I'm A Ghost!
By Tommy Goodale
Like somebody draped a black towel over his face, Ben could barely see through the night as he was the last to leave the office that day, dealing with a particularly persistent client over the phone. He held his messenger bag loosely with his left hand, scrolling through the webpage Reddit on his phone with his right hand.
“Like, I don’t get it, you can’t just leave your rental car at the airport for us to pick it up, I don’t care what Louis C.K. said…” Ben said to himself, shaking his head as he stomped back to his car, lonely in the messy, ill-lit parking lot. As he approached his car and fumbled for his keys in his coat pocket, he finally noticed a man coming towards him, just a few hundred feet from his vehicle, waving his right hand in the air. He grabbed his keys, but then tapped them a few times on his hood as he pondered about this man coming towards him.
“Hey, what are you, I mean, who are you, what do you, uhhh, want?” Ben said before he looked down at his watch, and thought to himself, “damn, Battlestar Galactica starts in twenty-five minutes, this guy better be selling good drugs or I’m outta here.”
The man started to jog his way, with a limp, waving his hand. “Wait, wait good sir! I need a lift.” As the man came closer, Ben pulled his jacket in tighter as he noticed the man was bleeding from his side very heavily and down his leg, and his leg was also bent awkwardly inwards. His head was completely bald, he was a shorter man, in his forties, and he had a particular glow about him, a slight illuminating aura that made him very easy to see in the thick darkness. Ben squinted his eyes looking at this man before he said, “like, a lift home or something?” He started to tap his foot as he looked down the road, towards his home. This particular area was in very open country, but down the single road either way led into very dark, poorly lid woods.
“Yeah”, the man said, looking down at his bleeding leg, “yeah, I just need a lift home, I, I hurt myself, and I missed the bus so, I just, you know, needed a lift. If you don’t mind, I just live down that way.” He pointed in the exact direction that Ben lived, though Ben thought nothing of it. There was only one road, so it was a fifty-fifty chance that they both lived in the same direction. “Just a little ways down, maybe ten minutes or so.”
“Ten minutes, you say?” Ben thought to himself. “Battlestar Galactica tonight, no prob!” He put on a smile, opened his car door and unlocked the rest of the doors. “A lift you request, a lift you shall receive!” He held out his hand in an overdramatically formal fashion, and waiting for his guest to sit down before taking his own seat and starting the vehicle. While he waiting for the car to warm up, he asked the man, “so, you got any bud?”
The man looked over, with a perplexed look. “Any what?”
“Bud.” Ben looked at him seriously, the man looking back just as perplexed as before.
“Yes?” the man said, holding out his hands.
“Bud, do you have bud?”
“Oh!” the man said, leaning back. “Oh, you’re…I mean, no, I don’t think so, what’s bud?”
“Nevermind, just…nevermind” Ben said, with audible disappointment. “So, where do you live? What’s your name?”
“Tobias, my name is Tobias, and I live just a little ways down, just off the main road, I’ll let you know when to turn.”
“Oh, Tobias, that’s a wicked name, bro.” Ben turned on his high-beams as they approached the thickly wooded road. “I think I heard that name recently, like my boys were saying it, about some car crash or something?”
Tobias suddenly appeared startled, and look at Ben with worry. “You heard about that?”
“Yeah, bro, shit was cray.” Ben shifted in his seat, driving with only his right hand, left hand animated as he spoke. “He, like, got hit by some truck, you know? It was crazy, man, they couldn’t even find the body, I think it’s cause the car, like, caught fire or something.”
Tobias looked out the window. “Yeah, a fire. Body completely gone, no way to get home.” A few long moments of silence crept in, and Ben looked over a few times before speaking again.
“You alright, Tobias? You know the guy who died or something?” Tobias didn’t answer, continuing to look out of the window. He wasn’t upset, he was just wondering what to say next. “Damn, man, I’m sorry bro, I didn’t know, if you knew the guy or something. Hey, what happened to your leg anyhow? Don’t you, like, wanna go to the hospital or something?”
