a ghost story
Minions of Death
Book of Deeds
So many years have gone by, unnoticed. Just like the people. All unnoticed and unseen. Why is it that I am still here? I would think that someone would see me. Nope. Not one of the two hundred workers here have seen me. Not since I died, but why not? I am, still here. There was a time when I could get a thing or two for myself. You know, like showers twice a week, or maybe a haircut. I should mention the perm or permanent. An atrocious style of hair abuse and air fouling stench. But I won’t. It was available here for the ladies, on Wednesdays. Same day we would have ice cream sundaes and waffle cones with nuts and toppings and sometimes even a cherry on top. That smell would always ruin the flavor of my favorite ice cream, pistachio almond. Oh man, I could eat that stuff twice a day. Well, it used to be easy to remember those things, not anymore. I haven’t tasted ice cream in two years. Oh my, has it been that long? I think that this facility has been forgotten by Job Corp or whoever supplies these workers. Maybe a temp agency, I don’t know. Someone is slacking on the job, but I don’t know how to rectify the problem. Nothing helps get anything done. I once resorted to knocking papers off the counter and scattering then all the way down the hall to the door of the electrical closet. Nobody cared or even got upset. They said it was a fan pointed in the wrong direction. They don’t know. They don’t want to know the truth. I have talked to the boss lady in her office and prattled on, in her ear daily, to no avail. It’s almost like they have turned a blind eye to those of us that need the attention. Well, you know, granted there isn’t much that a shower will do for me now, or even a fancy waffle cone and chocolate sprinkles. What rankles me most is the lack of acknowledgement. I mean come on, what do I have to do? I’ve done all I can think of except, appear before the administrator with bells on my berries and a ribbon around my little bird of paradise, well that was the problem when I was alive too. It was little, and hardly recognizable as the route to paradise. Maybe I could tie the red ribbon around my waist, while I dance my way through her office in a pink tutu? Unfortunately, she won’t know what she is missing. I found out long ago that I am invisible. Other people die and move on to wherever, but no, not me. I’m stuck here and nobody can see or hear me. The real hazard that plagues the existence of anyone that happens to die here are what I call, The Lurkers. Those little black and gray shadows. I think they are not human. They don’t appear to be human. Nope, feisty, dark and putrid smelling, shadowy little rascals. They are true death mongers, the collectors. They can haul a dead person out of here faster that two fish mongers
can pass a large fish from one monger to the other. I’ve always loved that word. Monger. I’d look that one up if I could flip open a dictionary. I certainly don’t mean death in the fashion of bang-
bang you’re dead, like we played in the school yards of childhood. No indeed, I’m talking playing in the big leagues. The king of all the soul collection agents. The grim reaper. Those little shadows do his bidding. Those are the minions of death, that’s how I refer to them. Far be it for the reaper himself to do any real work. No, no, no. He’s upper management, a delegator. Although to be fair, he can and does still scare the bejabbers out of people. I know, I’ve seen him three different times. As a matter of fact, I wrestled him once as I tried to get the book of my life from his boney fingers. You wouldn’t know that he has muscles, but he most certainly does. Strong in body, but weak in mind. I won our last tussle over my life’s book. The big book of deeds on this old man. I ripped it right out of his hand. It was like a game of keep away from childhood. Only there was just the two of us. Well, at the start, but he brought in his little minions, when he saw he couldn’t win, he cheated and brought in reinforcements. I used to be a wrestler, you know, or maybe you don’t but that is a tale I might tell later. Fortunately, I had still retained some skills at that time. So, before his little boogey-men could wrap their slimy paws on me and drag me off to the nether world, I ripped up my book. Wow! Just now it occurs to me, maybe that’s why I am still here in between life and death. A ghost in a nursing home. I tore up his book. Ha! I would venture a guess that never-before has he been out maneuvered and lost the book of some one’s life. He can’t collect me and send me to his world. No documentation. No “Book of Deeds.” Hot Dang and Halleluiah! I didn’t know what I was doing for sure, but boy did I do it good! Those creepy little shadow thieves are somebody else’s headache now. I would tell them to kiss my buttocks, but I don’t think they even see me anymore. Well, sheesh, I’m going to need something more to keep me busy here. I am getting just too perverse or maybe morose, unh! “Come on, you demons of the dark, where are you taking all my friends?”
