If You’re Going To Visit Me On My Spaceship, Call Ahead
The Story of Ghost Law | Chapters 21 + 22
I rubbed my eyes. There before me, the size of a Toyota Corolla, was Halifax — the arch demon who essentially kicked me out of my childhood home.
“W.T.F.,” I said. “Halifax? What are you doing here?”
“I’m always with you. I’m a part of you. Like your conscience or that weird cauliflowery smell.”
I looked down and both my legs had somehow transformed into DVDs of Silver Linings Playbook. There was no denying it — this was NOT a dream.
“I can tell you’re confused, so I’ll just tell you now that this is totally a dream,” Halifax said, catching me off guard. I reassessed. He was probably right. Why would I get DVDs legs when the quality is so much better with Blu-ray?
“Well, what do you want?” I asked the arch demon.
“Can’t a demon just drop by to say hey?”
“I’d rather you called ahead.”
“And you’re telling me you would answer and not come up with some lame excuse to duck me?”
“That’s not me at all,” I said.
“OK, well, how about I come back tomorrow, same time?”
“That won’t work. I, uh, have an appointment to get my DVD legs polished.”
“See?” he said. “It’s always something with you.”
“You’re right,” I admitted. “I get so buried in work and the phones and the bullshit. I never make time for friends.”
“Friends?” Halifax said hopefully.
“Or enemies,” I added quickly.
“That’s another thing I kind of wanted to talk to you about,” he said, exhaling carbon monoxide. “I know you’ve got this whole plan to get me and my crew evicted from the house — ”
“My house,” I said.
“Oh, really? Because if you think about it, we’ve been haunting it way longer than you ever lived there at this point. I’ve made friggen precious memories there, man.”
“Whatever. I probably shouldn’t even be discussing it with you without a lawyer present.”
“I thought you were a lawyer.”
“Well, a competent lawyer then,” I huffed.
“Listen, why get competent people involved in this? Why don’t you and I come to some kind of deal just the two of us? I’m not the stickler you think I am. I can compromise. I’d even consider renting the basement to you and your girlfriend here,” he added.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” I barked, blushing like a bell pepper.
Halifax put up his hands as if to say winkingly, “Whoa, sorry! Didn’t know it was a touchy subject!”
“Whoa, sorry!” he said. “Didn’t know it was a touchy subject! Wink!”
“Look we’re — I am not interested. I want you out. And the fact that you’re interrupting my nightmares just tells me I’m getting closer and closer to achieving that goal.”
“You’ll choke,” Halifax said. “You’ll choke before you ever come close to getting what you want, just like you always do. Just like you did with law school and Julianna banana or whatever your ex’s name is. I’m offering you a chance to skip the losing part and settle for a partial victory. Don’t you ever wonder what that would taste like?”
I had wondered that — a lot.
But I didn’t let on: “I won’t choke. I’ve come farther than I ever thought I would. I’ve got the wind beneath my wings.”
“Sure it’s not just B.O.?” he sneered.
“OK, you’re getting mean now.”
“No I’m not. Just talking,” he said, shuffling his feet. “Shooting the shit. Anyway, you’re too sensitive. Think about what I’m offering here — your old house back, kinda. Restored in your parents’ honor. Enough space for a girlfriend. Reasonable rent. Good school system nearby…the possibilities are endless. Do you want to risk losing all of that and maybe even more in a court case?”
I had to admit, he had me thinking about the risks for the first time in a while. I’d been so settled in the rocket ship blazing toward the moon that I hadn’t slowed down to think about the alternatives. Maybe shooting for the stars really did leave you floating around in a vacuum of space and legal fees.
There was suddenly a loud boom and I felt the ground rattle under my DVD legs. Halifax looked around.
“OK, I’d better be going now,” he said, fading away, grabbing a cigarette on his way out. “Think about what I said. And, uh, happy birthday.”
For a moment, I stood horrified…and touched. He’d remembered.
Then I blinked my eyes and he was gone and I was back on the space ship. I looked down at my decidedly non-DVD legs and breathed a sigh of relief. But the sigh was cut short when I looked up to see a very perturbed alien lifeform pointing what appeared to be a very loaded laser at my peanut butter-drenched forehead.
The extraterrestrial stood about 4 feet tall with a head that looked like a coy fish with a combover. It had web-like hands and feet and yet a strangely perfect set of abs — as if hitting the gym wasn’t just a hobby but a “lifestyle.”
I wasn’t familiar with all of this species’ facial expressions and their meanings, but I had the distinct feeling the one it was giving me meant it was mad.
“Get up!” it shouted in what sounded sort of like a Canadian accent. “It’s aboot time you got here. We’ve been waiting for weeks!”
I stood up groggily and noticed for the first time that there were at least four of these celestial fish beings prowling the ship, some on hands and knees looking under chairs and stuff.
“What’s all this about, officer,” I yawned, playing it cool and hoping it didn’t smell the gasoline I’d been inhaling the past 17 hours. “Do I have a taillight out or something?”
“Cut the funny stuff,” the creature barked, lunging its laser gun into my chest cavity. “Where are the Marlboros?”
“Do you really think I’m funny?” I beamed.
But I misread the comment. This creature didn’t really think I was funny, and it let me know by hitting me in my stomach. I doubled over and fell on the floor.
“Pathetic, man,” it spit. “You even lift?”
I told it I didn’t but that I’d be willing to learn. It was discussing his workout regimen with me when Scary burst out of her room with a submachine gun.
The creatures responded by pointing their laser guns at my groin.
“Put it down or we’ll zap this groveling freak to smithereens,” the fish thing closest to me announced.
He was right about the groveling part — I’d already begun begging to kiss its feet — but “freak”? Uncalled for.
“Do it,” Scary said in what I could only assume was an extremely convincing bluff. “That sniveling fool means nothing to me.”
For a minute I was thankful Scary was such a good bluffer, but as the lasers began powering up to blast my groin I began to wonder what her next step was going to be and whether she was going to do it before all these lasers absolutely annihilated my groin.
But if you’ve ever been blasted in the groin by five laser guns at once, you know that your thoughts go quiet for a while to make room for the scalding, white-hot pain.
And if you’ve ever been blasted in the groin by five laser guns continuously for five minutes straight, you know that a thought eventually comes back during the blasting, and that that thought almost always is, “Are these guys ever going to stop laser-blasting my groin?”
Unfortunately, you never really find out the answer to that question because you black out and wake up an hour later tied to a lamppost in a closet.
The next chapter of Ghost Law drops July 19. Catch up on past episodes here: