By Fritz Baugh
Archive: Supplement to GBI Case File GBNY-1997-15/101
He looked at her with such sadness, but it was too late to be deterred.
"Are...are you sure about this?" he asked with a pleading whine. "I mean, until the papers are signed the divorce isn't final and we can file for reconciliation and..."
She didn't even bother to answer him, scrawling her signature to the bottom of the document. Anything to get him to shut up--she'd had her fill of his plaintive whine years ago....
He looked at the paper sadly once more, and put his own signature on it
"I'm sorry too, Louis." she replied. "It was a mistake from the get go. You didn't do anything wrong--it was all me. I did it for all the wrong reasons. The first time, I was angry about the company getting back together. The second time I was mad about it falling apart. You were there and I...well, I was rebounding, and I should've realized that. I had no right to drag you into that situation, willing or not..." She exhaled, pulled off her green eyeglasses, and rubbed her eyes. "too many ghosts standing between us, pardon the phrase".
He snapped his briefcase shut, the paperwork inside. He stood up, and without looking at her, nevertheless--for the only time since she'd known him--spoke with an angry, insightful tone in his voice. "Just one ghost, Janine. And it was far too big for me to ever bust"
With that, Louis B. Tully, CPA, walked out of her life forever.
She was angry at herself for all of it. One of her old colleagues had often confused lust for love, and she had done something even worse--mistaken loneliness for need. She had been lonely, and let herself lead an innocent, trusting man on just to feel better about herself. There were other causes, including a malevolent force (though she didn't know it was malevolent at the time) egging her on, but ultimately, it was her own fault.
Even more so three years later, after their lives had fallen apart, the company she'd become such an integral part of disbanded in a blaze of acrimony. She'd turned to Louis for comfort once more when...well, with all of the hurt she could face only an outsider--and despite his own time with the company, Louis was still an outsider in her eyes. Hurt and lonely, she sucked him in again.
No....she admitted to herself. I never loved him...I never even lusted for him, really. Hell, I'm not sure I even liked him...I just didn't want to be alone.
So she married him. And about a month later was already sure it had been a mistake.
She'd hung in there for another four long years, stubbornness being a trait that had gotten her into more than one mess...she felt she owed the man who'd shown his love for her as much loyalty as she'd shown...
She shook her head angrily. "Just one ghost, Janine. And it was far too big for me to ever bust."
She took off one blue pump and threw it at the wall. Why COULDN'T I ever make it work!? Why COULDN'T I ever love Louis?! He loved me, he treated me the best he ever could, but...
She already knew the answer.
I couldn't love him because I was already in love with another man. And Adonai help me...
...I still am.
A rakish psychologist of questionable credential had once told her "Y'know, one of the clinical definitions of insanity is trying the same thing again and again while expecting different results"
Janine Melnitz, freshly minted divorcee, exhaled heavily. "So color me clinically insane, Doctor Venkman..."
555-2020...He didn't even change the number
The phone rang three times
"Greetings. You have reached the residence of Professor Egon Spengler" the familiar baritone answered, causing her heart to skip a beat. "I apologize that I am unable to answer the phone right now, so please leave your name, number, and a brief message. Or contact me at the psychology department of NYC Community College, 555-6780 extension 103."
The tone beeped, and after a long half second of grappling with her thoughts, she hung the phone up.
"Figures..." she sighed.
"Professor Spengler's office, Lindsay speaking. How may I help you?"
"Is...is Professor Spengler available, Lindsay?"
"Um, no...he's asked me to not disturb him until after class. He's teaching the first session of this semester's Parapsychology 101 today in about an hour, and is organizing his notes for the presentation. Saaaay..." the receptionist paused "this isn't Julio Ramanajan's people again?"
Janine smirked, recognizing the name of a muckraking TV reporter her employers had the misfortune of dealing with once. "No way. I promise"
"That jerk's always after him. Or are you one of those tabloid shows, another one wanting to get 'the inside scoop on one of the faded celebrities of the 1980's' and all of that?"