Tobias looked back over. “I don’t think doctors will be able to do much for me, I’m well beyond that.”
Ben flinched back, shaking his head and scrunching his face. “What do you mean, beyond that? You ain’t dead or anything, bro.”
Tobias didn’t answer, continuing to look towards the darkness, moonlight flickering in through the trees.
Ben drove on for a while, and checked his phone, responding to a text message while looking up to make sure he was still driving straight on the road; Tobias didn’t notice. “So what were you doing out there, anyways? You don’t work with me, do you?”
“No, I don’t. I was driving by and a car hit my car, and I kind of got stranded for a while. Wasn’t able to make it back home.”
“What, like, how long ago was that?”
Tobias turned his head back towards Ben, eyes closed. He hesitated for a moment, gritting, his teeth, but then shrugged his shoulders and said, “about a month ago.”
Ben laughed. “Alright, but for real now?”
“I’m serious. About a month ago.”
“A’ight, dude about a month ago – so you’re trying to be like that dude who died, right? Like, you’re pranking me out here? Is Chad in the back?”
Ben looked to the back seat, and didn’t see anything other than seven bags of Burger King strewn across the floor. He turned back around, eyeing Tobias, with a large grin on his face. “Alright, I’ll play your game, dude.”
“No. I’m not playing, I’m…hey, what’s your name? You never told me.”
“Oh, sorry, it’s Ben.” He sat forward again, now two hands on the wheel. “How much further down?”
“Just a couple more minutes, right at the cemetery.”
“Word.” Ben nodded as he spoke, grin growing on his face. “you’re really sticking to this, huh?” Ben reached out his hand to give Tobias a friendly shove on the shoulder, and his hand passed right through Tobias’ body, like Tobias was a cloud of gas. Ben jerked his hand back, let out a high-pitched yelp, and immediately pulled over.
“Alright, dude, like, I got some stuff in the glove compartment, this is my wallet, like dude, I don’t know man, just take it, whatever, I just wanna get home.” Ben said as he pulled his wallet out of his pocket, but then almost immediately put it back in his pocket. “Or like, just the bud, I kinda need the money.”
“Hey, kid, relax, look, just give me a ride to the cemetery, and I promise you will never see me again. I just need to rest. Look, I know it’s crazy, I am that Tobias from the news, I’m dead, I want to just rest finally. I know it’s weird, I don’t want any money, this isn’t a prank, just please, bring me to my resting place. Bring me to the cemetery, please.” Tobias reached over to touch Ben, and Ben froze. As Ben looked down, Tobias’ hand was phased through his own, and then phased through the chair and back to him. Ben’s mouth opened as wide as possible, as he leered back at Tobias, eyes wide open.
“Yo, yo, yo, dude, yo, that’s, what? That’s, no way man, what!? How is that even…whaa?” Ben immediately reached for the glove compartment, as Tobias sat completely calm and still. Ben pulled out a bag of marijuana, opening it up and fumbling through it.
“What the hell are you doing?” Tobias asked, leaning over a bit.
“It’s all…” Ben was saying, moreso inwards to himself, “it’s all here…what the hell am I high on?” Ben looked towards Tobias again, saw him, closed his eyes and counted to ten, opened them again and Tobias was still there, just staring at him, now with a slight smirk. “I’m still here, Ben.”
“What, so, what?” Ben slapped himself hard across the face, looked back and saw Tobias still looking at him. “Dude, you’re a freaking ghost! What the hell!”
Tobias nodded with wide eyes. “Yes, I’m a ghost, now you get it.” He shook his head looking forward, sighing with annoyance. “Alright, now let’s go, before the sun comes up.”
Ben kept looking at Tobias, who then looked back at him. “Will you go, Ben? We don’t have all night, I’ve been waiting quite a while, I would like to lie down.” Ben looked forward, eyes still as wide as possible, and began to drive again towards the cemetery, thoughts racing in his mind.
