A kiss. A heavy unmoving kiss. Like my first : open mouthed and no movement. A kiss that flowed over me and washed me downstream.
I woke a little. I drew a breath. I held it. I threw up my arms. I pushed her away.
She didn’t want me. I wasn’t interested. I had other fun. Now all I could feel was soft down. Under a heavy weight. Then I couldn’t breathe.
But rather than the suffocating dark, I could see all of the basement. And smell its smell : antiseptic mixed with sweat. And her still over me, pushing the pillow flat over my face.
My car, her car now, washed and waxed last by me, was parked off to one side. Tools, another computer never to be assembled, motherboards, network and graphic cards, hard drives, memory cards and floppy disks were scattered across my bench against the front garage door. At the back, arranged in a circle, a new sofa-bed, a hairdresser’s chair, a table and the dentist chair. In the middle, on a raised table, cleaned and ready, sat the tattoo machine, ink wells ready for another day customer.
I hated the dentist drill whine it made. My ears, first, then my jaw, all hurting as if ready for another root canal. She made sure that each morning, her electric pen woke me up, clientele or not. Hence the industrial strength earplugs. Which is why I had heard nothing.
The sofa bed, extended and unmade, blanket over pillow. And me under it. Never to be woken. Unless…
“State your case!” The voice came from behind me. From the white light from where I had reemerged.
“Who are you?” I asked. Silence ruled the afterlife it seemed to me.
“Your testimony must proceed followed by our consideration and then any actions or sentence will be sanctioned or pronounced. This process will take some time”, belled the white light’s voice.
“I remember being told that in a previous life,” I snapped. “I just want to get on with this, get it over and done with. I want to make sure she pays for what she has done to me!”
“I want revenge,” I said, “Revenge for what she did to me.”
“And what would that be?” The sound enveloped me and the basement. Yet there was no echo.
I recalled my past. First the angry words, the hefty blows, the affair. The creation of an open marriage. Open until I was caught out! She said that if she can’t keep me where she wanted me then no one could! And this night I left her furious. I don’t know what provoked her. I turned around and her face was red. Her pupils were dots again. I stepped back quickly. I tried to stand beyond arm’s length. But I was too slow. And she did it again. She windmilled her fists at me. I tried to demonstrate but couldn’t.
I waited until she fell asleep. I left her in front of the TV. I walked quietly, no stomping when you’re angry remember, into the bedroom. I shut the door, got my nightclothes on, put away today’s clothes and prepared tomorrow’s.
Until she shoved me out.
Then I fled to the basement, hid under the camp blanket and my stolen pillow. And fell asleep. Until she woke me twice. And now this ghostly court.
“Isn’t this the next life?” I asked, “Isn’t this something you should already know?”
“Indeed that is true. But as Ghost Guardians we cannot let anyone back into the previous life unless they have a valid case!” There is no humour in the afterlife it seems.
“Isn’t revenge enough?” I replied.
“Under the appropriate mitigating circumstances,” was the reply.
“We are asking the questions here,” they intoned.
I nodded. Although I didn’t have a body to do so.
“Why are you asking me this? You should know. Now can we just get this over and finished with. Let me do what I need to do.” I was furious.
“Have you considered forgiveness?”
“Forgiving her?”, I expostulated.
“Are you, are you…After what she did to me!” I said.
“It would easier for all concerned,” they replied.
“You know this as well as I do. She has stated so that she would never forgive me nor accept my forgiveness.” I was turning out to be a better lawyer in the afterlife.
“Would that be appropriate and thus mitigating circumstances then?” I concluded.
“Indeed. You may proceed. But we must make you aware of the overarching and constant consequence of being granted revenge!”
“Which is?” I replied.
“That you forfeit your eternal soul to us until she relents!” Which was no different than in the previous world!
“Revenge once granted allows you freedom of action. You may haunt, appear as a vision, you may even speak to her, speak to others, appear or disappear at will, even rearrange or reanimate objects. All within the constraints we set. In the meantime, we ask that you show the proper respect for due process.” said the Ghost Guardians.
“And if she doesn’t relent?” I replied.
“Then she and you are both doomed for eternity!”
“She will never relent, she will never forgive,” I replied. “But you know her soul better than I ever did.”
“Perhaps if you spoke to her?”, the Ghost Guardians said gently. And their voices were like silken music.
I nodded again. Perhaps two souls for the price of one?
And now I’m lying on the bed under that pillow waiting for her to stop killing me so I can start gently haunting her back to another afterlife.