Kitty Raises Hell Page 5

I wanted to know what side of the line Paradox PI fell on: sensationalist TV show exploiting interest in the supernatural, or genuine paranormal investigators? I wasn’t necessarily going to try to expose them as fakes. But getting a story out of them would be icing.

Now I just had to figure out how I could crash the party.

I brought all my powers as a prominent media figure to bear in my quest. Well, basically, I sweet-talked a production assistant at the company into giving me the Denver filming schedule. It took me about three tries, calling at different times of the day, before I hit on the right person, but it worked.

They’d already been in the area three days, covering some of the more famous locations like the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver, and the Stanley Hotel sixty miles north in Estes Park. On day four, the PI gang was scheduled to examine Cheesman Park. Of course they were. This was the classic haunting that had supposedly inspired the movie Poltergeist, not that the latter bore any resemblance to the former. About a hundred years ago, a cemetery had been cleared of its headstones and spruced up to make way for a park and fancy neighborhood. And no, the bodies hadn’t been moved. Or they had, but by cut-rate labor that had dumped them together and swept them under the carpet, so to speak. Since then, reports of angry spirits flourished: headless women in Victorian gowns searching for their skulls, ghosts rattling shutters and doors, that sort of thing. No little girls getting sucked into TVs, though.

I arrived at the park before the TV crew did, so I waited, parked along the winding street in my hatchback.

A half hour later, with about an hour to go before dusk—very scenic and photogenic considering the subject matter—a functional white van pulled alongside the curb and parked some fifty yards behind me, near the picturesque fountain area. They might have been plumbers on a dinner break, but a couple of guys got out, opened up the back, and lugged out a camera, a high-end video job. They spent about fifteen minutes setting it up, then one of them spoke on a cell phone. Ten minutes later, a shiny black van with the show’s logo painted on it pulled up and parked on the street, and the cameraman filmed it all. Stock footage, the PIs’ arrival, with the lovely backdrop of golden westering sun slanting across the park. Rapt, I watched.

The guys filmed the Paradox PI team getting out of the vehicle. Then they lowered the cameras, and everyone milled for a moment.

I made my move.

I jumped out of my car and strode toward the cluster of people and vehicles. I had my sights on Gary Janson, the show’s front man both in front of and behind the camera. Tall, maybe six-five, and burly, he had an intimidating presence, but his dark trimmed beard hid a bit of paunch. He’d probably spent more of his life in front of computers than running from poltergeists.

If I had gotten all the way to Janson without anyone stopping me, that would have told me something about how this show was run. But I didn’t, which told me that this wasn’t a bunch of amateurs. They had a professional production staff. One of the techs climbed out of the white van and intercepted me, jogging slightly, a bit of panic in his eyes.

He held his hand out at me. “I’m sorry, we’re filming a TV show. Can I ask you to stay on that side of the park?”

“I know you’re filming. I was hoping I could talk to Gary and the gang. I’m Kitty Norville.” I gave him my biggest “gosh, gee” smile and offered my hand.

His eyes went round and a little shocky.

“Hey, I recognize you! You’re that werewolf!” This came from a woman by the dark van—the show’s raven-haired hottie, Tina McCannon. Seeing her in person, I was even more convinced she’d been chosen for her model-quality looks, measurements, and preternaturally tight T-shirts rather than any of her other abilities. She pointed at me with the same urgency someone might have when saying, “She’s a witch! Burn her!” I gritted my teeth behind my smile. Being the country’s first celebrity werewolf had its more interesting moments.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the tech guy had signaled to the cameraman to film this. Groovy. If I could be charming enough, they might end up with a very special episode of Paradox PI, guest starring Kitty Norville. The publicity opportunity was mouthwatering. Their audience was bigger than mine.

“Hi!” I said cheerfully. “You’re Tina, right? You’re much taller in person.”

She blinked at me, confused.

The third member of the on-camera team, Jules Simpson, came around from the other side of the van, watching with interest. He was dark-skinned, with short-cropped hair and wire-rimmed glasses. He dressed in a sweater and slacks, an intelligentsia hipster. He was British, and his accent played as well on TV as Tina’s figure.

“What are you doing here?” Tina said, still confused. She didn’t seem to know what to make of me, which was pretty funny considering she was supposed to be a paranormal investigator.

“I was hoping I could interview you, maybe have you come onto my show. I know I probably should have called first.” My shrug was perhaps exaggerated. “But I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by.”

Gary, who’d been regarding me more studiously, arms crossed, back to the van, said, “And how did you know where we’d be?”

“Psychic?” I said, not very convincingly.

Donning a determined expression, the head of the group came to some decision. “Tell you what: Let us interview you, and then we’ll return the favor. Deal?”

Of course he gave me no time to think about this. But I wasn’t one to turn down camera time. Not anymore.

“Sure. Sounds great.” I gave him a wolfish smile. He probably didn’t interpret it as anything but friendly.

Turned out they didn’t have anything exciting planned for this session of filming. The Paradox team wandered through the park, followed by the camera, collecting atmospheric stock footage. Gary talked about the history of the park, a canned speech that had been written beforehand outlining the more lurid details while gesturing across the expanse of lawn. There’s where a hundred headstones were ripped from the earth and tossed aside, there’s where cut-rate gravediggers dumped a dozen skeletons into one undersized coffin... It seemed more like a tale of bureaucratic terror than a ghost story. I stayed out of the way and watched.

Tina kept looking at me like she expected me to growl and sprout fangs. It made me nervous. The more I glanced back at her, the more nervous she got, which created something of a feedback loop. I finally just tried to ignore her.

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