FATEFUL OPPORTUNITY

By Fritz Baugh


Supplement to GBI Case File GBNY-1983-1/001

May 30, 1983
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year One
Janine Melnitz cursed at her car as it made that awful noise again. Damn thing's about to give up the ghost and at this crummy job I don't know if I can fix it...I'd hate to have to hit up Pop for money... She sneered. And I'd hate to hit up Doris even worse

She flashed her museum pass at the parking attendant and was waved into employee parking. One of the junior curators--Kaila MacMillan--had just parked into an adjoining space, and waited for the battered yellow VW to pull in and its occupant to get out.

"I think it's not soundin' too good..." Kaila told her.

"Tell me about it." Janine snorted in her Brooklyn accent. "Too bad we don't know any good auto mechanics..."

"First one I meet, I'll set him up with you. Unless I like him better." Kaila chuckled.

Janine made a dismissive noise as she grabbed her purse and headed for the doorway. Twenty four years old, with a thick head of red hair, she was an impressive presence despite her small sizeShe was dressed in the standard uniform for the museum gift shop--a vest with a name tag over a blouse and tie. Her green eyeglasses were triangle shaped, and somewhat oversized yellow earrings hung from her lobes. She completed the ensemble with a mini skirt and pumps of practical heel height. She didn't notice the approving look from one of the janitors--but that wasn't unusual.

"Try to have a good day, Janine." Kaila told her as they finished putting their purses in their lockers.

"Yeah. Right." Janine nodded with little enthusiasm.

"Look, I'm sorry, but it's the museum's policy--we can't refund or exchange purchases without a reciept!"

It was almost lunch time, and while business had been brisk for a week day, it wasn't overwhelming. Janine had had no problems--until now. A cute plastic brontosaurus sat on the counter.

The old lady glared at her angrily. "Now you listen to me, Younk Lady..." she started to shout in a thick German accent. "I vill not be ripped off by dis crummy place!!! I hat a K-Mart in California shut down for bat pricink, ant I can do ze same to this place!!!"

"I don't make the policy, Lady--I just have to follow it!!! I wasn't the one who lost your reciept, you stupid old b..."

"May I help you Ma'am?" a smooth voice broke in.

Both women turned to see a man in a suit, adorned with a museum ID tag, standing there. Probably in his late 30's, he had slicked back blond hair and a handlebar mustache.

Crap. All the managers in this place, and I get Marshall... Janine snarled inside.

"I'm Marshall Williams, Ma'am, and I'm one of the management staff. What seems to be the problem?"

The old lady smirked. "Vell, I zpent my hard earned money on dis item, and I zpend a lot of money here, but now this girl tells me I can't get a refund."

"Well, I apologize for the problems, Ma'am. Janet, give the nice customer a refund, if you please."

Janine bit back the urge to take the trinket and somehow shove it up both their asses simultaneously. Without comment, she rang the refund and handed it to the lady. "Have a nice day." she said simply and evenly, draining any emotion--meaning flaming anger--out of the expression.

The old lady strutted off, with a smug grin on her face.

"You really need to work on your people skills, Janice."

"You need to learn reading skills, Mister Williams--considering how much time you spend staring at my name tag. Or that general area."

The man grinned an oily smile and put his arm around her. "Janie, I think you could go far in this place, if you just watched your attitude. I'm afraid I may have to give you a write up for this incident--unless you work with me."

With that, he moved his hand down to her rear end.

"I like spunky girls myself."

Kaila MacMillan was just dusting one of the stegosaur bones when she heard a loud crash and a shout of pain. She looked up to see Janine Melnitz storming away from the gift shop, face almost as red as her hair.

"Janine?" she asked worredly.

Janine stopped, unbuttoned her vest, and dropped it to the floor in front of her. "I just tendered my resignation to Mister Williams, Kaila."

"Oh my..."

"You might want to call someone to help him, though--a plastic brontosaur somehow got shoved up his nose." With that, she stomped on the vest a few times and stormed off.

Kaila shook her head, full of mixed feelings. Janine hadn't worked there long, but in that time Kaila'd grown to like having her around. But at least she left teaching Marshall Williams--a notorious sleazebag on the prowl who'd tried his tricks on Kaila more than once--a little bit of a lesson...

