“Look, Luthar, unlike you, I don’t like being seen,” said the former basketball coach for Bernard Berenson Middle School.
Jeroboam Steadman had, in life, been the most celebrated Men’s basketball coach at Bernard Berenson Middle School in twenty years. The trophy cases were filled mostly because of his leadership.
At the very height of his glory days, Coach Steadman was killed in a terrible accident when a metal ceiling beam fell during a game. Rumor had it that coaches at rival schools paid to have the beams loosened.
The old gym was named Steadman Court, post-humous in his honor. A few weeks later it was no longer used for night games and a new one was built that year.
Newspapers stated the new gym was built for expansion sake and to invite new growth to the school. Off the record interviews stated a different reason.
Disturbing sightings started to surface in the old gym of a flying human head, behaving like a giant bat, in the furthest corners of the metal rafters of the ceiling.
Eye witnesses claimed it was Coach Steadman looking to make sure the bolts were tightened. Soon after students ventured inside the Steadman Court, saying “Watch out for Coach Headsman!”
Yet as a specter, Coach Steadman wanted little to do with haunting. He had been blessed with a rare type of Briostone that allowed him to remain in human form almost year round.
Instead of using a second chance at life to continue with a sports career, Coach Steadman could be found at his favorite sports bar “Irving’s,” seated on a bar stool and eating pretzels.
Gordon Luthar had located “Coach Headsman” Steadman and insisted that they meet. Luthar had forgotten that Coach Steadman was as curt a specter as he had been in life.
“Yes, I know you make your appearances complex,” said Luthar, “Which is why you are a member of the Unseen.”
Coach Steadman was eager to get back to watching the game.
“There’s a particular young man who wants to investigate the other specters on campus. You included. Do you mind moving your appearance date to the day after?”
Each specter was different in how they viewed being sighted without a decent Briostone. Some were fine with it. Luthar knew Coach Steadman found it embarrassing to be seen when he made an appearance.
“Sorry, Luthar,” said Coach Steadman, “I used to give you tribute every month, but now I answer to loftier authorities. The kid can see me or not. I really couldn’t care.”
“You have a membership with the Unseen only because of your unique class Briostone,” said Luthar, “It does not require much ether to work, so you make your ghastly self rarely seen. But rarest sightings generate the most ether.”
Coach Steadman sipped his beer with a shaky hand and stuffed a few pretzels in his mouth. His cool composure was fading fast.
There was a reason Luthar was able to sway all the specters on school grounds, hailing him with a tribute of ether each month. He had a way with words.
‘Why do you hide in here, Coach?” asked Luthar, “Who are you supporting that needs all that ether?”
“I’m tellin’ ‘ou noffin’, Luffar,” said Coach Steadman with his mouth full.
“I believe you said something similar to me before,” said Luthar, “Back when I offered to let you have your rare occurrence, in exchange for tribute. A small amount of ether given to me was all I requested. I ask it again. Unless you want to lose that goldmine, and, perhaps, anger whoever you’re working for.”
“No, you’re not serious. I’ve had that gym from day one!”
“I am not getting any tribute from you lately,” said Luthar, “Why should I let you stay on such a lucrative schedule?”
Luthar’s words finally soaked into Coach Steadman.
“Oh. Ok, so this a blackmail deal?”
“You know specters who are scarier than me,” said Luthar, “See what strings you can pull. I do not want Roger Flair to write anything revealing the truth about the school.”
From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?
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