The Gray Ghost returned to Frannie’s room immediately before
the sun threw first light on Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Moaning softly, the
phantom hovered over Frannie. Fleshless fingers stroked her hair. Its wispy
gray veils drifted in the air, smelling faintly of earth and damp.
“You and I will prevail, Frannie James. When our powers
join, we will expose doers of past evil and ease troubled souls.” The ghostly
figure channeled gentle and calming strength into the mind of the sleeping
girl. “You must accept me first, Frannie dear.Only then can our combined powers execute our will.”
As dawn’s rosy glow flooded Oregon’s Mt Hood with light, the
Gray Ghost patted Frannie’s cheek. “Soon, Frannie dear.” The Ghost vanished in
a whirl of diaphanous veils.
Dressed in blue jeans, a ‘Save Our
Whales’ tee shirt and sandals, Frannie headed for the kitchen. The bathroom was
on her side of the upstairs landing. Dad and Jeff’s rooms were opposite. Piles
of empty boxes cluttered up the landing at the top of the stairs.
Rock music pumped out of Jeff’s
room. As she passed, Frannie caught a glimpse of her twin, still in
under-shorts, squeezing zits in front of the mirror. I don’t have much in the boobs department, but at least I don’t have
zits. Way gross! Wrinkling her nose, she headed downstairs to the living
Glancing over the banister, she
could see the comfortable chairs on either side of the fireplace. A fat sofa
snuggled under one window. The computer and printer, both still boxed, sat
under the other window, waiting until her Dad had time to buy a desk.
The Oriental rug they’d brought
from Iowa would make rainy Oregon winters cozy, while the shelves
beside the fireplace held treasured books and ornaments. A wreath of plaster
roses circled the ceiling’s central antique light fitting. Love the roses!
Jeff pushed past her, rattled down
the stairs, and beat her to the kitchen. Frannie shrugged and followed slowly.
Stains smudged the front of Jeff’s
tee shirt, and his face looked pale and pudgy. He scowled at his bowl of
cereal, as if it were personally responsible for messing with his life.
said twins were always close? Huh. . . They never knew Jeff and me.
He looked up at her. “What about
laundry? When can I expect some clean stuff to show up?”
Frannie ignored him.
Dad came into the kitchen in time
to hear his son’s protest. “The laundry’s that little room to the left of the
back door, in case you’ve forgotten.” He grinned. “You’ve two choices, Jeff,
join a nudist colony or wash your own clothes.”
Frannie laughed. “Way to go, Dad.”
She pointed to Jeff’s grubby top. "X marks the spot!" Giggles
exploded out of her.
Red-faced, Jeff mumbled,
"No need for that, you
two.”He looked at Jeff. “Wash your own
clothes and you won’t need to look like a reject from a grunge band.” He
frowned. "And I don’t want to find those boxes still upstairs when I come
home. Throw the empty ones in the garage. There has to be a recycling depot
somewhere in Tigard." Coffee in hand, he went back upstairs.
Jeff grunted and stared into his
"Look, this move means a big
promotion for Dad -- so drop the attitude, okay. I wasn't too keen on moving,
either. You're not the only one bummed at leaving friends.”
"Yeah, well Dad had no right
to make us move here. I don’t know anyone in Oregon. And I’m not likely to until school
Frannie wondered how this
zit-infested excuse of a brother could be her twin? “Whatever! How about
helping with the chores?”
Jeff scowled "Chores are for
Dodging the dishcloth she threw,
his arm shot out and plucked it from the air. He slid from his chair, chanting,
A hot gleam in her eye, Frannie
wiped off Jeff’s smirk with a well-placed wet sponge. Jeff swung his arm, ready
for a return throw.
“Stop it, you two, or there’ll be
no pocket money this week. Good grief, can’t you two get along for five
seconds. It’s like a wild rock concert around here – waiting for casualties.”
Dad stood in the kitchen doorway.
Then something took shape close to Frannie’s door. Thunder
boomed overhead. Again the unknown force stole electrical energy from the
lightening. This time Frannie saw it happen. Lightening bounced around her
walls, glowing chains of energy that lit her room with an eerie blue glow.
Snick - the glass in her picture of Lady Gaga cracked. Frame askew, the singing
idol dangled on the wall. Frannie screamed. She dived under the covers,
trembling from head to toe. The camera fell off her nightstand and rolled under
the bed. The sizzle of electrical power hummed throughout the room. Frannie dared
a peek from under the comforter.
Like a pulled Christmas cracker, Thelma Hill materialized in a wild burst of
pyrotechnic energy. Brilliant green light surrounded her. And golden light, a
thousand sparklers strong, fizzed and crackled around the edges of her gown.