Paurl On His Side
Snow begun to swirl, just getting to be dark. Cut enough wood for one day, my brother Paurl and me. Been cutting along the ridge that divides the old farm in two. His hundred acres on the back side of the ridge and my hundred in front. He took the truck and I started walking back with my saw and Maize, my wife’s old dog. Real quiet, nice out there along the ridge like that. I’d set the saw down to answer a not particularly urgent call of nature and the dog gone exploring when I heard her voice.
“Well look who’s out here watering’ the flowers.”
…… She’d been dead now for years, Lurleen had. Wasn’t sure I heard right. I zipped up at least before turning around. Sitting on a stone wall, there she was. Wearing a little blue dress with yellow flowers on it, smoking her Pall Mall.
“Yeah, it’s me alright, back from the dead you could say, but I’m not back… just visiting.”
I must of stood there like a fish with my mouth open, blinking away and trying to clear my throat. She was pretty as a summer day, with her hair done nice and that smart aleck grin of hers.
“Oh, come on Tommy, loosen up a little! I just wanted to say hello before I went to see him…. How is he…. How’s he doing now?”
“Paurl?, okay enough I guess, but since you left he just stays close to home. I mean, I got a town job and all, but not Paurl. He been alone back there just sitting since you died.”
They’d been married, I don’t know, four, five years when she took off. Not another man mind you, just wasn’t of a mindset to live way out here, be poor, be a farmer’s wife. She’d gone west, had some kinda waitress job when she got killed. Car accident.
“Truth to tell Lurleen, he’s not so good. Took you leaving hard. Real hard. Still does. Keeps to himself and workin’ his side. He’s my brother and all that, but a I gotta say, I just wish he’d find another woman or get a hobby or some god-dammed thing and
stop moping. Do something! Nobody gives a shit what!”
We were both quiet after that. Maybe I said too much, but I started feelin’ uncomfortable (uncomfortable with a ghost mind you) and thought I should change the subject.
“I gotta ask, Lurleen, what’s it like being dead?”
“Alright,” she sighed. “No better than livin’, just different. Never cold, never hungry, and not bored like you’d think. Remember those View-Master things we had growing up? You could put in a little cartoon or somethin’ about state parks, it’s like that, only you don’t get to push down the lever… it just happens. Things keep changing, never know where you’ll end up…..but I wanted to set things straight with your brother. Not sure when I might be back.”
“ I don’t know,” I said “it’s good to see you and all, but Paurl, well, you know how he can be, he’s different.”
“Different!” she laughed, “Ya think? Thought maybe I pop up out of the damned fireplace and give him a fright, but that won’t solve the problem. I need to explain, explain it wasn’t him.”
“Lurleen honey, what can you ever say that’ll patch things up? Paurls’ sitting back there feeling sorry for hisself, and your dead! Nothin’s gonna change any of that!”
She looked down, nodded some. Then it came to me.
“Course….., you could take him with you.”