Claire stared at the theatre, her face tense with focus. “But the question is, how are we going to get in?”
“There’s a back entrance,” Eva said.
Eva led the trio around the yellow-brick building. The alley was dark and the concrete was damp, but the alley itself was remarkably clutter-free; everything was stuck in two dumpsters sitting at either end of the alleyway. Except for one heavy-looking double door. Giant piles of stuff sat on either side of it. Eva walked right to it.
“There’s no door handle,” Andy said.
Eva gripped her thin fingers around the center weather striping and pulled. It took some tugging, but it actually opened. She yanked it open, then held the door open with her foot. With a triumphant hiss, Claire entered the dark hallway beyond. Andy hesitated. She stared at Eva in wonder. Eva wore no expression on her face. She simply looked through her bangs right back at Andy.
Andy realized that they were probably calling attention to themselves, standing out here in the alley. She ducked inside the dark hallway. Eva followed, closing the door quietly behind them.
“Do you do this often?” Andy whispered, trying to make her voice friendly rather than accusing and probably failing.
“No,” said Eva. “That door has been broken since forever.”
“How do you know that?”
Eva was silent.
It was remarkable, really, Andy thought to herself. Claire had been so quick to accept Eva into her life. Just because Eva could sense ghosts. Claire had welcomed Eva into her home and business without any sort of background check. It had taken months to get Claire to be anything beyond work friends but Eva? No questions asked. There was so little that they really knew about Eva. They had only known her for a few months. Normally a few months was enough to get to know a person’s background and character, but Eva hardly spoke, and never offered up anything about her past. Andy couldn’t help but be annoyed. And suspicious. Mostly suspicious, now.
They found Claire at the end of the hallway, looking around nervously. “I don’t know what to do,” she whispered. “Should we talk to someone about the ghost? Just find the ghost ourselves?”
“All self-respecting theatres have ghosts,” Eva whispered. “We should just let it alone.”
“Hah! We’re in now, we’re finding this thing,” Claire said. “Maybe there’s someone we can talk to. Or maybe we should just do this ourselves. What do you think? You seem to know more about theatres than we do.”
Eva didn’t reply. Her face was in the shadows.
They heard a sound; a door slamming? Voices carried. Andy couldn’t make out what they were saying. Claire threw herself against the wall of the corridor. Eva and Andy followed suit. Andy thought how absurd they all looked; Claire, the skinniest of all of them, was dressed in her usual pastel dress, and Andy’s body could never flatten herself enough to hide against a wall. Slender Eva went still and blended in with the shadows.
The voices got louder; they seemed to be getting closer. There seemed to be three of them. At Claire’s lead, the three ghost hunters scooted farther down the hallway, closer to the door, where more shadows would hide them. Another door slammed open, and now the three voices revealed themselves.
“Because any self-respecting theatre has a ghost or two,” said one person, an older-sounding woman. “They bring luck, typically. But lately our ghost has been, well, upset with us, I suppose is the right way to put it.”
“Did you say MacBeth three times or something?” one of the voices, a young man from the sound of it.
“Please don’t say that,” said the woman. “We call it the Scottish Play and no that is not what happened.”
They walked past the corridor. All three ghost hunters gave a start; they recognized the young couple walking with the older theatre director. Olson and Van Landingham. The three hunters froze in the shadows and hardly dared to even breathe.
“We must be in the green room right?” Van Landingham asked. Today she had pulled her long yellow-blonde hair into a thick braid that ran down her back. She had combined that with her high round collar and straight-legged pants; she looked like a nun. Modesty did not become her. In contrast, her partner was dressed in a tight-fitting polo shirt and tailored jeans. He looked like he had just stepped out of the frat house.
“No,” said the theatre director, casually, with much more patience than Andy could have ever mustered. “The green room is behind that door. Actor do sometimes change clothes back here during performances. We just wrapped a show,”
“Wrapped,” said Van Landingham.
“And the trouble didn’t really begin until the second week of rehearsals after the last show.”
“We have callbacks for our next show tonight…”
“…And we know some actors are hesitant about working with us because of some of the issues we’ve been having…”
The conversation paused. A door creaked open. Were all the doors in this building noisy? Then again, the back door had been surprisingly quiet, especially considering how it was opened.
Claire made a run for it. Andy and Eva dashed after her. Claire stopped suddenly at the end of the hallway and peeked around the corner, then dashed after the theatre director and the two despicable pretenders.
The double doors slammed shut with a loud crash. The trio put their ears up against the door, listening in.
“But you two were the only ghost specialists we could think of, and so we called you.”
Andy glanced at Claire. Claire’s face was contorted with concentration. It was hard to tell if the comment had fazed her, or if she was very focused on the finding information. Andy turned her head to look at Eva. Eva’s face was, as always, placid and unchanged. She glanced back at Andy, and then back at the door.
“All of the incidents centered around one actress,” the theatre director said. “Paige Reader — she played Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest.“