By Fritz Baugh
Supplement to GBI Case File GBNY-1986-4/405
Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore looked at each other. "Not since we got back from the second job today." the pudgier man answered.
"Probably up in the lab. Shock shock. Okay, I'll get him..." Venkman took a deep breath. "EGON!!! GRUB'S ON!!! COME AND GET IT BEFORE SLIMER GETS HOME!!!"
Ray and Winston rolled their eyes. "I better go up there--you know how he is. Starts doin' those fifth dimensional quadratic equations and he tunes out of reality..." Winston offered.
"Even more than usual..." Venkman added automatically. He was scooping up the ground beef and noodles (a particular favorite recipe he learned from his late mother, simple, cheap, and absolutely delicious) onto plates "Take some Twinkies to bait him just in case."
Winston went up to the third floor--without Twinkies--as Venkman decided to not wait for anyone else to start eating. The possibility that the firehouse's spectral inhabitant (a mostly unwanted one, in Venkman's view) might return at any time spurred him on.
Ray was scratching his head. "I'm still bothered by this afternoon's equipment inventory...I could swear we had twenty operational traps and three needing repair, but I kept coming up with only nineteen good ones and three bad ones."
"And we never lose stuff around here" Venkman said, rolling his eyes.
"Not those, Peter." Ray answered sternly. "Those little suckers cost more than you'd think...and they're vital to our operation!"
"You're just letting little things get to your head again, Ray."
Ray glared at him. "Saay...you didn't steal it and rig it in Slimer's litter box again, did you?"
Venkman looked genuinely hurt. "I can't believe you'd think that!!! That plan went so badly last time I'm never doing it again!!! Check it if you don't believe me!!!"
Ray shook his head. "You're right, Peter...I'm sorry...I just...well..."
"Well what?" Venkman scarfed down a huge bite.
Ray sighed. "I'm just wondering about Egon...he was a little...um...off this morning..."
Venkman smirked. "You ask me...maybe he was a little less off than usual."
Before Venkman could answer Ray, a grimacing Winston appeared, holding one hand behind his back. "Egon ain't up there."
"Then he's probably down in the basement working on the containment unit" Venkman stated, clearly unconcerned.
"Peter, that's were Winston and I were before we came up to eat--the equipment inventory, remember? And we haven't seen him since this morning."
Venkman chewed for a few more seconds. "So what?"
Winston cleared his throat. "I found this on the floor." The item he pulled from behind his back was one of the team's PKE meters--but the casing was cracked open, one of the dials was missing, and the stem linked to the swing arms was bent. "The whole lab was a mess--and I don't mean the usual orderly mess you guys keep it in, I mean like toddlers had been playing in it mess."
"This is Egon we're talking about." Venkman retorted. "He probably just blew it up again."
"And we didn't hear it?"
"That's his new experiment, Ray. Find out a way to create a silent lab explosion so that the neighborhood association isn't on our ass again."
Ray looked at the broken PKE meter. "This is definitely his...it looks like it had been thrown..." Ray looked at them. "Since he keeps one on his person all the time, the dials get more wear--see? Here and here. And it was working fine this morning..."
Winston's brow knit. "Maybe it's all innocent, but in our line of work we can't be too careful. We need to find Egon. Fast."
Venkman continued to eat. "Peter..." Ray pleaded with him.
Winston ran down to the reception desk. Janine Melnitz was packing her purse and turning off some of the lights, ready to leave. She was humming as she did so, which was unusual.
"Hey, Janine...you seen Egon lately?"
She shot him an angry look, her good mood changing abruptly. "Not since this morning. And when you do see him, tell him he was rude beyond belief and I'm quite angry with him."
Winston tugged his collar and looked away. "It was...a rough job this morning, give the guy a break. I think he was up late in his lab last night too, and..."
"That's no excuse." She retorted.
