<<< Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Ghosts of the Past That Are Actual Ghosts
Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids
all over the world, I can’t help but cry,
I mean I’d love to be skinny like that,
but not with all those flies and death and stuff.
— Mariah Carey
“Looks like it’s just you and me tonight,” Melantha said after Salvador had left to return to his mausoleum. Between him catching on fire and arrival of the gillman pizza delivery guy, the evening’s sensual mood had been completely ruined.
“Yeah,” Gary replied. “I guess I had better break out some ice cream and the VHS collection of Frasier. Boooooo . . .”
Melantha felt grateful that even though Gary was dead, he could still be in her life. They had been dating for a year and had just broken up when he had died of mysterious causes that she still didn’t quite understand. There hadn’t been a funeral, or even an obituary. One day, he just showed up and explained that he had died and had come to haunt her for being such a bitch to him. His spirit still remained even after they had reconciled and become best friends.
“You’re not going to get me with that trick, Gary! I know that you can only become a ghost if you drink chocolate milk after midnight, and I know that all we have in the freezer is chocolate ice cream, which I saw you left out on the counter to thaw. Frasier though, I’ll take you up on that offer!”
“You got me! Boo. But you know it is lonely being a ghost with you being the only one who can see me on account of me having to hide in the closet whenever there are people around.” That was certainly true enough. There was still a pair of her underwear stuck to his ectoplasm, although that was kind of confusing. Gary typically hid in the linen closet, whereas most of Melantha’s underwear was on the floor of her bedroom with the rest of her clothes. “People don’t understand ghosts. They don’t understand me . . . nobody but you, that is. This white sheet makes me look like a racist.”
“No, Gary. They have pointy heads,” Melantha replied. She touched him where his shoulder would have been had he been human still. His ectoplasm felt like two-hundred thread count linen, and it really did feel like there was a human shoulder beneath his spectral outer layer. Gary had explained that she was the only one who could touch him on account of her being a deep and caring person who felt more and felt more deeply than other people. This was true.
Gary would have smiled had he been alive. Instead, his face was an unchanging white expanse punctuated only by two black eye holes through which Melantha sometimes thought she could catch a glimpse of his human eyes. At least once, a nose had protruded through one of them, which Gary had explained was a ghost glitch, like when his ectoplasmic exterior fell off and he looked like his old naked self. Ghosts were much more confusing than other supernatural beings.
“Hey baby, I hear the blues a-callin’, tossed salad and scrambled eggs!” Gary crooned while inserting the Frasier tape into the VCR, which was like a Blu-ray player but bigger and with an oversized rectangular slot.
Melantha laughed, because he sang like shit. He inserted the tape slowly and sensually, teasing the tape into the gaping orifice. It reminded Melantha of their time together, the countless nights of . . . passion? No. It had not quite been passion. Gary was awful at foreplay and had once punched her in the breast because he hadn’t known what else to do. He said that the spirit world had taught him a lot about sex, but everything Melantha had read about ghosts said that they did not have genitalia. Gary denied this. She didn’t argue, because embarrassing a ghost was too sad to imagine.
While she waited for the show to begin, Melantha slipped a Licki brush into her mouth and began grooming her cats on the couch. The brush simulated the action of an actual cat tongue, which allowed Melantha to bond with her cats as though she were a true part of their pride. She felt a rush of feral feline hormones as she pawed at the couch on all fours, running the artificial tongue down the back of her favorite cat. Excitedly, she realized how much Salvador would enjoy it if she licked him with its silicone bristles.
“Why are you fondling yourself while licking the cat?” Gary asked. “Boo?”
“Sorry. I was just thinking about someone special. This device bonds me to the cat on a physical level, but it bonds me to my vampire lover on a spiritual level that transcends all understanding. I forgot you were here.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot vampires were real. That was really scary having a monster in the house.” Gary almost sounded sarcastic, but Melantha knew better.
“How can you say that? You’re a ghost!”
“Oh . . . yeah. I forgot about that too. Boo. By the way, all of your beer was sucked into the spirit world again along with the leftover Chinese food.”
“Crap. It’s just like in Ghostbusters.” That was the worst part about having a ghost in her apartment. Her fridge had become a gateway to the other side, his poltergeist powers kept clogging the toilet and filling the shower drain with hair, and some otherworldly agent kept shopping online with her credit card. Gary insisted that supernatural purchases couldn’t be returned, refunded, or donated to the homeless, but what was she supposed to do with a men’s electric razor?
