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Paper Tigers

Jim Ellison did not believe in ghosts, in fact,  he hated this time of year.  His friend Blair Sandburg was always telling him about the way other cultures celebrated their version of Halloween.  Jim didn't care about all of that.  Halloween was just plain spooky.  How anyone could 'celebrate' such a holiday,  was beyond him.
     Blair Sandburg,  on the other hand, reveled in anything new and exciting.  He was always trying to enlighten his friend Jim Ellison on the excitement of celebrating things such as the Day of the Dead.  He thought that everyone should be excited about that,  but his friend Jim Ellison, was not.
    "Oh come on Jim,  let go, lighten up.  You didn't go trick or treating when you were little?"  Blair was just like a big kid when it came to such things.
    "My costume was homemade - made out of crepe paper.  It would always rain on Halloween night.  Did you know that wet, colored crepe paper stains?  I was orange for a week.  I was Fred Flintstone one year and my mother insisted that I go barefoot.  Not only was my skin stained orange,  but I also had a cold for a week."  Blair had to admit that was not a very good Halloween memory.
     They were sitting at the station when the call came through.  It was another call from Armethia Hollingsworth.  It was the fourth call this week.  She was a lonely old lady who was known to call policemen or firemen just to keep her company.  Jim rolled his eyes.
    "Come on Chief,  let's head out."  Blair picked up his backpack and headed out after Jim.
    When they arrived at the lovely, old Victorian house,  it didn't look like anything dangerous was going on.  Jim rolled his eyes.  Another false alarm, he thought.
    After Jim rang the bell,  the sweet, old lady answered the door.
    "Oh hello,  Mr. Ellison.  Do come in."  She ushered them into the parlor where she proceeded to tell them why she had called.
    "It's the house.  It's haunted."  She paused for dramatic emphasis.  This is all I need,  thought Jim.
    "My husband is here.  He keeps talking to me." Jim and Blair exchanged glances.
   "Let me guess.  Your husband is dead?"  Jim said sarcastically.  Mrs. Hollingsworth nodded her  head.
    "He died five years ago."  
     "Why do you think he waited five years to contact you?"  Blair asked.  The other two looked at him.
     "He comes at night.  There is a great wind that blows and the light start going crazy."  What she was describing did sound like a haunting.
     "Mrs.  Hollingsworth,  I'm afraid that this is not our area of expertise."  He was trying to let the sweet, old lady down easy."  Blair spoke up.  "I happen to know a little about paranormal phenomenon.  It sounds like what you encountered was a poltergeist."  Jim rolled his eyes again.
    "Excuse us, please"  Jim pulled Blair over out of earshot of Mrs.  Hollingsworth.
    "Just because you watched the movie doesn't mean that you can help with her problem."
    " I know that Jim,  but I'm trying to calm her."  So, Blair went back to Mrs. Hollingsworth.  Blair continued talking softly to the woman when the doorbell rang.  Jim went to answer the door.
      "Who are you and where is my Auntie? "  Standing in front of Jim was a very angry man.
      "I'm Detective Jim Ellison and this is Blair Sandburg and we were called by your Aunt.  She thinks that her house is haunted."  The man rolled his eyes and came into the room.
      "Auntie, are you still thinking that?  Why are you bothering these gentlemen?  You're just wasting their time."  Mrs. Hollingsworth got angry with her nephew.
     "You think that I'm just a crazy, old lady who's going senile.  Well,  I saw what I saw."  She walked away from him and went back to sit down.
    "I'd like to ask you some questions,  Mr. - uh?"  The man gave jim his business card.
    "My name is Carl Gregory.  I don't have time for these foolish questions.  I just came to see that Auntie was alright."
     "I'm fine as you can see Carl."  She was getting angry now.
     "Well, perhaps I should hire someone to come and stay with you."  At this,  Mrs.  Hollingsworth started shooing Carl out of the house.
     "You get out of my house, Carl.  I can take care of myself."  Carl started to protest,  but Jim stepped in.
