Need to catch up on Ghost Stories – Possession? Start here.
NOTE: Adult situations and language.
I run down Grand until I catch up with a bus heading to the north side of I-980. It’s near empty and I flash my badge instead of paying. The bus driver gives me a look, but says nothing as I ease into a seat. She keeps an eye on me in that big rear view mirror, but she’s speeding through her stops like she’s late for something so I can’t complain.
When I get near my old neighborhood, I disembark and jog the few blocks to my father’s place. There are two unmarked cruisers out front, blocking the driveway. An ambulance is in the middle of the street, its back door open. I glance inside as I walk by and do a double take.
There’s someone strapped to a gurney, but there are no paramedics around.
I jump in.
It couldn’t be Diego – he called me. Jules? He always did what father said. It couldn’t possibly be him.
I snap away a thermal blanket covering the person’s face.
It’s David, the pool boy.
He’s as pale as a ghost. His long, blond locks are dark with moisture and plastered away from his face.
When dry, they curl into beautiful shapes and bounce as he works. Back when I lived at home, I admired how they fell across his muscled neck and shoulders, and would often daydream of having the nerve to kiss him.
There’s a smudge of blood beneath his left ear and bruising around his neck.
Damn. He’d been working for my father for going on six or seven years. We were about the same age, and I always thought my father liked him. At least, better than he liked me.
I leave the ambulance and jog up to the front door. It’s open. Muffled voices come from within. When I get to the kitchen, I find two paramedics and my brothers huddled over my father. He’s on the tile floor, flat on his back, eyes closed.
“What happened?” I say.
I glance out the sliding glass door and notice two men in suits taping off the pool in the back yard. There’s a bright red stain near the lip.
Diego and one of the paramedics jump at my voice. Jules shakes his head, but doesn’t say anything, and the other paramedic stands up.
“Officer Tesserak?” he says.
He must recognize me from my year as a beat cop, but I don’t know him. I’m tempted to correct him. I’m Detective Tesserak now, but that won’t last long, so I don’t.
The paramedic tells me that my father suffered an anxiety attack and passed out. They planned on taking him in for monitoring when another ambulance arrives to transport him.
No one mentions anything about the dead pool boy.
The paramedics bustle out without any more explanation.
“He’s not being arrested?” I ask.
I’m hoping Jules will answer, because Diego will probably lose it.
“Who?” Diego asks at the same time Jules says, “Are you nuts?”
“So dad didn’t kill David?” I ask.
“It was an accident,” Jules says.
But I know my brother. He’s not looking at me and the muscles in his jaw are working up a cramp.
And Diego is shaking.
I’ll have to get their story later because the suits walk in. I know them. Never worked directly with either of them, wrong beat, but in the past eighteen months, I’ve definitely crossed paths with both of ‘em at headquarters at one point or another. But if I remember right, they handled internal affairs.
They fill me in on what they think happened. A simple accident: David slipped into the pool and hit his head on the concrete edge. My father woke to find him, called an ambulance, and then fainted when he found out he was dead.
They gave some bullshit line that David worked around pools practically all his life, and today was his unlucky day. It’s always the ones who are over-confident, they say, that end up in the worst accidents.
But I know otherwise.
David was like a cat. I’ve seen him do somersaults mid-stride, snapping a towel at me or my brothers while executing a perfect porpoise dive. He was all muscle. If he had slipped, he would have saved himself.
Besides, didn’t they see the body? The bruise on his neck probably didn’t come from slipping and hitting his skull.
And what the hell were they doing here? They handled internal affairs, not house calls.
I’m nodding at their lies, wondering whether I just entered the twilight zone when David’s ghost walks into the room.
The bright sun outside must have obscured the ghost from my view. But how on this blue-green planet I could have missed it I have no idea, because though I can see through it, it’s completely naked and its penis – emitting a dull, throbbing red – is fully aroused.
The ghost is staring down at my father, ethereal tears streaming down its face. It must sense my staring somehow because it turns towards me; eyes bulging, mouth opened in an ‘O’ so wide, I think I might fall in.
