Below is a short story taken from a much longer piece that I was writing with a friend of mine. I want to pick up the book again, I had forgotten how much I loved the characters we created. This one, especially, I really enjoyed writing…I hope you enjoy meeting him.
I’ve give the dead their last whispers, the last say. I give the dead a story, a farewell, a fond departure.
Maybe that is why they’re always here.
I’m not a medium. I don’t know how to contact the other world and converse with spirits. I’m afraid to try an Ouija board- too many bad things could happen.
They- the dead- jokingly call me Baron Samedi or Papa Ghede. It’s all jokes with them, who are they to care anymore? Now that they are dead they’re living it up.
But why, why do they have to hang around me? I don’t want them here. They’re making me paranoid. I’m always looking twice in the mirror, looking over my shoulder, jumping at shadows.
The problem with the dead is you never know when they’re around. Do you know what that does to a sex life? I mean, I brought this girl home last month. We work together and we’ve been
flirting for a while and on a few dates, and finally, it was the night- a perfect date that was going to end up in my bed. But, right before she got her bra off- guess what happened- someone decided they wanted to talk and appeared right in front of her, right there. She couldn’t see him, they only feel comfortable around me-at least that is what they say. I could have continued with her, but, when you have someone there, staring, trying to get your attention, yelling in that grating voice the dead have, well, it kind of killed the mood.
I mean, come on guys, give me some space. A man, a living man, has his needs.
One of them, Audrey she calls herself, says I should feel privileged that I can see them. They don’t show themselves to just anybody, you know. Privileged? I don’t know about that. I’m nothing special, not really, I just write a nice word or two about them.
That’s it. I write their obituaries. I might not feel privileged, but there is a sense of flattery that comes along with
the knowledge that they’d rather appear to me than to their family or friends. Audrey said it best, she said that with my obituaries I give them a legacy, I say what they left behind, while their family and friends give them a history- ‘Audrey used to do this’ or ‘I remember when Audrey did that…’ I give them something to hold on to in death, some sort of satisfaction, a feeling that their death isn’t the end of their existence.
Of course it isn’t…they talk to me.
Mostly they want to talk. Even in death there is still some drama, I guess. I get the feeling that the biggest problem is that they’re lonely. From what I gather, death isn’t all that different than life, it’s just, how do they put it…missing that certain thing. I suggested it was warmth, not just warmth in the manner of heat, but from all things, like love and spiritual warmth. They laughed at me.
Apparently I don’t know what it’s like to be dead.
Audrey told me, after everyone had left, just because they are dead doesn’t mean they still can’t feel the kind of warmth I was talking about. Then she kissed me, and that’s when I felt death, I felt the grip of my soul and the breaking of my heart. Her kiss held more life than any other kiss I’ve experienced.
That’s when I realized why the dead come to me. Death is eternal life. With my obituaries, I give them eternity in the living world-albeit in print, but just having their names printed on something somewhere gives them a semblance of immortality. I make them immortal in both worlds. I am their god of their living mortality.
Audrey’s kiss scared me. Not in the ‘oh my god I’ve just been kissed by a ghost’ kind of scare, it was more along the lines of ‘I made these people divine, I gave them divinity.’
Out of sheer ego I asked Audrey if there was any kind of reward for the service I had provided them. She smiled at me, its strange having someone who isn’t amongst the living smile at you. I can’t describe it to you- there is nothing in our world to compare it too. It was just strange. She smiled at me and said ‘You’ve made me fall in love with you, how is that for a reward?’
‘Really, you’ve fallen in love with me?’
“Yeah…and you know what’s good about that? I’m dead, so I can be whatever you want me to be. Whatever mood, fetish, kink you want, I could do.’
‘But, you’re dead.’ ‘That’s the downside.’ I contemplated killing myself to be with her, but, overcome by the sense of
Catholic dread and going to Hell for my suicide (which she explained later wouldn’t happen unless I wanted it to) I stepped off the ledge and had to pacify myself with the long wait.
Before Audrey, before the kiss, I used to be afraid to die. I used to sit at night, alone, looking into the mirror trying to picture myself dead, trying to imagine the world without me. I would grow sick, a terrible burning emptiness in my stomach, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
That was before, though. Now I know the truth about death. Death…it’s nothing but a transitional phase, like when we’re alive we’re a caterpillar and when we die we become the butterfly. Death is just the cocoon.
But I still can’t bring myself to suicide.
I write my obituaries, I converse with my friends (alive and dead) and I live my life knowing that when it’s over, there won’t be any repercussions for anything I’ve done. And really, being prepared for death and knowing what death is, is the only way to live.
By seeing death I am truly living free