Myrtle

Well, look who decided to show up.

No, no — it’s all right. Mister big shot manifestation, come and go as you please. Don’t let me upset your schedule! Me and my bursitis. We got all the time in the world.

Oh, you got the fireplace going! Good, my circulation ain’t what it used to be. Little enthusiastic with the sparks, I see. Just pat that right out. Never wear synthetics on the job, I say.

Now you’re sending something down the chimney. Not the order I would have chosen, but all right.

A-a-and it’s a foot.

Come on. Let’s have the other.

At least this one’s got a shoe. Wingtip. J.C. Penney. Early 1960s. Fits the research.

Ah, and there’s the legs. Praise Jesus for pants.

Go on. Do your dance. You think a little half-embodied ambulation is gonna rattle my cage, you got disappointment coming.

Now don’t get all steamed. You’re gonna rock the plaster off the walls and only have yourself to blame. They’ll have a hard enough time paying the lien as it is.

Or didn’t you think about that?

And here comes the blood! Pass the smellin’ salts — haven’t seen that in nearly a week. Maybe that moves piss out of college kids, but when you’re right with God and the north side of eighty a little red on the walls fails to impress. I’m well to terms with the fragility of the human corpus. Do you know what a pessary is?

No?

So — Mister Wilcox, yes? Before you start chucking furniture you might ask yourself a few things.

Is this really what you want from your afterlife?

I know you’re angry. If I’d met a bad end at forty-three I’d be angry, too.

But so what! How long are you gonna keep beating that horse? Just think — you’d be well past my age now, and I’m a sight closer to eternal rest than you are.

Every other human on the planet, that’s who. If you think you’re too good for eternal rest, that’s just ego.

Not to mention you need to think about someone besides yourself. You’re still a part of this community. If you’re gonna keep clinging you need to start acting like it.

Don’t you think the Burnetts miss their cat?

Well, you knew it wasn’t your cat.

So here’s what we can do. Either you show me where your bones are, or I come back tomorrow night and ask again.

And the night after that.

And the night after that.

Doctor says I got years yet.

That’s more like.

Hold on! Don’t go so fast. Tsk. My poor feet. And the rug’s seen better days, that’s for sure.

Is there a light? I’m not an owl.

Fair enough. I’ve got my flashlight.

Thought we might run into a lock or two. You got the mojo to blow this off the hinges?

I understand. That’s not uncommon. Means you brought me to the right place, really. Most spirits lose gusto the closer they get to… you know.

Lord knows I know what that’s like.

Let me just get down here. Ay! My joints… I call it makin’ popcorn. Loud enough to wake the dead, eh?

God steady these hands. Eh.

Bah! Almost had it. Eh. Eh.

There we go! Come on. No time like the present.

Eh. Stairs. Eh. What a beast.

Still with me? Ay? Mr. Wilcox?

I was afraid of that. Here. Let me pour a little sand for you.

Just blow it where you mean me to go.

All right. Rats, don’t bother me and I won’t bother you. Ain’t you picked it clean already?

Welp, there’s the other shoe.

Don’t you feel better already, Mr. Wilcox?

Mr. Wilcox?

I never do get repeat business.

Tory

Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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