Young Shawn Spencer and young Burton Guster drooped themselves across the sofa like a couple of melted clocks in a Salvador Dali painting. They watched Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang run in and out of doors in the haunted mansion as they chased and were chased by the Phantom, while upbeat pop music played over their antics.
Shawn's dad, Henry, appeared behind the sofa, and asked, "What is this nonsense you're watching?"
Young Gus turned to Henry and said, "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?"
"I thought you'd like it, Dad. They're ldetectives," Young Shawn said.
"That," Henry said, pointing at the TV, "Is nothing like real detective work. It just a cartoon deluding children's minds so they buy the toys and sugary cereal presented on the commercial breaks."
"I think they're great detectives. They always catch the bad guy," Shawn said.
"And why do you think that is, Shawn?"
"I don't know," Shawn said, with his eyes still glued to the TV, "Maybe their dad had them count rubber masks instead of hats."
Henry walked around the sofa, turned off the TV, and sent the boys outside to play, instead.
At the Psychfancisco headquarters, Shawn and Gus took turns sliding pancakes across the counter towards a can of tomato soup. They had labeled the pancakes with a G or an S in permanent marker to indicate whose pancakes were whose in their makeshift shuffleboard game, Pancake Shuffle.
The bell above the door jingled as Juliet entered with a uniformed police officer with lightly graying hair.
Juliet's shoulders slumped. "Don't tell me, Gus. Shawn mixed up the salt and sugar in the pancake recipe, again."
"You know it."
"And here I thought Shawn was the psychic," the officer said.
"That's not psychic. That's just knowing my husband," Juliet said to the officer, then turned to the Shawn and said, "This is officer Alvin Demekly of the San José PD. Chief Vick recommended you. Since it is out of my jurisdiction, I will be assisting as needed in an unofficial capacity."
Gus asked her, "Chief Vick asked you to keep an eye on Shawn, didn't she?"
Juliet avoided the question by asking, "Who's winning Pancake Shuffle?"
"I am," Gus and Shawn said in unison. They glared at each other for a couple seconds, then broke into a chorus of, "Suck it!"
Not understanding what just happened, Alvin brought the conversation back into focus. "I've heard many good things from Karen about your psychic detective work. I'd like to use your expertise with a one of our more unusual cases."
"This wouldn't have anything to do with the Winchester Mystery House, would it?" Shawn asked, barely containing his bubbling excitement.
Juliet, looking impressed, said, "It does, actually."
"The mansion's curator was shot at," Alvin said. He cleared his throat before adding, "By a ghost."
Juliet brought Gus and Shawn to the San Fran PD. She had to take Alvin back to his car, and she needed to pick up their unofficial ballistics expert.
"Lassie? You're the ballistics expert?" Shawn asked.
"Spencer, you know full well the extent of my firearm collection, don't make me demonstrate it on you," Chief Carlton Lassiter said. "Besides, I decided to drive up up here for a convention."
"Wait a minute," Gus said. "Isn't ComiCon in Santa Barbara this year?"
"Yes. That's the convention I am trying to avoid. Can we take someone else's car? I've got a rental and do not want to add extra mileage."
"We can take Gus's," Shawn volunteered.
'I am not going in that double steering wheel monstrosity," Carlton said.
"Oh, you'll like this one much better," Gus said with a wicked smile.
Out in the parking lot, Gus unlocked a minivan painted bright green and polka dotted with colorful retro flowers. "The other car is on loan to the San Fran Driving School. One of the instructors loaned me her van. It's the traveling van for the local Buttercup Scout troop. It seats seven comfortably. Reclining, heated seats. Cup holders aplenty."
"Fine," Carlton said, "I'm calling not-shotgun and sitting in the back so I won't be spotted and labeled as some kind of dippy hippie."
"Alright," Alvin called from a few spots over next to his royal blue Smart Car, "We'll meet at the Winchester around one o'clock."
Everyone waved, except for Shawn who nudged Gus and said, "I didn't know they made cars smaller than the Blueberry. It's like a Baby Blueberry. Can I have a Baby Blueberry?"
"Shawn, I am not about to buy you a Smart Car. That's something you and Juliet can discuss. Besides, the Blueberry was a company car."
"Can't you work someplace with a Baby Blueberry company car?"
"Tch." Gus shook his head and climbed into the driver's seat of the Buttercup Scout van.
