Fiction

Heavenly Haunt

By R. Patrick Murtha

"What just happened?" I asked myself, confused and disoriented. "I was…I was doing what?" I couldn't remember at first. I looked around and everything seemed, well, "watery" is all I could come up with. I closed my eyes and rubbed them gently, suddenly aware that I was in someplace totally devoid of sound except for my own breathing.

Slowly, I opened my eyes and looked around. I looked familiar, but not immediately recognizable. "Ok, I'm in San Francisco, that much I can tell," I mumbled pretty much to myself. Actually, I whispered it; as if afraid I'd bring attention to myself in a place I didn't belong and would be immediately punished for the transgression. I stumbled slightly, dizzy with the disorientation and put my hand out to the stairway railing just in front of me, and I KEPT FALLING! "Whoooaaa!" I reacted, sounding like Goofy in the old cartoons. Quickly I regained my balance and stood up, absolutely aghast that half my lower body seemed to be hidden by the stairway. Cautiously, I stepped to the left into the small ante-room adjacent to the stairs. "Wow! What the HELL is going on here?" I cried as I pulled my arms in close and turned quickly to make sure I didn't hit the wall.

"Ok dude, get a grip...do a reality test and see if you're dreaming," I said out loud and reached my right hand across my body and tapped on my upturned wrist, feeling quite solidly the pressure from my fingers. "Ok, I'm not having a lucid dream," I said confidently after passing the check I'd developed after years of self-training. I went through several of these little reality checks and passed them all; except of course for the fact that I could pass my hands and my body without resistance through all the objects around me.

Then, vaguely, I started having little flashes of memory. As with dream recall, once I recalled one detail immediately thereafter another memory attached itself to the chain, cascading ever more clearly into consciousness. "OH DAMN!" I blurted out, recalling finally where I was and what had happened not too long ago...or was it years? I really couldn't tell. There was blackness, oh so pervading darkness for what seemed forever then like a movie starting on the silver screen ahead in a dark theatre, I saw flashes of movement, loud, very loud noise, the flash of a man's face and the scream of a woman. Somehow, that scream sounded so familiar to me from somewhere long ago. Only, at the time, the scream was in delightful fright, not terror, as this one seemed to be. Shock, and terror. "Lynda?" I whispered out loud. "That was LYNDA!" My ex-wife from 10 years past. Then, in a flood, I remembered where I'd been just before the blackness. I'd gone to San Francisco to try to change the mind of my Ex, trying to sell her on an artist friend of mines' paintings. Lynda was the eldest heir to a large fortune, borne from one of the founding families that had homesteaded the bleak desert sands that would later be known as Las Vegas. It was that inheritance, ironically, that ended our 11year marriage. She had wanted an employee after all, not a husband, so I had left. Taking only my clothes and a customized Chevy Van we'd bought that year I'd driven off and hadn't talked to her more than five or six times in the intervening 10 years. However, she now lived the life of a "Trustfund Bohemian." Knowing her to be a supporter of the arts, having owned her own San Francisco art gallery and always on the hunt for the next big "unknown" artist to introduce to the world, I had broken my own vow of silence and had called her up last week… last year? I couldn't tell really; not yet at least.

Anyway, I'd called and while she sat in a cold silence I tried to convince her that she just HAD to view McP's work, scanned and ready for viewing on her homepage and several elite artist galleries on the Web. I could tell that our emotional baggage outweighed my words, yet I continued for 10 minutes not allowing the silence to dominate as it had the last few times we'd attempted communication. Finally she interrupted me and very coldly dismissed my opinion of Art, artists and life in general, as she is want to do, never understanding how I could choose solitude to the servitude and wealth she'd substituted for love and marriage. She had actually cut me off in mid-sentence at the prompting of a barely heard male voice in the background...obviously her latest lover. HA! Lover indeed. She is so paranoid and insecure that none of her relationships lasted more than a year for her fear that ultimately all they wanted was her money; not her. So, she hung up after adding the obligatory, "We're not friends any more Pat and I don't want you calling here again, EVER!" I had sat staring at the phone, slowly shaking my head and counting my good sense from having walked away from what would have been a living hell with that woman. I got so mad at her flippant dismissal, I too slammed down the phone and determined she wasn't going to ignore my friends work THAT easily, damnit! I KNEW that if Lynda would just get over the emotion of dealing with me and simply look at McP_'s work, she'd LOVE it and probably make her a star. Damnit! My friend deserved that extra effort; so I hopped in my car and made the hour's drive to the Telegraph Hill district where Lynda owned a fourplex; living in the one with the view of the Bay and Coit Tower, of course.

I'd double parked and took the stairs outside two at a time, reaching out and punching the doorbell a couple of times.