One Week Later
June 6, 1983
Janine sighed as the door knocked. Probably the landlord here for the rent I don't have...

She pulled herself off the couch and went over to the door, and was only slighly relieved to see, not the land lord, but her older sister, Doris Melnitz Irwin, standing there, four year-old son Victor in tow.

Doris had the same short frame as her sister, and similar features, though through some toss of the genetic dice didn't have to wear glasses. Her hair was brown, and gathered at the back. Her wardrobe was also a little more conservative, being a blouse and knee length skirt. Her son had a fleshy face and freckles, sprigs of brown hair peeking out from under the Brooklyn Dodgers ballcap his Grandpa Fritz had given him for Christmas six months before.

"Hey Aunt J!!!" Victor shouted and hugged his aunt.

"Hey yourself, Vic. No squirt gun in my house."

Victor, who'd just pulled the weapon out of his pocket, looked crestfallen. "Not even the plants on the table? They need water..."

"I watered them this morning, sorry." she smirked, jerking the bill of his baseball cap around. His freckled face contorted with aggravation.

"Aunt Jaaay...don't mess with my hat!!!"

"Victor, Honey, why don't you watch cartoons or something--your Aunt Janine and I need to talk."

"All right!!!" Victor said excitedly. "I think it's almost time for Murray the Mantis!!!"

Doris and Janine went into Janine's bedroom and closed the door. "I guess Mom broke down and told you, didn't she?" Janine asked, looking at the ceiling.

"Well, yeah...though I don't think Pop knows yet. Adonai, little sister, what are we going to do with you? You're smart and determined enough to do anything you set your mind to, now why can't one of those things be 'Keep A Job'?"

"You think I set out to be a job hopper? F'cryin' out loud, Dee, it's not my fault--I keep getting stuck in these dead end jobs with bosses who are either psychos or worse, grabasses who won't give me the time of day 'cause I won't put out to 'em!!!"

"Well, maybe if you didn't wear such short skirts..."

"That's a big smelly pile of bullshit and you know it!!!"

Victor munched a cookie as he heard him Mom and Aunt J argue. He couldn't make out words, but he knew they were arguing--they were loud enough about it.

Murray the Mantis went into commercials, and a really wierd one (and so low budget even four year-old Victor could tell it was cheap) came on.

There were these three dorks in lab coats. "Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?" the fat guy with the wide face and short auburn hair asked the camera

"Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?" an extremely tall, thin man with red eyeglasses and the weirdest blond haircut he'd ever seen continued. He has weird hair like Aunt J Victor chuckled to himself.

"Have you or any of your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost?" The third man, with brown hair slightly long and with a curl at the front, did his turn.

"If the answer is yes, then don't wait another minute. Pick up your phone and call the professionals." The pudgy redhaired guy continued

"Ghostbusters!" All three of them said in unison. The words: GHOSTBUSTERS 555-2368, appeared on the screen.

"Our courteus and efficient staff is on call twenty-four hours a day to serve all your supernatural elimination needs." The pudgy scientist continued.

"We're ready to believe you!" They all said in unison again, pointing at the camera.

Victor laughed out loud. "Those guys are funnier than Murray the Mantis! Maybe they should get a cartoon!!!"

"Look--just listen to me a minute, Little Sister: I know you can't pay your rent this month..."

"I'll manage it somehow!"

"Of course you will--because I already paid it for you."

Janine's face turned almost as red as her hair. "Dammit, Doris, I said I'd manage it--you can't be doin' shit like this when you have a four year-old kid to take care of!!!"

Doris may not have had quite the same level of temper as her younger sister, but she still came from the same Melnitz DNA after all. She was now just about as angry, face just about as red. "We have the money--would you rather have to get thrown out on the street? Or have to go to Pop about it?!"

Janine's reply was cut off by knocking at the door.

"Stay right there, Victor--I'll get it!!!" Janine shouted in full Brooklyn snarl mode.

"Hey Janine--have I got great news for you!!!" the woman said, coming in just as fast as Janine could open the door.

"Come right on in, Marie--I'm fine right now..." Janine muttered sarcastically as closed the door behind her friend.

The bispectacled woman in the thick blue sweater, with unkempt brown hair, was named Marie Cavendish, and she was one of Janine's friends from back in school. Unstoppable perkiness was one of Marie's character traits--which sometimes could grate on Janine's nerves. She'd often pledged to herself if I ever get that agreeable and perky just somebody put a bullet through my head please...