"I never said it was." Winston agreed. "But I admit I've never seen him like that. He's always the consummate gentleman, and to just be that rude and insulting like that..."
"Doctor Venkman I expect that from." She paused for a few seconds, her features softening slightly. "Winston...you don't think..." her voice trailed off.
She shook her head, the anger coming back. "Nothing. Never mind. I'll give him my peace tomorrow. Good night Winston."
Winston watched her leave, lost in his thoughts for a few seconds. His mother told him never to meddle in other's private business, but he had known Egon Spenger and Janine Melnitz for some three years now, and knew them well enough to have some suspicions as to what might really be happening here.
Venkman was scarfing down a second helping when Winston got back upstairs. "Janine just left. She hasn't seen him since this morning."
Ray put down his fork and rubbed his eyes. "I really don't like this, guys..." He looked at Winston. "You think this has anything to do with the Crump Plaza job this morning?"
Venkman rolled his eyes. "I'd bet it had more to do with what happened after Crump Plaza, Tex...except that'd be a human reaction, and God knows he can't have that..."
Ray swallowed hard, his brain already wrapping itself around the idea. "He was just a little, um, uncharacteristically brusque."
" 'Brusque'?" Winston replied. "He was downright rude. Janine agreed with me that it just wasn't like him..."
"She say anything else?" Venkman asked.
"Only that she was angry about it, and she was gonna give him a piece of her mind tomorrow."
Venkman shook his head. "Multiple denial is such a messy thing." He took another heaping bite and chewed it briskly. "I'm not sure which one of those two I want to hit more..."
"Violence is never an answer, Peter."
"Ray, my Uncle Alf owns a farm in Iowa. I remember when I was about ten, he had a mule he needed to move out of the barn, but the damn thing just ignored him---until he took out a two by four and smacked it upside the head. 'First you gotta get their attention...' is how he explained it to me."
Winston cocked an eyebrow. "Did it work?"
"Sure..." Venkman answered. "But Uncle Alf got kicked so hard he and Aunt Rhonda...well, didn't have so much fun the next few weeks."
"But Egon and Janine aren't mules, Peter..."
"No, old buddy..." Venkman agreed. "But I think Egon got a two by four upside the head this morning." He reluctantly put the pot of food in the microwave. "So maybe we better find him before he kicks someone..."
"Can't be anyone we know..." Ray said next.
"Not unless your Uncle Cyrus is making a surprise visit" Venkman conjectured, poking Egon. The door to the limo got out, and a man with an expensive suit, slicked back hair, beady eyes, and too-perfect teeth got out of the car
"Uncle Cyrus never makes surprise visits, he..." and then Egon's words trailed off as possibly the last thing he could ever have anticipated occurred: Janine Melnitz got out the car next, taking the rat-faced mans' hand.
He realized later that he was the first one out of the ECTO-1. Ray, Venkman, and Winston exchanged worried looks, and were right behind him.
Janine was beaming. For some reason, that pissed him off. "Hey guys!" the familiar Brooklyn voice purred. "This is Paul Smart, President of Grossjuck Industries..."
Egon recognized the name--a new electronics firm, specializing in some unusual equipment, the kinds that might come in useful in his line of work--if Egon hadn't decided right then and there that he would never condone, sanction, or touch any piece of hardware bearing the Grossjuck logo.
Smart shook hands with Venkman. "It's a pleasure to meet all of you...I've seen you on television, and Janine has told me a thing or two about you..."
Ray responded. "Same here, except,um, she hadn't mentioned you at all."
Smart smiled an oily, toothy smile. "Well...I requested some discretion until I knew her better."
"Grossjuck..." Venkman ruminated as it was his turn to shake hands with Smart. "You're in that new highrise off 40th Street..."
Smart crinkled his eyes with false modesty. "It's nothing fancy, but we call it home."
Smart came next to Egon, extending his right hand as he had the others. The physicist's arms stayed cross. "Then what do you call that?" he sneered, gesturing to the limo. "Your jalopy?"
