He plays the trumpet brilliantly on the corner of Grand and Victoria. He doesn’t look like he’s from this era. He’s impeccably dressed, from his crisply fitting suit to his smooth fedora hat. There aren’t many folks that can pull that off. He’s cooler than the freezer aisle on a sweltering summer day. He performs the type of yearning melodies that give you the goosebumps. I’ve never seen anyone put any money into his basket.
Everyone has played watching games. I’d taken it a step further. I played dead games. I visited cemeteries and I gave five of the dead my thoughts on their life.
I don’t know when my game changed. I wasn’t making up the stories anymore. I’m not exactly sure when the visions changed from imagination.
…They had no input from me.
A Learned Introduction
Spirits can’t lie. Still, as it goes in both life and the afterlife, honesty does not mean accuracy. That’s the trouble with telling the truth. In the living world, a great deal of truth telling is dedicated to giving air to erroneous beliefs, mindlessly echoing hidden agendas and giving credence to hallucinations in general. The same holds true at the Otherside. For instance, if you tell a Spirit that the Earth is flat, she might believe otherwise and will tell you so. In this regard, a Spirit is even more stubborn than a mortal when it comes to shedding ignorance. The dumb shit they believe in stays believed in, no matter how much compelling evidence you may present to the contrary.
Versatur Circa Quid!
Once again my four generations removed granddaughter, Miss Leila Allison, has thoughtfully left open a file for me to brilliantly emend. Before I get to today’s subject, however, I believe that I should once again introduce myself to the readership due to what I observe to be a great diminishment in the overall intelligence of the modern day public. It is I, the splendiferous Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender. I died in 1912, but shortly thereafter I returned as a Quillemender Spirit. I am housed in a ceremonial gold gilt gavel presented to me upon my retirement from the bench. I’m allowed to travel ten paces from the gavel, which is plenty close enough to where my ancestor (and current holder of my heirloom gavel), Leila, keeps her Chromebook. Succinctly, we Quillemenders alter text written by the living. In a way my noble kind are the precursor of that mindless autocorrect function that gets so many of you in trouble.
Part One: A murderer I cared for
There was a young boy once who has read a lot – not for any romantic reason, other than his father being unavailable, and his mother being overly available. He spent most of his Saturdays in Chapter Zero (local second-hand bookstore and library) – not for any romantic reason, other than his father being unavailable. He would have spent most of his Sundays there too, but he stayed home instead – not for any romantic reason, other than his mother being overly available.
Still half asleep, I look to see if I need to fill the bird feeders before going to work and am shocked at the sight of a huge hot air balloon in the backyard. I get dressed, hurry outside and find a man, woman, boy, and girl in the basket.
“Yesterday, upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh how I wish he’d go away!”
–William Hughes Mearns, “Antigonish”
Last night I dreamt of the happy-clappy pixie-land extolled by the counterculture of yore. That hippie Eden where daisies shot from rifles because everyone there was so high on lysergic acid that they no longer experienced reality. It was a place populated by paisley-eyed toad kissers who honestly believed that they were the first generation of paisley-eyed toad kissers who knew that the world sucked and that they alone could kiss toads into The Gurus of Change. Viva Revolucion! Alas, psychedelic drugs and fairy tale-belief systems are the stuff of idealistic chimeras. It all eventually wears off and leaves you cold and cynical. By and by you come to the hideous conclusions that the Good Guys never stay good after they win the Revolution, and that every toad you kiss has a way of changing into Richard Nixon.
But First Another Erudite Introduction by That Noted Supernaturalist Miss Stoker-Belle
Ha! I’ve at last wrested control of the bold font header from Ms. Allison. In the past she has used the header as a platform to throw shade my way, which I’ve been forced to refute in the first hundred words or so in previous displays of my genius. In yet another stroke of brilliance on my part, I recently introduced both the disinfecting and misremembering properties of anise del toro to Ms. Allison. She’s been gazing out her office window for a number of hours now. The Great Authoress is temporarily beyond the grasp of reality, and incapable of doing more than creating mist on the small mirror I occasionally place under her nose, let alone able to sling further shade on the intricacies of my personality. Rest assured, she’s fine. “Comfortably numb,” as the song goes. Really. Thus I have never been better.
The slippery slipper slipped from my hands. The glass leaving its bloody traces; a path of dark red leading to absolutely nowhere. Straight into silent nothingness. How fitting! My vision blurred, my skin scarred and my life shattered into tiny pieces. Every time I tried to pick them up, to put them back together, they cut me again and I could hear the devil’s familiar laugh paralyzing my everything. My life rejecting me. Still, I was weirdly proud that I did this all to myself. All by myself. I didn’t need a Prince Charming to do the shattering. I was perfectly capable of ruining my own life.