Like You've Seen A Ghost (Original Short Story)

00:50 Jazz Blackwell 0 Comments

 “Where were you last night?”

 The question – although pushy and intrusive – would be innocent enough, had it not come from my flatmate and best friend, who has been dead for the past eighteen months. 

 To say that Jimmy looks worse for wear is an understatement. He’s bare-chested and much thinner than I remember, with a gaunt, bony frame and sunken eyes, darkened by lack of sufficient sleep. His hair, once cropped military short, now brushes the top of his shoulders in a greasy tangle of curls. He looks almost like a dead man walking.

 He watches me expectantly, waiting with his usual patience for my answer.

 “I could ask you the same thing,” is all that I can manage. Here, he simply smirks, takes a sip from his favourite mug, the one I hadn’t the heart to throw away.

 “I was here last night,” he replies. He always was a smart-arse.

 “I thought you were dead,” it’s as much an accusation as a statement. He grins, smug all of a sudden.

 “Good,” he says. “You were supposed to.”
   
 “I went to your funeral,” I remind him.

 “Yeah,” he chuckles. “Cheers for that, mate. Didn’t really expect such a wild turn out.”

 He is, of course, being sarcastic. Jimmy’s funeral had been a more than usually dismal affair – little family to speak of and even fewer friends had left the chapel empty, save for myself, two or three acquaintances and an older, bearded man who I took to be his father.

 “Are you… y’know,” I shift my weight awkwardly from one foot to the other. “A ghost?”

 Jimmy erupts into peals of laughter that spark in me a nostalgic ache. If nothing else, he’s got the most wonderful laugh. Like bells. Still, I can’t help feeling a little foolish. Something of a sceptic myself, I realise the question is silly. I’m just more than a little befuddled that the man I helped to put in the ground not two years ago is sitting in front of me.

 “Don’t be so wet,” he says, when he finally manages to pull himself together. “I had to lie low for a while, that’s all. Stay off the radar.”

 That much, I can almost understand. Jimmy had spent most of his adult life as a recluse, keeping to himself. This had changed in what I had believed to be his final months – late night meetings with friends whose names he neglected to mention, mysterious packages he was incredibly protective over, hushed phone calls that lasted for hours at a time. I suspected drugs at first, though he denied it vehemently when I confronted him. Drugs or not, it’s clearer than ever now that he was involved in something untoward.

 “You could’ve told me,” I feel a little put-out. Jimmy doesn’t have many friends, but I’ve always considered he and I very close. He rolls his eyes.

 “Think you’re missing the point of being ‘off the radar’, mate,” he sips his coffee and stretches, the bones in his elbow cracking as he does so.

 “I wouldn’t have told anyone. I’d…I’d have helped,” I tell him, exasperatedly.

 “Listen, I’m sorry,” he sighs.  “I did what had to be done, given the circumstances. I can’t give you the details. Not yet, anyway. I still have a few loose ends to tie up. If there was any way I could’ve done it without upsetting you I would’ve. But there wasn’t. I appreciate it was a dick move. But I’m home now.”

 “Right,” I nod, just trying to process it all. “Home… for good?”

 “Home for good,” he repeats. Then, without my meaning to, I confess.

 “I missed you.”

 “I know,” he says. “I missed you too. I’m sorry.”

 “It’s okay,” I reply, though it so clearly isn’t. I’ve a million and one questions to ask, but I know Jimmy well enough to know that he won’t answer a single one until he’s ready to.

 “Anyway, you didn’t answer my question,” he says, smiling at me. “Where were you last night?” 

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Since I've proven myself to be absolutely shite in terms of reviewing books here on this blog, like an actual literary blogger should, I thought I'd take a whirl at sharing my own original short stories with you all. Some of them will be pieces I've written for my creative writing class at Uni, others will not. I hope you enjoy them, and any and all constructive criticism is welcome.

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Happy reading, 
Jazz xo

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