Time was, I was strong, but those muscles, disappeared faster than my wife’s cookies at Christmas. Don’t know what I mean do you? Well, it’s just that life is so frustrating, and death is even worse. Nothing really matters in my world. There is no future. Time is nonexistent. Yes, I know I have been dead for two years and stuck here walking the hall. I certainly don’t, but rarely, get a bed to lie in. Certainly, none of the semi-intelligent workers here seem to feel my presence, when others pass away. I am always on the scene incase anything scares the new client for the reaper. I mean just thinking about that boney parasite gives me the willies. Most times though I keep outflanking him and try to screw up his daily count. You mess up his tally and BAM, he gets the reaper snot kicked out of him by the BIG REAPER. Ha! What? You didn’t know there was more than one reaper? Well, I’m telling you, they can’t keep up. Too many people die every day all
around the world. I can tell when one of the sicker and older clients is near ready for The Lurkers, because my energy level begins to pick up some. Everything loses energy. I’m telling you that principal applies to machines and any living creature. That is more of a fact than a principal, though. Anything that loses energy in this building ends up giving that energy to me. Without that influx I’m not sure what would happen. I need that ability. Since I am no longer have any blood, I don’t produce energy for myself. I can feel when someone in the area dies and if I can harness that before it dissipates, so much the better for me. Most everything has an electrical
field to it or around it. The day I went into the electrical closet, oh man, that was a trip. For a man that can’t feel anything that was awesome.
It didn’t take me long to figure out what had happened to me. I died. I didn’t realize that at first. I would have thought I would know that right away. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect, somewhere. I just didn’t seem able to understand what I was or wasn’t seeing. Now days though, I see it all. I can be anywhere I want in the time it takes me to think of where I want to be. Poof! I have arrived. I just started to think, I don’t know if I can ever leave this nursing home. I have never tried to pass thru the walls or glass. Huh! Two years I’ve been dead, and this is just now coming into play. Damn, I must really be slow or stupid. I really thought I was on par for a semi genius. I mean, I used to have an IQ of 148. That was pretty good, yes? So, I’ll just bet, you would like to know how I died. Aww come on play along for a little while. Let me have some fun, would you? Okay, well we can get back to that. Maybe I will just tell you how I lived? Huh? What say you to that? Well, I lived an interesting and exciting life. Most people don’t get to do half the things I did and probably would rebel at the opportunity to do those wild and crazy things. Some of the jobs I’ve had will turn the average person off, I’m sure. I apologize for that right up front. Considering the type of existence, I’m leading now. Well, I’m glad I had those exciting times to remember and tell my stories to the younger people. First off, I’m sorry if some of these things creep you out. Secondly, I’ve never been one for lying.
