Not Quite Deceased

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A murder victim elects to return to earth and haunt the man who killed him.

Submitted: October 15, 2014

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Submitted: October 15, 2014

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NOT QUITE DECEASED

I died at 4:28 PM, on Friday the 20th of September, 2011. 

I didn’t really realize what was happening. I was sitting at my desk writing a report on a twisted gear case I was working on. I got up to go to the bathroom and came back. I finished the darned report, turned off the computer and got in bed, and without thinking about it, I took a drink from the glass of water I’d filled earlier and put by my bed. 

It was apparently some form of arsenic; I died in my sleep, thank God. I closed my eyes, feeling kind of dizzy, and fell asleep. The next thing I knew, I was standing in a long line somewhere up high. I looked around and saw somebody else appear out of nowhere in the line behind me; this person was also blinking and bewildered. The guy in front of me too; so did the woman in front of him.

The guy behind me said, 

“What the hell?”

I said, “Where are we?”

The other guy said, “I don’t know. I was…I was driving my car and talking to Leo…and the next thing I know I’m here.”

I looked around. Of course. We were waiting in line to get into heaven. I was dead.

It was a weird thing to realize. But I just sort of accepted it. Okay. So the Christian religion was right after all. I didn’t really get it, but I said, 

“You must have gotten into a car accident.”

He stared at me. 

I won’t go into real detail about the wait in line, or the getting-in process, or any of that. I’ll skip right to when I got in and was lead to a table, where a bored looking woman, presumably one of the entry applicants, said,

“Ah, Mr. Simon Brent? Window number three.”

I can’t really explain how the windows were there, they just were  - a few steps behind the table. I went to Window Number Three. A man, also looking bored, said,

“Brent, Brent, Brent…Oh, yes, 4:28 Friday September 20 2011, at 120 Fickelry Street, New Clapman, England. Arsenical poisoning.”

“I didn’t put arsenic in my cup, sir,” I said, eager to make a good impression, because I didn’t want to end up in hell for having committed suicide – which I hadn’t done, but to leave that behind.

The man said, “Yes, yes, yes, we know. If you had, you wouldn’t be here, would you?”

“Erm – no.”

“Now, Mr. Brent, you have a choice. You were murdered, and –“

“Wait, wait, wait, I was murdered?” I had to take that in. The man stared at me as if I was slow in the head.

“Yes, Mr. Brent, murdered. This is the murder window. And I have other murder victims to get to. So I’ll make it simple. You were murdered by Mr. Frank Merchant, whose name is now down for hell. He will go there eventually, but while he lives he will enjoy your money and go unpunished. If you want to go back and haunt him, you can. If you don’t, just sign here.”

I stared at him. Frank Merchant was a cousin of mine who inherited my money on my death. I thought, “The dirty swine! I never should have let him move in!”

I looked at the two pieces of paper the guy was indicating. One of them looked like a lease agreement to enter heaven, and came with what looked like a passport. The other was an agreement to return to earth and use my ghostliness only to haunt my murderer, in whatever manner I saw fit. I was still trying to decide when a guy behind me said,

“Hey, you, hurry up! I want to go nail those swines who shot me!”

The guy at the window said, “You won’t be able to communicate with them directly, Mr. Reilly. Once you are dead, you can’t come back in physical form.”

Another man said, “So I won’t be able to stare through my girlfriend’s window?”

A woman said, “I won’t be able to tell my boyfriend ‘Boo’?”

Others were mumbling. I quickly made a decision, and signed the slip that allowed me to go back and haunt Frank. The guy looked at my slip, and then said,

“Very well. Go on.”

He stamped my paper. I wasn’t sure what to do, but the guy behind me looked pretty eager to get going, so I got out of line and walked nervously toward the big gates.

Before I knew it, I was standing at my own funeral. Everyone was watching them lower the coffin into the hole in the ground. I could see Annie crying. Good old Annie. My girlfriend. 

I watched Frankie pretending to cry and my eyes narrowed. Frankie. He wasn’t upset. He’d put the arsenic in my cup. I guessed he’d done it when I’d gone to the bathroom. I’d taken a drink before I went to the bathroom. 

I crept up behind him, took a deep breath, and tapped him on the shoulder.