      "Maybe it's best that you leave,  Mr. Gregory."  Carl Gregory looked upset,  but he complied.
       "Will you really be alright,  Mrs. Hollingsworth?"  Blair asked.  She assured them that she would be alright,  so Jim and Blair left.
       The next day at approximately nine o'clock, the doorbell at Mrs. Hollingsworth's rang.
      "Who are you and what do you want?"  She was now suspicious of any visitors to the house.
      "My name is Nancy Slater.  I was hired by Carl Gregory to take care of a Mrs. Hollingsworth.  Are you she?"  When she heard Carl's name,  Mrs. Hollingsworth got angrier.
      "I told my nephew that I didn't need anyone here with me."  She was trying to shoo the woman away.
      "Look, lady,  I came all the way here from Indiana to take this job.  I don't know anyone here and I have no place to stay.  It's not my fault that you and your nephew are having a hard time getting along."  Nancy was angry and she didn't usually talk to people in such a way,  but things just didn't seem to be going that well for her lately.
    Mrs.  Hollingsworth realized that she was not being very nice to this woman.
    "I'm sorry.  Won't you come in for some coffee and a Danish?"  Nancy smiled and followed the woman into the house.  Over the coffee and the Danish,  it was decided that Nancy Slater would come to live there as Mrs. Hollingsworth's companion.  If anyone asked,  this woman was just her companion and not there to take care of her.  Also,  Mrs. Hollingsworth thought that she had better explain to Nancy about the house being haunted.  Nancy thought that these were just the ravings of a sick, old woman and just played along.
    Later on that evening,  while Mrs.  Hollingsworth was reading in bed,  everything began again.  The first thing that happened was that the lights flickered.  Mrs.  Hollingsworth noticed it as the beginning of everything.  Soon after,  she began hearing  moaning sounds and then the moans turned into a voice - her husband's  voice.
      Nancy heard the voice also.  She got out of bed and crept slowly down the hall to check on Mrs.  Hollingsworth.  She was beginning to wonder if what Mrs. Hollingsworth had told her was true.  She knocked cautiously on Mrs.  Hollingsworth's door.
    "Mrs.  Hollingsworth,  may I come in?"  When there was no answer,  Nancy slowly opened the door.  The bed was empty.
Nancy listened.  The moaning and groaning continued and Nancy went toward the sound.  She found Mrs. Hollingsworth perched precariously on the railing overlooking the front foyer.
    "Mrs. Hollingsworth,  come down please."  Nancy was afraid to shout or make any sudden movements for fear that the old woman would fall.           
    "It's Otis.  I see him.  He's calling to me."  Nancy looked to where she was pointing even though she knew no one would be there.
    "Mrs. Hollingsworth,  there's no one there.  Please come down."
    The old woman seemed to focus on Nancy's face.
    "Nancy dear, you can't see Otis?"  Nancy slowly shook her head.
    "I'm afraid not,  Mrs. Hollingsworth."  The old woman climbed down slowly.
     "I guess Carl was right.  I am going crazy."  Nancy helped her back to her bed.  She made a mental note to call the police the next day.
    Jim was annoyed that they were called back out to the Hollingsworth house.
    "So,  what you're saying is that you think that the house is haunted, too?"  Jim asked the beautiful nurse.
    "No, what I'm saying is that I heard the moans and creepy sounds, but I didn't see her dead husband.  So,  something really strange is going on."  Jim had been listening, but he could just barely concentrate.
    "So, you think that there might be someone in the house?"  Blair asked.
    He recognized the looks that were exchanged between Jim and Nancy and decided to change the subject.
    "You don't think that the house is really haunted?"  Blair looked really disappointed.
    "Well,  if it were really a ghost,  why wouldn't I see it, too?"  She looked back and forth from Jim to Blair.
    "Well, it could be something psychological."  Blair tried to explain.
    "So,  in other words, you're saying that sweet lady is crazy.  Well, what about me?"  They continued looking at her.  She threw up her hands in disgust and went off in search of Mrs. Hollingsworth.
