Perhaps the best of the most successful ghost stories in terms of a longevity of popularity come from a situation of an unanswered situation of inequity? Some act of the moment, or even one long premeditated, that robs the spirit of another of its material existence and goes unchallenged. An event where the villain however humble unexpectedly wins and someone else ultimately unfairly loses. Perhaps not related in a tale that rises in noble stature to proclaiming a great universal statement about mankind but defaming some equally ultimate wrong? One that festers in the mind of the perpetrator over time by way of the weight of guilt and fear driving them into the path of retribution by a growing possibility of discovery like some celestial predator driving a herd of frightened black sheep.
Those acts that also tempts one’s sensibility to defy all social order in a manner that demands an element of unnecessary risk. The level of guilt from such hubris slowly until it festers like an open wound. Its poison leaking out to cause a reeking stink that too soon becomes unavoidable to the noses of others. What wayward soul post sacrificed by the commission of this ignoble deed then fighting back by proxy into this material realm demanding satisfaction and nothing less for the sake of its loss. Maybe to demand simple justice? Or simply wreak a terrible universal havoc upon the one that had diminished it? A strange sort of bond of romance where the initiator of the terrible deed becomes the victim’s eternal groom.
There was a lot of anger in Tom. Though he did not start out as an angry man. He showed no particularly demented signs of dramatic cruelty or a penchant for evil as a burgeoning youth. Though some things in his behavior suggested otherwise. A capability when in the company of others as feckless children to unleash a boundless measure of brutality upon the insect world via straight pins and a steadied sun focused magnifying glass. This terrible tendency flourishing bereft of conscience until one day it was brought to a hasty conclusion by the unexpected escape of a freshly vivisected grasshopper. One that after disappearing seemed too embody a supernatural ability to plague his dreams at night with the threat of a mortal revenge.
His sins in the human world of man were up to that point judged as minor. Something to be hidden away in the approach of maturing adolescence. A lurking potential for offering violence against the right of some other foreign species to exist then being vouchsafed for a later period in his life. In the strange ways of fate he was singled out to play the victim of the random fickle emotions of women. Every form of romantic disappointment that was suffered along the way becoming a stitch for him in a quilted form of potential revenge. One that was focused upon this ever-maddening opposite gender always ready to counter his most basic animal desires with their mischief. This internal anger not being directed towards any single particular personage in real time so much as upon an anima of his own devise. One that he found himself always too weak to resist and avoid falling for. A faux form of attraction too easily taken up in an unsure veil of what seemed superficially like love to him. But of a kind that inevitably turned out to be yet the machinations of another harpy that quickly cut his feelings to the quick exposing his own emotional impotence. This building store of insult to his mortal being soon demanding a roguish act of redress as rightful emotional compensation. The removal of a life force! Some event allowing for a candidate as a fit sacrifice to the great leering god of his own frustrated unconscious that demanded it as an elixir to restore some small degree of male potency.
There was no certainty provided from the realm of his subconscious in the decades before or since that he had ever committed such a demonstrably heinous act. Yet deep within underneath those metaphorical floorboards of his own waking self there was a lurking perception so terrible that he dare not acknowledge it to the light of day. A passing jumbled up reminiscence of a beautiful young woman that he had met in passing. One that for some unknown reason had seemingly developed and immediate attraction to him. Some anonymous female that he had brought home during one of the periods of his lowest ebb in his existence, And in the midst of the act of coitus without any mindful intent suddenly snuffed out the flickering candle of her own life. The nimble male hands about her neck expeditiously enacting the deed before his rational consciousness had taken in the full measure of that act that he had performed. A minute or two of the deprivation of air had transformed her vivacious naked beauty into an awkward uselessly inert soon to be festering deposit growing cold beneath him upon his bed. His spontaneity presenting him with another unexpected problem of how he might quickly rid himself of this grand miscalculation of judgement. Sounding his own sense of possible rituals as derived from a macabre storehouse of popular entertainment gathered over the years suggesting a first step. Something along the lines of wrapping the body in a plastic tarp and sealing same with duct tape.Then temporarily interring it in the furthest most remote corner of his building’s cellar until a more suitable place of permanent deposit could be found. Easy enough to follow through with the first part of this temporally conjured plan. He taking its dead weight up cradling it in his arms like a sleeping Cinderella and preparing it to lay unseen within enclosed in darkness under the floorboards.
