Ghost Story 4.2
“You must be August O’Neill.” The rotund man said to me.
I had re-integrated in a fighting crouch, fists clenched, ready to strike when I was greeted by a college professor. At least my imagination’s version of the stereotype. Short, plump, light hair, would be gray if it had any color in this world. Round, thin rimmed spectacles, tweed jacket with dark squares on the shoulders and elbows.
‘What the hell were those for anyway?’ I thought.
“Yeah, I’m Auggie, who the fuck are you?” I asked, not breaking my stance.
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I have you at a disadvantage.” He said holding out his hand. “I’ve seen photos of you and your lovely wife Suzanne but you have no idea what I’d look like. I’m Dr. Jordan Bukowski, we’ve met. Metaphysically, you could say.”
As I reached to take his hand, fully expecting mine to pass right through, and quite surprised when it didn’t, he added, “And this is Roger and Lucy.” He pointed with his opposite thumb over his shoulder behind him.
I’m not sure how I missed Roger, he was huge. I am, or was anyway, six foot two. Roger was at least half a foot taller, this dude was a mountain. He was wearing a black leather jacket with pins of various shapes and sizes stuck on the front lapels. It also had several small patches sewn onto the lower band of the coat. His thick beard was streaked with white, his long hair braided into a ponytail that wrapped around his neck and hung over his left shoulder. I was dumbstruck at the sight of the biker behind the much shorter Doctor.
In a voice so deep it had a natural echo, he said, “Don’t forgot to say hello to Lucy; we wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings after all she’s been through.” His enormous head tilted downward to his right arm where a scantily clad, petite young woman was clutching his forearm in a way that made me think she was afraid a gust of wind might blow her away. She couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, maybe less. She could easily fit inside the giant Roger if she had to. Like Luke in Star Wars into the gutted Tauntaun to keep warm, she’d be able to curl right up in there.
“Hola, “she said in a tiny high pitched voice. The accent was Spanish. I’m no linguist so I would be guessing what her country of origin was, but the way she said it was excruciatingly sexy to me.
“Hello Lucy, and Roger.” I wasn’t sure what was happening and I was still upset about what my wife was going through in the bubble. Releasing his hand, I began to ask a question but was interrupted, “Doctor Bewcow…”
“Just Doc is fine August. I know my last name is difficult even if it is well known for the writer and the illustrator, both unrelated. Just call me Doc or Doctor if you don’t mind.”
“Well then just call me Auggie.” I replied. “Only my mom used my full name and that was just when I was in trouble. I’ve got to ask you what’s going on. Why can I see you now and who are your two friends?”
“Very good questions Auggie.” He began. “Let me start at how I came to find you when I was alive and why I’m here…”
“When you were alive?” My turn to cut him off. “You’re like me now?”
“Not exactly like you. Let me tell the whole story and then if you have any questions, we’ll see if between the three of us we can answer them.”
I nodded in agreement and he started by telling me about himself.
Dr. Jordan Bukowski, who liked to be called Doc, was a world renowned medium when he was alive. He told me that he wasn’t able to talk to ghosts like it’s portrayed in the movies.
He said, “That’s bullshit, nobody can do that. At least not directly like two similarly life afflicted people can. The living can talk to the living, and the dead can talk to the dead. And never the planes shall meet.” And he laughed. He had to tell me that it was a play on a famous quote. I didn’t get it.
I said, “Doc, if you’ve got to explain a joke, it didn’t work. Second rule of comedy.” The first being the rule of threes but I didn’t get into a whole philosophical discussion of humor with him. “Oh, and before you get too far and then just stop talking, what the fuck was your problem with saying goodbye or thanks for your time? It’s was very rude to just stop talking when you were done asking me questions. And what was with that phony cheesy movie accent you talked in?” I must have started getting worked up because Roger, with Lucy in tow, stepped up next to the Doc.
I immediately shut up.
“That’s OK Roger.” Doc said holding a hand up to halt the biker. “I understand your frustration. I’m sorry about not gracefully ending our meetings. I didn’t know at the time what the world was like here. I had no idea you, we, spirits existed in these little pieces of our own realities. I’ve learned quite a bit from my friends here and I hope to learn more from you. Concerning the ‘phony accent’.” He made air quotes at the phrase. “I had to put on a bit of a show in order for the people who now live in your house to allow me to talk to you. I was working with the Police trying to gather clues to your murders and those of the others and I needed the home owners to buy in that I wasn’t a charlatan.”
