The ghost removed his hat and tried his best to mollify her. “Please, I must speak with you.”
“No. What you must do is move on and stop bothering the living. I’m out of the business of running errands for the dead, thank you very much.” Vi’s hands traced shallow furrows in the water.
“But you don’t even know what I want.”
“It’s my wife, you see—”
“There are these men and—”
“We owe them some money.”
“I can keep this up all night,” she warned.
“But, they’re going to—”
She raised her hands out of her bathwater and moved them like a conductor as she sang to the tune of a new song that had been making the rounds. “I’m not interested in helping, all the live-long day.” Her hands dropped back into the water with a splash.
If he could breathe, the ghost’s chest would have been heaving in anger, but in his current state he had to settle for pulling a sour face. “Well, I had to try. My wife is—was—my whole life.” The ghost donned his spectral hat and turned to leave with a final mumble to himself. “He warned you she wouldn’t help.”
After the lengths she’d gone to disappear, there shouldn’t be anyone for hundreds of miles who knew about her “special talent.”
“Yep, he was right,” she called lazily, then the water surged as she sat forward with sudden interest. “Wait. Who warned you I wouldn’t help?” After the lengths she’d gone to disappear, there shouldn’t be anyone for hundreds of miles who knew about her “special talent.”
“Will you help me if I tell you?” the ghost asked, hope written in the lines of his gently glowing face.
Vi narrowed her eyes. “I can guarantee I won’t help you if you don’t tell me.”
He smiled and waved his hands in imitation of her earlier display. “I’m not interested in telling, all the live-long day.”
She looked away in a huff. Not knowing the identity of the referrer was going to eat at her, but the information alone wasn’t worth the price of dealing with this guy.
Hat in hand, he tried again. “Aw, shucks ma’am. I promise. I’ll tell you the whole sorry tale of how I found out about you as soon as you agree to help me.”
“No wonder you’ve gotten yourself in trouble,” she said with disgust. “You shouldn’t offer to pay someone up front, you need to hold onto whatever it is for leverage.”
“Alright. Then I promise to tell you after you help me.”
“Nope. Still not interested. It would take a lot more than that to get me out of this tub.”
His face fell for a moment before he brightened. “Well, there’s always the gold.”
Vi’s half-smile returned. “You didn’t say anything about gold before.”
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