Don't give him up for dead. Not when he's THAT pissed off.

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What can the dead do? It was a question I never asked myself until I woke up one morning on the far side of oblivion. At which point a need for an answer to this query became an all consuming obsession of my existence.

Existence? Is that what I enjoy on this other side? Hardly. Not existence. Not life. Certainly not breathing or a heartbeat, or anything else warm and moving.

More, it's a kind of presence, a feeling that I am, but at the same time that I am not. It's confusing, I know. You're not dead. You couldn't possibly understand. For you, like myself so many months ago, wondering what the dead may do is nothing save ridiculously wasted time. But here I urge you to waste your time, just a few minutes, perhaps an hour or so of it. I know you don't have much. You don't know, but I do. Time is precious. Scarce. More valuable than any Earthly commodity. Soon you'll have none left, and you'll be here with me. Then it will be too late. Too late for both of us.

So listen to me a moment, if you will. Stop picking your nose, or fingering your butt, or stuffing your face, and ponder what the dead may do.

It's a significant question, as I'm sure you'll discover if you spend a few seconds dwelling on it. The most obvious answer that springs to mind is simply, nothing. The dead can do nothing. But, as with most answers that leap eagerly to the tongue, this impression is wrong. Dead wrong, if you'll pardon my pun.

Oh, we can't do much. Not overtly, anyway. And certainly not when anyone (or anything) is watching.

But we are not without power. We are not without recourse or influence in the world.

In fact, you've probably enjoyed a personal experience with the dead in the course of your lifetime. Don't be surprised. Most people have. Where I come (came) from, we called it good luck, or more often, bad.

Now that I'm here, I know all about it. Or at least I'm learning all about it. It's fascinating, really, in a morbid sort of way. Fun? No. Exciting? No. Entertaining? Never. But fascinating? Yes, I would definitely have to say being dead can be fascinating.

What's fascinating about it? Well, as I said before, it's not a form of existence, really. Not an act of being. Death, the afterlife, is a sort of presence. It's hard to describe in temporal terms, but I'm sure you'll bear with me a sentence or two while I fumble for the proper words. Imagine a fog on a water, early in the morning. Imagine that you observe the sunrise and watch, minute by minute, as the roiling whiteness is dissolved in the growing heat. Imagine that precise moment when the last wisps seem to disappear or be flushed away, leaving only bright sunshine and a seemingly clear summer day. But imagine that you look up at the sun, which seems perfectly revealed at first, only to notice a kind of haze, a kind of halo of presence that lingers in the light long past the last visible traces of its sires. Well, that's how I feel. I am a fog dispersed, seen only before the brightest, most piercing of lights. A thinned presence of . . . character . . . of personality, I suppose. It's the closest I can come. I mean, after all, I'm still me. I have all my old worldly memories and thoughts and pathologies and perversions. Nothing has changed about my self in the slightest, that I can tell. Either for good or ill. Only . . . only there seems to be so much more of me. I feel so much larger, and smaller, than I ever was in life.

I don't have fingers, but I feel. I don't have eyes, but I see. I don't have legs, but I can move about at will, without the constraints of gravity. Without, I sometimes feel, the constraints of time.

So, what can the dead do? More, and at the same time much less, than the living. A vague answer, I know, but death is nothing if not vagueness and obtusity.

Asking this question begs another, however. Why do the dead have a desire to do anything at all? What can motivate a corpse to undertake endeavors on Earth, having been cast free of Earthly bonds? Why hang about?

I can't speak for others of my kind, but my reason for hanging about is just as Earthly as they come. Quite simply, I have a desire for vengeance. Not justice, for I've never been right in my life. Not a measure-for-measure exchange against wrongs done me, for I've never been a fair man (or spirit). I have a desire for bloody, totalitarian vengeance. The kind of vengeance that crosses the bounds of generations and transcends the realm of reason, a vengeance that is unholy and at the same time justifiable.

Justifiable? Yes, justifiable. As thievery among thieves is justified. As murder among killers is justified. As vengeance in the face of another vengeance is justified.

You may have heard me say that I woke up one morning on the far side of oblivion. I did. It was sudden, to say the least. I must have been shot in the head shortly after I fell asleep. The strange thing was, I slept through it all and actually woke up dead. I had an impression of yawning, of stretching, of scratching, of getting groggily up from my bed to take my customary trip to the toilet, only when I rose, I didn't rise, you see. I was standing, but then again, there I was lying cold and stiff under my covers. It was strange, and I know you're confused. Maybe you're thinking it must have been like a dream, or a nightmare more likely. Dying wasn't that way at all. As soon as I stood up, I knew what had happened. I looked back down at my body and just knew. It was like I had just enjoyed a fresh bowel movement, and was staring down at the results. My corpse meant nothing more to me than that. At first.

I remember I groaned and said, 'Oh, shit. They got me.' And that was all.

My brains were kind of splattered across the bed and against the far wall. They had hit me in the right ear, opening up the left side of my head, but it was a neat shot. Besides the tissue and gray matter, there wasn't much mess. My blood had soaked deeply into the pillow and mattress, so it was nearly invisible to casual observation. I thought of my wife and children, and was suddenly glad Adrianna had left me before all this happened. If she and the kids had been there, no doubt they would have met the same fate.

Then I noticed the gun. And the note. It read simply, 'Don't worry about me. I'm in a better place.' My initials were affixed to the bottom. It was written in my handwriting, and no doubt had my fingerprints all over it. Right away I knew where I had seen that note before. It was a sarcastic message I had left on my business partner's windshield last year after he had parked in my marked space in the garage. It was an old war we used to fight. An old man that worked in a third floor law firm in our building had a bad hip, and when it was acting up he parked in Sol's space, which was closest to the elevator. Sol, in turn, parked in mine. They were always so god damned early that I could never beat them at it. So one morning, in frustration after walking a half a mile to the elevator, I had left the note. And initialed it. Sol must have kept it all that time.

I hung around in the bedroom for awhile, not really knowing what else to do. I kept wondering when the Great Spirit (or Satan) would find the time to visit. But nobody and nothing showed up. Except the cleaning service on Saturday. Then the police. Then the medical examiner's boys with their big garbage bag. I, or at least my body, was whisked away, neat as you please. The cops hung around for quite some time and went through everything I owed or possessed. Even my computer files. Even my underwear drawer. Even my collection of pornography (with a few sneaked photos of Adrianna and myself). Everything. At least they didn't laugh. Much.

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