Author's Note - 9/18/12
Hey guys! I started writing this one over the summer, but I didn't really finish it until about a week ago. Writers block galore, you know what I mean? Anyways, I'm posting it now so enjoy!
A smashed Pepsi can scuttled across the entrance of the Brooklyn subway entrance, but the strangers passing by didn't even seem to notice. They were too absorbed in where they had to go and who they were to meet to notice that the can had seemingly moved on it's own.
What they couldn't see was the exultant man who had displaced the can from it's original spot, then turning to walk down the city street just as those amongst him were. There was only one difference; a big difference at that. This man was dead.
His name was Sam Wheat; a charming, prominent banker in the one and only New York City who met his demise far to quickly. Sam had only been walking home his girlfriend and sweetheart, Molly Jensen, from going to see MacBeth at the theater which he had mostly slept through. The walk was delightful for a time, there was a bit of humor but mostly talk of love and marriage between the couple.
The enchanting conversation was very brief though, as they both noticed that they weren't the only ones on the darkened street. Trouble then immediately presented itself to them; a stranger approached them and pulled a gun, demanding Sam's wallet. He stalled the man for a short time, but he resorted into a scuffle with the stranger, now known to be Willy Lopez. A gunshot, and Sam found himself from an outside view as he watched his beloved cling to his dead body.
HIS dead body.
Sam was now a ghost, stuck on Earth after unknowingly wandering away from Heaven's gate. He watched his Molly suffer for weeks after his death, and there was nothing he could do to comfort her. He desperately wanted to, but being a ghost has its limitations which include not being able to be seen or heard by those who aren't dead.
What Sam didn't know was that he would find hope after those long, agonizing weeks of staying right beside Molly, unable to wipe her tears away to comfort her or even letting her know that he was still there with her. Willy had broken into their home, leaving Molly unharmed, but Sam was irate. He followed Willy to his Brooklyn neighborhood only to find no answers of why he had returned.
Then he found his hope as he began to walk home from Willy's home at Prospect Place. He saw a storefront for a Psychic, and something drew him to it. He slipped in undetected and watched a fraudulent psychic named Oda Mae Brown as she duped one of her customers. She was fraudulent, at least, until he made his remarks. Oda Mae was surprised herself that she could hear Sam, and after some great deal of convincing which included a song or two, she had agreed to help Sam communicate with Molly.
Everything went well at first, but Molly didn't quite believe Oda Mae when she was telling her that Sam was there withThomas and that Molly was in danger. Molly's confession to their mutual, good friend, Carl Bruner, lead to the revelation that the mugging that had cost Sam his life was indeed a murder set up by Carl himself. Carl was desperate for cash and needed Sam's codes at the bank to pay off some huge debts to the drug dealers he owed big time.
The revelation sparked the fires of an afterlife vengeance inside Sam. Not only did he feel as if he needed to avenge his own death and make Carl suffer for the damage he had done, but he needed to protect Molly and keep her safe. He had given himself a day to gather any information he could use to foil Carl's plans and it had definitely paid off. He knew about the fake account with four million dollars in it and how to access it, he now just needed to dispose of the blood money.
Sam had also visited the spirit that haunts the subway system, and had demanded to know how to maneuver objects within the human realm from within the ghostly realm. The effort had proved a success after standing his ground and many failed attempts of pushing bottle caps and kicking soda cans. He was now ready to take on Carl. He was ready for justice, he just needed some help to achieve it.
He was on his way to Oda Mae's to ask her to aid him in disposing of the four million dollars. Sam weaved through the Brooklyn streets with a smile on his face, feeling almost alive once again because of his purpose. This was why he was here, and this was what he was going to do no matter what. He rounded the corner of the sidewalk, less than a block away from Oda Mae's and passed by several people as a sense of eagerness began to flow throughout him.
"Man, do I know that look. You're looking pretty stunned, dude!"
