“Let me get this straight,” Jake said his mouth stretched wide open in a grin. “You want me to be a ghostbuster?”
“Paranormal investigator, Peralta,” Holt replied sternly. “You will be going undercover with Sergeant Jeffords and myself. Diaz, explain.”
“This is Paul Galleo,” Rosa said, pointing at a picture of a short, shaved head man pinned on the whiteboard. “We know he’s associated with a lot of the low level gigglepig dealers we’ve picked up and at least three of them have fingered him as one of the largest gigglepig dealers but we don’t have any hard evidence. He’s squeaky clean. We think he’s using his mother’s brownstone as an exchange point but his dear old mom won’t hear a word against him. Boyle, Santiago and I have already talked to her, which is why none of us can go in undercover.”
Rosa placed her hands on her hips and glared around the room, her disappointment apparent.
“Galleo’s mother, Josephine Galleo, is a very superstitious woman. She is convinced that the brownstone she owns is haunted. She rents out the second and third floor but keeps the first floor and basement for herself. When Boyle and Santiago went to see her, she complained about ghosts in the basement. We think Galleo may be using the basement as a pick up point.”
Captain Holt picked up the story. “Boyle, in an impressive fit of inspiration, recommended that Josephine bring in paranormal investigators and said he’d give her the number for the paranormal investigators his mother uses.”
“Well, my mother does actually use paranormal investigators,” Boyle said. “She’s found them very useful in the past.”
“Oh. It was a serious suggestion,” Captain Holt said. “I am less impressed now.”
"Won't she be suspicious? Paranormal investigators recommended by cops?" Amy asked, looking faintly nervous about questioning Holt’s judgement.
"No. We had impeccable references. Plus she's very trusting. After all she believes her drug dealer son is an angel," Rosa replied.
“Oooh, I can help.” Gina sat up straight, paying attention for the first time in recent memory. “I watch Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted. I am an expert on paranormal investigation.”
“Of course you are,” Rosa said dryly. “You can join me in the van and help feed lines to Jake, Terry and the Captain.”
“I’ll have to check if my stakeout outfit is clean,” Gina replied. “I used it last week and can’t remember if I took it to the dry cleaners.”
“You have a stakeout outfit?” Terry asked “What did you use it for last week?”
“Of course I have a stakeout outfit. What I was using it for is none of your beeswax, but I can say that it is gorgeous and very flattering.” Gina picked up her phone again, seemingly having lost interest in the conversation.
“We go in tomorrow at 9am,” Rosa said.
“You can’t wear that,” Rosa said as Jake walked into the station the next morning.
“Why not? This costume cost me $50 to rent.”
“Because you look like a fool,” Rosa responded, giving Jake a shove. “Gina has picked out an outfit for you, it’s on your desk. Get changed.”
“I think you look great Jake,” Boyle called from his desk. “Just like a real ghostbuster.”
“Thanks Charles,” Jake said as he walked over to his desk.
“This isn’t a paranormal investigators outfit,” Jake exclaimed as he held up the outfit. “This looks like a goth kid’s outfit.”
“Just go put it on,” Rosa commanded and Jake walked off grumbling.
Ten minutes later Jake walked back into the office wearing leather pants, a black t-shirt and a black leather jacket. “Ok ok, I’m into it now. My name is Venk Jakeman and I am a former goth turned paranormal investigator. My fiance Abigail Weaver was murdered by a poltergeist and now I’m on a mission to destroy all ghosts.”
“Wrong, Peralta,” Holt said, appearing from his office wearing black leather pants, a black t-shirt with the words ‘Ghosts Be Gone’ splashed across the front and a black leather jacket with metal studs. “Your name is Jack Perry and you have only recently starting working for my company. This is your first job. Terence Jeffrey,” Holt pointed to Terry. “is a paranormal expert with twenty years experience and has been with the company since I started it.”
“How did we get interested in the paranormal?” Jake asked. “We all need a backstory. I would suggest...”
“Uh uh little Jack. Rosa asked me to come up with the backstories,” Gina said, putting down her magazine and walking over to join the detectives. “Captain Holt, or rather Ramone Sholt, was raised in an old haunted brownstone and overcame his fear of ghosts as a small child by learning to talk to them and find out what was bothering them. Terence lost his wife twenty years ago and quit his job as a carpet salesman to learn how to commune with ghosts in the hope of reconnecting with his lost love.”
