Hey, my name is Darrell Henshaw and well, welcome to my world.
I shouldn’t find this hard—after all, I face 150 surly teenagers everyday—but somehow this is different. And difficult. You see, I’m a high school teacher and ghost, er, I mean coach. (More about that later.) To be more specific, I teach high school history and coach football and basketball. I’m not that old (25 or so) and have already had my heart stomped on, but haven’t given up yet on love, although that’s a side story. Oh, yeah, besides trying to make history come alive for uninterested adolescents and putting a winning team on the field or court, I see ghosts. Like real ghosts. And they know I can see and hear them. Which almost always leads to trouble, as many of these spirits have “unfinished business.” Most often, they want me to help them finish their business and this usually ends up with some crazy mysteries and someone dying—hopefully not me or my girl. Got that? There will be quiz at the end.
Besides bad luck in the love department, I have my own share of problems, but I’m managing—with a little help from my friends…and a few ghosts. I thought maybe the best way is to let you ask me some questions and I’ll do my best to give an honest answer to each.
Interviewer: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Darrell Henshaw: That’s easy. God, I’d love to get rid of this condition of mine. You see, I have a case of OCD—that’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, according to my shrink. When I was a kid, thirteen, I think, I had this traumatic experience that really shook me up. I don’t have time to go into all the details, but it had to do with a family ghost and it almost cost my older brother his life. It did cost him part of his right foot and now he limps all the time. The doctors have said that because of the entire incident, I felt my life was out of control and have latched onto OCD to try to gain some control back. It’s not really working and it’s something I struggle with all the time.
Interviewer: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Darrell Henshaw: At one time, I would’ve said Carmen, my fellow teacher and sultry fiance, but she left me stranded at the altar. And stomped on my heart, so she’s out. But, in my new town, Wilshire, Maryland, I met Erin, this incredible, red-haired beauty, who’s an OB nurse and loves taking care of moms and babies as much as I care about my students. She’s athletic, a runner like me and can even beat my best time in a 5K, if she wants. She’s teaching me to sail—as a few other things I can’t mention because I’m a gentleman. She might be the one, if I can keep from screwing this up. (Carmen said I was partially to blame for her dumping me.) I know Erin believes in me and can even tolerate my OCD. That’s something, isn’t it? She’s even digs my ghost thing. She not a sensitive like me; she can’t see or hear the ghosts, but she’s right there to help me figure out what their unfinished business is.
Interviewer: Which talent would you most like to have?
Darrell Henshaw: I think I’m going to turn that question around. Not what talent I’d like to have, but one talent I’d like to not to have. Most people think being a sensitive—seeing and hearing spirits from the other side—would be cool and interesting. While I can’t argue with the interesting part, this talent has been anything but cool. I’ve found when ghosts show up, they want to take over my life. Not zombie-like taking over my body. They want me to drop whatever I’m doing and help them find closure. While all that sounds okay, it always gets me into trouble and more than once has almost got me killed. You see, I’m not anxious to join them on the other side, at least not yet. Most times I’d be more than happy to have the ghosts go find some other sensitive, but that doesn’t seem to be an option. As Erin, my girl, tells me, “They come to you because they know you can help them.” Geesh!
Interviewer: What is your greatest regret?
Darrell Henshaw: Even at only 26, I have more than a few regrets. The greatest guilt I carry around is for my brother. As I’ve encountered several ghosts, I’ve found their problems resulted from a decision they made at a certain time, a train they didn’t see coming (not literally) or someone they misjudged. Well, I’m no different. If I could, I would do things so different, so my brother Craig wouldn’t have gotten hurt. My mistake—in this case not doing something—cost him part of his foot and bright future as a great athlete. He has said he doesn’t blame me, but that doesn’t assuage my sense of guilt. If I could have that day over…
Interviewer: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Darrell Henshaw: This is going to surprise you, I bet. You’d think, since I’ve seen more than my share of ghosts and have helped them find justice and closure—even bringing down a few really bad guys in the process—you’d probably think I’d claim any of those as my “greatest achievement.” But you’d be wrong. I admit to be able to help the spirits who can no longer help themselves can be pretty gratifying, at times anyway. But I am first and foremost a teacher and coach. I believe in kids and try hard to see the best in all my students. Whether I’m trying to teach them the lessons from history or coach them how to beat a defender, I’m focused on trying to help them become the best individuals they can be. Of course, I’m not always successful.
We’re talking teenagers here. But when I am, when I can help a student realize he or she is better than they thought, can achieve something they never thought possible, that I believe is my greatest achievement.
Interviewer: Thank you, Darrell, for the wonderful interview. Readers, to read more scroll down and pick up Crimson at Cape May.
Title CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY
Author Randy Overbeck
Genre Paranormal Mystery
Publisher The Wild Rose Press
What if you needed to escape a haunted past and a town furious with you for exposing its ugly secret? With no job and few options, Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach and paranormal sensitive—heads for Cape May to accept an offer to coach a summer football camp. And the resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might be just the getaway he needs.
Only, no one told him Cape May is home to even more horrors as the most haunted seaport on the East coast. The new town launches his gift of seeing ghosts into overdrive and one resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks him, begging for help.
Darrell can’t refuse.
Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers an even greater crime. Can Darrell and Cassie expose the killer before they meet the same fate?
There was something off about her.
