The ghost didn’t die in this apartment. He never even lived here.
I’ve lived here longer than this ghost.
On a dark and stormy night, with the power lines swaying dangerously to and fro, his spirit came to us.
My roommates and I had been expecting a delivery from Corporal Wang’s Kitchen. Corporal Wang’s is a highly suspect Chinese restaurant. Health inspectors have closed the doors at least twice since I moved to the area.
But Wang’s is dirt cheap, surprisingly tasty, and pretty close by.
And none of us had felt like cooking.
When the doorbell rang, my roommates and I naturally expected one of the delivery guys.
Instead we got one of the delivery guys’ ghosts.
We got Jake’s ghost.
Jake wasn't Chinese, and neither is his spirit. In life, Jake was a tubby white guy, and a bit of a hipster, who always had an attitude. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, as if he had a PhD in food delivery. Every time he showed up at my door, he looked at me like I was some sad tool of Corporate America. Which I guess I am, but what the fuck? Like he was leading the revolution by schlepping around poisonous crab rangoons?
Anyway, Jake’s ghost is even worse. Now that he's dead, I guess he thinks that gives him some credentials. He was certainly Mr. Righteous on that dark and stormy night. After I answered the door, he just stared at me with this "So-what-do-you-have-to-say-for-yourself?" kind of look.
“No, sir,” said Jake. “No I am not.” Jake had always called me “sir,” to emphasize what a dick I was for making him do his job. “Thank you for asking after my well-being, sir, but I am afraid that, far from being ‘okay’ on this fine evening, I am dead.”
Jake has this way of stating the obvious in order to make you feel stupid. I could tell he was dead. He was a glowing, transparent spectre, with evidence of a nasty head wound. Of course the guy was dead. I was just trying to be polite.
“You see, sir,” continued Jake in sanctimonious tones, “no other customers had hearts hard enough to demand my services this night. You were my only stop. Poor visibility and wet roads guided my car into a lamppost, and the impact guided my fucking body through the fucking windshield. Here is your dinner.”
In our defense, we had put together a thirty per cent tip for Jake. But he had no use for it now.
Now he just hangs out on the couch, and passes judgment on whatever TV shows we try to watch.
“Oh, Star Trek reruns!” he’ll say. “That’s lovely. Had my life not been cut so pointlessly short, I should like to think that I would have made such worthy use of my time. Really, you honor my memory by spending your lives like this”
Every once in a while, Jake will place a huge order at Corporal Wang’s, for which we have to pick up the tab. It’s not like he can eat it, or anything. And he won’t let us eat it either. And if we try to throw it away, he’ll lay down a huge guilt trip. “Don’t judge how I mourn,” he’ll say.
Once I asked Jake when he thought he’d be ready to pass over to the other side.
“Are you trying to get rid of me, sir? If so, simply say the word. Just say, ‘Jake, your presence here is a burden to us. We know we’re responsible for your demise (because we couldn’t be bothered to cook for ourselves) but we really don’t have the patience or compassion to house you any longer - even though you consume no food, use no heat, and have no physical fucking form!’”
And the crab rangoons continue to rot.