If you were a ghost, where would you go? I’d be interested to know. I used to think–well–when I was a kid you know; girl’s locker rooms and stuff like that. But it sounds so sordid when you think about it, sad really.
When I look in the car mirror I don’t look a day over- I’m not sure how old I really am. How do you count ghost years? Are they like dog years or what? I was driving with my guy, Andy, and he said, “if you were a ghost, how would you know?”
We were listening to old music on the radio. Maybe that’s what made him think it. Here we are listening to all that stuff from the sixties, the seventies and the eighties; a ghost would listen to the good stuff wouldn’t he?
“If you’re a ghost, then so am I,” I said. I’ve know Andy since we were kids. We went to school, hung out and went to college together. We dropped out together. Maybe we’re both ghosts. Yeah could be, could be we’re both ghosts driving in a ghost car and listening to ghost radio– Ghost Echo and the Ghost Bunnymen.
“If we were ghosts, we’d have to be dead,” I said.
But Andy said, “Nah, we could be in a coma or something.”
“Even if we were both dead or in a coma, we’d remember it happening and all that,” I said.
“No,” said Andy. “Ghost ain’t like people, they’re just bits of people, memories or emotions and stuff. Where’d he come up with this shit?”
How the hell did we end up here? None of us knew; we just were. How long have we been going round that same highway; up and down every night. At least the music never got old, but suddenly those girls’ locker rooms didn’t sound so bad.
“We ain’t dead,” I said. “We’re just in a coma.”
“Then maybe we could wake up,” said Andy. “If we knew where we are, I mean where our bodies are, then we could go and wake them up.”
“They’ll be in a hospital,” I said. “We should go and check out the hospitals, all of them. Hell, we got plenty of time, time to check them all.”
Andy shook his head, he wasn’t so sure.
I asked, “How come?”
And Andy said, “Maybe we only got like one night and go over it again and again. This might be the only time we got to sort this out. Where would we be?”
“Think man,” I told him. “We’re in a car, that’s got to mean something.”
Alright, that was good, that was thinking. Maybe a car crash or something. So, this is what we’ve got so far; we’re in a coma or dead, we come off the road, if we’re still alive, we’re in a hospital. We need to find the hospital and wake ourselves back up. We’ve been going up and down this highway since the eighties and if we want to stop, then we got to find that hospital. Make sense? Well, tough shit, the supernatural doesn’t need to make sense, it just kind of is.
Andy pulls over at a gas station. We didn’t need gas; this is a ghost car after all. But he figured we could get some info. Andy went over to the kiosk and picked up a newspaper. He looked at me and pointed to the date on the masthead. Shit, the eighties were almost forty years ago. I wonder who the president is? Andy said it was probably the bastard lovechild of Bill Clinton and George Bush. We asked the cashier for directions and he pointed this way and that. In the end, we decided just to follow an ambulance.
We pulled up on the lot next to the hospital, got out the car and headed into the hospital. We skipped in through the swing doors. I asked Andy if he was certain this was where we were, and he said, of course, he could feel it like some kind of ghost homing instinct. But I couldn’t feel nothing. Maybe, he’s more dead than I am; could be that he’s more of a ghost than me.
We followed Andy’s ghost homing signal through the hospital corridors until we came to a room. There was a nurse coming out of the room. She said we had to leave and that she was getting security. When the guy in the black uniform came, he ushered both of us to the lift.
“That was a waste of time,” I said.
Andy said “No,” and showed me some pills he’d scored from the trolley while the nurse had been talking to me.
“What kind of pills,” I asked. “Hopefully heavy pain killers.”
“Why do you want pain killers,” Andy asked. “Ghosts don’t feel pain.”
But I said, “What about all them clanking and moaning and howling banshees and the like, surely they must be feeling pain.”
Andy said, “No, they felt mental turmoil and that’s not the same thing.” Smart-ass.
“Can ghosts take pills?” I asked Andy.
“Too darn right they better can,” he said.
But when we swallowed them they didn’t do nothing. Andy read the box–some kind of Di- Methya- Hexa-Propa-shit, whatever that is.
We got back into the car.
I asked Andy, “What we should do now?”
“It don’t matter,” he said.
He said, “If we’re ghosts, maybe we just do the same thing every night.”
“Like what?” I asked, as he floored the gas and headed off back onto the highway.
Crank it up to eleven. We sped down the road laughing, listening to AC-DC. Until, Andy-shit-for-brains skidded off the road. The car landed in the same place as before and the steering column pierced right through Andy’s rib cage. I went flying through the windscreen and my neck broke. Hell, we really are ghosts. Still, at least we died happy.
First published in Locust July 2018