Darrell Henshaw had first spotted the woman on
the Promenade near the corner of the Cape May
Convention Hall. Huddled in the shadows, her long
white dress soiled and torn, she stared at him with sad
blue eyes that might have once been enchanting, but
now seemed haunting. With her dirty blonde hair, a
pallid face, and ragged clothes, he thought she was
simply another homeless person. He’d heard
panhandlers like to set up under the shade of the
Convention Hall, on the famous beach and across from
the meticulously restored Victorian houses. That is,
until the cops ran them off.
After he used the faucet to rinse off his feet from
his walk in the surf, he dried them with a towel he’d
brought along. Between the water and the cloth, he
fussed to make sure not one grain of sand clung to his
feet. He’d had another full day at the junior high
football camp where he was assisting, and he only
wanted to get to his room and collapse. After losing his
teaching and coaching job in Wilshire, he was glad for
this gig. He shot another glance over at the woman. He
didn’t need any complications.
He slipped his shoes back on and started walking,
keeping the woman in his peripheral vision. Unlike
other homeless he’d seen, she held no sign or bucket to
beg for money. Instead, as he passed, she extended
small, bony hands and said, “Please help me,” the
words so soft he could barely hear them. Darrell
pretended he didn’t see her. He didn’t feel good about
it, but he kept moving anyway.
As he made his way around the front of the
Convention Hall, Darrell sensed movement behind him
and glanced back. The woman rounded the corner,
coming his way. He ambled across Beach Avenue,
strolled past a few stores and then ducked into the
alcove of a gift shop. He knew he was being paranoid,
but with his experience back in Wilshire, he couldn’t
Stopping beside the glass window, Darrell chanced
a look back. Across the avenue, the Convention Hall
loomed to his right, its scrubbed gray stone and blue
windows looking almost like some Greek temple. It
was flanked by the wide stretch of a white sand beach,
still populated by tourists in colorful swimsuits. He
craned his neck and examined his side of the street,
studying the restaurants, beach shops, and bars that
fronted the road. The woman stood, about four shops
down, waiting. Did she see him? He yanked his neck
back inside the alcove.
A small bell tinkled and he jumped. As the door
opened, the aroma of homemade fudge wafted out. His
stomach growled in response. He’d worked hard at
football camp today, running drill after drill with the
teens in the blistering Jersey sun, and hadn’t had time to
eat. An older woman with a tight bun of brunette hair
exited the store and walked around him, giving him a
wide berth and raised eyebrows.
Darrell ignored her and peeked his head around
the corner again, careful not to touch the grimy glass.
She was still back there, not more than fifty feet down
the walk—he caught a glimpse of her disheveled,
shoulder-length blonde hair—just standing there, watching.
Waiting for him?
Working hard to not glance behind, Darrell headed out
again. As soon as he stepped out of the alcove, the salty
breeze off the water hit him.
He hurried on, his feet stumbling on the sidewalk.
When he stole another glimpse back, she was keeping
up with him.
Darrell couldn’t believe he was being followed.
Picking up the pace, he turned up Ocean Street,
trying to figure out where he was. On the right, he
recognized the distinctive pink architecture of another
Victorian. He remembered it. He was heading toward
his boardinghouse and didn’t want her to follow him
there. In the middle of the block, he started across,
dodging between passing cars, and turned onto
Carpenters Street. Both drivers hit their horns hard,
making Darrell dart across. He grabbed a quick breath
and glanced back again. A few houses down, his
shadow stepped out between the cars and eased across
the street, apparently oblivious to the traffic.
He cursed aloud, his paranoia full tilt now. Staring
at his feet and counting his steps, he hooked a left onto
Why would this woman pursue him?
Now a safe distance away, he studied her. She was
thin, with a small, drawn face of pasty skin, and he
would’ve guessed her to be about his age, mid-twenties.
But there was something about her, something that
made him shiver. Did she have a black eye? Were those
cuts on her cheek? Why hadn’t he noticed those before,
when he passed her on the Promenade?
He sped up, the street crowded, congested with
tourists. Normally, the jostling bodies would’ve given
him the creeps, but today he was grateful for the
numbers so he could blend in.
As he turned back onto Beach Avenue again, the
sight of the beautiful blue ocean across the road struck
him and he stopped for a moment, then chanced a peek
back around the corner. No sign of his stalker.
He reduced his pace, easing past a beach shop, and
saw his reflection in the store front. That gave him an
Ahead, he spied a coffee shop with two long
windows facing the street, the panes so sparkling clean
he could see the image of the sun hanging over the
ocean in the glass. As he walked along, he turned his
head to catch his image and, when he was far enough
along, he glanced sideways at the window. Trailing
behind him, he could make out, reflected in the glass,
only two people, a gray-haired couple. No one else. He
took a few more steps, watching and slowing a little,
and exhaled. He’d lost her.
He turned and studied the man and woman, who’d
paused to examine the restaurant menu posted next to
the door. A few feet beyond the couple stood the
woman. Darrell’s gaze darted. The couple. The woman.
The coffee shop window. Back to her. The petite young
woman in the tattered white dress stood hunched not
more than ten feet away. Darrell searched for her
reflection in the glass. There was not even a shimmer.
Oh no. Not again.
The side of the young woman’s face was beaten
and bloodied. Her exposed neck bore a long, ugly
purple bruise. The torn dress now had blood seeping