“Oh Jacky boy. You have the most interesting story of all,” Gina said dramatically. “You lost your six brothers and sisters and your parents in a house fire when you were twelve and since then you’ve been haunted by their ghosts. You took the job at Ghosts Be Gone to try to learn how to help your family find peace so they will leave you alone.”
“Ok, so I know to never let Gina come up with the backstories again,” Rosa said, scowling at Gina. “Those aren't your backstories. You all are just interested in ghosts and like helping people feel safe in their houses.”
“That’s not going to convince anyone Rosa,” Gina said. “They need some drama in their backstories so people can connect with them.”
Rosa rolled her eyes. “No they don’t. We’re due there at 9am, so we’d best leave now. You all have earpieces so that Gina and I can feed you lines. If the old lady asks about them, just say they are hearing aids to let you hear the higher frequencies that ghosts operate on.”
“Thank you for preparing everything so thoroughly Diaz,” Captain Holt said. “I don’t need to remind you all how much all of our careers are resting on busting this gigglepig ring. Wunch is breathing down our necks on this one. We need results.”
“If there's somethin' strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call, ghostbusters. If it's somethin' weird an it won't look good, who ya gonna call, ghostbusters.” Jake sang under his breath as he, Captain Holt and Sergeant Jeffords, carrying a large black plastic box, walked up the stairs of the brownstone.
Captain Holt shot a stern look at Jake, which shut him up, and then raised his hand and knocked on the door.
A woman who looked to be in her late sixties opened the door. She was wearing giant glasses that gave her an owlish look and her grey hair was tightly permed.
“Are you the paranormal investigators?”
“Yes Ma’am,” Captain Holt replied, reaching out to shake the old woman’s hand. “I am Ramone Sholt, the owner of Ghosts Be Gone, and these are my employees Terence Jeffrey and Jack Perry.”
“I’m Josephine Galleo. Please come in.” The older woman stood aside to let them pass.
Josephine led them into a sitting room and then told them to make themselves comfortable before disappearing into another room.
Jake took the time to look around the room. It was filled with floral upholstered furniture and there were doilies everywhere.
“It looks like Santiago’s house.” Gina’s voice came over the earpiece in Jake’s ear. The small camera inserted into a metal stud on Holt’s leather jacket was clearly giving Gina and Rosa a good view of the room.
Josephine walked back into the room carrying a tray of cookies which she set on the coffee table before settling into an armchair opposite the three detectives.
“I’m so glad you've come,” Josephine said, speaking in a quivering voice. “You have no idea how scared I am.”
“Tell us what’s scaring you,” Holt requested.
“I keep hearing footsteps down in the basement, but I’m the only one who goes down there. I don’t let any of my tenants into the basement. It’s getting so that I’m scared to go down there to do my laundry.”
“When did this start?” Jake asked, leaning forward slightly.
“I've lived in this house for thirty years and I’ve always thought there was something odd about the basement. I’ve never liked going down there. But the noises have only started within the last year or so and have been getting worse. I hear footsteps and shuffling and bangs from down there most nights now. I think I must have done something to anger the spirits.”
“Well, we’re here to help Josephine,” Terry said, reaching out to pat her on the hand. “We've got a lot of experience with this kind of thing. We’ll get to the bottom of it.”
“I’ll take you down there shall I?” Josephine asked.
“Yes please,” Holt responded.
As they walked through the house, Josephine pointed out some features to Jake.
“It is a very old house you know. Been here for longer than I have. That sideboard is an original,” Josephine said. “How did you get into this business young man? It seems like an unusual, although quite important, choice of profession.”
“It’s a tragic story...” Jake began dramatically.
“But one for another time,” Holt interrupted from behind him. “I can tell you Josephine that we’ve all gotten into this business to help people. We believe that people have the right to feel safe in their own homes.”
“That’s lovely dear,” Josephine said. “Here we are, the basement stairs are behind this door. Watch the third step from the top, it’s a bit loose.”
“Brrr, it’s cold down here,” Jake said as he reached the bottom step.
Gina’s voice sounded in Jake’s ear. “That’s good Jake. Say that spirits lower the room temperature because of their negative residual energy.”
“Which of course, is a sign that there are spirits present because their negative vestigial...”
“Residual,” Gina hissed.
“Uuh, residual energy lowers the room temperature,” Jake finished.
“A spirit is in here with us now?” Josephine asked, her voice quavering as she took two steps towards the stairs.
“Captain, grab the datalogism that I showed you earlier,” Gina commanded.
