— 2 —
I’m Pap. I know you can’t hear me, thankfully. Being a ghost is not easy. I have to spend a third of the day wailing up here. It is against the rules of ghosthood perhaps, but Mom, Dad and I work in shifts to wail. Not that I can do it good anyways. Dad does it best. He gives a nasty wail smack dead in the middle of the night. I wonder if it was because he was the first to reach up and get stuck here in this filthy attic.
So… back to that golden curse that got me here in the first place. It stopped when I died. I was the last one up that day. And I think that was because I saw what happened. If the trauma on the moment wasn’t enough, the guy had to go and shoot me through my head; twice. You’d think killing two on first shot would give him some bloody aim. His first just went through that antique wine bottle in the showcase.
When I was hugging Mom’s leg, I saw him come back. Eyes like a cat, a full beard and glasses too. Like a pirate, but the glasses were like dad’s… the ones a scientist might wear. Mom and dad weren’t seeing. And he didn’t wait for them to either. He just took aim and fired. Two shots and they fell. I just stood, watching.
I remember asking Dad one morning while Mom was on shift. “Daddy, why did we die?”
As he put his pipe to his lips, he looked at me and told, “Pap, there are two kinds of people in this world. Some can take a loss well, and try to do better next time. Then there are those who take a gun to the winner in frustration. We died because I met one of the third kind. He took it well, then came back to do better and when he couldn’t, he took apart what meant more to me than that antique. Stay away from such men, always.”
Dad is a strange sort of ghost. Most of the time, he forgets that he is one. I was tempted to say, “Like it matters now.” But I asked him, “Why didn’t you let go of that clock then?”
And he went serious. “Cease this inquiry, Pap. I’m not a criminal. Stop it now, or I’ll give you a hiding.”
I knew he was hiding something, but I didn’t think he’d give it to me. I was about to ask him for it when mom came back and fell on the old couch.
“Darling, I’m too young for this wailing duty. Couldn’t we have waited a while more before your friend shot us?”
I let them wail it out together, and went to explore the old place.
I go to my wailing shift as the first rays of the morning arrive. Morning doesn’t require much effort actually. So I take it easy to beat the heat as summer was drawing to a close.
“Angie, time for school… come on now; you know the driver hates to wait near our house” called her mom as the clock struck eight. And that made my mother start to cry again, watching from the attic window…
“If only…” she says to me.
But no Angie came that morning to get into the school bus as it moved past the front gate.
© Leo 06/July/2011