With Shawn and Gus in the front seats and Juliet and Carlton in the back seats, they headed south to San Jose. Carlton lowered his mirrored glasses, leaned his seat back and folded his arms across his chest.
"How cool is this? It's so good to have the gang back together," Juliet said.
Shawn gasped and said, "We're like Mystery Inc.!"
"What are you on about, Spencer?"
"Think about it, Lassie. Driving around in a green van? Solving mysteries? Going to a haunted mansion? We're like the Scooby Doo gang. I call Shaggy."
There were nods of agreement all around. Everyone agreed that Juliet would be Daphne."
"I'd be Scooby," Gus said, "I'm Shaggy's best friend. And, I'm a foodie."
"And you run away from danger," Shawn added.
"You know that's right. Besides, I could never be the Shaggy."
"Why's that?" Juliet asked.
In a passable Jamaican accent, Gus said, "'cause Shawn would expect Shaggy to talk like dis, mon."
"I suppose Carlton would be Fred," Juliet said.
"Damn straight, I would," Carlton said.
"You used to watch Scooby Doo?" Juliet asked Carlton, somewhat surprised.
"Yes, I did. I didn't watch for the so-called mysteries. I watched for Velma," Carlton said with a bit of a growl in his voice. "Now there was a real woman."
Shawn leaned over to Gus and whispered, "He does know she's a cartoon, right?"
"At this point, I'm not entirely sure."
After the drive down to San Jose and a much needed restroom break Shaggy and Scooby, that is, Shawn, Gus, and the rest of the gang met up with Alvin at the Winchester Mystery House. He introduced them to Dr. Kenneth A. Elba, the museum's curator and current head of the Winchester LLC. Ken's necktie was tucked under his arm in the navy blue sling folded neatly across his chest.
After a round of introductions, Ken said. "Thank you all for coming. Forgive me for not shaking hands. I am still a little numb from the bullet that hit my upper arm."
"And that would be from the rifle the so-called ghost used to shoot you?" Carlton asked.
Ken chuckled and said, "As strange as that sounds…yes."
"As a psychic detective, I am often in touch with the spirit world. Are you a believer in the spirit world, Dr Elbow?" Shawn asked.
"That's Elba. One does not work at the Winchester Mystery House without seeing a fair share of strange and unexplained phenomena. Have you ever experienced a spirit firing a gun at you, Mr….Uh…"
"Spenser. Shawn Spenser. And this is my partner in solving crime, Arsenio Corridor."
"Shawn, You've used that name before," Gus said.
"Of course I have. What kind of ridiculous person would introduce someone under the wrong name?"
Juliet and Carlton looked away, biting their tongues to comment on that one.
"The spirits have shot their mouths off to me, but never a firearm. Would you mind taking us to the scene?"
"We already have taken Dr. Elba's statement, if you'd care to read it," Alvin said.
"It's alright Detective Demeckly, I have an important budget meeting starting in a few minutes that may occupy a majority of my day. I can have one of our guides take you. Bill, do you have a moment?"
Bill, a young, blonde twenty-something looked up from the counter. His muscular form was clearly apparent under the tight, white polo shirt with the Winchester logo embroidered over the pocket.
"Do you mind taking Mr. Spencer and his friends to the scene?" Ken asked.
"I'd like to, Dr. Elba, but I'm about to give the garden tour in a few minutes. Hannah is in the middle of the mansion tour, and today is Joe's day off. When Barb returns from cleaning up that mess, she can take them."
As if on cue, a young woman with a bobbed, brown hairstyle, red-rimmed glasses, and a day glow orange t-shirt depicting the image of the Winchester mansion on the front entered from the door to the courtyard.
"Barb," Bill barked at her, "Take this group to the scene of Dr. Elba's," he eyed the small crowd gathering for his garden tour and finished with, "incident."
Barb clutched a paper towel around the index finger of her other hand. A small patch of blood soaked through the paper towel. She held it up for others to see, and said, "I need the first aid kit. I pricked my finger on one of the shards."
Under his breath, Bill muttered, "Stupid klutz." This comment went mostly unnoticed, except from Shawn and Dr. Elba.
"Quite alright," Ken said, frowning at Bill. He turned to the gang and said through a forced smile, "Give me a moment to let the board know I will be delayed a few minutes, and I'll take you myself."
While Gus smacked his lips by the peanut brittle display, Barb returned a moment later with a bandaid applied to her finger. Dr. Elba went to her side, pretended to give her boo-boo kisses, and gave her shoulder a light squeeze.
