Monday, June 7, 2010

Until Death - Part 1

He materialized sitting in a chair across my desk. Was I flattered? A little bit. Maintaining surface contact with furniture and holding a normally corporeal position is not easy for ghosts. It takes a lot of concentration. So the fact that Anthony went to that amount of trouble was, in an odd way, a compliment.

But the flattering manner of the entrance didn't take away from the fact of the entrance.

"Leave right now," I said.

He smiled that little boy grin he has, the one that melts me just enough on the inside to wish I could slap him. "Got a case for you," he said.

"No. No more cases. It was a fun, silly, stupid thing we enjoyed back in law school. But law school is over, Anthony. Everyone in the Undead Bar Association has moved on. Well, the living members have. Why are you still here?"

"Why haven't I crossed over," he clarified. I nodded. Anthony shrugged. "Still got some unfinished business," he said.

"I thought we took care of that."

"Guess not, 'cause I'm still here."

I glanced furtively at the window set in my office door. "Please leave before someone sees you," I said. "I have enough problems fitting in at this firm. If they found out about you, and the UBA - "

"Chill, baby. I'll sense the presence of anyone coming long before they see me, and I'll disappear."

I glared at him, and he smiled winningly. "I'm not going to do whatever it is you want, so you might as well leave now," I said.

"That was bogue. I went to a lot of trouble to find you. Of course it hadn't occurred to me that you'd end up in this little backwater place. Not after all that trouble you went to, getting that gig with the big firm in the big city." Anthony floated forward, his midsection in the middle of my desk. "I was right, wasn't I? They stuck you in a dark little cubicle with work that bored you to tears," he said.

He was right. The first law firm I worked for had been a legal sweat shop. Every moment was a race to meet the metrics, doing the most pointless and mind-numbing work on the face of the planet. When my parents found out about a position with a firm back in my home town I jumped at the chance to make a change. I interviewed, and before I knew it I was the new associate at Deitrick, Egbert & Drake. The work was interesting - a much better variety of cases than the corporate-focused firm I started with. And yet...

"You're bored here too," Anthony said. "I see it in your eyes." He drifted back, out of the desk, and bobbed to a standing position on the other side. "That's what makes reviving the Undead Bar Association so perfect," he said, spreading his arms wide.

"No. And don't call this city ‘backwater.’ This is my home," I said sharply.

"All the more reason for you to take this case. Local case. Local undead. Home grown issues," he said. Oh, he was very good. Ready to change tactics the instant he sensed a stronger argument.

"No, Anthony. There are too many problems with reviving the UBA."

"Name one."

"Okay. We're scattered all over the country."

Anthony gestured at the computer on my desk and said, "You've got virtual mail and that net thing. Geography: not an issue."

"Everyone is too busy with other things."

"You were all busy studying in law school, but you made time for the UBA. Some of you had part-time jobs on top of that. Time management: not an issue."

"If I suggest to the other members that we re-start or 'revive' the UNDEAD Bar Association, a host of horrible puns will follow."

"That isn't a reason at all!"

"Yes, it is," I insisted. "I hate puns."

He stared at me mournfully. “At least show some consideration for me,” he said pathetically.

“What are you talking about?”

“I told the clients you would meet with them. If you refuse now it will hurt my credibility.”

I shrugged and said, “That’s your problem, not mine.”

Anthony turned his head towards the door, like he was listening to a sound in the hallway. “I sense something...a dark presence...is there a demon in your office?” he asked, concerned but curious.

“No, but there are three partners at this firm. It’s probably Mr. Drake coming to discuss a case with me. Please leave, Anthony. He shouldn’t see you!”

Anthony pointed a ghostly finger at me while running his other hand through the untamed locks of his spectral hair. “This conversation ain’t over, baby. I will check you later,” he said. He disappeared, leaving me to stare at a blank spot on my office wall.

I’m being haunted, again, by the ghost of a dead law student from the 1970s. Like my life isn’t complicated enough.

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