|Painting: Van Stein|
“I’ve already told you more than you can digest," I say to the apparition. "Tell me more about your existence?”
The apparition shrugs. “All that matters is I cannot write anymore. Isn’t that ironic? I send myself off because I lose hope about writing again, and here I am, yearning to write a story. I can only write what I’ve l-lived, and I’m no l-longer l-living.”
“So write a story about being dead.”
The apparition reaches out to my Hemingway pen, which rests upon my leather notebook. His fingers cannot grip the writing instrument; they pass through it. “You need physical tools to write.”
“But you’re talking to me. You can tell me a story and I can write it for you.”
The apparition shakes its head sadly. “In Glamour House, I see people come and go, overhear traumas and tiffs, plots, trysts, moments of love, lust and happiness, and I can only lament how progress never changes human nature. The wars you mention, so-called leadership? Can’t change it, had my day, l-lived well, and hard, different places, and I wrote, l-left record.”
“Would you change anything if you had the chance to live your life over again?”
The apparition nods. “Not spook so easy.” It raises both arms, hands cupped into fists. “You have to grab bully by horns.”
“Bully. Whoever bully is. You look bully straight in eye, stare him down. If that doesn’t work, rip horns from bully’s head, hang them over fireplace.”
“Would you have…?”
The apparition raises an open palm to stop me finishing. “Would have stuck around l-longer. Time is the l-least thing we have.”
“But you sounded so sure about, uh, ending your life.”
“Not my right mind. Needed booze to overcome shyness, and my stammer—you noticed? Got carried away, drinking martinis at noon, after writing. Eleven a.m. in Cuba, I’d say, 'Well, noon in Key West.' The apparition sits back, crosses one leg over the other. “L-Life, all we got.” It studies its transparent hands. “This not l-living. Bases were l-loaded against me. But dying? Worthless.” It hunches forward, eyes directly into mine. “Want some advice?”
“L-Live each day l-like it’s your l-last. Call everything the way you see it, to hell with everyone.” It sits back. “I’m going now. Someone wants to talk to you.”
“What? Who?” I watch quizzically as the translucent apparition remains seated; its smoky molecular structure is only slightly altered.
White hair brushed forward and gray beard remain the same; shorts transform into black trousers and other clothing darkens until black.
There, sitting in the burgundy leather chair, is my father...