We laid on the hood of my car, drinking beers and watching the late summer sky turn tangerine, then, to plum; stars crept forward like slow mold, eating away to night. It was magical, and something in that sky told me that it was now time to ask.
“What is… what is death like?”
The cracked cogs of his undead mind churned in search of an answer. He sipped off his beer, then once more. I sensed his nervousness, his unease. This was a deep thought to throw at anyone but I needed to know.
“I couldn’t tell ya’, never met him.”
He began to sit up. It was a slow process, one which was difficult to observe, let alone experience within close proximity. His stomach hung from his torso like a rotting fanny pack and it smelled like ripe roadkill.
“No, no. I mean… what was it like to die?”
“What if Death was a her? Ever think of that?”
I had seen Ghoul angry on a handful of occasions. It was a messy affair that left us both exhausted and I didn’t want to risk that out here, in the woods, with nobody around for miles and miles. Plus, he had drank more than I and was surprisingly jovial; much better than his nasty, passive-aggressive norm. I wanted nothing more than to ride that drunk-Ghoul-wave all the way to the shore.
“Sorry. I’ll leave it be,” I said.
Ghoul shrugged, and what remained of his shoulder blades, clavicle, and scapula stabbed through his skin like a wet knife stabbing through jello. His decaying slowly collapsed back into his skin with a sickening squish.
“I’ll tell you. Why not, right? We’ve known each other for how long now?”
“Sure thing, slick,” he chugged the remains of his beer, then tossed the empty into the trees. “I remember the impact of the car accident, and it sucked. The pain was excruciating. I didn’t die right off, either. Must’ve been about thirty minutes before complete darkness took me but that time seemed like an eternity. Through the pain I kept remembering bits and pieces of the life I live… but it all seems so fuzzy. I remembered my childhood, then college, then meeting my… my wife. Wow. That’s right, I wasn’t driving when we were t-boned and I remember hearing the other one didn’t make it.”
Ghoul snatched the beer from my hands, downing it in two gulps and through the moonlight I witnessed his stomach bulging to a near burst. He turned inward, to me, and belched. The stench pierced my flesh, all the way to my marrow and I quivered in disgust.
“I gotta just say something now so I can get it off my chest,” said Ghoul.
“I’m here for you,” I said.
“The other person in the car that day was my wife… she died instantly.”
“I’m… I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
He slid off the hood of my car, stumbling to the passenger side. He opened the door and tossed the keys my way.
“We should continue the party. I have a thirst for billiards and hard liquor.”
I wanted to tell him that most people called it pool, but I didn’t want to ruin his excellent swagger.
I said, “I’d really like that.”
And I meant it.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017