Dr. Elba asked, "You alright, Barbara?"
She smiled at him and said, "Yes, Ken. It's fine."
This interesting exchange did not get past Shawn's keen perception.
"Keep an eye on the front until Hannah returns from her tour. I'll be heading to the meeting once I'm done here," Dr. Elba told Barb, who nodded. Then, to the gang, he asked, "Ready?"
The tours took winding paths through and around the mansion, but Dr. Elba took the liberty of taking a few short cuts for the others to aid their investigation. He pointed out a few areas to avoid, like loose floorboards and decayed planks, where maintenance was needed. At one point, they passed Hannah's tour heading in the opposite direction.
At the scene of the crime, Dr. Elba retold his harrowing experience, as Shawn surveyed the room. He took a mental note of the windows and doorways, the placement of furniture, and other points of interest. One thing he spotted was the reflection of the overhead lights on a tiny shard of glass about the size of a fingernail.
"That's when the ghost of William Winchester threatened me with his rifle, from that direction," Dr. Elba said, pointing towards where Shawn had spotted the shard of glass.
"Interesting," Carlton said, "If the ghost were positioned where you indicated, and you were facing him, then how did he graze the backside of your arm?"
"Gus," Shawn whispered, "I need you to cause a diversion."
"Shawn, shouldn't you be paying attention? They are discussing Dr. Elba's ballistics."
"I'm not worried about that. That's why we brought Lassie along. I need you to create a diversion. I need to fetch something from the other side of the velvet ropes."
"You know full well we're not to cross the ropes. Or, were you not paying attention to Dr. Elba's warnings?"
"Gus. This is important. It might be a clue," Shawn hissed. "Would you cause a distraction for a churro?"
"What about the weak floorboards and disturbing the exhibit? I won't be distracted by a single churro, Shawn."
"There's something on the floor I need to pick up," Shawn pleaded. "How about two churros?"
"With dipping sauce."
"Fine," Gus said. He raised his hand and said, "I have a question Dr. Elba. Could the ghost have pulled the trigger from a secret bookcase or dumbwaiter?"
'There are no working dumbwaiters in this portion of the mansion, and I and afraid there are no secret bookcases."
While Gus continued to ask about possible hidden doors and crawl spaces, pointing at portions of the mansion away from velvet ropes dividing the exhibits, Shawn crawled across the floor and picked up the small shard of glass and crawled his way back. As Shawn stood up at the back of the small group of people, Dr. Elba asked him, "Are you getting any vibes from the spirits of the house?"
"Not at this time," Shawn said, "The spirits are napping, and I should not disturb them. They tend to get cranky when they haven't had enough sleep, which might be why one took a potshot at you."
"If there are no further questions, I have that meeting to attend. Please, feel free to look around. Watch for loose boards. Try not to disturb the furniture," Dr. Elba said.
"Thank you for your time, sir. We know how busy you are. We will call you if we have any further questions," Jules said.
As Dr. Elba walked away, Alvin excused himself, too, and headed back to the police station. Carlton called a huddle and said, "Alright, gang, let's split up and look for clues. I want to check this area for possible angles. O'hara, I suggest you interview the tour guides. And, you two? I guess you go bust some ghosts, or whatever it is you were called in to do."
"I ain't afraid of no ghosts," Gus said.
Carlton rolled his eyes and proceeded to use his cane to align possible trajectories. Jules excused herself to locate and question the tour guides, including Joe, the guide who was on his day off.
Gus and Shawn headed back towards the entrance. Shawn owed Gus a couple of churros, and didn't mind having one or two himself.
"Are you afraid of a ghost that is packing heat?" Shawn asked Gus.
"Maybe. How do you suppose a ghost got a gun? it's not like the gun died with him. And how could someone, whether or not it was a ghost, miss at such a close range."
"Both good questions, Gus. Maybe William Winchester was also a stormtrooper."
"That's ridiculous, Shawn. Star Wars did not happen in the Old West."
"Then why did a gunfight take place at a saloon in the desert?"
Gus held one churro in each hand using three of his fingers. The index finger and thumb of each hand cradled the two plastic cups of the chocolate and strawberry dipping sauces. He dipped the churro held in his right hand into the sauce held in his left hand, and vice versa. After each bite, his face contorted into deep contemplation.
Shawn held his two churros in his right hand and a packed of honey in his left. He dribbled a couple of dots of honey on the end of a churro and took a bite. He frowned and cocked an eyebrow at the fried treats.
