Backstage with a Ghost

Backstage with a Ghost by Joan Lowery Nixon

Book: Backstage with a Ghost by Joan Lowery Nixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Lowery Nixon
CHAPTER ONE

    A S BRIAN AND SEAN Quinn locked their bikes to the rusty railing outside the old Culbertson Theater, Sam Miyako, Brian’s best friend, rode up and jumped off his bike. He jerked a thumb toward the ambulance and police car that were parked at the curb behind the handful of curious onlookers who had gathered in front of the theater.
    â€œI came as soon as you called me,” Sam said breathlessly. “What’s going on?”
    A paramedic trotted out of the theater and flung open the ambulance doors. The crowd leaned forward expectantly.
    Brian asked Sam, “Do you remember reading about Clyde Marconi? He’s the developer who wants to tear down this block of buildings and build a supermall.”
    The Culbertson Theater was located at the end of a row of old brick buildings that had been boarded up for nearly ten years. The area had been deserted when shoppers and sightseers became drawn to the more modern and convenient malls and restaurants on the other side of Redoaks. A recent editorial in the local Redoaks newspaper had complained that the buildings were an eyesore and demanded that something be done to revitalize the old part of town.
    â€œAbout fifteen minutes ago,” Brian explained, “Mr. Marconi telephoned Dad. One of Mr. Marconi’s inspectors was onstage in the Culbertson Theater when a sandbag fell and hit his shoulder.”
    â€œYour dad told you that?” Sam asked.
    Brian smiled. “Well, not exactly. Dad wrote down the facts of what Mr. Marconi said on a pad of paper. The pen he used left an imprint in the soft paper. After he left, I rubbed a pencil over the paper and was able to reproduce the message.”
    â€œCool,” said Sam. “But why did Mr. Marconi call your dad?”
    Sean broke in. “Last week he hired Dad to investigate some accidents in the theater.”
    â€œAccidents?” Sam said. “Like what?”
    â€œA stair railing suddenly broke,” Sean answered, “and Mr. Marconi fell. Later he nearly got squashed by a large stage flat that had been propped against the wall, only he jumped out of the way in time.”
    â€œWhat’s a stage flat?” asked Sam.
    â€œYou remember that school play we were in last year?” Brian said. “Well, a flat’s a piece of scenery that’s fastened to a wooden frame.”
    â€œYeah,” said Sean, grinning. “Like that door that got stuck and wouldn’t open when it was supposed to.”
    Brian nodded. “Well, in this case Mr. Marconi didn’t think the broken rail and the falling flat were unrelated accidents, and he doesn’t think the falling sandbag was, either. He’s sure that somebody’s doing this stuff on purpose, and he’s worried about the safety of his crew if he gets approval from the city council to tear down the building.”
    Sam narrowed his eyes and made his voice sound scary. “Mr. Marconi is right. They weren’t accidents. Everybody knows the theater’s haunted, so you can blame the ghost.”
    Sean stiffened. “Ghost? What ghost?”
    â€œCut it out, Sam,” Brian said. “Sean and I are here to help Dad with his investigation. We haven’t got time to listen to another one of your ridiculous stories.”
    â€œYeah,” Sean added. “We’re not little kids anymore, you know. I’m nine now. Anyway, nobody believes in ghosts.” The fact is, Sean did believe in ghosts, especially the kinds of ghosts that always appeared in Sam’s stories. Sean couldn’t help it. The scarier the story, the more he believed it.
    Sam grinned. “It isn’t a story. It’s true. The ghost suddenly appears onstage, and he has claws for hands and eyes that burn like fire and… Ouch!”
    A tiny elderly woman who had been standing nearby rapped Sam sharply on the shoulder with the handle of her umbrella. “Nonsense,” she declared. “Horatio was

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