Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tell Me

"Well, you know... I see dead people." She whispers it with a smile, mocking the movie.

"Ha. Oh do you?"

Her expression changes, suddenly serious. "Kind of" she says quietly.

I give her an odd look. "The fuck do you mean?"

"It might sound strange. But yes. They come to me...ghosts... in dreams. People I don't know, never met, but who had some large effect on the lives of those around me. It happened with my ex a couple times... people that he knew that died. They came to me, with messages for the him and his family."

She tells me a couple stories that are creepily disturbing, and I remind myself that she has no reason to lie. I also remind myself that it's no more irrational than believing in some great omniscient force in the sky that runs evey detail of our lives... although being the supersitious Irish prick that I am, I never had any trouble believeing in ghosts or spirits or whatever you want to call them.

"So that's why you have no fear of death? It has nothing to do with you being a nurse, does it?"

I see the hulking figure, the red goatee covering the smirk that adorns his face as he leans against the four by four.

"How often does this happen?"

"Once in a while. Ghosts have better things to do than haunt people... but they do have a presence around me. They want to pass on something, a message, or whatever, to the living. I read up on it a lot when it first happened to me. Most things said that most people are too close minded to be able to hear them, or let them in... and because I'm so open minded and free spirited, I guess they can get through."

Tell me Ryer, tell me that there are green fields where the red poppies dance where the dead children of the Famine never yearn for food, never utter a solemn plea for life.

"I would have so many questions... that's probably why they don't bother with me. They'd never get a word in edgewise."

Tell me, tell me that there are green plains where the Native Americans hunt an endless supply of buffalo, tell me that there are city squares made of gold where Jews live and fear neither suffocating gas nor white hot oven. Tell me that there is a place, a merry place where the booze flows and the air is free of flying lead, for the World War II verterans who saved us from the iron grip of fascism, who saved civilization. Tell me there is something beyond the flawless rows of white crosses, and tiny American flags that flap in the warm breezes of Normandy. Tell me there is a home for the million mutilated dead at Verdun. Tell me there is a quiet reprieve for the persecuted, shell shocked veterans of Vietnam.

"It makes you look at things differently. Changes your outlook. It's like... when they die, you know they're not gone, you know? They are just... somewhere else. It really is very selfish to wish them to be back with you, but then that's what humans are. It's what we do. It's the human reaction to death."

Oh Ryer, tell me there is a place without cholera or cancer, with clear water that runs forever free of the blood of the innocent. Tell me that Captain Pollard and his men swim in seas of fresh water, and at night wade up on shores filled with midnight feasts. Tell me that there is a place, a gentle home and hearth, for every Molly Maguire that was murdered trying to unionize, for every Zapatista that decided to die standing up, for every Union soldier that caught a bullet in the teeth in order to set other men free.

"I couldn't handle that gift."

"No you couldn't. But God wouldn't give it to you if he didn't think you could handle it."

But most of all, Ryer, tell me that I did a good job. Tell me that you know I did my best, I tried to help her, I tried. I tried to keep her safe, to keep her from making mistakes, the mistakes that I know would have turned your insides. Tell me that you know I tried to help your brothers, I tried to keep them straight... but they have all slipped through my fingers.. it was like trying to hold the rain in your fist. There was too much, it all fell apart too fast. I'm sorry.

Tell me this is all worth it. Tell me Ryer...

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