"What do you think, Gus?"
"In the one hand, the chocolate sauce can barely be called that. There is a hint of cocoa, but it tastes more like bad barbecue sauce. In the other hand, this strawberry sauce taste more like a fruity salsa. I should have stuck with the honey."
"Yeah, sounds like you should have, but I mean about the churros themselves," Shawn said.
"I've had better. I didn't know you could deep fry styrofoam and then roll it in cinnamon-sugar."
"Agreed," Shawn said, and they dumped the remains of their churros in the nearest trash bin. "I miss Santa Barbara's Churro Burro. Now they knew how to make a great churro."
"You know that's right," Gus said, licking sauce off his fingers and reacting like a cat about to cough up a hairball. Shawn picked up a free local paper from a rack next to the trash bin. He tore off the back page and used it as a napkin. Gus did the same, but rescued the paper as Shawn was about to toss the rest in the recycle bin. "Shawn, look at this."
"The Pluto Times? Don't start your rant about what a shame it is what happened. Although, it is nice to see Pluto still getting some recognition and representation."
"Agreed, but I was referring to this article. Look," Gus said, pointing to the headline on the front about declining tourism in California.
"Huh. It mentions the Winchester," Shawn said, he made a mental note of the journalist who wrote eat article. "Perhaps we should pay Herman Jones at The Pluto Times a little visit."
After asking for directions to The Pluto Times, Shawn nudged Gus, "You're the Velma, Gus."
"How did I go from lovable great dane to nerdy bookworm?"
"The way you analyzed those sauces. Your meticulously detailed map to The Pluto Times. Not to mention your obsession about the planet itself. Your jinkies moment finding a clue in that paper."
"Fine. I accept that I know things, but I am still more Scooby than Velma."
"Agree to agree."
At The Pluto Times, Herman Jones was not only a journalist, but the head editor of the failing small press paper. When asked about the article, Herman was happy to share his thoughts on the declining tourism around San Jose and other major cities across California.
"Your article mentioned the Winchester Mansion. We were there earlier. It looked like a steady flow of tourists," Shawn said.
"Looks can be deceiving Mr…. Uh…Mr…I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name," Herman Jones said.
"That's because I did not yet throw it. I'm Shawn Spenser, psychic detective, and this is my plucky sidekick, Dorf Planet."
"You were saying about the deceiving looks of the Winchester?"
"Ah, yes. The Winchester does have s steady trickle of tour groups passing through, but not enough to fund its upkeep. Raise the rates, and the number of tourists decreases. Keep them too low, and the mansion falls into disrepair. Word on the street is that if the Winchester's doesn't take in more funding, Dr. Elba will be out as the head of its LLC."
"Llama llama camel?" Shawn asked, without irony.
"That's limited liability company, Shawn."
Shawn noticed a small brass pin attached to the breast pocket on Herman's shirt. It depicted a sundial surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves.
"How reliable are the streets with words?" Shawn asked.
"I heard from my son who is one of the tour guides at Winchester. Perhaps you've met him?"
"No, Joe. Bill is Roger's boy. Roger Norville," Herman's demeanor soured, "Norville is a big real estate developer. He has other plans for the Winchester. If I had my way, I'd stick with something more historically responsible."
"Such as?" Gus asked.
"A historical bed and breakfast experience."
Shawn and Gus bobbled their heads as if visualizing the idea for consideration.
"How long has Joe been a tour guide with the Winchester?" Gus asked.
"Not long. A couple of months. I'm thankful to Dr. Elba for giving him a chance. I'm glad Joe found a job that he appreciates and enjoys. He had a tough time finding new work after getting fired from his last job."
"May I ask why he was fired?" Shawn asked. Gus nudged him with a stern look.
"He was let go from a costume shop for peeping into the changing rooms."
"That'll do it," Shawn and Gus said in unison.
Roger Norville's personal assistant directed Shawn and Gus to where Mr. Norville could be found. He was opening up a new supermarket of prepackaged meals called Kit and Kafoodle. Shawn couldn't remember, but it sounded like one of his ideas, but Gus assured him this idea was too well-thought out to be a Shawn Spenser original. Gus then convinced Shawn to focus on the case and not try to pitch Mr. Norville one of his crazy get-rich-quick ideas.
After Mr. Norville cut the ribbon, officially opening the new Kit and Kafoodle store, he handed the oversized scissors to one of his body guards and approached Shawn and Gus with an outstretched hand to shake.
