By Eddie D. Moore
Ignoring the preacher, Roger let his eyelids close and rested
his eyes. Everyone else at the funeral would just assume he was grieving or
praying. The sunlight seemed bright even through the stained-glass windows. Who
in their right mind schedules a eulogy at nine in the morning in February?
Saying goodbye to a friend with a late-night poker game seemed like a great
idea until the alarm went off at the crack of dawn. He remembered dreaming
about drowning his ex-girlfriend’s Chihuahua in the commode and trying to hide
the body just before having to slap the snooze button. The preacher raised his
voice, and Roger decided that he better lift his head and let the man at least
think he was paying attention.
The glance tossed Roger’s direction between points almost
him laugh out loud. To hide the smile that touched his lips, he turned his head
and rubbed his earlobe. Lloyd wouldn’t have been pleased by the garish gold
finishes on the casket. There was no way that he picked that out. His wife must
have selected an upgrade during the arrangements. Her choice of red seemed
appropriate after two marrow transplants. Life just wasn’t fair. The man
survived cancer just to die from an offshoot of a stupid virus.
Roger’s phone vibrated, so he tapped his email icon. Concealing
the phone between his legs, he deleted a notification about a purported epic
sale from his favorite store and one about a new episode in a series that he
really didn’t want to miss. There was nothing of any paramount importance, but
he went through them anyway out of habit and boredom. How much longer could
this preacher last? He had to boil it all down to a single point sometime.
A new message appeared in his inbox, and Roger blinked twice. A
lump formed in his throat when he saw that the email was from Lloyd. He glanced
at the casket and back to his phone. Was Lloyd’s widow using his email address?
Why would she be sending emails during the eulogy? Curious, Roger tapped the
screen to open the email. The skin between Roger’s eyebrows wrinkled as he
mouthed the three words in the message, “I’m behind you.”
Roger turned to see if anyone was sitting behind him and jumped
to his feet as he shouted, “Oh, holy hell!” The preacher stopped mid-sentence
and every eye turned Roger’s direction. For a split second Roger was sure Lloyd
was actually sitting behind him, but a single blink later, he was gone. Half a dozen
emotions flashed through Roger at once. Who’s ever heard of seeing a ghost in
Roger’s face blushed with embarrassment when he realized
everyone was watching him. The preacher raised an eyebrow and wasn’t even
trying to hide his annoyance at the interruption. Swallowing the lump in his
throat, Roger mumbled an apology and left the sanctuary with three quick steps.
He locked himself in the restroom, splashed some cold water on his face, and
tried to control his breathing. After three or four long slow breaths, Roger
felt the pounding in his chest slow, but his chest felt tight. His hand shook
as he fumbled in his jacket pocket for his antacid.
Roger’s phone chimed with a new email. Fatigue washed over
when he saw that it was another email from the deceased. Time seemed too slow
as he stared at the email: Don’t worry, Roger. It’ll all be over soon. You
won’t believe the people I’ve invited to your first card game here.
A pain in Roger’s chest
caused him to drop the phone, and a moment later, he felt himself falling. He
wondered if the lights were dimming and he felt something rattle as he breathed
out in a gasp. The screen on Roger’s phone lit up and it vibrated with a call
from an unknown number, but Roger didn’t give it a second thought as he walked
down a long corridor toward the warmest and most inviting light that he’d ever
When Eddie D. Moore isn’t
playing with his grandchildren, he is driving and visiting strange new worlds
via audiobooks, or he is lost in his imagination writing his own tales. Pick up
a copy of Poe-ish Tales Forevermore today! You’ll be glad you did if you can