What? Do I believe in ghosts? Of course I do. I’ve seen them. Cozied right up beside them on the park benches of Joe Soldier Trailer Park, in the moldy seats of The Odeon, the busted stools of the Clatchy. We talk. We mostly reminisce, but sometimes we talk about the uselessness of mourning their dead selves. They don’t agitate me because they are the people I have known. Sometimes they are fussy, and some of them are damn fools because that’s what they always were. But they’re not awful. Mostly, they are the same. Except they’re not. They’re dead and they’re ghosts.
I see that smirk, boy. You think I’m the damn fool, or I’m pulling a fast one. Or maybe I’m just a senile old jackass who appreciates living company. No sir. And it don’t matter what you think. You were the one come looking for me. You heard those whispers in the gas stations and restaurant booths in proper towns, in living towns. Stories about an old man who still walks this dead place. You’ll write up your piece for your Sunday supplement, and your friends will buy you steaks and liquor, and you’ll have a good laugh at this old fool’s expense. But let me tell you, sonny, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night when I’m done with you, and you’ll wonder. You’ll think about ghosts. You’ll think about me. You won’t be so sure. Because that young smirk of yours will disappear as you get older. You’ll think about the peeling spaces between day and night. You’ll think about ghosts and you’ll see that I was right. And when you’re old enough, you’ll want to join them. You’ll want to clench hands and jump right in. You still have miles of years ahead of you, but I don’t. I measure my days in inches. That’s okay. That’s the blessing of talking to ghosts. You get familiar with them. Comfortable, even.
You can see me now. I’m right here, full of years, full of blood and talk. You can put your hand on my shoulder and you can feel the bones under my shirt. I’m real. I’m not a ghost. I could do the same with you, and we’d be alright, because we’d both know we were still here, clothed in life and light.
But what if that’s a trick? The endless secret? What if we’re the ghosts and everything we see and feel isn’t real to anyone but us? What if no one else can see us? Or hear us? Or touch us?
What if, boy?
Good. That smirk is gone. About time. I was befooling you. Of course we’re real. We’re still solid clay. But you think upon that. Think about it whenever you get to feeling you know everything, and everything you know is real. Because it ain’t always. No sir. It ain’t always.
The Town of Handsome crept into my head recently and I haven’t been able to let it go. So I think it’s time to revisit. It’s never really left my imagination….
Ordinary Handsome available here