First job I ever had, was at the young age of ten. Some of my friends and relatives worked in the cemetery across the street from my family home. So, I wanted in on the action, but was told I was too young and small to cut the grass, like the bigger kids. They rode around on huge riding mowers and walked behind other self-propelled monsters. But, that summer the manager of the cemetery was looking for someone to work in the “Big House”, as they called it. It was truly and absolutely a monumentally big place. I didn’t know what was involved there, but I signed up for the summer. First day on the job it was cold and rainy. The floors of the Mausoleum were made of imported Italian marble. Mr. Manager didn’t even bother to show me the inside of the
building. Nope. He handed me a box full of supplies and showed me a small wagon to pull them with. It wasn’t the typical red wagon, like we all had as kids. Heavens no. It was a black wagon with canvas sides and two of the wheels were terrible squeakers. I walked in the rain all the way up the long hill to the “Big House.” Jeans and a T-shirt were typical attire for a kid my age. By the time I got to the building, I was drenched. Cold and shivering I went into the Mausoleum. Dark and cold. For some reason they didn’t like lights in there. Creepy, very creepy place indeed. The only instructions I received from Mr. Manager was to wipe down all the marble fronts, or crypts. Famous people were laid to rest behind those marble slabs, I was amazed, at all the highly known names from Kansas City history. I won’t reveal who or where this was because not only are there Kansas Citians there but also entertainers and names known from the wild west days. I will say
this, however. I cleaned all the marble tomb fronts. Spent most of the day in there. I got to know some very important individuals by talking with them, while cleaning their grave stones. You really think we all go to heaven or hell after death? I have news for you. It doesn’t happen like that. No sir or ma’am. Well, at least I don’t think it does. The reason I say that is the information I gathered when I was a kid working there amongst all those dead people. They had a way of talking to me that I just sort of naturally understood. For many years I could hear dead people. I did go with the flow as they say though. I listened, to every little sound that leaked out of those eerie tombs. Most of the voices weren’t or wouldn’t be obvious to most people. I on the other hand had always seen and heard things that others in my family or cache of friends were never privileged enough to have that talent. I once told a psychologist that I heard voices and she wanted to douse my abilities with Lithium or some other nasty chemical. I refused of course. When I was alive, I was able to talk to dead people and animals. Live animals though, not dead ones. That’s funny, I just for a moment wondered what it would be like to talk to dead animals. Ohh, I’m afraid I wouldn’t like the horror stories that I would have to endure. Just think of the pain they went through and their small brains would probably only allow for them to concentrate on the negative aspects of death. Well, see, with humans when a person dies, that pain and memory of it sort of subsides and the obvious question of “What happens now” becomes paramount. With an animal the pain and memory of that death moment remains for a time until those greasy and shadowy little minions come to collect them. They are always very slow. I mean who wants a job like that? Collecting the unfortunate little critters. Not their bodies of course but the spirits. Animals are usually followers. Very few of them have leadership skills and can fend for themselves in the afterlife. That’s where guys like me can be of help. I can and could always talk with the animals and hear their replies. Well, in all honesty it was more of a feeling that actual hearing. But I understood. I was somewhat of an empath when I was alive and that has
stayed with me in my spirit stage. Hmmm, I just had an interesting thought. Maybe I can lobby the reapers for a spot on their staff. No, I really don’t want to be a true reaper. Come on, that’s just creepy. I heard you thinking just then. True reaper’s job is for those soulless little shadowy munchkins that do that now. They are perfect for it. No, I was just thinking maybe I could help the dogs and cats after their pain and surprise subsided. I could maybe be the Saint Francis of Assisi of the newly dead animals and help lead them into eternity. I mean really, is there such a thing? Someone penned a poem about “the rainbow bridge.” Is that for real? One thing for sure. If I am going to be forever stuck in this nursing home as a disembodied spirit, I will never find out. Maybe when I tore my book out of the reaper’s hands and ripped it up, sheesh, now I am wondering if I was all that smart to do that? Well, like I said earlier. I’ve been here for two years. So, what now?
