I’m back! << oh most ridiculous of introductions. Regardless, those long projects I mentioned still aren’t done, but I took some advice from David Gerrold and Ray Bradbury and am attempting to write one short story a week for a year. As Ray Bradbury is reported to have said, “You can’t write fifty-two bad short stories.” Let’s all hope I don’t prove the good man wrong.
And now, my ghost story. Hopefully not my last…I could do some morbid pieces too….hahummm.
My funeral was pretty boring, as funerals go. A few people cried, of course, but that was probably just convention; I hadn’t been a stellar friend or daughter or scholar or anything. I watched from the balcony while the preacher said his words. Stale, nice sounding words, but he hadn’t known me. I was just another face in the congregation. I think I spoke to him, what, three times in my life?
I watched with a sort of morbid curiosity when they took my coffin away. But I suppose any feeling of mine would have to be morbid, seeing as I was a ghost now. I liked it though. Being a ghost. It was wonderfully freeing. See, you don’t have to worry about eating or breathing or getting in scrapes when you’re a ghost. I did miss eating though. Food just tasted so nice, and you don’t have any senses like that after you’re dead. Because you don’t have a body.
But I was glad I didn’t have to look at mine anymore. Too fat, with too many spots, and too much frizzy hair. I was pleased to be rid of it. The old man ghost in the wings had told me he’d been pleased to get rid of his too, because he’d had no legs. When you’re a ghost, you can move about as you like. Not like in stories though. You can’t just vanish and reappear or travel super fast. You don’t have legs, but you move at about the same speed as normal people, and you have to travel distance like normal too. I was vaguely disappointed when I found that out.
My funeral was marching along well enough, but it had no pizzazz. Nothing spectacular or entertaining about it, and I was getting really bored and fed up at this point.
“Oy, old man.” I whizzed over to where he was sitting watching dreamily. “Wanna have some fun?”
“Fun? What do you mean? Shouldn’t you be watching your funeral?”
“Nah. It’s boring, and anyway I’ve seen coffins go in the ground. Nothing special. But here, I had a thought. Let’s go to the potluck and mess things up a bit. Throw some plates and spoons and things. Scare these old fogies right out of their wits.”
The old man twinkled disapprovingly, but I could sense the reluctant desire too.
“Well, that wouldn’t be very nice…”
“Who cares? We’re dead. They won’t know it was us anyway.”
He nodded after a moment. “I admit I haven’t done anything fun in the last few years. It might be a much needed break from monotony.”
I jumped up. “Come on. Let’s head to the community hall. All the dishes should be laid out; the burying stuff won’t last much longer.”
We dashed away, down the stairs and behind the auditorium to the kitchens, where several church women were gossiping and getting food ready. I didn’t hear them talking about me, which I thought was rude, and so, when their backs were turned, switched all the blenders on to high speed, sending their contents flinging around wildly.
Old man and I laughed silly, watching the old birds squawk and flap about, waving aprons and getting dough and vegetables in their faces and coiffed hair.
We left them to it, zooming into the hall where white plastic tables had been set up end to end, filling the length of the room. Those plastic chairs, the ones that fold out and always, always bend in the middle, were arranged around it. No food as yet was laid out, but it wouldn’t be long. Once the birds in the kitchen got the blenders under control, they would soon be getting all the casseroles and veggie trays and roasts and crockpots ready to go.
Old man and I waited, whispering in a corner while the first people trickled in through the doors. Old man had long since abandoned his disapproval, and was scheming like a master. We watched as families conquered whole sides of tables, and the stragglers filled in between. It was pretty packed, since the room was small and everyone loved a good potluck. Funerals are for food.
We waited until the prayer had been said, and the kitchen ladies, scrubbed and annoyed, with makeup smeared, began to dish out rolls and utensils to the awaiting throng. Chatter was loud and happy, and it definitely felt more like a party. I was annoyed at this too, and waited at one end of the table nearest for my chance. I was hovering by a kid, probably about eight, who must have had no idea who the corpse was, recently laid to rest, and was eating his meatballs with enthusiasm. Once most of the guests had sat down again and were busy eating, I surreptitiously nicked a roll and tossed it down the table, hard. It smacked the preacher’s grown son on the side of the head. Everyone on the table froze, looking around. Several kids were seated at my end, and all eyes swiveled accusingly down at them. Of course, none of them ‘fessed up, and the preacher’s son, what’s his name, just laughed and everyone went back to eating.
Old man and I sniggered plenty at that, and took our places. He went to the opposite end of the table next to mine, where some real old men and their real old wives were sitting, yelling at each other’s earpieces and gumming the food.
I moved to the other end of my table, where the preacher sat with his family, making grand speeches and sounding very pious. I liked him, in spite of all that, but I thought it would be super funny to send some stuff from his end, so I did. I grabbed a spoonful of sweet potato right off his fork, when everyone was watching his grandboy, and slapped it right on the table, next to some ladies napkin. She jumped at the splat, and the preacher, thinking he’d flung it himself, said he was every so sorry. Meanwhile, Old man was having a right laugh. He’d chunked a bit of bread right in the nose of an old man with big glasses, then whizzed to the other side and lobbed a meatball at the lady sitting across from him. Her hat bobbed in astonishment, and soon that whole side was yelling and arguing, and Old man was plopping bits down left and right.
I continued on my campaign, dropping bits here, flinging globs there. One landed smack on top of the baby’s head. He shrieked and clawed at the dripping brown stuff, but stuck it in his mouth all the same. The women were getting nervy, and the men were looking uncomfortable. They couldn’t seem to keep their forks and knives on the table, and I was laughing till my nonexistent sides hurt as I slid them repeatedly to the floor. I knocked over three glasses, creating a real mess, and upended a dish of deviled eggs in the following noise. Kids were screaming, babies were crying, women were tittering all over.
Old man and I hooted and flew through the ruckus, knocking over chairs when people tried to sit, sliding plates into their neighbors’s spots, pushing napkins into dishes, and generally making a right muddle of things.
I was pleased as punch; having everyone hopping around made me laugh til I cried out big shiny ghost tears. But it was enough. I knew if we kept up much more we’d spook them for real, and they’d run.
So Old man and I sat back then, and watched as the fuss gradually died down. Preacher’s family looked on the verge of tears; I guess they felt responsible somehow. Anyway, it got back down to normal pretty quickly, and slowly the chatter escalated again.
Old man was still laughing. “I declare, I haven’t had that much fun in years. Why, I knew that man with the glasses when he was a kid. Lands! That was a sight. Did you see his woman’s face? Like a prune.”
He hooted and hollered, and I chuckled along with him.
“It was good.” I admitted modestly. “Certainly will be a funeral to remember.”