Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm headed back to the boneyard when Twinkletoes, the girl who danced my sorry ass into the ground, is suddenly just there, smiling. "Buy a girl a cup of coffee?"

I shrug. "Sure, why not?" She leads the way to a small coffee shop called Death By Coffee; the sign features the Grim Reaper with a deathgrip - so to speak - on a steaming cup of java. Somehow the artist evoked an expression in the hollow eyes, the look of a junkie who's just found a fix. She gives me an enigmatic smile as we enter.

"Morning, Joe. Give me a sugar-free caramel soy latte and - " She looks at me expectantly. "Coffee, cream, no sugar?" They give me identical pitying looks as we sit down.

"Tell me about yourself, Jack. What do you do when you're not drinking beer and being a wallflower?"

"I'm the caretaker and general dogsbody at Pax Aeternum."

"The cemetery?" I nod. "So... you married, divorced, living in sin?"

"I was married, a long time ago."

"So what happened? She have trouble keeping up with your snappy repartee?"

"She died."

Just then the coffee arrives and we're spared further revelations for a moment. It gives me time to school my face back to its customary lack of expression. She looks serious for the first time when she turns back to me.

“I am sorry, Jack, I didn’t know.”

“No reason you should have. Anyway, like I said, it was a long time ago.”

“No one special since then?” I shake my head. “Not really. I mean, there have been some women since, off and on, but nothing that lasts long…. I don’t think I’m the kind of guy who has ‘relationships’.”

“What about that woman at your table tonight? Who was she?”

I stare at her like she suddenly grew a third eye. “What woman?”

“The woman who was sitting with you when I came in. She was right across the table from you.”

“Eira… there was no one there. I was alone all night.”

“Jack, I saw her, plain as I see you now.”

“Okay, what’d she look like?”

“Average height, I guess… slender but kind of busty, dark hair, dark eyes… she looked Spanish, or maybe Italian. Mediterranean, anyhow.”

I feel my heart knock painfully against my ribs. “Oh my God.”

“What? Jack, will you please tell me what the hell’s going on? Why does this woman disturb you so much?”

“Oh my God,” I say again. “You’re a medium.”

“I’m a Misses’ Petite, and quit trying to change the subject.”

“A spirit medium, Eira. Someone who can see and communicate with the dead.”

“Jack, you’re not making any sense.”

“The woman you saw was my wife, Katerina. She’s been dead for years.”

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