My soul left my body at the time of my choosing — a privilege accorded to some of us reincarnates. There was a light above me that I was supposed to walk into. However, I chose not to go. No one is forced to cross over, you see. We have free will on all planes. If a soul chooses to remain on the earth plane, it can. It becomes a ghost.
Some ghosts stay on earth because they are confused and don’t understand that they are dead. Others have a strong attachment to a particular place. In my case, I was simply in no hurry to cross over.
As I expected, no one came to check on me until my rent was overdue. (I had always been prompt with the rent.) My Chinese landlord found my body. He was upset. He called his wife and spoke to her in Chinese. Then he called the police. My body would eventually be cremated, there being no one to claim it.
The next day the landlord and his wife came in with a lot of boxes to pack up my belongings. On my bookshelf, in plain sight, was a large black folder labeled “WILL.” Impossible to miss. In it were a copy of my will and instructions to call my lawyer. The landlord’s wife put it into a box without even noticing what was on it. Nice lady, but stupid.
The landlord tried calling a few phone numbers in my telephone-address books, which were a jumble of old and new information, but he could not find any friends or relatives, which I don’t blame him for.
My landlords never knew I was a writer, so every form of printed matter was put out with the garbage, including some valuable books and some papers of archival value. Fortunately, I had long ago transferred almost everything pertaining to my literary career to the university library for safekeeping, but there were nevertheless some items that were thrown out that the library would have wanted.
My lawyer, Peterson, did not learn of my death for almost a year and then quite by accident. My will finally got executed, but only after much delay and confusion concerning the transfer of money.
Once my apartment was emptied, some Chinese workmen came in and replaced the 120-year-old window (something I had asked for and never gotten), laid new carpet, and repainted the walls.
I spent my first few days as a ghost wandering up and down Sherbourne St. trying to choke people I didn’t like (mainly white trash druggies and hookers), but it takes a long time to learn how to focus one’s energy to do this.
My apartment was rented to a Korean student. He spoke loudly on the phone and had a high-pitched laugh that I didn’t like, and he cooked smelly food. So I decided to get rid of him. I was able to do simple things like tipping over small objects in the bathroom. After a while, he moved out. I’m not sure whether he was afraid or just annoyed.
The next tenant was a black guy I totally disliked at once. I just hated his looks. I would rap on the walls, which disturbed his sleep several nights in a row. He was going crazy trying to figure out where the raps were coming from. Then one night when he was asleep, I managed to open the fridge door. When he woke up and found it open, he freaked out and moved out right away.
After him, a plain young girl from the Philippines moved in, and I liked her well enough to leave her alone. She’s still there.
Although I lived 22 years in that apartment on Isabella St., I don’t feel bound to it. So I just wander around, passing invisibly among physical people and not having any meaningful interaction, just as I did when I was alive. What I would like most is to find some people playing with a Ouija board so I could communicate with them, but Ouija boards are not very popular any more. Nevertheless, I have a long-term project to go into every dwelling in Toronto, street by street, building by building, until I find someone with a Ouija board. I have no idea how long that will take. If I come into your place, don’t worry. You won’t even know I’m there. I’ll be in and out in a few seconds.
I see other ghosts from time to time, but usually we just pass each other without speaking, which may seem rather odd. Maybe it’s me. I was never very social.
Overall, ghosthood is an improvement. I’m not as angry as I used to be. I don’t have to take pills for my back. I have no sexual feelings. I don’t have to eat, drink, or sleep. I look pretty good, like in my thirties. And I never get bored. I can get into any movie for free.
I think the biggest reason why I’m hanging around on the earth plane is that I want to see my posthumous fame unfold. And it will. Believe me. The university librarians are slowly sifting through all those packages I gave them that were not to be opened until my death. The university inherited a lot more money than they ever dreamed they’d get from a poor sod who used to stand on the street peddling his own books. There’s nothing like a six-figure legacy to create some buzz in literary and academic circles. And my will stipulated that all my copyrights would be automatically relinquished to the public domain. Some Chinaman will decide to make some money by pirating all my old books — except that it’ll be legal — and there’ll be all these bad translations of Crad Kilodney selling like chop suey all over China. (Then the Canadian publishers will want to publish me!)
This is what is commonly referred to as “Immortality.” For a writer, it’s the only thing worth living for. But you have to be dead to enjoy it.
Copyright@ 2008, by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org