As a bit of a supplement to my upcoming book, Ghosts are Assholes, here is another vignette into Vincent’s life that I hope you enjoy. It is entitled What I Learned In School Today.
“What’s the answer to number 2?” asked the young boy asked to the dowdy ghost floating over his left shoulder. His voice was barely loud enough for the ghost to hear him but just quiet enough to not attract the attention of his fourth grade teacher sitting at the front of the classroom behind her desk.
“Vincent!” the apparition admonished, “Are you asking me to cheat?”
“Uh huh!” the boy replied eagerly.
“Why didn’t you study?”
“Wanted to watch the Mariners game.”
“You couldn’t have studied before the game?”
“You’ve known about this test for a week. You couldn’t have studied earlier?”
“I had to watch a lot of ballgames.”
“You have to study for your tests.”
“You sound like my mom.”
“She sounds like a very caring and intelligent woman.”
“Whatever. Are you gonna help me or not? Mom’s gonna kill me if I fail another test.”
“I’m sorry, Vincent, I won’t help you cheat.”
The boy let out a heavy sigh. “Well, I was hopin’ it wouldn’t come to this. I’m the only one who can see you, right?”
“So I’m the only one who can help you, right?”
“You kinda need me.”
“I don’t like where this is going, Vincent.”
“If you don’t help me pass this test, I won’t help you.”
“Vincent! That’s blackmail!” she screamed, even though it was extortion.
“Uh huh! So you gonna help me?”
The apparition let out a heavy sigh. “Fine, I’ll help you, but only if you promise to never cheat again and to study from now on. Do you agree to never cheat again?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever.”
“Vincent,” the woman chided, “Promise me you’ll never cheat again.”
“Okay, okay, sheesh, I won’t do it ever again.”
“You won’t do what ever again?” the teacher asked looking up from the papers she was grading. Vincent had a momentary mental lapse and his last sentence was spoken so loudly it was practically a roar.
His classmates giggled. Each of their eyes were focused on the now perspiring lad sitting in the back corner of the classroom.
“Uh, nothing Ms. Johnson,” he stammered.
“Uh huh,” the teacher said unimpressed, “Whatever you say, Vincent. Just finish the test and do it quietly.”
Vincent let out a relieved sigh and wiped the sweat off his brow. “Okay Ms. Johnson.” Disappointed with the lack of drama, the rest of the class turned their attention back to their exams.
“You’re still gonna help me, right?” Vincent asked, remembering to whisper this time.
“Since I have to. The answer to number two is ‘b’, and the answer to number three is…” The poltergeist went down the list of questions and though apprehensive, she provided an answer to each. Gleefully, the boy filled the test with her answers. Jubilation nearly overwhelmed the young man. He felt this joy up until the end of the school day, where he learned a shocking truth.
“I failed the test!” the boy screamed. He had received his test score as he left the classroom, along with a note requesting a meeting with the young man’s mother. Vincent was practically in shock as he walked out the school’s doors. For several minutes he wore a thousand yard stare. The poor boy was completely dazed and confused. Eventually, he mustered the strength to shout, “I only got two answers right out of twenty!”
“Well,” the ghost explained with a smug smile, “I wanted to teach you a lesson about cheating and relying on others rather than yourself for answers.”
After a short pause, the ghost continued. “No, not really.” The grin evaporated from her face. “History was never my strongest subject so I was just guessing. Still, it serves you right for cheating.”
“Wait! That means you weren’t a good student!”
“Maybe so, but that’s why I know it’s important to study and take your schooling seriously!”
“Aw man! This blows! Mom’s gonna be so angry at me and I’ll probably have to go to summer school! Probably won’t be able to play baseball or watch the Mariners! This sucks! What good is this ‘gift’ of seeing ghosts if they can’t even help ya pass a test?”
“You shouldn’t rely on ghosts to help you pass. You should only rely on yourself.”
Vincent didn’t respond. After a short, awkward pause, the ghost continued, “Does this mean you aren’t going to help me?”
“No,” Vincent answered solemnly, “I’ll still help you. I was always gonna. I just wanted help with the test. Let’s go see Mom. She’ll know what to do.”
“Wait, what do you mean?”
“She’s better at that kinda stuff than me. Ghost stuff, I mean. She even told me to take all ghost stuff to her so I can concentrate on school.”
“Your mother can see ghosts too?”
“So everything you said was a lie!”
“Oh, when I see your mother, we are going to have so much to talk about. I’m sure she’ll have much to say about this. Your lack of respect will not be tolerated, young man!”
Vincent paused for a moment as he walked home. He began to hesitate as to whether he should help this apparition. After all, she didn’t fulfill her end of the bargain. The threats to tell his mother about his behavior made the whole endeavor just so unpalatable to him. He asked himself what exactly was his motivation to assist.
Yet, something compelled him forward. He decided to help the ghost woman by guiding her to his mother so she could figure out this quandary. If nothing else, he didn’t want to be a jerk like the ghost floating above his head giving him a lecture.
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