“Others?” I asked.
“Yes Auggie.” He spoke slowly, “you and your wife, Roger and the pretty Lucy here of course, and at least a half dozen others were all killed in the same gruesome way.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised. A person doesn’t commit such atrocities just once and stop unless they’re caught. My wife and I watched a lot of fictional and true life serial killer shows to know that. But this knowledge didn’t prevent me from feeling disturbed that such people existed.
“So who is he? Why is he doing this?” I asked quietly, afraid I’d somehow attract him by talking about him.
“Simply speaking,” Doc said, “he’s a demon inside a person. No different than hundreds of others over thousands of years of human history. Some famous, some you’ve never heard of. Tell me, have you had any visits from him? Any unusual occurrences?”
I told him about the birds, and the vision. How I had revisited my bedroom on the night of my wife’s death and how I felt that his pinpoint red eyes had seen my spirit self before I came back to the murder of crows around me. I choked up when telling them about how my reality here had changed when I returned into it just before Roger thumped on my door. They nodded as I spoke; tiny Lucy seemed to grip her protector a little harder.
“So you’re here to try to stop him?” I asked the Doctor, and then added, “When you arrived, how did you know to leave your bubble?”
“Bubble, what bubble?” He asked in return.
“That.” I said as I turned and pointed at my blue home behind me. I shuddered as I thought of what was going on inside of it, my wife ignorant of the fact that she was knitting her own intestine together.
“That’s what you call it?” He turned to his companions. “Roger, what do you two call it?”
Roger looked down at Lucy, still holding his giant forearm in her tiny hands. “We just call it the bar.” He said with Lucy nodding in agreement.
The Dr. turned back to me. “Those are your realities.” He said. “As far as we can fathom, it’s where you feel most comfortable, and more importantly for my work, where you were murdered.”
He went on to explain everything up until the point Roger knocked on my ‘home.’ How he found the others at a Go-Go bar where Lucy was working the night they joined our exclusive party. How they were locked in an eternal lap dance after their deaths. The Doc wasn’t completely sure why he didn’t have a ‘bubble’ of his own. He speculated that while alive he was most comfortable spending his time communicating with the dead, maybe his eternal comfort zone was in the nether space between our spirit realities.
He also explained that since he failed to stop the killer while on the side of the living, he thought he knew how to get to him from the side of the dead.
“Lucy figured it out actually.” He explained. “All the dead have a unique astrological sign. I believe with that knowledge and what I’ve learned from my interviews, we can corner him and drive him out.” He looked at Lucy next to Roger and she smiled as she demurely hid behind his enormous, well, behind.
‘A shy stripper?’ Odd I thought.
“It’s OK Lucy,” Roger said to her. He won’t hurt you.”
“He’s right about that,” I said to her quietly. “I’m a friend. Thank you for helping the Doc.” I meant it, that and being a little afraid of what Roger could do, even if I wasn’t sure what that was exactly, helped me sound sincere.
“Look Doc,” I said turning my attention away from the half-naked dancer. “I want to help but I’m not sure how I can. What do you want with me? Surely Roger gives you all the muscle you’ll need.”
“It isn’t just brawn we need Auggie,” he said. “We need some special skills and I think you’re the man, or spirit, for the job.”
“How’s that?” I asked. “If I’m just another in a long string of victims, why am I needed?”
“Because August,” he said puffing himself up trying to look official, “you were the first he killed. You said it yourself. He saw you while you were here. There’s a connection. These murders he’s committing aren’t random. You all mean something to him. ”
“So you think the four of us are enough of a team to stop him?” I asked skeptically.”
“No Auggie,” he answered. “We need to find others. Your wife for example.”
“Absolutely not Doc.” I fell back into the position I had when I stepped out of my living room. “She’s content. Suzie’s not aware we’re dead. I’m not having her relive that memory. For God’s sake she doesn’t even know what’s she’s doing to herself in there. I’m not taking her out.”
Roger didn’t move as he had the last time I had become fired up, I looked him square in the eyes and he knew I was just protecting my own.
“OK Auggie,” the Doc conceded. “We’ll figure it out.”
“But you still haven’t told me why you’re here?” I said. “What happened to you?”
“Oh I thought that was obvious Auggie.” He said with a chuckle. “I figured him out. I don’t fit his pattern but I left him no choice, I know who he is and he got me too.”