"Okay, then...Look, I'm sorry, the Professor doesn't get a lot of calls that aren't like that, so I guess I'm a little defensive. Are you...a researcher then? Someone with a serious interest in the field of parapsychology?"
"Miss..." Janine chuckled. "I could probably write a book on the field myself that would turn your hair white."
Lindsay laughed, clearly feeling at ease. Janine had to admit, she was pleased, on the one hand, that Egon had a tough secretary to deal with those who were inevitably out to get him. On the other hand...well, he does have a way of stirring the hearts and libidos of brassy secretaries, after all...
"Who shall I inform the Professor is calling?"
"Nobody, Lindsay. Just don't say a thing to him."
"Saay...you aren't one of those stalkers are you?"
"Let me tell you, for such a quiet, reserved man, the Professor gets a lot of calls from some really wierd ladies. It's a wonder he's not ruder about blowing them off as it is Last year he must have had about six proposals from women he'd never met. And some of the lines! 'I feel we knew each other in a past life' and crap like that."
"Y'know, Lindsay, I have no idea how well you know the Professor and his history, but he might call me his original stalker..."
Janine told Lindsay who she was. And Lindsay gasped hard.
She couldn't help but smile as she pulled up to the familiar firehouse. She left the yellow VW outside and pulled out the key that, on her most angry day, she could never allow herself to throw away. The lock opened easily.
"Good grief..." she muttered. "This place is a damn mess..."
It was. There were a few random articles of broken electronics scattered around the garage, but the most notable thing was the simple presence of dust: when this place was in use, there was a diligent effort to keep it at least tidy. It certainly didn't look like this after the team's first ...interregnum almost a decade before (a decade? has it really been that long???) but then again, it was Ray and Winston who kept the place up then, and at least the trappings of the biz were part of their livelihood. The current occupant, on the other hand, had an unwitting doctrine of benign neglect when it came to keeping the downstairs clean.
The familiar shape of the ECTO-1 sat as though waiting for another call to carry it's passengers to another "zap and trap" job. Technically the second ECTO-1, it was also covered with dust, and some of the electronics on the roof rack had been cannibalized, possibly for use in experiments upstairs. The second? It was a miracle that they only went through two of those cars, what with the abuse they'd seen...
She inhaled and went over to the most familiar spot in the place, and gasped.
The reception desk was dusted and clean. And she could just about swear in a court of law that, other than the dusting, not a thing had been changed in the last five years. The note about the team's very last busting job--a scrawled address and phone number--was, while yellowed with age, still taped to the computer monitor (which was, of course, horrendously out of date)
She went downstairs, and allowed herself a look at the familiar containment unit. Still humming, green lights all across the display--it was, after all, the main reason the building was still occupied. There were hundreds--maybe even thousands--of malevolent entities contained inside of it, and a few dozen of them were powerful entities that could only be described as "demonic" She knew from firsthand experience what a problem with that could be like...
She turned around and went the other direction. The second floor was in better shape, part of the living area of the place. There were dishes stacked neatly in the sink...and about five more scattered about the floor, the latter being covered in green slime. She smirked. Just about then, she noticed a series of familiar burbling and chewing noises coming from the bunk area.
It was of no surprise to her that the green, potato-shaped creature was sitting on the bed once occupied by aforementioned smarmy psychologist. Slimer continued to eat for about six more seconds before he realized he had company.
It shouted something resembling her name with ecstasy, and tackled her before she could react. Have to remember to clean up before I leave... she thought to herself, with no real malice.
"So how are you doing, Slimer?"
The Spud babbled for several minutes...she couldn't decipher much of it (the entity was not conversant in English, really) but got the impression that the poor thing was very lonely. Not exactly a surprise.
"Yeah...I miss everyone too. That's why I'm here"
Slimer liked that answer. Then he flew off to raid the refrigerator again.