Sam was less than a quarter of the way down the sidewalk when he heard the remark. He stopped for a few seconds, feeling as if the remark had been aimed towards him. He glanced around him, seeing many people passing by him unknowingly. He scanned down the street from where he had just came, and was quickly taken back by a pair of olive green eyes staring directly at him.
The eyes belonged to a young girl stood in front of the graffitied wall by an abandoned storefront, only a few feet away from the corner of the sidewalk. She was in her teens, definitely no more than fifteen years old, and she wore a style that seemed strange for a teenager in this day and age. She wore a royal purple, floral blouse which was cuffed just above her elbows and tucked into her dark, denim flared jeans. Her straw blonde, wavy hair went just a little past her shoulders, but she had it tied back into a ponytail, which seemed a bit out of place for the styles of today.
Sam suddenly felt himself gravitating to this kid, mainly just to see if she could truly see him. No one else could see him, not even Oda Mae, so why should this girl be different? "Excuse me," he asked, testing to see if she would respond.
"You know, stunned," the girl replied with a grin, shocking Sam as she did so. "You catch my drift? No? I mean like real focused, pretty intense, dude."
Sam stood dazed for a moment at this girl. How could she hear him, no less see him for that matter? "I-I'm sorry," Sam managed to stammer after mentally shaking himself, "you can see me?"
"Of course I can," the girl laughed quietly in response, "why shouldn't I be able to see you?"
"Well, because I'm dead," Sam stated bluntly. He wasn't concerned with formalities at this point, he was completely baffled on how this kid in Brooklyn could heard and see him when no one else could.
The girl gave Sam a warm smile, looking down at her feet before glancing back up to meet his calm blue eyes. "So am I."
The truth hit Sam like a ton of brick, not in the way it had when he discovered Carl to be the reason why he was dead, but vaguely similar. He was almost instantly filled with sympathy for the girl; of the few other ghosts he had encountered, none of them were children. He couldn't quite tear his mind from the question of what brought this child's young life to an abrupt end, and why wasn't she in a better place. "I'm sorry."
The girl wasn't affected by the sympathy, reacting almost as if she had dealt with this situation several times before. "It is what it is, brother," She answered in an calm, even tone, "I've been like this for many years now, so I'm used to it. Oh, I'm Nancy, by the way. Nancy Quaid."
"Sick name," Nancy grinned at the introduction, "I like it. So Sam, are you new around here?"
"Well, kinda," Sam answered, "I'm not really new to the situation, but I've only been to this area a few times before."
"Right on," Nancy nodded with a smile that she never seemed to lose, "I guess that's why I didn't recognize you."
Sam returned the smile and responded briefly, "I guess so." Nancy seemed nice enough, she just seemed very talkative. He couldn't quite blame her though, seeing as the only other supernatural being in the area was the subway ghost, and he wasn't one for talking.
"Have you met any other spirits around here," Nancy asked, trying to keep the conversation flowing since she didn't seem quite so keen as to abandoning the conversation at this time.
"No, not really," Sam went along with it as he decided just to humor the girl and talk with her for a bit. "I've only really met you and the guy down in the subway system there."
"Ah," Nancy responded with a nod, pity flashing into her hazel eyes for one brief moment. "That dude's had it pretty rough even before he died, so just cut him a bit of slack and don't get bummed if he's real hostile to you," she informed him quickly, "you know what I mean?"
"Yeah, yeah. I know what you're saying," came Sam's casual response, "say, since I'm new to this spirit realm, do you know whether it's normal for one to... Well, lose it after someone asks them how they died?"
Nancy shook her head and clicked her tongue a few times, like an old woman who had caught a small child doing a devious act, "You've gotta be careful when it come to questioning mortality, Sam. Most ghosts will unravel completely and relive the last few moments leading up to their death." She stopped for a split second after correcting him, her tone then soften as she continued, "It's never a pretty sight when it happens."
"I know that now," Sam answered after a brief silence between the two, a trickle of guilt leaking into his voice.