Smart stepped back. His fake smile seemed to fall just a bit.
"Egon..." Janine snarled, a look of unexpected confusion and hurt in her eyes.
Smart had just finished shaking hands with Winston when the cell phone in the ECTO-1 began to ring. Winston was the closest to the car, so he went off to answer it.
Smart looked back at Egon. Egon was giving him a look that could burrow holes through titanium shielding. Smart tugged his collar self-consciously.
"Egon..." Janine said, in an even firmer voice. "What the hell is up with you?"
"Spengs..." Venkman pleaded, grabbing his arm--Winston was signalling that they needed to come on--they had another job.
Egon shot one more skunk eye at Paul Smart and turned to join his comrades. Like I care...he told himself as he got into the car.
But even then he knew that was a lie.
The bar tender, Harvey, went over to him. "Hey, you think maybe..."
"Keep the libation coming, good shir..." the man slurred eagerly.
Harvey had been tending bar for some thirty years--he knew when a guy was overdoing it, and this guy hadn't really taken all that much to get there. Harvey pegged him as one of those tightass types who never drank--unless a personal catastrophe of epic proportions had occurred. Usually involving lots of money or a member of the opposite sex.
"Look, Buddy...you're doin' wonders for my business--you still haven't drunk up that twenty you gave me in advance. But you're already so sloshed your eyeballs are turning colors. You got a wife I can call or somethin'?"
This last comment brought the man upright, and a stern, agitated "Absholutely not!!!"
Opposite sex, definitely.
"To be married one musht fall in love and have that love returned in kind, and the shupposhishion that shuch could occur to me is a totally illoshical shupp...shuppo...totally illoshical conclushion..." The tall man slumped back to the bar.
"Hey hey...no insult intended, Buddy...Okay, how about friends or somethin', then?"
"Shuch as they are...Peter will no doubt inshult and teashe me about thish...Raymond will be confushed...Winshton will give me a shtern, not-undesherved lecture about the perilsh of overimbibing...which I am already well aware of, but chooshe to shimply not care about tonight..."
The names the tall man mentioned turned on a light in Harvey's mind. Peter? And he talks like he's memorized the dictionary? I do recognize this guy!!!
Venkman grumbled and shot a dirty look at the green, potato-shaped creature hovering around him, eyeing his plate hungrily. "This better still be here when I get back." Venkman snarled at Slimer.
Slimer babbled something that sounded like a protest of innocence.
Venkman went downstairs "Wonder what Harvey wants? I paid my tab this week..."
He took the phone from Ray. "Hey Harv, it's Pete...so wassup?" Venkman listened for a few seconds, and his face started to fall. "You're shitting me." Harvey talked some more. "Raymond and Winston, yeah...ten dollar words, yeah...I know the guy Harv. Don't let him leave--we're on our way."
Ray looked at him. "Your bartender is being haunted?"
"Nope." Venkman shook his head, looking unusually serious. "We've found Egon."
"Jesus Christ..." he muttered under this breath as he opened the bar and saw his normally teetotalling oldest friend sprawled semiconscious at the end of Harvey's bar. Winston simply sighed and shook his head (Ray had remained at HQ just in case anything happened.)
"Hey, Egon...decide to celebrate New Year's a little late?"
"Egon, what the Hell is up with you?" Winston said, much sterner than Venkman's casual remark. "I've never even seen you even touch alcohol." Winston drank beer on occasion. Ray and Venkman seemed to live on it. He'd even seen Janine swig the stuff once or twice. But not Egon.
"It'sh an eshperiment to determine the alchohol toleransh of sheshually represhed physhishistsh...sho far I don't think I've been holding the shtuff very well..."
