One time I was walking down an alley late at night. The clouds were gauzy over the moon. Suddenly a ghost jumped out at me. “Woah,” I said, because I was not expecting it, to be honest. “Sheesh,” I said, because I still hadn’t recovered. I shook my head at the ghost. I shook my finger at the ghost too, because . . . maybe a little more careful next time.
Then the ghost told me we were going to walk to the nearest ATM. The ghost was real scary, with horrible teeth and bloodshot eyes. I realized that the ghost was probably real out of it, having been dead so long and everything, so he probably needed help with the ATM machine. Withdrawing funds, or making a deposit. For the living, these actions are part of our daily routine. Not so for the dead. Not so. Maybe there’s no direct deposit in the afterlife. And the ghost need help depositing a paycheck. I tried to ask the ghost about this, but embarrassment at his lack of technological prowess made the ghost threaten me in alarmingly corporeal terms.
I’m quite capable with technology. I almost always complete my ATM transactions on the first or second try. I help my parents with their printer on a pretty regular basis, and they’re impressed with my ability to Google answers to their problems. I’m a bit of a techie, I guess. I just love the internet, and email, and gaming, and gamer culture, and hacker stuff. It’s how I’m wired. Get it? Email me if you get it.
Of course, I told the ghost I could help him. My tech skills are a point of pride.
The ghost wanted me to use my debit card when we got to the ATM, and I was like ,”Right—so he can see how a pro does.” The ghost was pretty specific about me withdrawing 300 dollars, even though I assured him it works the same with any amount. He was like, “I don’t flipping care.” I reproduce his harsh language here out of respect for the dead.
After my demonstration, the ghost seemed ready to leave.
I felt like I’d misjudged the situation. Now I saw that the ghost had unfinished business. He must have owed someone money. He’d chosen me as his Haley Joel Osment. I felt honored.
As this restless denizen of the netherworld left me, he whispered a word of warning: “Don’t tell the cops.” This baffled me. Of course I wouldn’t tell anyone. I knew I was the only one who could see him. I walked off home—a swing in my step, but a weight on my shoulders. I had been given a gift. One I would not take lightly.