"Oh! Hi Victor!!! You keeping an eye on your Aunt Janine?"

"She and Mom are fighting about something as usual." Victor returned matter of factly.

"We're not fighting." Doris stated firmly, scowling at her son. "There's nothing to fight about."

"That remains to be seen..." Janine started to say.

"I came because I got great news for you, Janine!!!" Marie said excitedly, apparently unaware of the argument she was trampling on. "I think I've found you a job!!!"

Janine and Doris both stopped cold and looked at her.

"You know that university guy I was dating? Petey?"

"Oh yeah. Fink Man or what ever his name was..." Janine nodded, trying not to be too hopeful. She knew how quirky Marie could be...

"Venkman, Janine. Peter Venkman. Anyway, so like he and his two assistants got fired by the university and they're starting their own company. He called and said he needed a secretary, and knew that I'd taken those night classes on typing and asked if I still needed a job. Well, I don't of course since I started working for that cute orthodontist, but I told him I had a friend who just quit her job and took some of the same classes I did."

"So what'd he say?"

"He asked if you were cute." Marie chuckled.

"Well, that's not a fair question." Doris answered. "She got all the ugly genes in the family."

"Victor, look away for a second." Janine said. When her nephew did, she flipped her sister the bird. "Okay, you can look back now."

"So what does this guy do?" Doris asked.

"He's some kinda scientist...psychologist and something else, pseudopsychology or something like that..."

"A doctor?" Doris purred mischievously. "Those guys can pull down a lot of money..."

"Oh fercryingoutloud, Dee...that is not the issue here..."

"I think Petey said he and his partners are both single..." Marie chuckled.

"I never even said I'd go!!! Now you're trying to get me to marry one of those guys!!!"

"You're right, you're right..." Doris nodded, trying not to stifle a laugh. She admitted to herself that sometimes she tried too hard--she'd married Joshua almost right out of high school and had given birth to Victor at about the same age Janine was now. She just wanted to find some similar happiness for her grumpy little sister. "Listen, howabout we make a little deal?"

Janine's face scrunched up for a second. "What kind of deal?"

"Check out the job. If you get it, the rent I gave your landlord becomes a loan, and I let you pay me back for it."

"All right already!!! Sheesh!!!" Janine shouted with exasperation. She looked at Marie, her features softening. "Thanks a lot, Marie."

"No problem." Marie smiled. "Just promise that if you get the job and marry your boss you'll name one of your kids after me..."

Janine made an exasperated noise.

The Next Morning
June 7, 1983
The phone startled Janine out of her state of deep thought.

With a few choice curses, she left the shower, grabbed a towel to wrap around herself, and went to the phone, determined to ruin the day of any telemarketer that had dared to call her at this time of day.

"Melnitz, Waddyawant?" she bit into the phone

"Just making sure you were up, Little Sister..." Doris's voice came back. "You ready for the Big Day?"

"It's not a big day...just another job that I'll lose in a week, I'm sure..."

"What? It's not like you to sound so down...are you all right?"

"I'm probably just tired..." Janine admitted. "I had this weird dream last night, and it was hard to get to sleep after that..."

She heard Doris chuckle at the other end of the phone.

"Yeah, I know, 'There's Janine with another one of her psychic visions hah hah hah'..." Janine nodded. "But it was wierd--you remember how Mom and Pop took us to the World's Fair back when I was, what, about five..."

"Yeah, and you got lost. It freaked me out big time. Mom and Pop would've murdered me right then and there if something had happened to you..."

"Yeah, well, it was wierd...I dreamed that while I was lost, this monster attacked me and tried to eat me, but then...hm...um..."

" 'Hm...um...' what?"

"Then this guy dressed like an astronaut or something shows up and blows the monster into chunks. I can't remember what the guy looked like..only...he was...gorgeous..."

Doris laughed again.

"Yeah, I know...but it was so vivid...it just shook me up a little bit."

"Maybe your cosmonaut is real. Heck, maybe Fink Man knows him or something"

"Whoopy shit if he did. That was in 1964--the guy'd be like fifty by now...a little too old for me." Janine shifted the reciever. "Dee, I gotta go--I have to be out of here in about an hour and I am completely wet and naked."