Venkman blinked. He'd known Egon Spengler a lot longer than Winston, but like Zeddemore he'd never seen the taller man even sip an alcoholic drink. Venkman even wondered once if he had one of those rare intolerances to alcohol. And yet here he sat, completely sloshed--so sloshed he was even admitting out loud to being "sexually repressed" I think that hits the nail on the head... Venkman mused to himself, but with no real satisfaction at being right.
"Egon...is this about Janine and Paul Smart?" Venkman asked point-blank. This was the time, he thought. He's drunk. His normally insurmountable emotional defenses were down--it may be the only time I can get a straight answer.
Egon stood straight up with an abrupt energy that took Venkman and Winston both by surprise. "You said her name!!!" he shouted, his bloodshot eyes flashing with anger. He didn't even seem to notice that his glasses came off as he stood up and clattered to the ground. "How in Einstein's name can I forget that such a creature existed if you keep saying her name!!! Damn you to Hell Peter Venkman!!!"
Both other men were thoroughly unnerved by this. He'd turned from Amiable Slurring Drunk to Angry, Semi-Coherent Drunk at the simple mention of that certain name. Egon tugged his tie and turned back to Harvey. "Time to redouble my effortsh..." he said, pulling out another twenty...
Winston scooped up Egon's red-rimmed glasses (he'd started wearing durable polycarbon frames and high-impact plastic lenses years ago; a six foot fall didn't even scratch them)
Harvey said simply. "I think you've had enough, Doctor Spengler..."
Egon looked at him as though he was speaking Martian. "You musht be joking...I'm a paying cushtomer...aren't you shupposhed to lie to me and kish my ash..." Venkman winced at hearing one of his political rants coming out of Egon's mouth.
Egon pushed a finger up his nose as though to adjust the spectacles that weren't there. He didn't seem to notice the difference. "Then, Good Shir, I fear I musht take my buishnesh elshewhere..." he swung around and talked to the air about a foot left of Venkman. "Peter knowsh all the nightshpotsh...perhapsh you could make a recomendashion..."
"Yeah...my recommendation is that you go home and get into bed."
Egon's eyes bulged, and without much more warning he projectile vomited all over Winston. He staggered for another second, then slumped abruptly to the ground, like a puppet with his strings cut. Venkman and Winston caught him.
"...Perhapsh that would be wise..." he agreed weakly before passing out completely.
Ray heard the door slam shut and ran down to see Winston and Venkman physically hauling the unconscious Egon. "Whoa...what happened to him?!"
"Drunk." Venkman said simply.
"I mean it, Peter...what really happened to him?"
"Come over and smell his breath Ray...our friend was getting absolutely shitfaced."
Ray was stunned completely silent.
The three of them took the unconscious physicist to the bedroom. Slimer stopped wolfing down the rest of dinner and looked concerned.
When they got Spengler into his bunk, Winston peeled off his barf-coated shirt and looked at it. "Well, confirms one thing--the man can't take his liquor."
Venkman nodded. "Which is actually a good thing--means he probably won't do it again."
"Wh...why would he do this?" Ray asked.
Venkman grimaced. "There are two theories. Ray, pull out a meter and scan."
Ray grabbed one of the PKE meters and turned it on. "No PK trace in the area..."
"Then he ain't possessed. That leaves the more likely theory."
"The two by four?"
"Yeah..." Venkman agreed. "But you know who we're dealing with: the mule kicked my Uncle Alf. But Egon couldn't kick any of us, or the guy he really wants to kick...instead...he kicked himself."
The three were lost in silent thought after that.
She stopped when she realized Venkman was sitting at her desk, glaring at her.
"Something I can help you with, Doctor Venkman?"
"I dunno...anything I can help you with, Miss Melnitz?" Her eyes narrowed. He must be really pissed off about something if he's calling me that...
"I take it, judging by your rant coming in, that Mister Grossjuck didn't call last night?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but no he didn't" she answered briskly. "He's a busy man, and probably got wrapped up in his business. It happens. He'll call today and everything'll be fine."
