

“If you were a gentleman you’d help a lady up.” scowled Maude.

“If you were a lady I would.” Chris stood off to the side and watched her try to get to her feet in a suit that hadn’t been made to sit on the ground or to get to ones feet easily from a flat surface, before offering her a hand up. Pulling her up and then to the side, he spoke to her in private.

“Let go of me Mr. Larabee, Ah need to get away from this dreadful house.”

“Good. I want you gone but not before we have a few words.” Chris looked down at Maude Standish wondering how a still beautiful woman could have such a cold heart. “I had a real interesting phone call from Ezra’s lawyer before coming over here.” He waited to see if Maude would react to the news. She didn’t, she was too good an actress. “Seems someone tried to sell Ezra’s home out from under him. The lawyer handling the transaction found it took more than just Ezra’s say so to sell the Victorian. The lawyer contacted Ezra’s lawyer and he contacted me.”

Maude stopped trying to straighten her suit and looked up at Chris. He had her interest.

Chris went on. “You remember Orin Travis, well he and I have Erza’s power of attorney in case he gets hurt and just as a precaution on this house. Ezra didn’t want any problems coming up that couldn’t be handle while he was working undercover that would pull him away from a case. Which means it can’t be sold without our names on the paperwork.” Giving Maude one of his best glares he added.

“It also means I can arrest anyone trying to sell it and press charges without Ezra’s agreeing.” Chris pulled out the papers he took notes on earlier that day in his office. “Any of those names seem familiar Maude?”

“Of course not,” she said, not bothering to take a look at the names. “Ah don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.” Seeing that her belongings were in the limousine she attempted to walk away from the man in black.

He wouldn’t let her move away as he said. “ I’ve got every thing I need to throw you in jail. But for Ezra’s sake I’m not going to press charges against you. Not now at least, but if you ever try this shit again I’ll throw your ass in jail so fast…” Chris didn’t finish as Vin sauntered up to them with something mud covered and moving in his hands.

“Hey Maude, found your dog for you.”

Maude looked at her prize purebred toy Yorkshire terrier in disbelief. He was covered in dirt and his fur was wet. He smelled of horses and all his ribbons were missing. The little dog saw his mistress and jumped from Vin’s hands onto Maude’s chest. Maude put up her hands instinctively and caught the terrier, getting covered with organic fertilizer in the process. The animal wouldn’t be still as he was so happy to see his person, there was so much he wanted to tell her of his adventures.

Maude held the squirming beast away from her and sighed. Would there be no end to the horrors of this day? No, for there was Chris Larabee still blocking her path.

“Do we understand each other?” Demanded Chris.

“Yes, Mr. Larabee we do.” Maude would admit defeat this time but there would be other opportunities. How long could the statute of limitations in Denver be?

Chris held the door for Maude as she got in. Before he closed it he leaned over and said one more thing to the woman inside. “Maude I took care of everything here, but you’ve still got to explain to your buyer why he’s not getting the house. All he knows is that his lawyer told him the house was no longer up for sale. You’ve got to explain why.” With that he closed the door and the limousine drove off.

+ + + + + + +

Weeks later Ezra was enjoying the quiet of his home as he read his Sunday paper. He was sprawled over the couch, his feet up and the paper spread around him. A cup of coffee was on the end table and Ghost lay across his lap. He stroked the cat as he read the paper. Life was good. Soon the others would be coming over to have dinner and catch the game. The phone rang, disturbing his afternoon. Reaching over Ezra grabbed the phone that was setting on the end table beside him.

“Mr. Standish?” the person on the other end asked.

“This is he, to whom am Ah speaking?”

“Oh, sorry about that; this is Dr. Peter Venkman of the Ghostbusters. We got a call about busting the ghosts in your Victorian. When do you want to set up an appointment?”

Ezra looked at the phone in his hands and at first thought this was some kind of a joke. But the caller ID verified the name and number. “Who called you to de-ghost this house?” asked Ezra.

“A woman saying she was your Mother, a Mrs. Maude Standish. Paid us in advance as well as our plane fair out to Denver and back."

“Keep the money Dr. Venkman and stay in New York, ma Mother has no authority over this house. Did ma mother say what or why she thought there were ghosts here?”

“She said there were two sisters haunting the place, threatening people and causing them grievous harm.”

“How interesting. There have been numerous individuals in and out of this dwelling since Ah moved in and no one has mentioned being threatened or terrorized by apparitions.”

“Are you sure Mr. Standish? Some people don’t like to admit when they’re scared.”

“Quite sure, Dr. Venkman. If there are ghosts haunting ma home, they have been the sole of gentility and therefore are welcome to stay.”

“Are you sure Mr. Standish?”

“Exceedingly sure Dr. Venkman, did ma Mother happen to mention that Ah’m an ATF agent and ma co-workers often spend time here?”

“No sir, unless you change your mind you won’t be hearing from us again. Good-by Mr. Standish.

“Good-by Dr. Venkman.”

Ezra hung up the phone wondering what all that was about. He had tried to keep the purchase of the Victorian from Maude. Obviously he hadn’t been successful. For some reason he wasn’t worried about it. He had the feeling that everything had been taken care of. He sat back on the couch and wondered when Maude had come to Denver to see the house and if she had met Miss Eleanor and Miss Harriet. She must have or why hire the Ghostbusters to get rid of them? How did she know about them if not from a visit? He’d have to quiz Vin on his time he spent house sitting to see if anything happened while he was under cover. Regardless, Ezra looked up and said to the room at large.

“Thank you ladies for what ever you did.” Feeling both at peace and protected he went back to his paper.


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