Perhaps it was in the back of his mind to attend to the summary details of its disposal when his own emotional turmoil had sufficiently died down? That wormwood of his own fear and disgust growing within him over this wholly unexpected act. One that had brought up the presence of so many past unresolved deveils from within.
In his rational mind he carefully plotted a strict sequence of well-timed events required to remove this burden from his cellar and into the hatchback of his vehicle. A task to be properly accomplished at the most appropriate hour of late night when his nosy neighbors had reliably retired to rest. Perhaps a long early morning drive to a remote wooded area at bewitching hour? Perhaps to a lesser traveled bank of an industrial canal? He fantasized the successful removal of his angst to be put to rest when deposited along with the evidence of his mistake. The proper performance of the required sequence of action needed every step of the way to avoid any inadvertent detection daunting by the playbook of cinema. Some fateful form of unforeseeable Deus Ex Machina always inevitably occurring that led to the ultimate condemnation of the murderer ceding him to a justifiably ignominious fate.
He seemed self-assured that he could manage any such aftermath of such a dark dream in terms of the effect of his act upon his own subliminal emotions. Equally as sure as he was cock sure that he would reliably escape any detection of his crime. He could shake the weight of its guilt off like a wet dog. And after its successful performance, in time he moved from that address and traveled half way around the world. Eventually returning once again to the same city to take up residence in another part of town. The trail of the girl’s disappearance never questioned in the newspapers. The ignominy of the deed never seemed destined to follow him. And after a while, the only evidence that the event had ever occurred in his own mind was in the form of an occasionally bad dream. A repetitive sort that had him being caught within a long corridor of a morgue ridden with bailys sporting horrifically mangled corpses.
How strange it seemed to him now pondering if this event was merely the invention of an overactive artistic consciousness? Had this imagined fatal encounter been rehearsed in self-abusive sexual acts of play where he used himself as a proxy for his eventual victim by wrapping himself up naked within plastic, and then lying still in the back recess of his own cellar for hours at a time to simulate it? The perversity of the whole scenario was lost upon him. It had been some time after the immediacy of that sort of random staged incident had died down.
In time he forgot about these sorts of affairs save for another unrelated incident that had actually occurred around the same time in the past. One that seemed to spook him even more than the measure of any supposed infamy attached to his crimes against himself or any others. It had been some weeks after he had mentally disposed of all the elements suggested by the recollection of these acts when in the dead of night a sharp knock sounded loudly at his front door. It awoke him from the deepest depths of a dead sleep. Staggering forth in pajamas and robe he called forth from inside to hear the single statement, “Police.”
This curt exclamation accompanied from the other side of his door by four ghostly apparitions standing within a phalanx of trench coats. Their dead eyes set forth staring out of hollow cavities from lifeless gray marble gone even more wan and corpse-like within the garish rotten yellow glow of his own porch light. They identified themselves as detectives investigating a fatal stabbing that had just occurred the hour before at a small neighborhood bar down the block. It seems that one of his neighbors with whom he had recently exchanged business cards with had been murdered. And these hunkering ghouls had been assigned to follow up on all leads. The rumpled appearance of their querent in question and his sleepy manner saving him from any further questioning. But the effect of those haunting collective stares sending him back to his bed with a lasting sense of fearful dread summoning up the buried presence of his own random crime. The persistent image of those terrible inquiring faces judge and jury threatening the possibility of his somehow revealing it by way of an accident.