"Gentlemen," he said, shaking each of their hands, "What can I do for you today?"
"Well, sir, I have this fantastic idea…"
Gus cleared his throat and shot Shawn a stern look.
"…that will have to wait until I hear the fantastic idea you have for the Winchester Mansion."
Mr. Norville chuckled nervously and looked around to see if anyone in the crowd had hear what Shawn had said. "Why would I have ideas for the Winchester? Where would you get such a suggestion?"
"We just came from The Pluto Times," Gus said.
"Ah. Herman Jones. Of course," Mr. Norville said, rolling his eyes. "He's not wrong. There is an idea, but it is more my son's idea."
"And, that would be Bill," Shawn said.
"Yes," Mr. Norville said, "He is the head tour guide at the Winchester. He would love to turn the mansion into the largest haunted museum experience, ending, not just in a gift shop, but in a Halloween Store. His idea would be like combining a historical landmark, a Ripley's Believe It or Not, and a Halloween superstore. It's a fantastic idea, but not one that the LLC or the historical society would support."
Shawn noticed the same brass pin he had seen on Herman Jones pinned to Roger Norvile's tie.
"You don't think either organization would float your son's idea in light of declining tourism?" Shawn asked.
"I don't know what nonsense Herman has been filling your head. The Mercury News, his rival, reports that the decline in tourism is merely a seasonal slump. It's bound to pick up again. Probably around the holidays."
Gus asked, "So, you don't believe tourism is dying?"
"Dying?" Mr Norville chuckled nervously. "No."
"I don't know. I'd kill to see a Ripley's museum that big," Shawn said.
Mr. Norville swallowed hard, and stammered weakly, "Kill?"
"Are you okay, Mr. Norville?" Gus asked.
"Looks like you've seen a ghost," Shawn added.
"Okay! Okay! I admit it!" Mr. Norville blurted out.
"Admit what?" Shawn asked.
Mr. Norville lowered his voice to say, "I'm the one who shot Ken Elba."
Alvin chewed his gum, popped a few bubbles, and stared at Roger Norville sobbing quietly to himself. Shawn, Gus, and Carlton watched from the viewing room.
Seeing that it might take time to compose himself, Alvin sighed and said, "Why would a big softy like you think you shot Dr. Elba?"
"It's not that I meant to shoot him. I just wanted to intimidate him a bit. The rifle wasn't supposed to have real bullets in it. In fact, I know I loaded blanks into it. You can ask my son. He'll vouch for me."
"So, you're saying you and your son plotted to intimidate, but not kill, Dr. Elba?"
"That's right," Roger said. "My son, Bill, has been doing this bit at the Mansion, to try to bring in more customers. He pretends to be the ghost of William Winchester. He fires off blanks from the rifle and makes the crowd jump. That's all I was doing to Ken. I heard he wanted to sell off the mansion, and I was…encouraging him not to."
From the other room, Shawn scrutinized Roger Norville's confession. A thought crossed his mind as he stared at him through the one-way mirror. "I don't think he did it, Lassie."
"In one of those rare moments, and I don't often say this," Carlton said, "but, I agree with you, Spenser. I do not doubt that Norville fired off a blank from his rifle, but he is not the one who shot at Elba. Based on the ballistics report, and Ken's medical record and statement, he could not have a clear shot at Elba without firing through a wall of solid wood. Other than an aging building, there was no bullet impact with the walls of that area of the mansion. The trajectory and impact into Elba's arm indicates the bullet was fired from further away than a few feet. Plus, Norville would have to be a piss-poor shot at that distance, whether he wanted to intimidate or kill Elba. He did not do it."
"Well, aren't you the Velma?" Shawn said, patting Carlton on the back.
Gus nodded in agreement.
Shawn looked up at Carlton and said, "I, too, don't often say this, but good work, Lassie. Another thing I have rarely said is that I need to do a bit of homework before taking the tour tomorrow morning."
"Whaaaaat?" was all a stunned Gus could say.
As he passed Carlton on the way out, he said, "I suggest Alvin let Roger go."
As Shawn and Gus left the viewing room, Carlton used the intercom to call to Alvin to convey their recommendation of freedom.
The next morning, Gus, Shawn, and Jules arrived at the Winchester Mansion for an official tour. Bill Norville looked over the clipboard of the day's tour agendas. Joe Jones lazily swept the floor with a dreamy expression as he gazed at Barb Gordon folding the latest shipment of t-shirts. Bill looked up from the clipboard and Joe quickly looked down at his feet. Bill turned to Bard and said, "When you are finished doing that, You can give the Spenser party their tour."
