Chapter 4

Phineas walked dejectedly into the dimly lit kitchen, and began to pull a chair from the table.

"OCCUPIED!" a voice shot.

"Now don't be fresh!" another voice said.

A squat, headless figure leaned over from the other side of the table to retrieve a hatbox. "Costs you nothing to be nice," the headless figure said .

"But he was going to sit on me!" the hatbox protested.

"Get over here, and behave yourself," the headless corpse growled. The head of a wizened elderly gentleman reappeared on the corpses neck. "Do sit down, Phineas.. you look like you're bearing the weight of the world."

Phineas sat down heavily. Horatio was eagerly leaning over a laptop, having a very nice conversation.

"Horatio, I didn't know that you were conversant with computers," said Phineas, obviously impressed.

Horatio patted the top of the device. "Oh these lap..top contraptions are wonderful. You can visit with people anywhere..isn't that right, my little Flower?" Say hello to Phineas." Horatio turned the computer to face Phineas.

Floating in mid-air was a lovely young woman holding a lighted candle, her hair streamed around her face, and a gentle rhythmic murmur sounded from her glowing, beating heart.

"Dear Phineas," she smiled.

"She's all the way over in Tokyo, you know," smiled Horatio.

"You look so unhappy," said Emily to Phineas.

"He's been taking a bit of a survey, my Dove," said Horatio, "and the residents are in a bit of a blather."

"How do you know about that?" asked Phineas.

Horatio propped himself up with his cane. "I make it my business to know everything that transpires at this mansion."

"He's a long-nosed little bandicoot," piped the empty hatbox.

Horatio tapped the container with his cane. "We'll have none of that! Behave yourself, or you'll be under the table!"

"I want to talk about why Phineas is so sad," said Emily.

"Isn't she the dearest thing? My sweey Boo Boo is always concerned for others," Horatio mused.

"Darling.." said Emily.

"Yes, my Precious?" said Horatio.

"Do be quiet," she smiled.

"Yes, Dear," said Horatio, obediently.

"I might have read someones personal papers.. a rather romantic story they were working on," said Phineas.

"Oh, don't get her started on that. She loves those kinds of stories," chuckled Horatio.

"It helps to pass the time," smiled Emily.

"But is THAT what women want?" asked Phineas, exasperated.

Emily gave a soft little laugh, which made her heart beat faster. "Oh Phineas.." Horatio chuckled a bit as well. "Those stories are just the minds way of entertaining itself," explained Emily.

"And it isn't about what women want.. it's about what people in general want," added Horatio.

Emily widened her eyes, clearly impressed. "My husband grows more enlighted every day."

"I do my best," Horatio smiled, looking coquettish.

A loud clap of thunder sounded, rattling the shutters at the window.

Emily looked concerned. "A storm is approaching. I know someone who won't much care for that."

During her time at the mansion, Emily had made a point of helping Gus through his fear of storms. Despite his age, the little ghost had always been unnerved by especially noisy outbursts, and had become adept at secreting himself into the mansions most eccentric cubbyholes in order to escape the noisy onslaught.

"Phineas, you will have to attend to this," said Emily quietly.

Phineas thanked the happy couple, and went searching for Gus, all the while trying not to think about his failed project.

As the storm raged outside, he looked everywhere he could think of for the frightened little spook, becoming more anxious as his search turned up nothing.

Someone you can depend on...

Phineas leaned against the doorframe at the entrance to the wine cellar; he had all but given up.

Then he heard faint laughter.

He peered down the stairs..

There was a faint glow coming from the depths below. He moved cautiously down the stone steps.

It isn't what women want..it's what people want..what people need.

As his eyes became accustomed to the gloom, he saw a makeshift sheet-tent set up in the furthest corner of the cellar.

By the glow of a faint lantern from within the tent, he could see Gus laying on his stomache, drinking chocolate milk through a crazy straw. Ezra was sitting cross legged on the floor, reading him stories from his vast Tales From The Crypt comic book collection.

"So then the ghost goes 'Oooo!', and this rube falls back right on his butt!" Ezra chuckled, holding up the page so Gus could see. The two of them laughed, totally oblivious to the storm raging outside.

Phineas smiled broadly.

People need to be valued,

and cared for.

People need people.