He turned around – I guess he could feel it – and stared, blinking, when there was nobody there. He nervously turned back. There was nobody standing behind him – that he could see, anyway. I had a surge of savage pleasure. I tapped him on the shoulder again, a little harder this time; he turned around again, and stared wildly around. He slowly turned back to face the coffin. When I practically smacked him on the shoulder the third time, he burst out,

“Whoever’s tapping my shoulder, cut it out!”

Nobody owned up to tapping his shoulder. I felt pretty pleased.

From that point on, I never let Frankie alone. I followed him around everywhere he went. He’d inherited all my hard-earned legal money, which I had stupidly willed away to him because I didn’t have any other relatives. I should have married Annie and willed it to her. Or maybe even had kids with her and willed it to them. Or something. Anyway, I followed Franky around and did every single kind of crazy haunting sort of thing I could think. I stole his keys once. I actually pulled down his pants one time when he was standing at the bathroom sink, in front of his buddies. 

I was having a blast, the best time of my – well, not life, but as close as it could be. But there was one thing that worried me: Frankie was being pretty friendly to Annie. Annie was pretty upset about me being dead. She seemed to be having trouble going in to work, and she spent a lot of time around Frankie so that she could talk about me. And he didn’t seem to mind doing it – as if he knew her weakness. Sympathy. And I didn’t like it one bit.

I occasionally tried to give some kind of message to Frankie – something along the lines of “Lay off my girlfriend or I’ll give you a wedgie in front of her”, but every time I tried, two men in tailored blue suits would show up, and say,

“In your contract, it explicitly states that you are not allowed to communicate directly with your hauntee in any form. This is a clause in order to prevent the dead from giving our secrets away to non-dead outsiders.”

Man, those guys pissed me off. But obviously I couldn’t say anything about it; as a lawyer, that contract looked pretty airtight to me.

It went on for about a month before Frankie started going out with Annie officially. I don’t really blame Annie herself; Frankie I guess was pretty charming and all. And I upped the amount of antagonism I laid on him; I did my best to make sure their dates never went right. I tripped a waiter at a restaurant they went to; I upended Frankie’s popcorn bucket all over him, grease and all, at the movies. I gave him a good kick in the butt when he was trying to impress her while going bowling, and I made the car’s engine catch on fire when he pulled the car over and tried to kiss her. But no matter what I did, it seemed like it wouldn’t stop him.

I pretty much crashed the wedding too. They got married four months later. I guessed Annie was just needing a guy to hang out with desperately. I don’t really doubt that she really loved me – because she talked about me all the time.

“Frank, do you know that Simon took me to this restaurant on our first date?” “Frank, did you know that Simon once went to the Riviera? He said he’d take me there some time.” “Frank, did you know that Simon once bowled a perfect 300 when he was in high school?” “Frank, did you know that Simon actually showed up in a little cameo role in the film Grease? He was a kid in the background – he was a really little kid then, and he lived around there, and he volunteered to be in the movie – as a background character.” “Frank, did you know that Simon once said we should get married as soon as he tackled his 100th case?” “I don’t get why he committed suicide. He didn’t seem depressed. That case was going pretty well. I don’t get it, Frank.”

That drove Frankie nuts all the time. But I had other things to worry about. Like the fact that dear little Frankie had insured Annie’s life for quite a lot of money. And that I already knew that Frank didn’t have many moral scruples when it came to money. 

So one night, when Annie was alone, I tried to write her a note. I wrote, “Annie, dear, it’s Simon. Frank murdered me and he’s going to murder you.”

The two men in suits showed up. “Sir, in your contract, it does not – “

I said, “I get it, I get it by this point. But this is different! Annie’s not my hauntee, and my hauntee is about to murder her! If I don’t warn her, she’ll be murdered! Come on, you can’t possibly object to that!”

They said, speaking in unison as they always did, “Sir, we do not allow the dead to communicate with the living. It is a violation of one of the sixth amendment in the Dead’s Bill of Rights. This amendment clearly states that, ‘The Dead shalt not disturb the living.’ Telling the living of impending doom would come under the heading of ‘Disturbing the Living’.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I can’t let my girlfriend get murdered!”

“If she got murdered, you’d see her again,” they pointed out.