Reality had recounted that he had long experimented from an early point in his event scarred childhood with conjuring up the realm of his own inner darkness as a counterweight to his own fears. Those occasional interactions with an equal degree of demonstrated perversity in physical role play experienced with a few young women over the first decades of adulthood had left him uninspired. Those few earnest attempts at the game known as marriage had resulted in a similar sense of disappointment. The number of the women bedded along the way proved frustrating to his psyche. Their sense of play though perverse, not amenable to his own. Relationships being considered a form of contractual slavery where one could only count on being handcuffed, tied up, or even beaten as part of the d’rigor of everyday experience. This sort of association quickly losing its fascination for all parties. The number of offbeat rituals stemming from these encounters dwindling over time to routine attitudes evidencing boredom.
His ability to relate to the other sex from this point onward fatally damaged. His unconscious had built up an impregnable emotional barrier that henceforth could no longer be breached by physical intimacy. The burning issue of a lack of trust being one of residual guilt. It was only towards the end of his life that this path that he had meandered into presented the realization that it had destroyed him as a human being. The world of imagination of the artist lay beneath the covers over-wound like a cheap wristwatch mainspring. Too ready to explode haphazardly with an energy that had never been tapped. A vaguely stated purpose un-acted upon to demonstrate to others the face of their own indifference. Something that he had the power to overwhelm them all with. It was his central desire, to capture the attention of others upon the main stage. And from it build his own virtual marble temple dedicated to every scheme that he had concocted through the long interim of his anonymity. There could be no reckoning of a him or her accounted as a viable part of this monumental facade!
All the potential that he might have shown by way of the sort of endless discipline lavished on his career had scotched any possibility of happiness he might have shared with another. So many years washed away in useless pursuits and all of it coming to naught. He now lay by himself in a dark room, friendless, penniless and totally emotionally empty inside. Unable to muster any past feelings of tenderness or palpable regret. Just an empty walking corpse devoid of life. Something not unlike the anonymous person that he had supposed that he had stolen the life from.
For all he had in mind up to this point had been an imaginary theater stage and the threat that the next performance might not be as inspiring to others as his last, causing him to shun all intimacy. That singular idea of the immediacy of connection drove him forth and yet his own abstractions had driven him forth into an opposite path favoring solitude. A fact in stunning opposition to everything that he had ever claimed to have wanted. And so he waited with a mainspring permanently rusted for an itchy nervous finger to be released and set him free.
The years rolled on and he was now on permanent sick leave. Staying home, and biding my time calling an office of some random publicity agency every once in a while to see if he could still find a job. Sitting there in his bed, thinking about going back in time to see who if anyone new had taken his place. Of all the people mentioned in his dreams was one named Moy. A remarkable name coincidental to one known in high school. One Ivar Moy, a wrestler, and athlete, and all around popular fellow. One so unlike himself.
Looking desperately out through the doorway of his old decrepit home with its doors and windows paint cracked and rotting like his life, now thoroughly falling apart. A vision of a boss sitting ensconced in a hallway office bent over a desk meticulously engaged in the uselessness of the daily repetitious minutia of filling orders for unspecified out of date product. And he asking if he could leave an hour early before the end of the work day. A disembodied voice telling him no. So he scooting out of there with hat in hand running past and down the stairs to duck under a collapsing top section of the front entrance before tumbling into the street. His progress slowed by automobiles and bicycle traffic from a setting remarkably reminiscent of his former Pacific Northwest experiences of so many decades past. His continued inertia carrying over onto a sidewalk maintaining a swift pace where walking opposite of someone that appeared to be a bureaucrat assigned to tail him. Street traffic sliding in and out between them blocking his view. He understanding this all to be part of an interview to determine if he had any notable contagious virus of the hour that was plaguing society.
At some point in the course of one’s existence you listen to your own inner voice more than any other. One’s confidence in all other sources quickly evaporates. One claim seemingly as valid as any other and artificial to the ear as if made up without anything to substantiate it beyond repetition ad infinitum. Then life becomes simple. You can only see something sitting there before you and you know it is incontrovertibly there. And then it is no longer in view and then it no longer exists. Thus went the way of his mind in the end.