Do I really have to do this?

Do I really have to do this? - Photo by from Pexels
Photo by from Pexels

As a bit of a supplement to my upcoming book, Ghosts are Assholes, here is a vignette into Vincent’s life that I hope you enjoy. It is entitled Do I really have to do this?

“This place is really nice,” Vincent told the apparition as he waited for the elevator. Based on the way Edward Freeman had described it he had expected the place to be decrepit. Instead, he found himself in a beautiful ten-story glass building. It even had a pianist in the lobby which is the most definite sign of a classy establishment.

“A gilded cage,” Edward snarled floating above Vincent’s shoulder.

“You made the place sound like a dump.”

“I admit I may have exaggerated the level of decay. Call it artistic license, symbolic of the torment I experienced within these walls.”

Vincent then became aware of the stares of passersby. His cheeks couldn’t help but burn red. He knew they were unaware he was a medium in the middle of a conversation with a ghost only he could see. A hasty and stuttering effort was made on his part to explain while obscuring the details that would have had him committed. It only made their perception of him worse. The elevator reaching the bottom floor saved him further embarrassment, much to his relief. As he entered, Unchained Melody emanated from the piano. Hearing that melodic tune swiftly shifted his dour disposition to one of almost joy.

“I will wait for you on the top floor,” Edward said as the doors closed. “These contraptions take an insufferable amount of time.”

Vincent nodded and shrugged as the spirit floated through the ceiling. Edward was the type to perpetually complain. On the short trip alone, he was criticized for his driving before again being disparaged for his supposed lack of grace and refinement, and almost contradictorily, decried for moving too slowly to solve his predicament while at the same time being reckless. Those were but a sample of what he had experienced his previous six hours with the apparition. Nothing was ever good enough for the dead man.

The bell rang and the elevator doors opened. Edward spoke to him immediately upon arrival. His voice made Vincent yearn for the music that serenaded him on his lonely ascension.

“As I said an insufferable amount of time, when will they do something about the speed of those elevators?”

“It was a couple of minutes at most,” Vincent muttered.

“Do you have the script ready to go?” Edward asked ignoring the medium.

“Oh, you mean this?” Vincent retrieved a slip of paper from his coat pocket.

“I would have preferred to be your Cyrano de Bergerac,” Edward said with a deep sigh. “If only the words flowed more naturally from you during our rehearsal. It will have to do, regardless.” His brow furrowed. “Just be sure to read exactly what it says. Improvisation is unnecessary.”

“Fine,” Vincent grumbled as he lumbered down the hall to his right. Their destination was the office door whose imprinting read, “Ollie Castor, Agent”. When they arrived, the medium heaved a deep sigh before he looked over his shoulder and asked, “Do I really have to do this?”

“You must fulfill my last request,” Edward declared sternly. “It is your duty, yes? And did Eugene Ionesco not say, ‘The superior man is the man who fulfills his duty.’”

“I’ll have to take your word for it,” Vincent said. He exhaled one last sigh. With a firm shake of his head, he braced himself and boldly opened the door.

He froze upon entry. The office was adorned with pictures of the late Eddie Freeman in black picture frames. A woman sitting at a mahogany desk to his left was holding a pink handkerchief in her hands as tears flowed down her cheeks. They seemingly were taking the death pretty hard, especially for people who supposedly didn’t care for the deceased.

“Are you okay?” Vincent asked as he approached her.

“Huh?” The blonde asked in a shrill. She wiped her eyes with her handkerchief before looking directly into Vincent’s eyes. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean… Anyway, are you Mr. Pietro?”

He nodded with a soft smile. “Please call me Vincent.”

She forced a grin. “Good to meet you, Vincent. She pointed with her petite hand to the door behind her. “Mr. Castor is expecting you. Please, go ahead.” The man before her nodded and sighed before he turned the door to the man’s office and entered.

He was greeted by a tall suited man standing behind an ornate and impressive modern metallic desk. His face had deep lines that indicated melancholy that belied the forced yet warm smile on his lips. Had he known that a specter was standing next to him, chastising him by using movie quotes, his salutation might not have been so cordial.

“Mr. Pietro!” he exclaimed. He leaned across his desk to shake Vincent’s hand, “I’ve been expecting you. Please have a seat.” He gestured to a plush black chair in front of his desk. Vincent was like a rock when he plopped his derriere onto the comfortable cushioned seat.

After introducing himself, not that he needed one, as Olive Castor but please call him Ollie, he continued. “As you can see we’re having a tough time right now.” He paused to emit a reflective sigh. “It’s still so surreal to us. How can it not be? Just Friday he was here telling me and Maureen how he was going sailing for the weekend, alone, as was his practice.” The man shook his head. “I could never convince him to bring a partner.”

Ollie let out another heavy sigh. He then forced a half-smile. “But as tough as it is for us, it must even be worse for you. How long did you say you knew Eddie?”

“Edward,” the ghost corrected, still seemingly unaware that the only one who could hear him was Vincent.

“We grew up together,” Vincent answered Ollie.

The man nodded. “Ah, that’s right. Lifelong pals. How terrible. I must thank you for coming in during your time of grief. Normally, I wouldn’t have asked you to do such a thing, considering, well, you know.”

Ollie then leaned forward on the desk. “It’s just, well, when you told me over the phone he wanted you to tell me something in case of his untimely demise, I just had to hear it. Especially since you told me it could only be done in person. I’m surprised he even had the foresight to think of such of thing. So please, tell me. I must know. I’m dying to hear it.”

Vincent hesitated. He looked into the expectant man’s eyes hoping he could find a solution within them. Instead, he found only despair. Deciding there was nothing else he could do or at least think of in such a short time window, he reached into his pocket with the speed of a moving glacier. From it, he retrieved a folded piece of paper. After unfolding it, he gripped it with both hands in front of him. He was to read it as if it were a royal decree per Edward’s instructions.

“Ollie,” he recited, “You are the biggest rube I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. If it weren’t due to pure avarice, I would have dissolved our relationship eons ago. You doomed me to a career in popcorn films though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering that you are barely literate. At least the sting of death is lessened knowing that I will never have to see yours or Rachel’s ugly visages ever again.”

Vincent looked up from his sheet only to see Ollie’s stunned, pained expression. In contrast, Edward, still hovering above his former employer’s shoulder, was smiling smugly. His arms were crossed and his head was held up high as if triumphant.

Hastily cramming the paper back into his coat, Vincent stuttered, “I am so, so sorry.”

“Is this some sort of sick joke?” Ollie snarled.

Vincent shook his head and offered his palms. “I assure you, he really did want me to tell you this!”

“Goddamn teenagers and their pranks!” Ollie shouted. He pointed toward the door. “Get out! Now!”

Sheepishly, Vincent did as he demanded. He did not even look at the poor dumbfounded Rachel as he swiftly marched out the door. Edward smirked as he followed the young man into the hallway.

“That expression he had on their faces,” the ghost cooed, “Simply marvelous! Perhaps the afterlife will indeed be a blissful one after all.” He was giddy as he faded from the world.

“Geeze, what an asshole,” Vincent said as he waited for the elevator.

If you enjoyed this story, then perhaps you’d be interested in reading more by pressing the “short story” tag below or clicking this(short story) link or this(genre and tags) link or this(story list) link. I would also urge you to share this story with others and comment below. Please check out my books page as well by pressing here. Thank you for reading my story.


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