Should I scare the bejabbers out of the new spirits? That might be fun. But, nah, I don’t like that at all. I guess I could keep working on the nurses in hopes that someone is in touch with their spirit self might finally talk to me, but like I said, it’s been two years. Yeow, huh, that thought scares the stuffing out of ME. Nothing ever prepared me for this loneliness. I can’t get a response out of anybody that would be considered conversation. I was even here with mom for awhile after she passed away. I guess it’s good that she didn’t stay long, but if she had we would have had a great time. No, I held onto her hand and watched as my sister and other relatives cried and poured out the tears. Hmmm, nobody really created a scene when I went. I guess maybe I should have been a better person so that more people would have cared. I don’t know. Time was, I thought I was a good guy. Tried to help old ladies cross the street when I was a kid in my boy scout uniform. I would guess maybe though, that was so long ago, it didn’t count for much anymore. There are so many unanswered questions. I thought that once I died all my questions would be answered. Maybe so for those that get scooped up by those nasty reapers. Do I think they have any answers? Bah! Of course not. I’m not really sure if they even have an intellect. They perform like Star Treks Borg entities. A collective mentality. They don’t see me. Not after I ripped up my stupid “Book of Deeds.” Now, I really don’t know if that is what it is called, but it works for me. I remember I ran into one of those reaper fellas in a state park long ago. He tried to collect me up then too. I foiled those plans that time too. I’ve been lucky that way. I stayed alive though after the state park incident, although we never went back to that place. It just seemed too spooky. So, here I am, a true spook, pining away for better days or at least days when I could feel the sun on my shoulders and the wind on my face. Oh, I can see that it is daytime and night, but so what? I don’t feel the cool breeze waft across my forehead and cool the sweat on my brow. I can’t smell the scent of a garden of daffodils and tulips. A tiny thing, like hearing a cricket call for a mate or the flutter of tiny wings as the humming birds jostle each other for a spot at the red feeder hanging from my porch in the spring. Nobody ever thinks of those things
while alive. What will I miss? The touch of my wife’s hand? The smooth warm fur of my dogs. The smell of wild onions and garlic in the air when my neighbor mows his yard? The look of love in my dog’s eyes when I wake up in the morning? So many earthly delights I haven’t been enjoying for far too long. Now, though, I am stuck here in this nursing home and a purgatory of my own making, simply because I tore up the “Book of Deeds.”
That reaper fella and his boney hands. I should have broken his fingers while I was at it. In the state park when we wrestled so many years ago, he grabbed me by my plaid lumberjack shirt and lifted me off the ground. Laughed in my face, he did. “I’ve got you now boy.” He said with a maniacal little chuckle. But, he didn’t. Because as it happened my dog was there and grabbed his bony leg and pulled it so hard, we both fell to the ground. He shook that femur bone so violently I thought he had a rabbit in his teeth. I’ve seen him destroy a critter or two before. It’s fascinating to watch but is definitely not a pretty sight. We hit the ground hard enough that he dropped that big book of my life and it skittered across the camp site. Not that it is very believable to say, but that book landed smack in the middle of our campfire and burned up like Chinese rice paper.
I wouldn’t have thought that facial bones could be tortured into such an expression of anguish. But true enough as his bony face contorted, he let out a howl and screech like a house cat with his tail stuck in a closed door. Oh, and to lose the book too, wow. I can just imagine the Head Honcho of Reapers massaging the backside of this failed reaper, with his big boy boots. So, anyway, I don’t think this is the same black caped devil as before, but I bet the collective mind still remembers the other times they failed…
And here I am. Still waiting. Day by day the hours seem to go slower …and now? The nights are longer of course. Nothing ever seems to change. Except those that die and move on. Frustration. That is what fuels my time the most. I do, I want to go on to the next world. See what is there. Maybe there is some fresh air and oh my flowers? But then, all I can think about is the next time I find a reaper in my area. Ohhh, ohhh…no I need to control myself. No more reaper stomping. See, that’s what I said about my life earlier. I was a wrestler. A pro wrestler that was seen on tv by more people than I can possibly imagine. That was my move that brought me fame. The Stomp. Oh, what a great time I had. Maybe I can find just one more reaper before the day ends.
For five long bone-crunching years, I was confined to prison, one that had no equals and showed no mercy. There was no thought of escape and I knew not even God would help me, because this was his domain. The warden and all the hand-picked guards were His personal representatives in this facility. This was a Catholic school in the early nineteen sixties, and I was stuck there without reprieve. The nuns were said to be Christ’s Brides. I never could understand why they would marry a dead man and why in the world The Lord would want a plethora of NFL linebackers to be his personal harem. Possibly, out of the thirty nuns that ran the school, five or less could be considered pleasant to look at. Now that’s not to say they were ugly. No not really. They just weren’t appealing or pleasant to look at except in a motherly or even a grandmotherly sort of way. They were a tough bunch. Nobody got anything over on them. I honestly can’t say that any one of them was sharper than another. Nope, huh-uh. They all had eyes that could penetrate you and pluck those thoughts right out of your head.