Barb sighed and said, "Fine."
Joe stopped sweeping and said, "If she's busy, I can take them."
"That's alright, Joe," Barb sighed, again. She tucked the plastic tub of folded shirts under the counter, stood up, and said, "Ready for the tour?"
"Ready when you are, Malibu Barbie," Shawn said.
Jules and Gus shot Shawn stern looks.
Barb's mouth popped open and said, "OMG! How did you know I grew up in Malibu?"
"My friend was just making a bad joke," Gus said.
Shawn turned to Gus and said, "Gus, I never joke about the supernatural." He turned to Barb and said, "Yes, my vision picked up that you and Malibu had a connection. Now, look at you, living the dream in this big, old house."
"Tch," Gus tutted.
As Barb had been folding the shirts, Shawn had noticed her occult themed jewelry. That, and the Malibu tattoo on her untanned ankle caused by her surf board strap.
As Barb delivered her well-rehearsed dialog for the tour, Shawn leaned toward Gus and whispered, "When we get to the scene of the crime, I need you to be the Velma to stall Barb with as many questions as you can."
"Like what, Shawn?"
"I don't know, but I suggest asking her about supernatural incidents at the mansion."
At the scene of the crime, Gus raised his hand and asked, "The theories of the unusual architecture of the Winchester Mansion suggest that Sarah Winchester designed the floor plan to confuse the ghost of Winchester victims, but how do we know if wasn't designed to trap the ghost of her husband within the mansion?"
"Excellent question," Barb said. "There has never been an architectural structure like the Winchester mansion. People say she is either a certified genius or an authentic wacko. I think she was a bit of both…" Barb's explanation trailed off into Sarah Winchester hiring psychics and the structural anomalies enhancing the spectral acoustics of the spirit world. Bard was now the Velma.
Shawn took the delay to envision the area to recreate the night Ken Elba was shot in his mind palace, or rather his mind playground. He envisioned the position of where Dr. Elba stood and the portion of Roger's "ghost". He noted the wall between he two of them and how the two should not have been able to see each other through the obstruction. Not that he doubted Carlton's abilities, but he confirmed Lassie's ballistics. He visualized where the bullet might have come from and spotted a door far across the room.
"…and that exhibits her brilliance. Are their any more question?"
Shawn raised his hand and asked, "Does the tour take us through that door over there?"
"Sorry. No. That door leads nowhere. It is a straight drop down to the garden below. If there are no more questions, we can proceed with the tour."
The tour ended where it started, in the gift shop. They thanked Barb for her tour and all the information she provided. Jules browsed the shelves of souvenirs, Gus filled out a tour survey form to give Barb high marks, and Shawn stood to the side and sifted the case information filling his head.
Dr. Elba entered the gift shop and Barbara swiftly moved to his side. She reached up and pecked the doctor on the cheek and asked him about his arm. Dr. Elba gave her a one-armed hug and assured her it was fine. Shawn noted the look of disapproval on Joe Jones's face as he rang up the purchases for Jules. Shawn's dad entered the room and distracted him from futher observations.
"Well, if it isn't old man Spenser of the California Fishing Society."
"How old do you think I am, Shawn?"
"I don't know, Dad. Do you remember the days when all this was an empty field?"
"Is that what you're visions are telling you, Shawn?"
"I asked you first."
"Shawn, I'll have you know that I am here for a tour before tomorrow's fishing tournament."
"And, I am here investigating both a haunting and an attempted murder."
"Oh really? And exactly how many window panes did you count?"
"Ten thousand, two- you know what? No. I'm not going through this with you."
"Ok. Then let me ask you a simpler question. How many panes of glass need replacing?"
"Very clever, Dad. You never turn it off, do you? Now let me ask you something. How do you know a pane of glass was broken?"
"Henry's right, Shawn," Jules said, joining them with her gifts tucked under one arm. "I took a look at Dr. Elba's official report. He mentioned hearing breaking glass several seconds after the shot was fired, but the bullet did not pierce glass, or it would have shattered sooner."
"As interesting as that tidbit is, I need to ask Dr. Elba something. Excuse me."
Shawn left Henry to chat with Jules. She showed off what she had bought.
Shawn asked about the pin clipped to Dr. Elba's shirt. It was the same pin he has seen on both Roger and Herman.