"There's an image I didn't want put into my head. Good luck, Little Sister."

"Oh, this can't be right.." Janine wrinkled her nose, looking at the piece of paper with the address on it. "Damn, it is..."

She was standing in front of a decrepit fire house in TriBeCa. It was three floors tall, with red brick work, and the legend above the huge double doors at the front read "Hook and Ladder No.8" What the hell have I gotten myself into? she asked herself. This is a damn funny place to set up a practice...

She knocked on the door three times before she heard a muffled voice say "I'm getting it I'm getting it!!!" and a pudgy man with large brown eyes and short auburn hair opened it. "Hi!" he said brightly in an eager tenor. "I'm afraid we're not open for business yet, Miss, but..."

"My name's Janine Melnitz. I'm supposed to talk to Peter Venkman about a job--is that you?"

The pudgy man looked back inside the building. "PETER!!! IT'S FOR YOU!!!" he shouted. He invited Janine in. "Dr. Ray Stantz." he introduced himself, shaking her hand. "Peter will be down in a second--he hates getting up this early, so be warned: he might be cranky. Of course, you're a woman so..."

"Early? It's almost ten."

"Well, for Peter that is still practically the middle of the night..."

A second man somehow materialized right next to her. "Good morning!" the man said in a smooth, friendly voice. "You must be Marie's friend. I'm Peter Venkman. Doctor Peter Venkman."

The man had slightly long brown hair, wild green eyes, and at this moment a grin that befit the Cheshire cat. Oh Adonai... Janine sighed inwardly. Grabass. Definite grabass.

"Janine Melnitz, Doctor Venkman."

"Call me Peter."

"So what exactly to you do in this place, Doctor Venkman?"

"Come to my office and I'll explain it, Janine..."

"Let me get this straight." Janine was saying somewhat incredulously. "You guys...hunt ghosts?"

"That's the idea, Janine. The world's first professional paranormal investigators and eliminators--my third colleague, Doctor Spengler, has uncovered the ionization rate of ectoplasmic entities, and he and Doctor Stantz are convinced that they can catch ghosts and contain them indefinitely. At least that's what he thinks--Egon's just a little wierd sometimes."

"Hm...you have real science on this?" she said, strangely compelled to not dismiss any of this. Maybe it was the vivid dream last night that made it all seem so..plausible...

Venkman looked over the resume she'd given him. "Top ten percent of your class in high school...clerical work classes...great wpm on your typing...I just wonder--why four jobs over the last three years, Janine?"

She scowled. "You want the truth, Doctor Venkman?"

"Please..." he said, with just a little bit of a leer.

"I've worked with too many bosses who get this power complex, like they're better than me just because I'm only twenty four and I'm a woman."

"This is bad..."

"And the other problem, Doctor Venkman, are the grabasses."

Venkman suddenly sat up straighter in his chair.

"These morons who think that just because I'm twenty four, and working, I need the money so bad I'll put out to them. Well, call the museum, Doctor Venkman: the last boss of mine that thought that had to have a plastic dinosaur surgically removed from his nose!"

She got up and sighed. "Look, I'm sorry...you asked, I told...sorry to waste your time, Doctor Venkman..."

She turned to leave, and heard Venkman's voice say simply. "Janine, you're hired."

"Say what?" she turned back to him.

"Marie warned me you were a bit of a firecracker, and she was right." Venkman smirked, shaking her hand. "But I think that's what we need around here--we're gonna be dealing with a lot of scammers and frauds I'm sure, and I want someone who can give'em hell at the front line. Welcome to Ghostbusters, Miss Melnitz."

Ray came over. "Did I hear what I think I just heard? You're in?"

"She sure is, Ray."

"Welcome aboard!" Ray said brightly.

"Thanks, Doctor Stantz."

"Call me Ray."

"Okay...glad to be on board, Ray."

"See? We're all friends here!" Venkman said.

"So where's your genius guy, then, Doctor Venkman?"

"I told you--call me Peter"

"You didn't answer my question Doctor Venkman.'

Ray was chuckling for some reason. "He had to go to Ohio to get us some computer parts--his dad and uncle run a lab out there, and he was able to talk some monitors out of them cheap. He probably won't be back until late tonight."