She went over to another bunk, knowing it was the one still being used as a bed. There was a few issues of Spooks Illustrated on the bed table, a set of small, red-trimmed eyeglasses. The main new item was a phone, which was understandable. But the item that brought tears to her eyes was the picture...taken at a photo booth on Toad Island, it showed a tall, blond man with red glasses and a much shorter woman with thick red hair...
How did it go so wrong?
"You must be Lindsay" Janine answered. "We spoke on the phone just a little bit ago."
Lindsay stood up. "Lindsay Jensen, Miss Melnitz. It is such an honor to meet you..."
"Of course. I'm constantly hearing about you from the Professor."
She couldn't help but feel more hopeful. "He...talks about me?"
"Sure. Every time he has me file the paperwork, he insists that I stick the system you devised for him. It's the way he wants it and every time I make a suggestion its 'This is the way I want it done. Janine Melnitz's document filing system has served me well over the years, and it will continue to serve' He must think you're a brilliant archivist..."
Janine shook her head. So...so typically Egon...
"So...how has the teaching thing been working out this time? He's been in the academic field twice before, but looked at the teaching part as a necessary evil..."
"Y'know, he said something about it the other day, that he admitted he enjoyed the teaching this time. Not to say that there haven't been some weird research moments--I'll have to tell you about creepy Doctor Kirilian some time--but he says he gets all his research done at home, so here he's glad to be 'imparting some knowledge on the few who'll listen to me' He's drawn his biggest crowd this semester, you know."
"Wow...so how many enrollees?"
"Four!!!" she answered brightly. "Though I don't know about the Mexican kid...I think he's in it for the easy credit. Plus..." she paused, looking off to one side with a grimace "He keeps looking me up and down like a side of beef"
Janine laughed a knowing laugh. "I'll give you some tips to handle jerks like that. Believe me..."
Janine so wanted to ask her...so..are you another one of those poor women lost in contemplation of Professor Spengler's charms?
"Now that friend of his that was in here last week...Doctor Brandenburg..." Lindsay was saying with a sigh. "That's a man I want to get to know better."
Janine blinked. "Mark Brandenburg?"
Lindsay brightened, in a way Janine could well sympathize with. "You know him?"
"He was one of Egon's students eight years ago, during his last tenure in academics." Janine leaned in close. "You...like him, Lindsay?"
Lindsay blushed. "Um..well...yeah. He's so smart...and has such soulful eyes. And his butt's not bad, either." A slight mischievous smirk came to the edge of Lindsay's mouth. "Y'know, I challenged him to a game of racquetball and he started babbling about his cobalt collection." Lindsay started to giggle. "It was so damn cute to see him lose his cool like that--I was so totally smitten right then and there."
Janine was belly laughing. Maybe just a little too hard.
"Lindsay, Dear, I'm probably the last person in the world who should be giving you advice on how to romance scientists, but..." she put her hands on Lindsay's shoulders lightly. "Don't let anything he says get to you---look close and read between the lines. Grab onto that man like a steel trap and don't let go, or you might end up like me."
Lindsay blinked twice. All of a sudden, comprehension began to dawn on her. "You...the Professor..."
"Yeah. I didn't hold on last time. I mean to correct that mistake--'better late than never' and all that..."
Lindsay's watch beeped. "It's time"
Janine inhaled. It had been five long years since the angry breakup of Ghostbusters Inc., and she was about to make amends for the biggest mistake of her life: she loved Egon Spenger, knew that deep down he loved her too--she had heard it from his own lips once before. This time I won't let him get away...because now I know. I'm not nothing without him...but I'm a lot less. He's my soulmate and true love...and if that asshole thinks he can chase me away again, he's the one who's gonna get schooled--he's gonna learn that multiple PhD's don't mean you aren't an idiot.
Maybe loving him makes me clinically insane...but sanity's overrated anyway!
With that, she turned and strode into the lecture hall...
Extreme Ghostbusters Created by Fil Barlow