In an uncertain cold night, I asked the ghost what force kept us together. Me, whom I presume is free of everything, and him, who stomps in the shadows projected from my inner turmoils. He gave me no answer, as expected of him. It has been a few years since he had infiltrated my brain, carving a hole through it and accommodating himself quite quickly. It all started a few weeks before my father’s death.
My father was a good man, an active member of the community who worked as an architect. Always happy, always present. But that was only on the outside. On the inside he was ugly – a violent man who made my life a living hell. Murderous, dangerous. I thought forgiving was a parent’s duty, but I learned the hard way that it’s not always like that. Now father lives in the foggy underground, building gray houses of silence.
When he passed, the ghost seemed to get louder and louder. My violent thoughts hiding him like a monstrous mask. I never knew of such thoughts until my dreams were invaded by them. Of course, the sullen ghost has helped me in some situations before. Like the time when I was questioned by the police right after my father’s death had been pronounced to the public.
I was shaking, looking at my father’s corpse being pushed away in a stretcher. The paralyzing hurt spread through my veins, making me fight the impulse to turn around and run far, far away from the scene being played out in front of my teary eyes. The ghost was there, whispering words of comfort that danced around aimlessly in my brain. Then came the authorities, swarming me with questions about my deceased father.
“I’m sorry about your loss, Mr. Lenan,” said Rick, the nicest cop in town. Everyone knew him; it was a small town after all.
“Is it okay if we ask you a few questions?” he asked, putting an orange blanket around my shoulders as we sat down on the curb. I just nodded, throat still tight from the still fresh images of my father’s lifeless eyes.
“When you called 911, you said you had found your father already dead when you got home,” Rick said, looking at me with empathy in his cerulean eyes. It wasn’t exactly a question, but I knew he wanted an explanation.
“Y-Ye,” I stopped, clearing my throat. “Ye-ah. I came home from the park and he…” I motioned with my head towards the ambulance, not being able to verbally admit that my father had passed away. Rick nodded, writing something down on his small, black notebook.
“And you always go on these walks, correct?” he asked, looking at the entrance of the city park at the end of the street. To be honest, it wasn’t really a park, it was more like a forest with a few trails. It was quite large, too, but everyone knew not to go too deep into the forest.
“Yeah. Every day.” I answered, looking down at my shoes, sniffling. Everyone in town knew this. They all knew I loved the beautiful, green forest.
“Did you notice anything strange when you walked into your house?” the cop asked, looking up from his notebook. “Like a car in the driveway or something out of place?” he asked, gesticulating towards the white house.
“Um…kind of,” I answered, looking at Rick’s eyes. “The door was open, but my father usually did that when he forgot to lock the door,” I explained, watching as his eyes shifted back towards his petite notebook.
“Okay, we’re almost done here, son,” Rick notified me, giving me a small, friendly smile. I nodded, not in the mood to smile back. “Did your father have any enemies that you know of?” he paused. “Anyone who had any reason to do this to him?” he clicked his pen.
I thought for a moment, hesitant in my answer. “Maybe,” I whispered uncertainly. He heard it, immediately clicked his pen again, and hurriedly flipped to a new page in his notebook.
“It’s okay. I’m here to help,” was Rick’s response. I fought against the urge to roll my eyes. No duh; you’re a cop.
“There’s this one guy…” I started talking, looking from side to side as if I was telling a secret. “Dad always talked about him when he thought I wasn’t listening,” I said as Rick took notes. “He called him his dealer, whatever that means.” I knew what it meant. I just didn’t want to admit it. Rick’s light eyes were blown wide with my answer. “Dad always got in fights with him over the phone,” I said, pulling the shock blanket closer to my body.
“Did you ever happen to get his name?” Rick asked, fingers white from how tight he was holding the blue pen.
“Something like Jason Mallor or something,” I answered, watching as he suddenly shot up from his sitting position, running towards his partner, officer Shane.
The ghost congratulated me, his words swimming around in my thoughts.
Officer Rick came back and asked me if I had somewhere else to spend the night. I answered truthfully this time, nodding my head. He helped me up and gave me his card, telling me to call him if I remembered anything else. Once again, I nodded.
Officers Rick and Shane dropped me off at my aunt’s house, who hugged me tightly when she opened the door, fresh tears streaming down her face like a waterfall. I stayed with her for a few weeks before getting the okay from Officer Rick to go back to my own house.
They eventually caught Jason Mallor, the most dangerous drug dealer around. Of course, he was sentenced to life with numerous charges of selling and consuming drugs and, of course, murder, my dad’s being one of them.
I never expected to have gotten away with it. But why would I, the nicest and most innocent nineteen-year-old in town, ever kill his “loving” father? I owe it all to the ghost, to be honest.
Years passed and the ghost and I are still hanging around in the realm of the living. My doctors tell me it’s schizophrenia, and I pretend to agree and take the medicine. I pretend that I’m getting better, that I don’t hear the ghost’s voice echoing around anymore. I pretend.
When they finally found out the real truth about my father’s death, I was long gone. Ghost and I were now sitting around in the foggy underground, watching my father build gray houses of silence.
There will be a day when nothing will be remembered. But lies, which unite and divide, are eternal.