Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Ghost For Joe

A Ghost For Joe


He stood up. He didn't want to and he sighed the sigh of that type of man. To him it felt like a death march. Obviously it wasn't. But in the framework of his little life it felt that way. Tired and weary. Mental and physical. An everything tired.
He entered the entryway and confronted the source of his dread.
"Hello Mom. How are you?'

"Well. The doctor says my cholesterol is high. I have to take this new medication."
His mother dug in and around in the faux leather purse she always carried.
Finding the desired object, she thrust a folded paper at him.

"I'll take a look at it Mom."

"When?" She asked.

"After lunch. Is that okay?"

"I suppose." She stood looking at him.

He unfolded the paper and gave it a quick skimming.
His eyes stopped at the 357 mark.  He looked over his mother's red orange hair to his wife. She had sneaked in and was leaning against the dining room door frame.
"What?" she silently mouthed.

Putting his hand up, he held out three fingers, then five and a zero sign.

"Wow!" she continued silently.

"Oh Beth. There you are."

"Here I am. Hi Mom."

"Mom what did we talk about? About your diet? You can't keep eating like that." He kept his eyes on the paper.

"Those doctors don't know as much as they say they do. I don't think that number is right at all."

"Joe just wants you to be around a long time. He worries." Beth chimed in.

"What for? You two? Without a grandchild?"

Joe's chin fell to his chest. And there it is.

"How about lunch first?" Beth lead the woman to the dining room.

The table was set up casually but with pretty touches.
There were linen napkins, the crystal glassware and white roses in simple silver pots in the center.
It made the simple weekly lunch seem extra special.

The frittata done, Beth cleared the table. The savory scent of ham and cheese was slowly being replaced with the rich waves of coffee brewing in the kitchen.

"I'll send Nicky around this week to take care of the fence. " Joe was saying.

Beth placed a plate of cookies from the local bakery in between the two.
"So, Mom. Weren't you going to see your friend yesterday? Evelyn?"

Joe noticed a look exchanged from one to the other. It couldn't be good.

"Oh. Yes. Yes I did. Poor woman. Such a crazy thing to be happening. I wouldn't know what to do myself. Why, I would jump on a bus and leave town. I would. I wouldn't look back either. Nope." The old woman riffled through her bag again. Looking for some other treasure hidden deep at the bottom.

He took a breathe and dove in,
"What's the problem Mom? Pipes? Roof? If it's electrical, I can't do it, I'll have to call Mr. Antan..."

"A terrible ghost! That's what! It's just torturing her night and day!" She said. Her eyes wide.

"A ghost? Really? Are you sure it's not mice Mom?" He asked.

"First of all, we are old, not crazy, so save that tone mister. Secondly here. She gave me this picture. " She handed him the object found in the bag.
It was of an older kitchen. Probably from the sixties. But there were modern conveniences that could be seen. A microwave, a double sided fridge with a ice and water dispenser.  He knew it was recent. All the cupboard doors were open. Two of the four kitchen chairs were lying on their sides. It didn't exactly prove or show anything.

"Mom, what am I supposed to be looking at? Other than a weird mess. She could have gotten confused and done that herself."

"Stop being a wise ass. The shadow. There. In the corner. See? Right there?" Sh pointed a red nail at the edge of the picture.
He saw a faint shadow on the far left of the picture by a worn doorway. Very faint. And he had to squint to see it. It could have been the shadow of the picture taker. It may have been anything.
Beth returned with coffee, glanced at the picture and gave a small smile. She was already aware of the situation.

"Alright. There's a shadow. It must be very unsettling for her." He said.

"Well of course it's unsettling for her! You have to go and check it out for her! Take Nicky. He likes that sort of thing." His mother answered.

"I'm sorry. What are you talking about? I'm not going to check out any such thing." He said.

"You most certainly will. I've already promised her you'd be by this week. I never go back on my word." She said as if that was the final word on the topic.

"You should go hon." Beth smiled again. He glared at her. At both of them.

"No. I own a book store. I don't chase peoples, whatever that is! No. No! I will not be doing anything like that. Nope." He said as if that was the final word on the topic.

To Be Continued...

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