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Dead in DC Chapter 2


Chapter 1


Chapter 2

The funeral was, well maybe not all I’d hoped for. Remember all I’d had to go on were fantasies, and let’s be honest, who fantasizes about small funerals? All my family were there, hell, even relatives that I hadn’t seen in so long I wasn’t sure who they were. And yeah, a lot of my friends were there too. But not as many as I’d hoped.

Not to say I blamed the friends who didn’t show up. I’ve lost touch with a lot of folks, so there’s a lot of people who probably didn’t ever hear about my demise or funeral. No the biggest disappointment was in the service itself I supposed. Kind of dry. Readings from the bible and such. No inside jokes, no memories recited. One or two of my favorite songs were sung, which was nice. But it wasn’t until the wake that things picked up.

I stayed out of the way in a corner, and just sort of watched. Stories were told, condolences were given, Mom even broke out the photo albums. I kinda lost track of Ashley and Walt. They’d passed themselves off as an old friend and teacher respectively. I guess they’re experienced at this kind of thing, cause they’ve managed to avoid conversation with the people who might be able to contradict their stories.

Ashley sidled up beside me, her mysterious smile plastered on her face. “Is it everything you hoped for?” she asked.

“Well I could have done with a twenty one gun salute, but this is nice too. What’s got you smiling?”

“You’ll see.”

I sighed and shrugged. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get an answer anytime soon. Girls with mysterious smiles don’t tend to let go of their secrets till they’re ready. I didn’t see anyone crying. Not sure how I felt about that, I mean, on the one hand, I hate seeing people cry. It makes me feel awkward and guilty, even if it’s got nothing to do with me. On the other hand, Hey! I’m dead! Make with the keening!

No I guess that’s part of why I’m staying in the corner. I have a feeling if I wandered around, I might find folks who’ve gone off by themselves to cry.

That’s when I spot her. “Holy shit.” I take off, passing through two people in my way in my hurry to get to the back yard.

“Hey,” Ashley said indignantly, and took off after.

I’d caught a glimpse through the window. Wasn’t sure it was really her. I mean, of all people to show up, she was the person I was least expecting. I mean, not even Veronica was here. And who can blame her? I’m glad she’s not here, I wouldn’t want her to have to face this crowd. Though I do hope she’ll come visit my grave at least once. Twice. Okay a lot.

“Who’s that?” Ashley asks, leaning against the railing of the back porch. The girl sitting on the tire swing has her back to us. Her hair is longer, but it’s her. Jesus. “John?”

“Wha? Oh. Sorry. Her name’s Sarah. Ex-girlfriend.”

“Oh? How ex?”

“I treated her like shit.”

I guess she wasn’t expecting an admission like that. “What?”

“I wasn’t always a very well adjusted person. I was, paranoid, insecure.”

Ashley looked down, but I wasn’t looking at her. So I didn’t see her glancing at her wrists.

“I started thinking that, every un-returned phone call, every time she was too busy to talk or go out…”

“You thought she was avoiding you.”

“Yeah. Hell I even thought she’d started screening her calls. Course by the time we broke up…I stopped blaming her a long time ago, but by then I had no idea where she was. Kinda always wanted to apologize though.”

Ashley must have seen the look in my eyes when I looked at her. “No.” she said. “No way. Uh uh, against the rules dead boy.”

“Oh c’mon! People talk to ghosts all the time!”

“Yeah, crazy people! Or ghosts that should know better!”

“Ashley, please. I’ll never get another chance, I’ve thought about her, how I treated her, every day since we split. Please. Last request?”

Ashley glared.

*****

“Excuse me,” Sarah turned to see who was speaking. She wasn’t even sure why she’d come, much less wanted to talk to anyone. There was a reason she’d left everything, and everyone behind.

“Are you Sarah Evans?” the goth girl approaching her asked tentatively.

“Uhm, yeah.” Sarah said. She blinked, and brushed her short black hair back from her face. “Have we met?”

“No,” the girl said. “I’m Ashley Waters.” She sat down on the swing set, letting the swing take her where it would. “I uh, me and John took an acting class together.”

“Acting?” Sarah was surprised. “When did he get into that?” She was so surprised she forgot to ask the girl how she knew who she was.

“Last year. He was in a production of Rent, and he wanted to, you know, not look like a jackass.”

Sarah harrumphed. “Jackass.”

Ashley sighed. “Yeah that bothered him.”

“What?”

“He showed me your picture once.” Ashley said. “That’s, that’s how I recognized you. Except for the shorter hair I guess.”

“Were you two…”

“No. No with the dating. Just friends.” She let the silence hang a bit before she continued. “He talked about you a lot.”

“He did?” Again, Sarah was surprised. John had never seemed one to open up about his past to one he didn’t know really well.

“Yeah, at first just when he was drunk, but, yeah. He never stopped thinking about how he treated you. He used to say you were the best friend he ever had. And he wished he had a chance to tell you that. And to apologize for, and I quote, `being a neurotic ass`.”

*****

“You owe me.” Ashley growled in the front yard, as we watched Sarah depart. Apparently she didn’t want to run into anymore “old friends”.

“Sure. Just leave a message with Charon on where to deliver.”

She thwapped me in the head. I guess Reapers can do that. Touch ghosts I mean. “Ow.”

“Smart ass.”

“And proud of it. I think it’s the Irish in me.”

“Oh the Irish by no means have the monopoly on being smartasses.” Walt said.

I jumped about ten feet. “Jesus is that silent moving thing genetic or something?”

Walt smirked. “Ready to go?”

I took a last look at my house. Am I? I can hear music from the open front door. Someone laughs, one of those too loud laughs like when they’re covering something up. There was nothing more to say was there? I got to apologize to someone I owed an apology to. There was nothing more to see. Anyone who was coming, was here. And there was nothing more to do. Goodbye house. Goodbye parents. Goodbye friends. Goodbye dog, goodbye cat. Goodbye book that lies on the shelf. Goodbye picture, goodbye moon.

There’s a lot I wish I’d done. I never got to see Disney World, or go to Alaska. I never got to write the next great American folk song. I never read Moby Dick. I never…well shit this list could go on forever. But when it comes right down to it…

“No. But I guess it’s time to go anyway isn’t it.”

Walt nodded, and Ashley took my hand and squeezed it. “Let’s go.”

*****

“The afterlife looks a lot like Denny’s.” I remarked dryly.


To be continued…