“Yeah, I know, but fortunately I’m here to stop angry spirits and demigods from escaping your refrigerator. Booooo!”
“What would I do without you, Gary?” Melantha said more than asked, because it was a rhetorical question. Frasier had started playing. It was the episode where Niles and Frasier have to handle an awkward situation involving their father. She had seen it already, but every fresh viewing revealed some overlooked detail or deeper meaning. Melantha was quite sure that their psychic housekeeper, Daphne, was a reincarnation of her. She was always freaked out by the screaming skeletons in every episode though. Nobody else ever seemed to see or hear them.
Gary plopped down on the couch and threw a spiritual appendage around Melantha’s shoulder. His ectoplasm shifted, and she was reminded how even in death he wore the same black, size 10W SAS sneakers that he had inherited from his grandfather. Somehow, they looked even more worn out than they had been before he had died.
“You know, boo, that I’ve been haunting you nearly as long as we were dating,” Gary said.
“I do.”Their situation reminded Melantha of nearly a decade ago when she had been the only survivor of a plane crash in the Rocky Mountains. A charming man, named Downy Soft Feather, who was half Bigfoot and half Native American, had gently nursed her back to health with his pillow-soft hands and butterfly kisses. She could have stayed there forever, but an aggressive rescue party had killed Downy Soft and burned down his log cabin in the process of retrieving her. They had then attended a Metallica concert before bringing her back to civilization.
“Well . . . booooo . . . I was just thinking that maybe we could make it official. Maybe we could go back to being a couple again.”
“Silly, Gary! You know that ghosts can’t date mortals. You are only able to have romantic entanglements with fairies, Valkyries, and hardcore Norwegian black metal bands. Plus, I hate to remind you, but . . . ghosts don’t have penises.” Melantha gave the approximate area of his crotch a friendly rub to demonstrate. It felt weird.
“Right, because you have books about this stuff, dammit — I mean, boooo! But what if I told you that all of those books were wrong, and I’d know, because I’ve been to the other side –”
“You can’t have passed on or you wouldn’t have been able to come back and be a ghost. Trust me, Gary. I know a lot about the supernatural. Sometimes ghosts think that they still have human attributes, which is why you sometimes manifest as a naked man in my bed or generate ectoplasmic discharges into my used underwear, but that is all tied into the trauma of your passing. We really need to get around to resolving the unfinished business that is binding you to this plane of existence.”
“Right, but it’s like I said, booo! I think that unfinished business is us having sex.” Gary rose from the couch, and although he never actually quite floated, it looked like he was standing on his ghostly tippy-toes.
“Which isn’t possible, because you have no penis, so it is clearly a symptom of you avoiding your true purpose.” Melantha felt sad that there was no attraction between her and Gary. It wasn’t that he was a ghost — that would have been a huge turn-on in any other case. It was just that he was . . . well, Gary. “I mean, Gary, your parents still think you are alive. They bring groceries here, thinking you are my roommate, and I don’t have the heart to tell them you are dead.”
“Fuck’s sake! Don’t do that! Boo!”
“You need to give them peace. We already tried the pricey prostitute idea you had, and you know how that worked out.” It was a gross idea, and Melantha had only went along with it because she felt sorry about the Post Traumatic Death Disorder that he suffered from.
“I think, boo, that it would have gone better if you hadn’t told her that I was an invisible ghost, and that she could just keep the money if it turned out that she couldn’t see me. That woman was a very deep and caring person, and it would have worked out if you hadn’t biased her . . . uh . . . chakra against me. I mean, bit — er, boo! Look at the bulge in my ectoplasm! That’s all for you. Boo.”
“Well, we need to figure out something, because Salvador will soon turn me into a vampire, and I don’t know if the undead can interact with the dead. They certainly can’t watch Frasier together, because as a vampire my media preferences will change.”
“Yeah . . . right, a vampire. I’m sure that will work out. Boo.” Yet again, Gary’s spectral voice could easily be mistaken for having a tinge of sarcasm to it. “Listen, I’m going to go haunt the bar for a few hours and blow off some steam doing poltergeist stuff. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the leprechaun broke in again and stole twenty-dollars from you.”
“Again! Dammit, Gary! You were supposed to stop him. We spent six hours working together building leprechaun traps. We were supposed to have his gold by now!”
“Yeah. Boo. You keep believing in that stuff.” Gary turned away, and since he was a considerate ghost, he opened the door and closed it behind him instead of passing through and leaving a nasty stain that looked like grape jelly. Melantha heard him greet Mrs. Halls, although sadly Mrs. Halls would not hear him.