I hadn’t thought about that. I realized it. If Frankie killed Annie, I’d be with Annie again. We could haunt Frankie together. We could pick on him for the rest of his life, and in between making his life as close to living hell as the hell he had awaiting him in the next life, we could live out the life we’d planned as living people. We’d be together forever…

I was pretty torn. I went back to the place I hung out in while I wasn’t haunting Frank – my old house, where I’d lived (nobody had bought the place yet; it would probably be considered haunted for the rest of time); and thought about it. I could do it. I could let him kill her. It was in my contract that I couldn’t try to contact her; even if I wanted to, I couldn’t do it. 

Wait, what was I doing?  I had to stop Frankie killing Annie – if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be worthy of her. That would be just as bad as Frankie – killing me so he could have my money and my girl. 

Two nights later, I was waiting and watching. Annie was sitting in bed. She got up to go to the bathroom, after having filled a cup with water and drunken some of it. While she was gone, Frankie filled the cup with arsenic and let it dissolve. As Annie got into bed, I waited for her to reach for the glass, then knocked it over so that it spilled all over the bed covers.

Annie jumped up out of bed, astonished. Frankie opened his mouth, confused, then said,

“Jeez, Annie, that was pretty clumsy of you.”

“Sorry,” she said, staring at the cup. “I can’t think what…” she trailed off. I had an odd feeling that she could sense that I was there. Somehow, she knew it. She wasn’t staring right at me, but she was staring forward as if she could almost see me. I waited.

She said, “I guess I’ll go get some more water.”

I felt a moment of panic; I went ahead of her into the bathroom, opened the cabinet under the sink, and hurriedly unscrewed the pipe.

She tried to turn on the water and it simply flowed into the cabinet. 

She blinked, staring, unsure. She stared at the faucet, then checked the sink. 

She said, “What’s wrong with the sink?”

Frankie came in. He said, “I could have sworn that sink worked fine a minute ago…”

Annie said, “Maybe there’s a burglar in here…”

“We’d have seen or heard him.”

She stared at the sink. Then she stared at the cup. Maybe she could see a little trace of arsenic in it. She then looked up at Frankie. She was pretty smart. And I bet she could sense me in the room. She said,

“Did you put something in my cup when I was out of the room?”

He stared at her. Then he said, “Yes, I did. I put a little sleeping draft in it, that’s all.”

“Why?”

“Because you don’t seem able to sleep very well. Since Simon died. And I want you to sleep peacefully. I know you don’t want to take a sleeping draft…so I tried to trick you into taking one. I’m sorry. I should have told you.”

He sure was a fast thinker. Or maybe he had that excuse in his head already. She seemed to accept it. She went back into the room. 

And the next day, I tried to stop her drinking again. She took a real sleeping draft – a pill she’d gotten out of a prescription – and I hoped she’d be on her guard from now on – except that Frankie got an idea from that. He went to a chemist’s shop and bought a poison pill that looked exactly like her sleeping pill. He put it into the bottle; and even I couldn’t tell which one it was anymore.

I knew it was only a matter of time. One day Annie would swallow the poison pill and be dead. So I took the pill bottle.

That, I think, was the last straw. When Frankie got into bed with Annie that night, she said from the bathroom,

“Damn, where’s my sleeping pills?”

Frank got out of bed, looking really pissed. “That does it.” 

He got out a gun I’d noticed before. He said, “You keep putting up a show about not suspecting anything – but now I know.” He shot at her.

She stared at the gun. He stared at the gun. I’d taken out the bullets earlier. She said,

“Go to hell.” 

Then she got out her phone and called the cops.

Frankie went to the chair. I got to make fun of him in hell from where I was, and I was pretty glad to see they came up with a pretty creative punishment for him – they made him drink from various glasses, one of which contained pure arsenic, and he would have to keep drinking, and no matter how many times he drank arsenic, he wouldn’t die, because he was already dead.

Annie died of old age, and we hung out in heaven together. It lasted for a while – not forever, of course. Because people, even dead people, are really quite like living people – and nothing lasts forever…still, she knew I’d saved her life, and I knew I had, and that was what really mattered.


© Copyright 2020 Laura Colette. All rights reserved.

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