I suck in my breath and wait for it to start raising hell.
But David’s ghost doesn’t do anything and no one else notices, of course.
And that’s when father wakes up.
“Get that useless cunt out of here!” he says.
My shoulders scrunch up and I duck my head. Heat rises to my ears. Why do I feel embarrassed when he’s the one being the asshole?
Neither Jules or Diego say anything, but Diego’s dark brown skin takes on a hint of flushed red.
The suits glance at each other, then at me. I don’t know what to say. Before I can think of anything, my father repeats himself, struggling to get up. His voice is getting louder and is slurred as all hell. One side of his face is drooping, like melted wax.
Both Jules and Diego try to calm him down. I move to help, but one of the suits beats me to it. The other grabs my arm and whispers that maybe I should leave.
I glance at the ghost’s penis before forcing my eyes up to its hollow eyes. It’s waving its hands as if to shoo me away, too. There’s concern and anger on its face, as if I’m the one responsible for my father’s condition and should just get the hell out.
Shit. Looks like no one wants me around today. So I leave.
* * *
The blonde chick wasn’t at the bar. I wait until close to midnight; the naked ghost’s penis, my father’s voice, and my new suspension preying on me the entire time.
An image of Merryweather’s body swinging slowly from a rope cuts through my thoughts and I think of her kid. Didn’t I promise to find him? What was his name?
Did a promise to a ghost matter?
Even if it did, I doubted Reyes or McLean wanted me on their team. I’m a useless cunt after all, right?
I roll the last dram of amber around the bottom of my glass.
The Asian waitress keeps looking my way and the next time she comes to fill me up, I ask if she’d like to come to my place for the night. She lets me down easy, but my chest gets tight anyway. I give her a strained smile and ask for the bill.
Walking home, I’m tempting to hike the fifteen blocks or so uptown to hit a hetero bar. This time of the night, there’s bound to be a guy desperate enough to go out with a tall, thick woman with biceps larger than their own. But I can’t be bothered.
Walking into my apartment building, a fetid stench assaults me. In the darkened foyer, I see a mass of rags in one corner. For a moment, I consider inviting the bum up to my apartment, but I don’t want to deal with lice or worse.
My lonely bed beckons and before I know it, I’m half undressed and in it, staring up at the ceiling. A bottle of tequila nestled in the crock of my arm. I keep sipping until oblivion takes me.
* * *
Merryweather’s moaning wakes me up.
Something is pounding between my temples and I can barely crack my eyes open. It’s still dark, but light from an outside streetlight filters into my room, piercing my retinas as if someone was shining a 10,000-watt bulb directly in my face.
A glance at my bedside clock tells me I’ve only been asleep for less than an hour.
My gut lurches. The toilet bowl is before me before I know what’s going on, my body reacting out of months of practice. Hot liquid and bile sputter out of me. I turn on the light and cry out.
When my retinas recover, I can just make out a bleary version of myself in the bathroom mirror.
When did I get so fucked up? I think.
My reflection morphs into Merryweather’s forlorn face. She’s all sparkly, as if someone hung tiny white lights at the edges of her phantasmal being.
I know it’s not real. Once a ghost tells her story, that’s it. They go on to where ever it is they go. But I can’t help but feel guilty about her kid.
Her lips are moving, as if she’s saying something. I move closer to the mirror, my breath frosting the surface, and for a second, I think we’ll kiss.
I jump back, crashing into the bathtub glass doors behind me. They clang together, but manage to hold my heavy frame.
In the mirror is an image of my father. Rage distorts his face. Whether he’s mad at the world or me, I don’t know. But I know what I want to do. Something I should have done the first time he hit a defenseless little girl.
My fist slams into his face.
Shards of glass cut my knuckles and his shattered image falls around me feet.
“I’m not a useless cunt,” I say to his fading image.
My blood drips on the glass and I vow to prove that true.
Dressing in running dark pants and a hoodie, I strap my holster over my black sweater. When I pin my badge to my left shoulder strap, I’m ready to find Niki.
But now that she’s ready, is it too late?
Find out in Part 6, coming up on Friday.