"This pin," Dr. Elba said, tapping it with his finger, "is worn by the members of the Historical Preservation Society."
"Otherwise, known as our rivals in tomorrow's fishing tournament," Henry said, joining them.
"You really think your California PD team has a sporting chance?" Dr Elba asked. "Even with one working arm, I could still out-fish you, Henry."
"You wish, Ken," said Henry, "It'll be like shooting fish in a barrel."
"Unless they change the tournament's rules, that's the only way you could beat the HPS," Dr. Elba said. They both laughed, then patted each other on the back.
"As much as I'm enjoying your Fish Slapping Dance, there are still a couple of things to check on," Shawn said.
Gus gave Shawn a hopeful look.
"Including a couple more of those churros, only from a different vendor," Shawn added. "Ok, four things. Possible five, but no more than a half dozen."
He turned to Dr. Elba and said, "The vision is coming into focus, but I ask that we return to the scene of the crime one more time this evening to hold a seance. I'd like to interview the ghost of William Winchester."
That evening, everyone gathered at the scene of the crime in the Winchester Mansion. The tour guides assisted Barb in lighting candles to embellish the seance scene. Unfortunately, Dr. Elba reduced the number of candles by over half of what she had wanted to use due to fire code regulations, plus he insisted that the electric lights stay on. Shaw assured Barb that the spirit world does not care at all about mood lighting.
Once Alvin escorted both Roger and Herman to the scene, Shawn could begin to "commune with the dead" to paint the picture of what really happened the night Dr. Elba was shot.
For several moments, Shawn stood quietly with his hands folded and his index fingers resting on his lips. At the point when those gathered were about to get restless and disturb the silence, he shot his folded hands above his head with index fingers pointed at the ceiling and declared, "The spirits have shown me a vision!"
Jules and Carlton rolled their eyes, having experienced Shawn's visions numerous times. Gus looked at Shawn with mock concern, playing along with the performance. Most of the others shook their heads and also rolled their eyes, except for Barb, who gazed at Shawn with wide eyes.
"They showed me," Shawn said, pausing for emphasis, "corn! Or, was it maize? Maybe…a corn maze? No! The vision is of many paths, going off in different directions, sometimes converging, like rooms pieced together in a maze like fashion. Like the Winchester. And, like the Winchester Mansion, this labyrinth of details is at the heart of solving this mystery.
"As reported by the Pluto Times, tourism in San Jose is indeed on the decline. Gus and I verified this with the city's records. I see Dr. Elba standing in this mystery house in dire need of funding. If he cannot find the money to fund the LLC, then he will need to find someone else to take over. Either that, or dissolve the LLC to sell the Winchester mansion. But, to whom?
"Two possible candidates have joined us this evening. The first, we have Herman Jones, a member of the Historical Preservation Society, who wouldn't mind taking over the mansion to convert it into a historical B&B experience, while preserving the history and enhancing the mythology of the mansion. The second, Roger Norville, aims to turn it into an immersive, haunted experience ending in the largest gift shop, a Halloween Store. They are not the only ones interested. Even our young tour guides play their roles in preserving the mansion and protecting their jobs. One guide went to great lengths to generate more interest by inventing a ghost story to increase tourism.
"Bill Norville invented the ghost of William Winchester, a ghost returned to avenge his sullied name. Neither he nor his rifle killed people, the customers who bought his product did. With his co-conspirator Hannah, they showed tour groups a brief glimpse of the ghost to spread rumors of the haunting of the Winchester Mansion. Even poor, naive Barb believed the tales."
"The ghost wasn't real?" Barb asked. Gus patted her shoulder.
Shawn continued his long-winded explanation, "But, it wasn't Bill who pulled the trigger and shot Dr. Elba. That was his father, Roger Norville."
The group gasped and took a step back from Roger, who hung his head in shame.
"Or, so Roger would have believed," Shawn added.
Roger lifted his head. He looked confused, but more interested in Shawn's speech.
"Someone knew Roger set out to confront and intimidate Ken Elba. Disguised as the ghost, Roger believed he accidentally shot, and potentially killed Kenny. With Ken dead and Roger framed as the murderer, the way would be paved for Herman Jones to leave behind his failing paper to run the Winchester Mansion."
"I didn't do it! I didn't even know Roger went to see Ken," Herman said, flabbergasted.