Holt reached into the black plastic box that Terry had carried down the stairs and pulled out an electronic device that Gina had insisted was a necessary part of a paranormal investigators tool kit.
“Remember what I told you Ramone,” Gina said. “You need to embrace your spiritual side to make this character believable.”
“We are going to use this device to take some baseline temperature readings for the data loggers. Once we have the baseline readings, we’ll leave it in here to check for temperature fluctuations,” Holt said in a no-nonsense manner as he walked around the room, pretending to be using the device.
“Terrible Captain, I think I need to be your acting coach. Okay Terry, grab the tape recorder, hold it up in the air and ask if there are any spirits in the room,” Gina’s voice said through the earpiece.
Terry picked up the tape recorder and held it in the air.
“Are there any spirits in the room?”
“You need to say the next line with more dramatic flair. Come on Terry, this is a performance. Now say, ‘Do the spirits want to address anyone in this room?’.” Gina said, clearly enjoying this chance to boss the detectives around.
“Do the spirits want to address anyone in this room?” Terry said, trying to inject more dramatic flair into his voice.
“Ugh, that was even worse. I should have been the one doing this. Now say, ‘Spirits, would you like to give us a message?’”
“Spirits,” Terry said, holding the recorder up higher in the air. “Would you like to give us a message?”
“Now lower the tape recorder. You are not cut out to be a paranormal investigator, that was atrocious. I’m embarrassed for you,” Gina said in exasperation. “Rosa, I cannot work with these people. They aren’t even trying.”
Josephine had been watching Terry with wide eyes. “Well, did they answer?”
“You’ll have to take the tape back and analyse it to see if any spirits responded,” Rosa said in Terry’s earpiece.
“We’ll have to take it back to the lab to see if the spirits responded,” Terry said, parroting Rosa’s words. He tucked the tape recorder into his back pocket.
“What will you do next?” Josephine asked Terry.
“We’ll install a closed circuit tv camera down here. That should pick up any spirits if they choose to become visible.” Holt responded, motioning to Jake and Terry to get the equipment.
Jake and Terry put a security camera up in the corner of the room facing the stairs while Holt and Josephine made small talk.
“Is there tape in the camera or does it record onto something else?” Josephine asked Holt.
“Umm..” Holt said.
“SD card.” Rosa said in Holt’s earpiece.
“It stores on to an SD card.” Holt said to Josephine.
“Oh isn’t that nice and easy,” Josephine said. “Much easier than dealing with tapes.”
Josephine leaned towards Holt and lowered her voice conspiratorially. “I may be old dearie, but I take a lot of computer classes at the community centre, just to pass the time. I am quite up to date with all of the modern technology.”
“That’s everything then. Time to finish up.” Rosa’s voice sounded through their earpieces as soon as the security camera was in place.
“That’s all we need to do for now ma’am,” Holt said, placing the datalogism on a shelf facing the security camera as Jake and Terry packed up the toolkit. “We’ll be back in three days to collect the datalogism readings and the camera footage. In the meantime, we’ll analyse the recordings we took today.”
“Thank you so much gentlemen,” Josephine said as she led them back up the stairs. “I feel safer already.”
Three days later, Rosa, Jake, Holt and Terry were gathered around the monitor to watch the security camera footage. Rosa was fast forwarding through the tape. So far they had seen nothing but an empty room and occasional appearances from Josephine as she did her laundry.
“The tape’s not as long as it should be. We had it there for three days yet it only has 65 hours of footage on it.” Rosa remarked as she fast forwarded through footage of the empty basement.
“Could there have been a power outage?” Terry queried.
No one answered him as they were all distracted by the white figure which had flashed across the screen as he spoke.
“Hold on,” Rosa said as she rewound the footage by a few seconds.
The detectives watched as a ghostly white figure appeared suddenly in the empty room, pausing in front of the camera before disappearing from the shot.
“So does this mean we are ghostbusters for real now?” Jake asked.
“No, it means that someone is on to us. Someone seems to have wiped several hours off the tape and that,” Rosa said, gesturing at the screen as the white figure appeared on screen again, this time knocking a stack of books off a table. “looks like someone wearing a sheet.”
“Indeed, but did they realise that the closed circuit tv wasn’t the only camera in the room?” Holt said. “Peralta, where is the datalogism?”
Jake’s face fell in dismay. “Captain. I screwed up. I forgot to pick it up from the shelf.”
“We need to get that datalogism Peralta. If whoever messed with the tape didn’t realise that there is a camera in the datalogism, we’ll be able to see what really happened.”
