Last night’s dream:
A co-worker tells me she’s arranged for me to tryout for Cruz Azul, a professional soccer team based in Mexico City. This strikes me as odd on for three reasons. First, I’m not a fan of Mexican soccer. Second, I’ve never been close to being good enough to play pro. And third, I’m about 60 pounds heavier than my ideal playing weight, and 10 years older than my ideal playing age. But what the heck, it’s an opportunity to get out of the country, to visit Mexico, to see some high-quality soccer and have a good time, right?
My reaction strikes me as odd, because I’d have to employ my least favorite mode of travel, flight, to get to Mexico City, and because I’m not a big fan of huge cities or anyplace outside America. But I decide to go anyways. Will I make the team? No, but it’ll be a fun time and besides, what’s the worst that can happen?
It’s about a month later and I’m dead. I am a ghost haunting an apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina, where four people live: three roommates in their 20s or 30s, and the young son of the oldest roommate, none of whom I knew when I was alive. All I know is that I was murdered in Mexico.
I know nothing else. I don’t know how long I’ve been dead. I don’t know who did it. I don’t know why or how I was murdered. I don’t know if my family’s been informed. I don’t know why I’m in Charlotte. I don’t even know these poor schleps I’m haunting.
Actually, “haunting” doesn’t seem to be the right word. The roommates and the son seem to be perfectly comfortable around me. They talk to me without any fear and without any sense that I’m imposing on them–I don’t eat or sleep, so their bills are the same. They go about their business and let me go about mine, which is figuring out exactly what I should do about my predicament.
I can’t tell how much time is passing, but I haven’t tried leaving the apartment yet. Nobody’s home right now; they’re at work and school. I’m trying to figure out what exactly I can do before I try going outside. I work on using computer keyboards and telephone keypads. I can’t remember e-mail addresses or telephone numbers–they’re all entered onto contact lists on the computer and speed-dials on the cell phones, so I haven’t had to remember them.
I remember only two phone numbers. The first is the landline at Dad’s house, which is the one phone he never picks up. I don’t bother calling. The second is my work number. I dial, and for one mad moment wonder if I could get my old teaching job back. Then I worry that because of the state’s class-size legislation, they might not allow me to teach because they might not be allowed to include dead teachers in figuring out the class-size ratios.
The automated system picks up and some anonymous, robotic-sounding woman tells me to dial the extension of the person I’m trying to reach. I punch in the code to check my voicemail. I hear my own recorded voice say, “Vincent Viscariello,” and wait for the robotic woman to tell me to punch in my passcode.
Instead, the robotic woman says, “Murdered.”
It means someone back home knows I’m dead. I’m stunned to hear it, even though it’s no surprise at this point. I keep the phone to my ear and listen to the hum of recorded silence. Now what?
I go to the website of my hometown newspaper to try and find an obituary. No luck–not because I can’t operate the keyboard, but because the website is so poorly designed I can’t navigate my way around it.
Then a sense of peace befalls me. I can’t be hurt–at least not by anything tangible. I can find out who did this and avenge my own death or turn them in, I can communicate with my friends and family, and I have the time to do it–
I’m in front of an old friend, “Karl Winter,” who asks, “Don’t you think people in your position have tried this before? Do you know anyone who has successfully plotted with the dead? Aren’t you wasting your time?” The peace is gone.
My hauntees come home. I ask them to give me a ride to Jacksonville. One of them is perfectly willing to do it, but then he says, “Wait, I was thinking of Tallahassee, because I have to go to Tallahassee for work anyways. I can’t fit Jacksonville in.”
I tell them that I’m a ghost, and I’ll haunt them for real if nobody gives me a ride down to Jacksonville. It’s only about six, seven hours and after that they’ll never have to see me again. Alas, they’re still more worried about missing work than they are about getting haunted.
I tell them that I will let them have every last cent in my bank accounts if they’ll give me a ride down to Jacksonville. One of them points out that my accounts have probably been frozen since my death, and that if not, it’d look pretty darn suspicious if some poor folks from Charlotte suddenly emptied my accounts.
I assure them that one way or another, they’ll get compensated for the lost time at work. After enough begging and cajoling, one of them agrees to drive me to Jacksonville. I don’t know what’s waiting for me there, no idea what I’ll do when I get then, and no idea how much time I have left before
I woke up.