Hello, and welcome back to our serial fiction series! When we left the heroines of “The Timely Adventures,” Rachel and Leigh were on their way to the New York Public Library with a breath of spring in the air…in 1956! Read on to find out what happens next in this fabulous, library-inspired project from the Mid-Continent Public Library.
Need to catch up? Start here:
“The Timely Adventures of Rachel Evans” Part 11: Dewey Number 133.1
Originally published by Sally S. on the Mid-Continent Public Library Grandview Branch Blog, February 8, 2012.
The stone lions welcomed them graciously as Rachel and Leigh climbed the library steps. There was a brief silence as they stared around the library’s interior, taking in the grandness of it all. Rachel’s silence was one of wonder; Leigh’s because she was counting exits.
After a moment, Rachel gave a little sigh. Tempting as it was to just wander around forever, they had a job to do. “Come on.”
It didn’t take long to find the theater section, which fortunately had several books on the esteemed playwright. Rachel grabbed them all and carried them over to a table.
“Go through these while I get some books on spirits.”
“Yay, research.” Leigh said with feigned delight. Nevertheless, she settled down to it while Rachel headed towards the reference desk. There was a librarian with bobbed hair and glasses at the counter, reading a magazine.
“Excuse me,” Rachel said politely. “Where could I find your books on spirits and paranormal activity?”
The librarian looked over her spectacles at Rachel. “Which in particular?”
“What is the nature of your research?”
“Um…I’d like to know how to deal with a ghost…peacefully.” Rachel folded her hands on the counter, hoping that the librarian wouldn’t demand that Rachel leave the library on the basis that she was crazy.
The librarian gave her a long look. “One moment.” She disappeared into the tiny back alcove. Eventually she returned with a card with a number printed on it. “Second floor.”
“Thank you.” Rachel took the card and turned to go.
“One thing before you go, young lady.” The librarian looked at her sternly. “Remember to always remain civil. It will hold you in good stead, regardless of the temperament of the spirit at hand. Regardless of that, do remember to carry salt with you. It’s a wise safety precaution.”
“Uh…thank you.” Rachel managed in response.
“Good afternoon.” The librarian returned to her magazine.
Rachel resisted the urge to demand how the woman had learned that (where did you learn that in the fifties?) and went to find her books. Most of them didn’t look like they contained anything useful, just stories of imagined sightings. Finally selecting two volumes, she took them back down to the table where Leigh had her research spread out around her while she jotted down notes. Rachel took the other side of the table and settled in.
*ten minutes later*
“So…” Rachel closed her book. “What have we learned?”
“Well, I think you’re right. It’s definitely George Bernard Shaw.” Leigh turned her book around so that Rachel could see the picture of the playwright. “He died in 1950.”
“I can see how someone coming along and changing your play only six years after you die would annoy you.”
“Yes, but he was already annoyed at the changes that were made to the end of Pygmalion, and he didn’t go psycho over that.” Leigh pointed out.
“True.” Rachel chewed on her pencil. “Any information on the grave?”
“Ah, well. That’s the thing. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the garden of his home.” Leigh paused a moment. “His home in England.”
“There goes the grave digging option.” Rachel sighed.
“Good.” Leigh leaned on her elbows. “So what have you got?”
Rachel flipped through her notes. “It looks like we have to figure out if he has unfinished business, and if so, help him resolve it. If it’s not that, find out if he’s here for something malevolent, and in that event, stop him. And if that doesn’t work, we warn the cast that they’re being haunted and advise them to shut down production.” She could just imagine how that would go.
“You don’t think he’d actually kill anyone, do you?” Leigh studied the picture. “He looks okay, if a little bearded.”
“Never underestimate a frustrated writer.” Rachel went back to chewing on her pencil. She’d been thinking about it. “You know what we probably have to do if we can manage it…”
“I’m not going to like it, am I?”
*one minute later*
“Are you seriously telling me that we have to convince George Bernard Shaw, one of the most famous playwrights in the world, not to get mad that they’ve changed his play and convince him of the joy of musicals?”
“Yes, unless you want to live in a world where Audrey Hepburn never gets to lip-synch.” Rachel closed her book with a thump before adding it to the stack of books they were finished with.
“But maybe it’s a better world.” Leigh sighed.
“Bite your tongue.”
“All right, all right. I’m just saying. We couldn’t have ended up at Les Miserables?”
“You want to convince Victor Hugo that the revolution was a great thing to sing about?” Rachel carried the books over to the cart that was reserved for browsing patrons.
Leigh shrugged. “What’s a revolution without singing?”
“Okay, okay. So…how do you propose that we do this?”
“I have no idea. First we have to actually contact him somehow and then we just have to talk to him.” Rachel said glumly. Getting touchy-feely, so to speak, with a ghost was not her strong point. Heck, it wasn’t even her strong point with humans. Still, maybe she’d be better at it with ghosts. You never knew. Maybe she could become a Contact To The Other World and give up her job as a temp. She supposed that it’d probably be hard to get references for a job like that.
“Oh well.” Leigh accepted the inevitable. “I suppose it’s better than digging up a grave.”
“That’s the spirit.”
To be continued…
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