"You can meet him tomorrow, I guess." Venkman smirked. "Office ours are 8 to 5, so be here early..."

"And you'll probably still be asleep I take it...' she retorted. Venkman adopted an expression of exaggerated innocence. "I guess I'll see you guys tomorrow then..."

The Next Day
June 8, 1983
When she arrived the next morning there was a man outside setting up a ladder. On the ground next to him was a big white sign that said "GHOSTBUSTERS INC" The man whistled as Janine approached, drawing a dirty look from her.

Venkman was pacing the garage as she entered. "I can't believe Ray isn't back yet--I sent him out for doughnuts over two hours ago."

"You're up early, Doctor Venkman."

"I don't pay you to make jokes." he retorted curtly.

"As of yet, you haven't paid me for anything." she returned, walking over to the desk at the center of the garage. She'd seen it the day before, but it looked different now--there was a keyboard and a darkened monitor sitting on the desk, as well as cables everywhere.

"This is a damn mess..." she grumbled audibly.

"I intend to change that." came a response from behind her in a clipped basso.

She turned around and came face to face with the source of that remark; he was a good six and a half feet tall, very thin, and dressed in a lab coat and a tie. The blond hair on his head was configured into a pompadour with a squiggly tail at its neck.

Peering at her with dispassion, through round red-rimmed eyeglasses, were the deepest blue eyes she'd ever seen.

Adonai...

He's...

He's...

GORGEOUS!!!

"If you'll excuse me?" he said with just a creeping tinge of annoyance. She backed away, and he went over to the monitor.

"Spengs, buddy, you are being rude to our new secretary."

He stood back up, looking a tad bothered by the whole thing. "My apologies then. Doctor Egon Spengler." he extended his hand perfunctorally.

"J...Janine Melnitz." Adonai, did I just stutter? "Very nice to meet you, Egon..."

He grunted something that sounded vaguely approving, and went back to whatever he was doing with the monitor.

A little while later, Egon shouted for her. "Please sit at the desk to watch the monitor. I'm having some problems with the data junctions."

She sat down at the desk, Egon still under it. She found herself thinking about the feel of him against her nylon clad legs. She was fighting off the urge to purr "See something you like down there, Doctor Spengler?" And thinking about why he was getting to her so quickly.

"Crumbs...hang on a moment...this might get it..."

The garage opened and a decrepit black '59 Cadillac Miller Meteor pulled in only barely under its own power. Ray jumped out of the driver seat, popped open the hood, and began to merrily work on the engine. Venkman came over to the desk, muttering something about "Forty eight hundred my God..."

"Janine! Any calls?" He asked.

"No."

"Any messages?"

"No."

"Any customers?"

"No, Doctor Venkman."

"It's a good job, isn't it?" he asked, aggravated. "Type something, will you? We're paying you for this stuff!... and don't stare at me, you got the bug eyes"

Dick... she thought to herself.

Venkman walked over to his shabby office, located behind her filing cabinets. Then he leaned back over "Janine! Sorry about the bug eyes thing. I'll be in my office."

He's still a dick...

Egon emerged from under her desk, walking to the back of the monitor.

"You're very handy. I can tell..." She blurted out. "I bet you like to read a lot, too." No way in Adonai's name am I telling Doris or Marie about this...they'll never let me live it down...

"Print is dead." Egon replied simply, making the last connection to the monitor.

"Oh, that's very fascinating to me. I read a lot myself. Some people think I'm too intellectual, but I think it's a fabulous way to spend your spare time."

"I also play racquetball." she finished, winking at him. "Do you have any hobbies?"

Egon suddenly looked startled, like somebody had just dumped about fifty gallons of ice cold water on him. "I collect spores, molds and fungus." he replied with conspicuous quickness, moving away from the desk--he suddenly seemed almost glad that he'd finished.

Janine sighed to herself. Okay...this won't be easy... But somehow deep down, she knew that it would be worth it. Doris's words of two days before came back to her...

"You're smart and determined enough to do anything you set your mind to."

And in her minds eye, somehow, the mystery man in the dream looked a whole lot like Egon.

She didn't know whether that was because that dream was some sort of prophesy...or she was grafting this man she just met into it...

But she was going to enjoy the challenge of finding out.

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