Once we were in his car, I told Brian that I was truly fine and just wanted to go back to my place, please. “I’ve given you enough trouble for one night.”
“You’re worth trouble,” he said, which was way too sweet for me right then.
I balled up my fists and stared out the window at the night. I spoke to the darkness. “When I was a kid I used to put legos in my parents’ shoes. I’d turn the light on in the bathroom then go out and close the door with it locked. I’d sneak into their room and reset their alarm for 2 o’clock in the morning. I was kind of a shitty child.”
“That’s funny,” he said.
“No,” I said. “It isn’t really. They indulged me when they shouldn’t have.”
“You seem okay to me. You don’t seem spoiled or anything. You seem pretty down to Earth.”
“Yeah. Look, Brian?”
“Please just take me to my place? I’ll tell you wear. I’m fine, honestly.”
So he dropped me off in front of the Billy House apartment. I kissed him before I got out of the car and told him he had my undying gratitude.
Then I went in and knocked on the door to Monster’s apartment. I’d texted him from Brian’s car and he opened his door right away holding a pillow. “You have the hot chocolate,” he said. “Let’s go to yours.”
We did. I sat on the floor and leaned my back on his pillow. Then got up and got my own from my bed.
We sat against our pillows facing one another drinking hot chocolate, mine with stolen creamer. “Why did you give Brian my number?” I asked.
Monster shrugged. “I interrupted you guys. He was going to ask you for it but I interrupted. How did it go tonight?”
“Why did you come to my Victorian lit class?”
“You convinced me to when you read me the opening of Bleak House. How could I not have come.”
I yawned. Then I looked at him hard. “You’re answers are too smooth.”
“Do you know what time it is?” he asked.
“Technically early,” he said. “You should tell me what’s going on, Laura. Tell me how your date with Brian went.”
You’re not jealous?”
He sighed, perhaps a little theatrically. “Why is it so impossible for guys to be friends with women without romance or sex rearing its ugly horned head?”
“Biology,” I said. “Hormones. It’s not impossible. Just super unlikely.”
“Tell me about the ghost,” he said.
I bit my lip. “How do you know?”
“I snooped a little into what happened last year. The man who died, they said he was hallucinating a little boy.”
“I’m not hallucinating,” I said. “It isn’t a hallucination if you can both see and hear it.”
“Then it’s a ghost,” he said. “Did you see another one tonight?”
So I told Monster everything. I laid it all out for him and wrapped a pretty bow around it.
“So the old man said he’d leave you alone if you promised to take revenge on the people took down the Billy House?” he asked when I was done.
“You know, it wasn’t even called the Billy House,” he said.
“I know. It was called the Stephenson House. Jack Stephenson had it built a hundred years ago. He was a timber magnate or something.”
“He had a son, though,” Monster said. “William.”
“I didn’t know that,” I said.
“William Stephenson died when he was ten. His Dad had taken him with him to one of the areas where his logging crews were working. Something happened. An accident, apparently. There’s not many details.”
“You really are quite the detective,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said. “You should still go talk to the psychiatrist. It might not be ghosts, after all.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Maybe they can just give me some drugs and make me better.” I gave what I meant to be a smile to show I was joking, but it fell flat. He was probably right. For all I knew, they could do that, and it would be the best option for me.
We fell asleep half leaning against our pillows. Then we slithered down so we were lying on the floor. It was totally uncomfortable and we were both horribly stiff the next morning. But I saw no ghosts and this, dear reader, is what mattered.