“What the hell do I do!? This guy seems kind of rad honestly…like, he’s kind of lame like an older guy, but he seems chill at the same time…this dude is a ghost though, like a real one, he’s totally here, I might be tripping but if I am, that’s totally cool, I’m just going to roll with it…just relax dude, make conversation maybe, he won’t haunt you later, he seems nice…a nice ghost…”
After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Ben broke it. “So, like, do you know whether you’re going to heaven or hell or whatever?”
“What?” Tobias said, looking at Ben. “What the hell, no, that’s the whole point, you figure it out. I don’t even know if it’s real or not.”
“Dude, you gotta be careful! If you say that, you won’t get in, you gotta believe and stuff.”
“Do you believe in God?” Tobias said to Ben, staring intently.
“I mean, no,” Ben said, shrugging, “I don’t, but I know that if you believe in God, you get into heaven, so you should believe.”
Tobias opened his mouth to say something, but couldn’t quite grasp the words. “Wait, so you think you’ll get into heaven if you believe in God, but you don’t believe? How does that make sense?”
“Well, it’s like, I wanna be in heaven cause it looks cool and all, like at the end of This Is The End, that movie with Seth…Seth…McRogen and that dude from a hundred or whatever hours, they were all dancing with the Backstreet Boys and they were back and it was awesome, so I feel like heaven is pretty cool, I just don’t really like going to church because I have to get up early.” Ben continued to stare forward down the road. “I think it’s coming up soon.”
“Thank God,” said Tobias.
“Yeah, good, there we go man,” Ben said, holding out his fist to fist-bump Tobias. “Thanking the lord, that’s how you get in man, politeness and stuff.” He continued to hold out his fist, and Tobias just looked at it, and back at Ben. Ben did a double-take at Tobias. “Bro, you leaving me hanging?”
“I’m a ghost, dammit.”
Ben jumped for a moment, and put his hand down. “Oh, right, yeah, you’re dead and a ghost and stuff. Oh, like, so you can’t touch me, how come you don’t just fall through the seat and the ground forever?”
“Can we just get to the cemetery, Jesus Christ, I should’ve never said anything.”
“Nah, dude, don’t say that!” Ben tried to grab Tobias’ shoulder, but his hand went right through him, and he quickly snatched his hand back. “Oh, that was wild, dude, you can’t say that, that’s his son man, like what if I used your son’s name in vain?”
Tobias, still looking outside, conjured a smile. “Might as well have a little fun...” he thought to himself before saying, “Well, Ben, that would be funny, because you are my son.” He then turned slowly towards Ben, smiling, who was already looking back at him with fear.
“Wait, dude, are you really?”
The two looked deep into each other’s eyes for several extended seconds, before Tobias blurted out, “nah, I’m just messing with you, I never had kids.”
Ben sighed in relief, leaning back. “Dude, that’s a relief, cause my dad’s at home, man, I thought he died and you were him.”
Tobias flipped his hands open and buried his face in them. “Is your dad’s name Tobias?”
“Nah, it’s Ben, I’m a junior.”
“Alright, so how would I be him if my name is Tobias? Is your dad even bald, does he look like me?”
“Nah, he’s got like a mullet, it’s kinda weird.”
“Alright, so how the hell did you think I was serious then? Holy mackerel.”
A blank stare overcame Ben’s face as he continued to drive through the endless woods. “I don’t know, man, I smoke a lot of pot so like, oh here it is!” Ben pulled over abruptly and came to a screeching halt just outside of the very large cemetery. He put the car in park, turned towards Tobias and held out his hand.
“It was nice meeting you, dude, even if you are dead.” Tobias just looked down at Ben’s hand, shook his head, and got out of the car. As he started to walk away, Ben opened the passenger window. “I mean, that was kinda rude, but like, do you want me to visit you or something?”
Tobias stopped and turned around. “if you visit me, I’m going to latch myself onto your soul and haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Ben beat his hand a few times on his steering wheel. “Ha, good one man, Tobias, Toby, Toby Keith, live long and…I mean, I don’t know, die and prosper and stuff!” Ben drove off into the darkness as Tobias turned around and dissolved into a mist over his tombstone.