They were sisters of the B.V.M. which was an abbreviation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but most of the students called them the Black Veiled Monsters. “God will strike you dead with a lightning bolt.” That was their motto. It applied to any circumstance that was out of reach of the black board pointer, yard stick and twelve inch ruler. But that was really not the end of it. Many times my friends and I were slapped or sent to the pricipals office for swats. That tiny little lady who sat behind the principal’s desk was no bigger that my ten year old sister, but she could make your backside blister and your anus pucker in defense of the pain for the next two days. I recall on early spring days the nuns would listen to local baseball games. You had better be on your best behavior and not interupt those games. In the spirit of baseball my eighth grade teaching nun could throw a chalk eraser or even a small piece of chalk and easily miss the little kids in the front four rows and hit me between the eyes. After I was pelted with either item she stared at me until my mouth flew open as I was gasping for air. My giant maw was stretched so far out that she always made the same comment. “Nice looking esophagus, Mr Cobleigh.” The fact that I was hiding behind a bigger boy and the nun waited until the precise moment to strike like a hunter on a tree stand. When I barely peeked out from behind the big kid, it was indeed as if lightening had struck. Whap. Right between the eyes.
The last year I spent as an inmate of this suburban parochial prison, found me under the watchful, bulging eyes of Sister Mary Angelica. The term “Angel” implies a certain amount of peace, beauty and well, a loving nature. This was not Sister Angelica. She stood an entire head above most of us eighth grade boys, which would have made her a six footer and carried three hundred pounds. She was a forty five year old cross between a linebacker and a Marine drill seargent. Dressed daily in long black flowing robes and a white heavily starched fabric known as a Habit, that wrapped the face tightly enough that it looked pinched and puckery, like a prune. All of this was covered with a long black veil that hung from the top of her head to the middle of the back. In truth she was very good as an umpire behind home plate during our school yard games. Sometimes she would take flight and follow a runner to first base just to make sure he had been legally tagged out. That woman could run like the wind on and off the field. I can attest to that fact because I was the stupid kid that tried putting one over on her. A beautiful spring morning. The sun was bright and the day seemed full of the promise that all young boys want, pretty girls. There was a slight problem though. These pretty girls weren’t the flesh and blood type but in a brown lunch bag on pornographic playing cards. I was carrying two lunch bags up the stairs to the second floor classroom and through the door guarded by our own heavenly representative, Sister Angelica.
“Extra hungry today Mister Cobleigh?” she asked , giving my dual lunch sacks a visual inspection.
“No sister,” I replied as my right hand tightened around the top of the old wrinkled bag. Sister Angelica mut have sensed my fear and anxiety as I stood there trmembling and wondering who would get me first. God or Sister Angelica. God wasn’t fast enough. With the speed of a cobra, Sister made a lunge for my sack of naked women just as I jumped backwards. Miniature naked ladies spewed into the air and landed on the floor all around us, exactly the same as a game of 52 card pickup.
The nuns eyes turned to flaming crucifixes as her index and middle finger lodged securely in my nostrils. I slid down the hallway on my heels as she drug me to the pricipals office. After a satisfied retelling of the episode, Sister Angelica grabbed the swat board from the Mother Superior’s hand and asked with a maniacal grin, “Mother May I?”
I still remember those swats and those feisty women to this day. I still wonder if they had many a laugh at their students antics.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Greetings to you. I am so pleased to finally get this crazy experience moving forward. It has been a difficult time for me since I am a blathering old fool, but I totally hope to elicit fun and exciting comments from every one of you.
I have to say though that I will be the author and owner of all written materials within. Please be kind and respect my property rights. Thank you. If you should wish to help this bungling old rascal get published, please contact me.
The first thing worth talking about is thanking my young neighbor, Gary, for helping me set up this blog. Fyi…he is a 7th grader and I am 70. Doesn’t seem right but he knew what he was doing, unfortunately like I said earlier I was a bungling old fool stumbling over my ineptness. He made short work of it. Thanks my young friend.
SO….HERE WE GO…..LISTEN UP…!