Well, I think you can guess the rest. The scene at the front door got really ugly with screaming and yelling and all. I kept trying to talk past this little gnome of a guy that stood between me and Lynda. Being rather of a large man, I guess his insecurities got the best of him. Ok, maybe I SHOULDN'T have called him "little man" (hehee), but at that he proved just how big he COULD be and reached into his waistband, pulled out a .38 and shot me at least a couple of times. HA! Now it was all coming back to me! I remember quite vividly the look of shock on Lynda's face as I fell to the porch; the very porch that now lay outside the door a couple of feet from me.

"So! I'm DEAD!" I laughed. This revelation somehow hit my funny-bone BIGTIME because I laughed and laughed so hard and loud I fell over onto me knees. Only this time, I seemed to hit the floor pretty solid, actually causing a numb kind of feeling. This woke me out of my near-madness, realizing that I wasn't totally immune to everything around me. Hmmmm. When I didn't think of it, I could feel, I could touch, I could affect that which was around me. "Now THAT'S interesting," I mused.

Then, from somewhere upstairs, I heard Lynda say out loud, "Did you hear something Pamela?"

"Hear something? Like what?" this unknown female answered and I could make out the setting down of glasses onto a table or something.

"I'm not sure...it sounded like…well, like, laughing…but far away." Lynda whispered confidentially.

"Geez Lynda, we could USE some laughter around here after what you just went through," Pamela observed. "So, when's the last time you talked to Jim?" she went on. Lynda and her then proceeded to talk some about the legal machinations that were ensuing after "Jim" had murdered me on her doorstep. I couldn't hear everything and started to wonder how I could get upstairs when, "POOF!" there I was on the floor above just 10 feet from where the two ladies, well one lady and my Ex-wife, sat. On the sofa over in the corner, wine glasses in hand.

"Now THIS is cool!" I thought, astounded at how I had simply materialized up here at the instant I thought about doing it. I ignored the girls for a moment, closed my eyes, and "POOF!" there I was downstairs again, then "POOF!" there I was UPSTAIRS again. Yes people, there WAS an audible sound accompanying the action and "POOF!" is about as close as I can get to it so chill, ok?

Out of curiosity I swished over to their corner and thought about the mobile hanging just behind them. It was rather large and made of various shapes crafted skillfully out of metal. Suddenly the mobile started to turn to the left and as soon as I turned away my attention its momentum slowed, then stopped. "COOL!" I giggled, noting that Lynda's eyes looked up curiously as she was talking to Pamela, then widened as she watched it turn.

"LOOK!" was all she could manage, but by the time Pamela looked up and back it had nearly stopped and it just looked like a slight draft had come through the leaky double-hung windows.

"Look at what?" Pamela said with an air of disbelief.

"It TURNED!" Lynda sat up to attention and reached out to Pam's arm on the back of the sofa, gripping it so as to show the level of her concern.

"What are you talking about Lynda? It's just barely moving...you're freaking me out girl, here, have some more wine. Your nerves are SHOT!" She tried to sound upbeat as she poured another glass, but she looked at Lynda with concern.

"I tell you, just before you looked up, it TURNED...a LOT! It was as if someone had spun it a little bit! Wow, that was weird!"

I was JAZZED now! This was getting fun and I LOVED seeing my Ex upset like that. She never had been supportive of my attaining a degree in Parapsychology, preferring instead that I get my Commercial Real estate Broker's license. I looked around and realized that she had a computer set up on a small worktable just to the side of the sofa. I walked, floated, or whatever over to it and closed my eyes, concentrating. Then, after getting "inside" the machine (I don't know how else to put it), I whispered, "Lyyyynnnda" softly and Lynda shot up off the couch and yelled, "DID you hear THAT?!" and she dropped her wineglass, shattering it on top of the low coffee table in front of them.

"Damn straight I did!!" Pamela echoed. "It whispered your NAME!" and the two of them bumped into each other as they put some distance between themselves and the computer.

"YEAH!" I giggled, rubbing my ghostly hands together. I noticed a full length mirror over on the other side of the room and made my way through the two of them, giving them cold shivers, and stood just to the other side of it. I concentrated with ALL my might, willing myself to be seen, just as Lynda stepped past Pamela on her way to the kitchen area when I saw her reflection line up and SURE AS SHIT she SCREAMED bloody MURDER! "Oh my GOD...IT'S HIM!" and she fainted dead away (sorry, I couldn't help myself, hehee).

"Wow, this is TOO good to be true!" I laughed hysterically, seeing what effect I had on the one that had haunted ME for so long. Then, gleefully, I realized; "I'm not just DEAD! I'M IN HEAVEN!" and suddenly things started flying all over the room as Pamela abandoned Lynda on the floor and ran screaming down the stairs.