August 15, 2012

Have I stayed too long at the fair?

The ghost came to my office door the other morning. I had come to work early. I’m more productive before the rest of the guys show up, but just as I was getting down to it, I felt the chill; I looked up, and there he was, kind of hovering in the doorway.

I didn’t say anything right away. Usually he will just hang out for a moment and then wander off or drift away, but this time he … I hope you don’t mind that I refer to the ghost as “he.” I don’t know if the dead hold on to gender identities. It doesn’t look like anything, really, a protoplasmic diaphanous blob. Is it a he? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem right to refer to the ghost as “it.”

Well, anyway, he wasn’t leaving. I looked up a couple times, trying to concentrate on my work, but I couldn’t take it. “Is there something I can do for you?” I asked. I may have seemed a bit annoyed, I guess.

Nothing. He just “stands” there, swaying slightly.

“OK,” I said, “I’m just going to keep working if that’s OK with you,” and I went about trying to ignore him.

A minute later, he starts moaning. It could have been the wind (I don’t use an air conditioner, and my desk is by a window) or the refrigerator motor or something, but it sounded like it was coming from where there was nothing. It was a terribly sad sound. I felt like I wanted to cry, but I refocused my attention and adopted an irritated demeanor. “What’s wrong with you? I have work to do. Did you have something you wanted to say?” This last was, of course, a bit of a taunt; the ghost doesn’t really “speak,” doesn’t use words anyway, at least he never did before. He communicates with gestures and such. It isn’t the most productive arrangement, not really very conducive to the work environment.

The moaning continued, and the apparition moved further into my office, through the chair. At the same time, an arm stretched up from a hazy area that I could only see out of the corner of my eye. The hand held a little white box with a red button. Another hand reached up and pressed the button.

There was a whirring and clicking noise, scraping, static and voices. There was laughing and crying and whispers and eerie squawking and a kind of computer-generated voice and whooshing noises. After a moment, it started to kind of make sense, the disconnected words from different voices weaving together into a message. “I have received a better offer,” the voices said, “and I have come to give my two-week notice.”

My heart froze. A cold, stabbing sensation ran through my body. I couldn’t move. I felt no urge to move, but surrendering to the sensation, I remember thinking that I should have fallen to the floor, but I didn’t move. There was nothing I could do.

After a moment, I realized I could swallow. “Well,” I said, choking slightly, “I appreciate the gesture, but you aren’t obligated to stay. We don’t pay you. Don’t get me wrong; your perspective has been invaluable, but I’ve never really understood what you get out of this arrangement.”

The ghost had been around for as long as I can remember. I can’t recall the first time he appeared. He’s just always been there, pointing at the grave, evaporating in the sun, lamenting his incorporate form, his inability to embrace, breaking things.

A stunning calm occurred, removing sound and movement from the whole of the morning for a moment. Time stretched out as I regarded the space the ghost was inhabiting. Nothing moved, but his face came into clear focus; it may have taken hours to do so, but the details entered my mind in such a way that I’ll never be able to forget, a perfect amalgamation of overwhelming joy, perfect peacefulness and unimaginable horror. At some point, my vision blurred, and blinking, I shook as if waking from a trance. The ghost was gone.

I’m not sure I should be telling anyone about this. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Have I completely lost my mind?

For further consideration: For some reason, I’m thinking about David Bowie, “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” and the album Low (and Jason Noble). Feel free to visit any time, good sir.