"Of course you didn't. As I said, this story is filled with twists and turns," Shawn said, "So, who would go to extremes to murder Ken Elba and frame Roger Norville. And, why?
"The reason is pure jealousy. The Norvilles were not always kind to the Joneses. The Norvilles, one of the richest families in San Jose helped build up the community, yet refused to help Herman Jones with his failing paper. But, Herman Jones would never kill Ken Elba. On the other hand, maybe his son, Joe Jones, would."
Joe folded his arms and scoffed, "That's crazy! You're crazy! Why would I kill Dr. Elba?"
"Why indeed?" Shawn said, looking Joe straight in the eyes, "As I said, out of jealousy. The way Hannah was jealous of the way Joe fawned over Barb. So jealous, that Hannah started the rumor that Ken was having an affair with Barb."
"Really? Barbie and Ken?" Gus said, humored by the accusation.
"Me and uncle Ken?" Barb asked, disgusted. "Ew!"
"Exactly. Hannah did not know the affection Ken expressed to his niece, Barbara, was strictly platonic. To those who didn't know they were related, people like Hanna and Joe, it might seem like an affair. Barb kept her relationship to her uncle under wraps to protect herself from presumed favoritism and nepotism. She wanted to be treated just like any other employee. And, Hannah wanted Joe to break up with Barb, so she planted the rumor to sabotage Joe's affections for Barb. Hannah also didn't know that Joe was so in love with Barb, he would have killed for her. The only thing that saved Dr. Elba was Joe's poor aim from standing on the ladder outside the door above the garden.
Joe clinched his fists and shook his head. He sputtered and laughed under his breath.
Herman turned to his son and asked, "Joe? Is this true?"
At his dad's words, Joe turned and ran off through the mansion.
Alvin said to the group, "I guess that's my cue to go after him."
Shawn held back Alvin and said, prolonging the last word, "Wait for it."
The group heard a crunching noise and then a growl of despair from Joe. When they followed the voice, they found that Joe had stepped on a rug that crashed through some of the weak floorboards, and pinned him with his arms pinned at his side.
"Boy, you got trapped by the Money Pit!" Shawn said.
"You know that's right," Gus said. The two bumped fists.
"Kids these days, think they can get away with anything," Dr. Elba said.
"I would have, if it weren't for that meddling psychic," Joe said, struggling to get his way loose.
"Shawn is definitely the Velma," Carlton sighed, and added, "My childhood crush is tarnished."
"He's both the Shaggy and the Velma," Jules said.
"Would that be Shelma? Shagma?" Shawn asked, "How about Veggie?"
"Shawn, those Gs aren't even pronounced the same," Gus said, "Besides, it's obviously ShaVel."
Shawn nodded in agreement.
Back in the gift shop, Alvin walked Joe out the door in handcuffs. On his way out, he thanked Shawn and Gus for their help and said to expect a check for their services to be sent soon.
"Roger. Herman," Dr. Elba said, shaking their hands, "I'm sorry you got dragged into this. I would like to hear more about both of your ideas. We can go over the details at tomorrow's fishing tournament. Ideas like yours could do wonders to expand the Mansion's tourism, while preserving the history. Unfortunately, I will decline on opening another Halloween Store."
Roger chuckled and said, "I can always open one across the street."
Dr. Elba also thanked Shawn and issued him and Gus membership cards to come back to tour the mansion anytime.
"Let us know when the B&B is available," Jules said.
"You'll be the top of the reservation list," Dr. Elba said.
Shawn, Jules, Gus, and Carlton met Henry at a local bar to celebrate another case closed.
The MC thanked the young couple for their song as he took the sage, he stepped up to the mic, checked his clipboard, and said, "Next on the list…Shavel?"
He looked out into the audience, and saw Shawn stand up and approach the stage.
"Okay," the MC said, surprised, "Not who I expected with a name like that, but take it away!"
As Shawn adjusted the mic stand, he looked at the MC and said, "I'll have you know, I take offense at that. You, sir, are a cartoonist!"
The MC exited the stage, confused.
Shawn greeted the crowd and said, "This song goes out to Henry and Carlton, two great men in my life who are always fishing for clues."
Henry and Carlton raised their beer glasses to Shawn, who added, "Or, at least, just fishing."
"Sing already," Carlton hollered.
"Hit it!" Shawn said, pointing to the MC.
The Partiridge Family tune began to play and Shawn sang along with the words on the karaoke monitor, "Hello world, here's the song that I'm singin'. Come on, get happy!"