      "So,  Jim what are you thinking?  Are you getting any impressions?"  Jim rolled his eyes because Blair was acting as if he were a psychic or something.  Jim walked around to see if he could see, smell or hear anything unusual.  He didn't.
     "This thing usually happens at night, right?  Tell Mrs. Hollingsworth that she has a couple of  house guests."
    After Blair and Jim settled into their rooms,  Jim went out in search of Nancy.  He found her in the kitchen chopping vegetables.
    "You all settled in?"  She asked shyly.
    "Yeah.  Uh - I kind of wanted to apologize for earlier."  
    She had a confused look on her face.
    "You know, implying that you were crazy."  She smiled.
    "It's okay.  I know that I'm not crazy.  Blair  probably wasn't too far off with the psychological stuff.  Mrs. Hollingsworth might have been subjected to this for so long that she started to believe it."                 Jim was staring at her eyes.  They were a dazzling green.
    "Jim."  She startled him.
    "So,  what does your husband think about you staying here with Mrs. Hollingsworth."    She smiled again.  It certainly  wasn't an original line,  but he was trying.
   "I don't have a husband - or a boyfriend either."  She threw the last part in when she saw that he was about to open his mouth to speak.  Jim smiled this time.
   "Would you two stop flirting and come out here.  Something's happening."  
    Even though they regretted being interrupted,  they both remembered why they were there.  They rushed into the living room.
    Immediately upon entering the living room,  they saw the flickering lights.
    "The temperature has dropped."  Jim noticed.  Blair perked up again.
    "Well, that's consistent with poltergeist activity."  Jim still wasn't buying it.
    "Where are the temperature controls?"  Mrs. Hollingsworth pointed to the unit on the wall.  It was registering the correct temperature,  but no one admitted having turned it down.
    "So, there must be someone else in the house."  Blair and Jim set off to search the house from top to bottom.  Nancy sat with Mrs. Hollingsworth on the couch and waited.
    A few minutes later,  Jim and Blair returned.  The search turned up nothing.
    "Mrs. Hollingsworth,  tell us about  your nephew, Carl."  Jim was already formulating some suspicion about Carl.
    "Well, Carl and I are the only ones left in my family.  I don't think that he started paying much attention to me until his mother,  my sister,  died last year."
     "Is Carl your heir if something happens to you?"  Mrs. Hollingsworth nodded and then a light bulb went on  when she saw where Jim was heading.
    "You think that Carl is trying to kill me?"  Jim shook his head.
    "No,  I think that he's trying to drive you crazy."
    Dinner was uneventful although Nancy cooked it.  Jim made sure that he complimented her.
    "Thank you, Jim.  I'm not really that good of a cook.  I just follow recipes well."  They both smiled as they were reminded of the awkward scene that was interrupted earlier that day.
    Jim again looked at her.  Her red hair was pulled up and piled on top of her head.  Those stunning green eyes were watching Jim intently.  Jim stroked her cheek with the back of his hand.  He was surprised by its softness and he suddenly wondered how it would be to feel how soft her lips were.  He leaned down and kissed her pink lips.  He almost fainted when she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back.
    The next thing that they knew,  the light flickered and Jim noticed the change in the temperature.  Then, they heard the groans and moans.  They ran upstairs to make sure Mrs. Hollingsworth was alright.
    "I hear Otis.  Do you hear Otis?"  She was nearly hysterical,  but she didn't look like she was about to hurt herself.   Nancy had come over to Mrs. Hollingsworth to comfort her.
    "Jim there can only be one of two answers.  Either the house is haunted or someone is in the house."
    "Or it's some kind of audio device," said Jim.   He had detected a small mechanical sound accompanying the moans and groans. He and Blair began to search the premises again,  but this time they were looking for audio equipment.  Not wanting to go into the basement,  Blair had elected to search upstairs.
    "Uh, Chief,  the upstairs includes the attic."  Blair did his own groaning.  So, while Blair searched the attic and the upstairs,  Jim searched the basement and the downstairs.  Nancy stayed with  Mrs. Hollingsworth to make sure that she didn't hurt herself.