“I’ll go back Captain,” Jake said.
“No, this is too important, you stay here with Rosa and keep going through the footage. The Sergeant and I will go.”
“Captain, this was my mistake. I’d like to help fix it,” Jake said, his voice serious enough to impress Holt.
“Very well Peralta. You and I will go.”
“I’ll do the talking,” Holt said as he and Jake walked up the steps, dressed once again in their matching leather outfits.
“We should go out dancing in these outfits Captain,” Jake said. “We make a very handsome couple.”
Holt ignored Jake and knocked on the door. After a minute with no answer, Holt knocked again. Josephine answered, looking slightly taken aback by the sight of them.
“Back again so soon?” Josephine asked.
“Yes ma'am,” Holt said. “We saw a couple of disturbing things on the tape. We are now almost certain that you have a spirit haunting your basement.”
“Oh no,” Josephine said, her eyes widening. “Can you do something about it?”
“Of course ma'am,” Holt said with an attempt at a reassuring voice. “We just need to check the datalogism to see if there are any temperature fluctuations at the time we think the spirit was present.”
“If you say so dearies,” Josephine said as she held the door open for them.
Josephine accompanied Jake and Holt down into the basement and stood looking around nervously as Jake collected the datalogism from the shelf.
“Is that all?” Josephine asked. “I’m afraid to be down here now that you’ve found a spirit.”
“Nothing to fear ma’am,” Jake said. “We’re all done.”
“I would advise you to stay out of the basement for the time being, until we’ve concluded our investigations,” Holt said to Josephine. “We need to know what we’re dealing with here.”
“Certainly,” Josephine replied. “I don’t want to get mixed up with anything that happens down here.”
Jake shot Holt a look.
“You know, with the ghosts and things,” Josephine added hurriedly, shepherding Jake and Holt back up the stairs.
“Well, well, well,” Terry said as the 99 detectives gathered around the monitor watching Paul Galleo flitter in and out of frame, sometimes carrying bags of what looked like pills and other times carrying stacks of cash.
“We’ve got him,” Rosa said, almost smiling.
“But where is he getting the pills and money from?” Jake asked. “And is he the ghost?”
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Holt responded.
An hour later on the tape Galleo had disappeared but the basement was empty and Rosa was fast forwarding through the footage.
"He never went near the stairs," Amy commented, mystified.
“This is the worst movie in the world,” Jake said, lounging back in his chair. “Can’t we just go and arrest Galleo?”
“We need to know if he’s on to us,” Terry responded. “We need to know if he’s the ghost.”
Josephine Galleo appeared on the screen and Rosa clicked off the fast forward button. On the screen, Josephine was looking around the room cautiously, as if afraid of ghosts. She seemed to notice the blinking of the CCTV camera and walked over to it. She disappeared from frame and reappeared carrying a small step ladder. The detectives watched as Josephine climbed the step ladder and fiddled around with the camera and then left, leaving the step ladder in place.
“Oooh damn, I think we may have found our ghost,” Gina said, popping a couple of M&M’s into her mouth.
Ten minutes of fast forwarding later, Josephine reappeared on the screen, carrying a white piece of cloth which she placed on a table before climbing up the step ladder and doing something to the camera. She then put the step ladder away, seeming to make sure to keep out of the camera’s range.
The detectives watched as Josephine walked over to the table, draped the sheet over herself and proceeded to walk around the room, knocking books over on her second lap around the room.
“That’s it. She knows something,” Holt said, standing up.
“When she was fiddling with the CCTV camera in the datalogism footage, she must have been taking out the SD card. She must have watched the footage, seen something on the tape she didn’t like and wiped part of the footage and then dressed as a ghost to try to convince us that the basement is really haunted.” Jake said.
“Precisely,” Holt replied. “Boyle, Santiago, you go pick Josephine up, find out what she knows. Diaz, Sergeant, Peralta, you go with them, but I want you looking around that basement. I’ll have a warrant granted by the time you get there. We have to find out where Galleo is stashing the drugs and money before his mom can warn him.”
Night had fallen by the time the detectives from the 99 arrived on the doorstep of the brownstone.
“I kind of miss the leather,” Jake said to no one in particular, running his hand down the front of his jacket as Rosa approached the door.
“You looked great in all that leather Jake.” Boyle responded as Santiago snorted in disgust.
Rosa knocked on the door and, after a slight delay, Josephine opened it, blinking nervously behind her owlish glasses.