Venkman got up. "You're right that it's none of my business, and to be honest I really don't care what you do away from this place."
"That's what I'm asking you, Doctor Venkman...usually when you get onto one of these rants there's a 'but' attached."
Any other time, Venkman probably would've come up with a "butt' joke, but he was not in the mood today. He turned away from her and went to the stair case.
"We found Egon last night, by the way..."
She was silent for about three seconds too many. "So?"
"So..." he said, turning back to face her. "So we found him at Harvey's completely absolutely blasted out of his phenomenal mind. He was so drunk he barfed on Winston."
Now there was anger coming into her eyes. "Quit bullshitting me. Egon doesn't drink."
"That's what I've though for the better part of a decade now; I have a little theory or two as to why he'd do this all of a sudden, but as someone else who knows him pretty well and spends a lot of time trying to know him better, I was wondering if you had any ideas?"
Venkman kept his best poker face as she looked away, the faintest confusion showing in the turn of her bottom lip. She had some theories all right...but none she wanted to acknowledge to herself...because that would be accepting indirect blame in all of this. That would be admitting that she'd made a mistake. That she didn't know Egon Spengler as well as she thought she had. And that deep down he really...really...
"I have no idea, Doctor Venkman. Why don't you ask him? Or is he awake yet?"
"Not yet." he said offhandedly. "But it'll be a while before he's ready to talk, as he'll be nursing the mother of all hangovers. Tootles."
He endured Winston's inevitable lecture about the evils of overindulgence in alcohol with grated teeth, and did not envy the next generation of Zeddemores who would one day receive it.
Ray was just happy to see him all right, and offered him a few leftovers he'd hidden from Slimer, but Egon was understandably in no shape to even think about eating.
Venkman came in last.
"I'm not gonna say much, Pal. You probably don't remember much about last night, what you might have said during your alcoholic stupor, and I promise that neither of us are gonna repeat it, not even to Ray."
Egon scrunched his face painfully.
"I did tell the lady downstairs I had a theory or two, but she didn't want me to elaborate. Looked real uncomfortable with the whole topic. Especially as Mister Moneybags never called her back yesterday."
Egon said nothing.
"I can't fight your battles for you, Egon. Especially when you can't even decide to show up for the fight. But I'll promise you this--the day you decide to stop being an asshole and stand up for yourself, Peter Venkman will be right there to back you up. Remember that."
Egon settled into his bed, the room quiet. He tried to distract himself with some quadratic equations, but his head hurt too bad to concentrate on them.
I was behaving utterly foolishly. Paul Smart neither did nor said anything of any intentional harm to me or any of my friends, and I was rude and snide to him. I wrecked my lab and physically threw my favorite piece of equipment in a moment of anger. I do not drink alcohol, but I went out and became quite inebriated.
It is an uncharacteristically illogical reaction.
Except...there is one variable that makes it all fit together.
I was manifesting classic jealousy.
I was jealous...I am jealous...because despite my protests over the last three years...there is one flaw in my logic. Logic fails when Janine Melnitz enters the equation. It is illogical to become jealous if I felt only friendship to her.
But is it any more logical to keep up the facade of detachment when I am, in truth, completely in love with her?
Three weeks that would bring to light the fate of the trap Ray discovered was missing, and it's role in Paul Smart's real agenda in pursuing Janine.
I was just tired of being alone...my sister went to work for Grossjuck and mentioned me and he asked about me and...he was so charming...I'm just tired of feeling ignored...so I went out with a man who didn't ignore me...how dare you get jealous!!! You can't be jealous!!! You can't have gone out and gotten drunk because of me!!! I cannot let myself believe that!!!
Because that would mean I've been wrong. That without knowing it, I've betrayed you. That I've hurt the man I really love and always will...for a man who we now know used me and discarded me like a piece of damned garbage!!!
Because all of that would mean...that deep down, beneath all of that scientific detachment crap...he really does...