Uncharted territory

Goodwood Duxford tales

The inside of the caretaker’s home belied the rustic outside. Covered in ivy, the house was nearly lost in the foliage. it’s front door only visible through a neatly trimmed opening.

Goodwood Duxford, the hereditary caretaker and ghost wrangler at Gramberly Cemetery, was as meticulous in his housekeeping duties as he was tending to the spirits lingering in the stone garden.

Frankie Harp, the first living guest in Goody’s home, ever, marveled at the decor in the small cabin. Antiques and artwork that must have been passed down through many generations of the Duxford family decorated the interior. She also wondered about the woman sitting in one of his wing-backed chairs flanking the fireplace.

“I’m surprised to see you here,” Frankie said to the woman.

“I’m not surprised to see you,” Lilith said. “I knew you two would be perfect together.”

Goody, his ubiquitous carpenter’s apron tied around his waist, had been moving purposefully through the house gathering his tools and ghost binding materials. The conversation between the two women – one alive, the other dead – stopped him mid-stride.

“You can see her?” he said to Frankie.

“Of course, I can see, Lilith,” Frankie said. “She came into Grinders Cafe a while back and told me about you. It took you so long to come by, I almost came to Gramberly to find you.”

Momentarily speechless, he warily moved closer to the two women.

“I thought Patsy was the only other person in Pepperidge who could commune with the dead,” Goody said to Lilith.

“Commune? Where’d you find that word, Dux? Reader’s Digest Word Power quiz?” Lilith said, rising from her chair to stand next to Frankie. ‘Talk,’ ‘hear,’ ‘speak,’ are perfectly good words.”

“How long have you been able to see dead people?” Goody asked Frankie.

“As long as I can remember,” she said.

Goody sat down on the arm of his sofa.

“I should have known,” he said to no one in particular. “Nothing should surprise me any longer.”

“So, what kind of skulduggery are you two ghost-wrangling kids planning?” Lilith said, trying to put her arms around Goody and Frankie’s shoulders only to have her hug slip through them. “I keep forgetting about that. It’s beyond annoying.”

“We’re going on a ghost hunt,” Frankie said. Stepping up to the kitchen island, she spread out the map she and Goody found in the library. “See this section right here?”

Frankie showed Lilith the space beyond the cemetery’s established boundary and where the actual property line was. Using her thumb and forefinger, she indicated the narrow strip of land that they learned was called “A Glimpse of Heaven.”

“Remember me telling you about that unknown spirit I saw wandering last week?” Goody had moved around the island to stand opposite of Frankie. He held up the map so Lilith could see the watermark. “We believe he is from this forgotten section of Gramberly.”

“And you two are just going to barge in there alone, guns blazing?” Lilith frowned.

Goody and Frankie both froze. Looking first at Lilith, then at each other.

“Well, yeah,” Goody said.

“For someone who deals with the dead on a daily basis, someone who has ghosts in his blood, you can be really stupid, Dux,” Lilith said.

When Goody didn’t answer, Lilith continued.

“Listen, I’ve learned a few things since joining the ranks of the dead,” she said. “Most importantly, we are very proprietorial. We don’t like strangers mucking about in our stuff.”

“I’m not a stranger,” Goody said, a hint of offense in his tone.

“To this spirit, you are,” Lilith said. “Help me, Frankie.”

Frankie rolled the map up and sat down on one of Goody’s island bar stools.

“She’s right, Goody,” Frankie said. “We are getting way ahead of ourselves. You probably are a stranger to this spirit, otherwise, you would have known about him before this. You didn’t even know about this nether region. Maybe we should put more thought into this.”

“Why wait?” Goody said.
“Again, you’re not thinking,” Lilith said. “Just because you’re safe in Gramberly, even from the nasties, you DO. NOT. KNOW. this spirit. He could be luring you into a trap. What if he wants you gone from Gramberly. What happens to us without you here to protect us?”

Goody took a seat beside Frankie. A frown still creasing his forehead, but a look of resignation on his face.

“Okay,” he finally said. “What do you suggest, Lilith?”

“Ask some of the old-timers what they know about this spirit and the old section of Gramberly, Watch for this mystery spirit and see what he does when he comes to this side,” Lilith said, ticking off items on her fingers. “Then, form a posse. Gather some wanderers who can guide and protect you in this unknown region.”

“She has some good points, Goody,” Frankie said, laying her hand over his. “It could be dangerous.”

Goody untied his carpenter’s apron filled with ghost binding paraphernalia and laid it on the counter.

“I guess you’re right, I can’t just blunder into an uncharted part of the cemetery, there’s no telling why that section was separated from Gramberly,” Goody said. “The first thing I need to do is contact my dad and granddad. They should know something, or be able to point us in the right direction.”

Beyond the fence row between Gramberly proper and the uncharted territory on the far side, a gathering was forming in a forgotten stone sanctum.

This week’s Studio30 Plus: “Skulduggery” and/or “Shenanigans”

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