A GHOST OF A CHANCE
a paranormal romantic comedy by
CHAPTER THREE – INBIBING SPIRITS
It dawned on Keenan as he followed Reggie out to the living room that the familiar disembodied noise was back. Arguments, low conversations, whispers, and even a little song flitted in and out of the air around him. It was reassuring.
The group of visible ghosts was light: three screamers Keenan couldn’t see very clearly, a Hindi named Nihar who was standing on his head amongst fake flowers on the windowsill, and a crowd of loggers dancing on the kitchen table. Three of them were swilling pale mugs of beer. The stringent smell of faded incense and warm beer made Keenan’s eyes water.
Keenan searched the room. “Constance?”
Reggie spun around and gave him a ghostly wink. “Sorry, old chap. Not here tonight. Besides…” He floated over to the door and made a grand gesture with his arm. “…for this, you’ll need a gentleman’s perspective, I think.”
“What do you…”
“I’ll explain all of it after you’ve had a drink or two. Off we go.”
Keenan’s head throbbed enough to make him not care where he was going. He lifted one numb leg after the other. When the front door slammed behind him, it sent a cartoon sound wave that should have caved in his skull. It must have been very cold outside…he could see his breath come out in solid clouds…but he was warm. Thank God for small favors.
He stumbled after Reggie who was whistling a happy tune just to torture him.
The haze around Keenan’s brain didn’t get any better the further down the block Reggie led him. He wondered what time it was; would the bar be open this late?
When they rounded the corner, the neon blue and red Taps blinked in and out, boring into the headache under Keenan’s right eyebrow. The white OPEN sign underneath looked misty in the late night fog. The heat that blasted his face when he opened the door smelled of cigarettes and humanity. It was one of his favorite sensations; nothing better in his mind than local color mixed with cold micro-brew. The flashing Terminator Stout signs always reminded him of happier days.
Once inside, Patrick eyeballed him briefly without comment and went back to chatting with the drunk at the end of the bar. Patrick had been here when Keenan moved in years before, but Keenan still didn’t know if he was owner or just the bartender. They were on a casual head-bobbing basis.
Keenan didn’t feel like lively conversation, so he just pointed to the tap. Patrick nodded once, yanked a glass from the stack behind him, and filled it. Keenan disregarded the twenty or so incorporeal customers that Patrick didn’t see. The chatter from the group was smoky, bouncing dully from the dark oak rafters.
It was only then that Keenan realized he was naked under the long coat.
He froze and sweat followed the jolt of realization down his armpits.
Can anyone say flasher?
Cramming his hand into his coat pocket without hope, he touched the soft crumpled surface of a bill and several coins. When he pulled the ten out, the sight sent momentary relief through the tight muscles in his neck, followed by a chill that rippled just under his skin. He slid it over the bar and took his beer, hoping to God that the two men staring at him didn’t notice his bare legs. Neither said a thing when Patrick passed the change to him and went back to cleaning glasses behind the high bar.
The dead patrons laughed their asses off.