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. From the way Edward Freeman had described it, he expected the place to be decrepit. Instead, he found himself in a beautiful ten-story glass building with a pianist in the lobby, the defining 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 felt the judging eyes of passerbys because from their perspective he was having a conversation with himself. His stuttering attempts to explain while avoiding the truth only made things worse. When the bell rang and the doors of the elevator opened, it was a godsend that saved him further embarrassment. Unchained Melody emanated from the piano as he entered.
“I will wait for you at the top floor,” Edward said as the doors began to close, “These contraptions take an insufferable amount of time.” Vincent shrugged as the spirit floated through the ceiling.
The two had not known each other for long but that did not spare him from Edward’s constant barrage of complaints. There was always something he was not satisfied with whether it be Vincent’s driving or his supposed lack of grace and refinement. Nothing ever seemed good enough for the dead man.
The bell rang and the elevator doors opened. He was not even a foot out the door when Edward pounced with another one of his many objections. For a moment, Vincent considered turning around.
“As I said, an insufferable amount of time. When will they do something about those elevators?”
“It was a couple of minutes at most,” Vincent muttered.
“Do you have the script ready to go?”
“You mean this?” Vincent grabbed a slip of paper from his coat pocket.
“I would have preferred to be your Cyrano de Bergerac.” Edward sighed. “If only the words flowed more naturally from you during rehearsal. It will have to do. Read exactly what it says. Improvisation is unnecessary.”
“Fine!” Vincent growled as he walked down the hall. As he put his hand on the door whose imprinting read, “Ollie Castor, Agent”, he looked over his shoulder and stared pleadingly at the apparition before asking, “Do I really have to do this?”
“You must fulfill my last request. Isn’t it against your duty to do otherwise? ‘The superior man is the man who fulfills his duty.’ Eugene Ionesco.”
Vincent shook his head and opened the door to an office adorned with pictures of the late Eddie Freeman in black picture frames. A woman sat at the desk to his left and held a pink handkerchief in her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks. Eddie ignored the various memorials and floated expeditiously to the room behind the crying woman.
“Are you okay?” Vincent asked as he approached her.
“Huh?” The blonde, shrill-voiced woman looked up from her mahogany desk. “I’m sorry. Are you Mr. Pietro?”
“Please call me Vincent.”
“Mr. Castor is expecting you, Vincent. Go ahead.” She pointed with a petite hand to the door behind her. Vincent dutifully complied.
A tall man in an Armani suit smiled and stood as Vincent entered. The young man’s eyes tried to maintain eye contact with the friendly stranger but his focus unintentionally shifted toward the specter standing to the man’s right who was in the middle of disparaging the well-dressed agent through the judicious use of movie quotes.
“Mr. Pietro!” the tall man exclaimed as he shook Vincent’s hand, “The name is Ollie. I’ve been expecting you. Please have a seat.” He gestured to a black chair in front of his desk.
“As you can see we’re having a tough time right now,” Ollie continued as Vincent sat in front of him, “I can’t believe he’s gone. I mean, it’s so surreal. When I talked to him on Friday I had no idea that would be the last time ever. The things I would have done, the things I would have said. I would have told him to bring a partner though I’m not sure that would have helped. He loved single-handed sailing so much I could never convince him to bring anyone along.”
He let out a heavy sigh. “Normally we wouldn’t see visitors or anything at, you know, such a terrible time but we’d do anything for a close personal friend of Eddie’s.”
“Edward,” the ghost corrected, seemingly unaware that the only one that could hear him was Vincent.
“I knew him through my mother,” Vincent replied.
“Ah, yes, you told me over the phone that the two grew up together and remained close friends. I wish he had told me about her. The way you described her makes me think your mother seems like a wonderful person. Anyway, I’m dying to know what he wanted you to tell me in case of his untimely demise. I’m surprised he even had the foresight to think of such a thing. So please, tell me.”
Vincent sighed and pulled the piece of paper from his pocket. “Ollie,” he read, “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 of 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. A stunned, pained expression was plastered across Ollie’s face. In contrast, Edward smiled smugly.
Hastily cramming the paper back into his coat, Vincent stuttered, “I am so, so sorry.”
“Is this some sort of sick joke?” Ollie snarled.
“I assure you, he really did want me to tell you this!”
“Goddamn teenagers and their pranks!” Ollie shouted. He pointed towards the door. “Get out! Now!”
Sheepishly, Vincent did as he demanded. He did not even look at the dumbfounded Rachel as he swiftly marched out the door. Edward smirked as he followed Vincent to the hallway.
“That expression he had on their faces,” the ghost cooed, “Simply marvelous! I am simply a genius! What a well thought out plan I devised to exact my revenge!” Edward was giddy as he faded from the world.
“Geeze, what an asshole,” Vincent said as he waited for the elevator.
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