“NYPD,” Rosa said, holding out her badge. “I’d like you to accompany my colleagues Boyle and Santiago to the station while we,” Rosa gestured to Jake and Terry, “look around your basement.”
Josephine stared at Jake and Terry in shock and then burst into tears. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do. The noises in the basement were so loud two nights ago that I couldn’t wait another day to find out if there were ghosts down there. I took out the memory card, watched the footage and realised that my Paul was up to no good, so I had to protect him. I panicked and wiped the parts of the tape he was in. I didn’t realise you,” she looked again at Jake and Terry, “were police officers. I knew I had to account for the noises that Paul has been making so I thought if I could make you believe there was a ghost, but a harmless one that I didn’t mind having here, you would stop investigating.”
“You’ll have to come down to the station and tell us everything you know,” Rosa said.
“Paul baby, how could you do this to your mother.” Josephine wailed as Boyle led her down the steps, followed by Santiago.
Rosa, Terry and Jake headed towards the stairs to the basement.
Rosa paused at the top of the stairs leading to the basement, holding her hand up to signal the other two to stop. They could hear the sound of shuffling coming from the basement. Rosa headed down the stairs, gun drawn, closely followed by Jake and Terry.
As Rosa got to the bottom of the stairs, she peered through the doorway and then stepped through it, shouting, “NYPD. FREEZE.”
There was a thud as Jake and Terry rushed through the doorway to back Rosa up and they saw her standing with her gun pointed at a skinny young man, who was covered in the washing powder that he had just dropped.
“I’m just doing my laundry!” He wailed. “I rent an apartment on the second floor. I know I’m not supposed to use Josephine’s washing machine, but I don’t like going to the laundromat. Please don’t arrest me. I’m pre-law, I can’t have a record.”
“Get out of here.” Rosa said, lowering her gun.
The skinny student scampered up the stairs, leaving his washing basket behind and his washing powder coating the floor.
Jake, Rosa and Terry spent the next hour meticulously searching the basement for any sign of drugs or cash.
“This isn’t looking good.” Jake said, resting against a table.
“We HAVE to find something,” Rosa replied, looking up from the chest she was rifling through. “Keep looking Jake.”
“What are you doing Terry?” Jake asked, walking over to stand next to his sergeant who was scratching at a bit of the back stone wall with his car keys.
“Does this look odd to you?” Terry asked.
“It looks like a wall.” Jade responded, poking it with his finger.
“Yep, just a wall.” Rosa agreed, walking over to stand next to Jake.
“You know, this is a very old house and the underground railroad used to run all through Brooklyn. Brooklyn has a proud history of helping escaped slaves,” Terry said, continuing his close examination of the wall. “I’m wondering if there isn’t some kind of passageway in here somewhere.”
“I wish,” Jade said, leaning against the wall. “But this isn’t a spy mov…aaahh”
With a thunk, the wall behind Jake opened and he fell backwards, landing on his back in a dark tunnel.
“Well done Sergeant.” Rosa said, stepping into the tunnel.
“Well done Sergeant?” Jake exclaimed, standing up and dusting himself off. “I’m the one who…”
A scraping noise in the distance made Jake stop talking abruptly.
Terry stepped into the tunnel and quietly pulled the tunnel door closed, so only a crack of light was visible.
Jake walked forward to stand with his back against the wall in a small alcove, just before the tunnel curved away from them.
The three detectives stood silently, guns drawn and pointing down the tunnel, in the direction the sound had come from.
They could hear footsteps in the tunnel, the echoes making it hard to work out how close they were.
A flashlight beam became visible and then a shadowy figure emerged from around the bend, walking straight past Jake tucked into his alcove.
“FREEZE. NYPD.” Jake shouted as he stepped out of the alcove, cutting off any escape route back down the tunnel.
The figure started to turn back towards Jake, but was grabbed from behind by Rosa. A brief struggle ensued but Rosa had the upper hand and managed to force the struggling person up against the wall and cuff them.
Terry pushed open the wall, flooding the tunnel with light and giving them a good look at the person they’d caught.
Jake picked up a bag of pills that had fallen to the ground during the struggle and held it up in the air for Terry and Rosa to see.
“Paul Galleo,” Rosa said, turning him around and poking him in the back to make him walk forward into the basement and towards the stairs. “You are under arrest - you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
Jake followed Rosa and Galleo up the stairs, cheerfully singing as he went. “Who you gonna call - drugbusters!”