    "Well  . . . ?"  Jim asked Blair when they met again.
    "I didn't find a thing."  Jim looked stumped as well.
    "All  I found was a fancy burglar alarm system.  That's it.  Say,  I wonder where the nephew is?"  Blair looked surprised.
    "You back to thinking that someone was in the house?"  After Jim nodded,  Blair continued.
    "But,  the nephew is out of town on a business trip.  Do you want me to check?" Jim was thinking about something,  so he just nodded.
    "I finally persuaded Mrs. Hollingsworth to go to sleep."  Nancy said as she came into the room.
   "I'll go and make that phone call."  Said Blair smiling as he went.
    Jim still seemed to be lost in thought.  When Nancy spoke to him,  he seemed to be far away.  She walked up behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder.
    "What are you thinking?"  She asked.  At first,  she thought that he would not answer her. But,  after a few seconds, he answered her.
    "There's nobody in the house that we can tell.  The nephew is on a business trip.  Is it really a ghost?"  she knew that he didn't really believe that it was a ghost.
    "It would have to be magic."  Nancy said.  Jim looked at her as if  a new thought had entered his head.
    "Magic."  He said and smiled.
    Blair had gotten through to Carl and he was, indeed, on a business trip.  Jim had told Blair to tell Carl that he needed to hurry back because his Aunt was in danger.  Carl did as he was told.
    "Where is she?  Has she totally flipped out?"  Jim thought that Carl made an interesting statement.
    "Well,  we believe that she did see a ghost."  Jim said,  matter-of-factly.  Carl did a double take.  At just that moment, the moaning and groaning of the ghosts began again.  Carl reacted.
    "I see that you're hearing ghosts as well, Carl.  Are you crazy,  too?"  Carl took offense to this statement.
     "You see Carl.  I got to thinking.  There's no one in the house and you're, conveniently away on a business trip.  You hire a nurse that can testify that your aunt is crazy. The only problem is that the nurse hears the sounds as well.  So,  the sounds must be real.  But,  it's not dear, old departed Otis."  Jim went over to the burglar alarm system and opened the panel.  He turns a switch and the moaning and groaning stopped.
    "Mrs. Hollingsworth says that you had the burglar alarm installed a couple of days before all of this started.  The sounds were on a timer which was set to go off at a certain time each night.  Poor Mrs. Hollingsworth just began hoping to see Otis so much that she started 'seeing' him.  But,  she's far from crazy." Mrs. Hollingsworth,  who had been listening to the whole thing, spoke up next.
   "And by the way Carl,  you were so worried about what you were going to get when I died, or went crazy.  Well, now you don't have to worry.  I'm not leaving you anything." No,  thought Jim,  she was far from crazy.   
    After Carl left in disgrace, Blair asked Jim an important question.
    "Well Jim, has your opinion changed any about Halloween?"  Jim, who was standing there with his arm around Nancy said, "Yes, I believe it has.  Nancy and I are going to start some new Halloween traditions."  He turned and kissed her as if giving a prelude to the new traditions.  Mrs. Hollingsworth led Blair off to the kitchen for a glass of milk.

          (Song to follow)
                                                           Paper Tigers
          (Written by Mark Heimermann,  Wayne Kirkpatrick &George Cocchin)

Heart pounds
To the sounds                           
Comin' after me              
Step back  
What is that? It's a mystery
Is it somethin'
Probably nothin'
Still I find a way to scare myself
'Til I remember
This all fells familiar
And I know better
They are only paper tigers following me
In the wild imagination of the make believe
And there's a fighter, a survivor arising in me
I'm not afraid of paper tigers
Night brings
Creepy things
And I hide away
False fears
In the light of day
The sun is rising
I'm realizing
The only thing to fear is fear itself
Now I am certain
That my beast of burden
Isn't worth the worry
Chorus: They are only paper tigers following me
In the wild imagination of the make believe
And there's a fighter, a survivor arising in me
I'm not afraid
And I won't run away from paper tigers