Detective Durand and her newly minted associate, Junior Gendarme Nikita Roulet, were in the ballroom where a very discontented spirit glared at them both.
“Let her haunt somewhere else!,” declared the vexed ghost.
“Monsieur Loiseau,” began Detective Durand, “You and your wife have been the resident specters here at the Not Secret Ballroom for the last one hundred and…”
“Eighteen years,” supplied Nikita.
“Well, no more!”, shouted Loiseau.
“The problem is that you and Jeanne Loiseau are a very popular feature here. People often dance here hoping to catch a glimpse of you two.”
“They will have to live with the disappointment.”
Detective Durand regarded Loiseau for a moment.
“Perhaps, but you have a contract with the owners of this establishment to appear, with your wife.”
“Is she even still my wife? Till death do you part!”
Nikita interjected, “According to our files, you remarried your wife about one hundred and thirteen years ago. Right here in fact.”
“Perhaps,” sniffed Loiseau.
Durand and Nikita looked at each other.
“Monsieur, would you like to tell us what this is really about?” inquired Nikita.
“It’s about nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
“Are you certain?”
“That is regrettable,” said Detective Durand, “As you are in violation of your contract with the owners of the Not Secret Ballroom, you will remove yourself forthwith from this location.”
“That’s outrageous! I won’t leave!”
“Then you force me to banish you from this location for all eternity,” intoned the Detective as she removed from her satchel a candle, a velvet bag of purified salt, and a silver bell.
“Know that I take no pleasure in this, but a contract is a contract.”
“I can’t lose this too,” he wailed.
Durand paused her preparations and asked, “Is there something that might change the circumstances?”
“It is…humiliating,” whispered Loiseau.
Nikita glided close to the morose spirit and kindly said, “Being a ghost is difficult, I know. But let us help you out. Okay?”
Loiseau looked at Nikita and said, “My wife took a lover.”
Durand was about to speak but her junior partner shot her a look.
“That’s rough. We may not be alive, but we can still be hurt.”
“Your wife left you for this other spirit?”
“He doesn’t even know how to dance!”
“Really,” stated Durand.
“Have you spoken to her about this?” asked Nikita with sympathy.
“It was more of a fight. I said things I am not proud of. Then I threw her out.”
“So, she left you for a non-dancing ghost?” queried Durand.
“Yes. Well not exactly.”
“Can you explain?”
“She just told me she had taken a lover, but it was purely metaphysical. I lost my temper and we had a huge fight. Then I insisted she leave.”
“Did she want to leave?”
“No, she said she still loved me but I…”
“I understand,” spoke Nikita.
“So, your wife did not refuse to continue dancing with you?” Durand pointed out.
“No, she didn’t.”
“But you threw her out?”
“His heart had been broken!” interjected Nikita.
“You should take a lover of your own,” suggested Durand.
“What?!” sputtered Nikita.
This suggestion set off a long and varied series of moans and wails, ending with “I am married Detective!”
“Monsieur, I know that seemed thoughtless,” said Nikita as she glared at Durand, “But can I share something with you?”
“Both my parents took lovers.”
“I’m so sorry!”
“They told me that they loved each other very much, but they also enjoyed spending time with other people.”
“Didn’t the jealousy destroy their love?”
“Actually, it didn’t. They said it was like having a little treat then coming home for dinner. They’re still happily married today. The holidays are… lively.”
“I love Jeanne so very much. The thought of losing her is chilling.”
“Maybe she feels the same way. If she does, you can still dance together.”
“It’s only been a day but I miss her so keenly.”
“Also, taking a lover might not be the worst thing for you or your marriage.”
Loiseau eyed Nikita and said, “Mademoiselle, are you- “
“Regulations forbid it,” Nikita quickly interrupted, “But I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding someone.”
Detective Durand nodded her head and added, “Rules are rules.”
“I see. You have given me much to think upon,” said Loiseau.
“Can I report that you are reconciling with your wife?” asked Durand.
“Yes! I think this could work.”
“Very happy to hear that,” she said returning her banishing gear to the satchel, “I believe you can find your wife in the statue garden nearby.”
“I must talk to her. Goodbye and thank you!” uttered Loiseau as he glided out.
“What the hell was that?” shouted Nikita.
“Why did I appear to be cold and indifferent, forcing you to take the lead and calm a volatile situation? It’s almost as if I wanted to see how you might handle this sort of scenario?”
Nikita glared and spat, “You are quite the bastard, Detective.”
“That I am. If it makes you feel any better, you handled things well.”
“A little, not a lot.”
“You’ll get used to it.”
“Why did you suggest he take a lover?”
“Oh, that was his wife’s idea, she’s the one who contacted me. She didn’t think he’d listen to her.”
“Did you know about my parent’s arrangement?”
“I’d be a poor detective if I didn’t know about my partner’s background.”
“Do I get to investigate you?”
“You’re welcome to try.”
As they left the Not So Secret Ballroom, Nikita asked, “Will all of the cases we handle like this?”
“Oh no. Some are even more annoying.”