I wondered. Sure didn't look like home. Not that I had any recollection of what
home was supposed to look like.
I lifted up the knocker with all my might and banged it against the door, smashing
my knuckles in the process. I began to lift it up again, when a deep voice saved
me from more masochistic pain.
"YOU RANG," it bellowed inside.
Then the door opened, creaking ever so slowly.
"Great," I thought. "A haunted house. Like I haven't seen enough spooks lately!"
"COME IN..." the voice commanded, and I found myself doing as I was told. Or at
least I thought I had stepped inside, but when I turned around, my body was standing
there looking dumb and confused (no big change, really).
I tried to retrieve myself, but the voice thundered me to a halt.
"PLEASE LEAVE YOUR BODY AT THE DOOR."
I watched as I, or actually, my body, walked over to the side of the house and
sat down by the wall, where quite a number of other bodies sat waiting patiently.
I stepped inside and gazed at the other bodiless guests.
"Johnny, Johnny," a matronly ghost exclaimed from the top of a flight of stairs,
and she floated down toward me. "Come on in, we've been waiting for you, honey."
She snagged two glasses from the tray of a ghostly waiter, who was going upstairs.
One glass had a red bubbly liquid in it. The other had milk. She gulped the milk
down and put the glass back down on the tray. I looked on the floor and saw the
white puddle beneath her.
I smiled as she put her non-hand through my non-hair, and I put the red bubbly
glass she handed me down on a table by the wall.
"Aren't you going to give your Ma a kiss?" she giggled.
"Ma...?" I stammered, about as sure that she wasn't my mother as I was about anything
"Honey, I thought you'd never get here," she bubbled, squeezing my non-cheeks.
"Come on, your cousins have been dying to see you..."
She grabbed my ghostly hand and pulled me through a wall and some chairs and a
table and another wall, and then we were in a room with children dancing in a
circle singing, "Ring around the Rosy..." and when they got to "All fall down,"
they crumbled into ashes and slipped through the cracks in the floor into the
"Children, your cousin Johnny's here," Ma called, putting her non-mouth to the
She floated over and put her arm around me. "Oh, Johnny, be a doll and tell them
we're almost ready to serve dinner. Thanks a lot, honey" she beamed, and then
disappeared through a wall.
I looked around the room at the trophies and the pictures and waited for something
to click in my head. Some warm feeling of nostalgia, maybe. But nothing looked
familiar. I was sure I had never been there before. But, then again...
"Uncle Johnny..." a little girl ghost whispered as she floated in a wisp of smoke
through the floor, reached out, and pulled me down.
I felt like I was tied to the back of a speeding car (and, as you already know,
I knew exactly what that felt like) as each child held another's hand like a giant
chain, and we sailed through the walls and floors and ceilings, furniture and
other ghosts. Every time I saw a wall coming I closed my eyes thinking I was going
to crash. But I just went through it, and yet every time I cringed. It was going
to take some time to get used to being a ghost, I decided.
"It's tiiimmmmmmmeee foooooorrrrrrr dinnnnnnnerrrrr...." I moaned as they dragged
me through the house.
"FOOD!" their voices chimed. "Yay!" Then suddenly we were in the dining room.
The kids dropped me at the children's table and I plopped down into one of the
If I had had a body, I would have been too big for the tiny chair, but as I didn't,
it didn't really matter.
It may have been the children's table I was seated at, but it was big. I could
not see the end in either direction. The adults' table next to us also stretched
out forever in both directions. It suddenly occurred to me that everyone who had
ever been, or ever would be, must be sitting here.
We ate one course and then the next and the next and the next, and though the
plates never had anything on them that I could see, it all tasted delicious. I
wasn't exactly sure what it tasted like, but "Life" was the only thing that came
I listened to the tinkling glasses and the voices and the laughter and I felt
so far away, like I was hearing it all from a dream. And for the first time I
felt like I was home, or at least that I was remembering home in some hazy dream.
Then, suddenly, Ma was crying, and everyone was staring at me.
"Oh, Johnny," she cried as she wiped invisible crumbs from my non-existent beard.
"It's such a shame that you have to leave so soon."
Was I leaving? I was just beginning to get used to the place.
"Honey, don't forget your bag," the motherly ghost sniffled, and she handed me
an oversized suitcase, just before the kids opened the door and tossed me out.
I crashed into my body, which had gotten up to greet me, and rolled down the steps
and out of the gate. My suitcase bounced up and hit me on the head with a thud.
Behind me the gate slammed closed. Another gate slid across, and another one crashed
down. I heard the crunch of more gates sliding into place, and the clink of locks
clicking closed. By the time I knew what had happened there were so many bars
I couldn't even see the house at all through them.
I decided to see if the gate was locked, anyway. It was electrified, and I jumped
back from the shock.
Just then a cab pulled up and the back door swung open.
"Uh, hi," I shrugged, and tossed my suitcase on the back seat a split second before
I realized it was the driverless cab that had brought me there in the first place.
Before I could retrieve my bag, the door closed, and the taxi sped away without
Chapter 18- MP3 song demo by Lyndon DeRobertis)