More silence followed after Sam's confession, but Nancy was quick to start the conversation back up once more. "I'm guessing he taught you how to kick the can around though, right?"
Sam turned and adjusted his glance down at the girl, who was shorter than him by several inches, and eyed her in suspicion. "Now how would a girl like you know that?"
"Well," Nancy grinned and giggled quietly, "I have been around the block for a while, like I said earlier, and have met him on a few occasions. It's to the point where he doesn't hate me enough to throw me off 'his train', but we don't talk much.". Nancy continued after the brief clarification, "He always seemed to dig people with a lot of spunk about them, they were real impressive to him. You've got the right amount of spunk to impress him, so I took a guess, to answer your question."
"Did he ever teach you?"
"Nah, I eventually figured it out on my own," She told Sam, "I could never ask him, he'd always freak me out before I got the chance to." A few more beats of silence between them once more before Nancy blurted out, "You know, how'd you end up like this? What's your story, Sam?"
Sam gave Nancy a questionable look, arching an eyebrow before stating, "I thought you just told me to be cautious when asking that question."
"Well, you seem chill enough to ask," Nancy replied with a shrug and a lop-sided smile, "but if you want to bogart, that's fine. I'm just being curious."
"No, if you want to know I'll tell you," Sam insisted. He took a moment before he answered her, "I was killed in a mugging when I was walking my girlfriend back to our home, but it actually turned out to be a murder." He glanced over at Nancy, who was obviously intrigued, before continuing his story. "A friend and co-worker at the bank where I had worked had set the entire thing up to get access to my accounts. He was planning to steal money from the said accounts and pay off the debt he had accumulated by hanging with the wrong crowd."
"That's bogue man, I'm sorry," Nancy told him in a quiet, solemn voice after a few moments. "But Sam, how come you're still hanging around?"
"What," Sam asked, turning is gaze from the people passing by to Nancy, his confused expression matching his tone perfectly.
"Why didn't you book out of here when you had the chance, you know? When anyone dies, one of two things can happen, you see the light or the shadows come get you," Nancy explained. "The shadows didn't come get you, no duh, you would know if they did because they're so freaky. I can dig that you actually saw the light, so why'd you turn away from it?"
He was quiet for a little while, turning his gaze back to the people passing by. This girl was so many years younger than he was, so what was she getting that he wasn't? "I don't know, I guess..." he tried to answer, but even so, the right words would come to reveal the truth to even himself. "I guess I thought of it as an opportunity to right a wrong, but now I'm not so sure."
"Well, was the wrong you needed to right, as you said, was it with your coworker?"
"No, not initially... Ah, I have no clue," he chuckled nervously as he ran his hand through his hair. Sam glanced over at Nancy before he abruptly changed the subject, "Well, what about you? Why didn't you leave for something better?"
"I stayed for love, you know," Nancy answered, her normally broad smile growing faint. She glanced down at her feet, then out past the groups of people passing by before she continued, "When I was growing up, my parents were almost always working. I never really got to hang with them, so I spent that time with my big brother, Eric. We were real close, you know. When the school bells rung, we booked it out of there so we could hang together just truckin' along. One of my jokes with him is that he'd never find a girl who'd care about him as much as I did and that I'd be the one who would take care of him forever. He'd laugh and call me a square when I said it.
"I died in that intersection, Sam," Nancy pointed to the intersection off to their left as cars came and went their way through it. "We were walking home from watching Jaws 2 in 1978 and Eric was just raving about how great the film was, dreaming on like usual. We were crossing the intersection when some jerk went ahead and blew through the red light. Eric... He would of never seen the car coming, but I did. I did what I had to do, you know. I shoved my brother out of the way and the next thing I know it's 'good night, John-boy' for me.
"I saw the light a bit later, but all I could really focus on was my brother. He was freaking out, just trying to snap me out of it and calling out the driver." Nancy took a deep breath before tearing her eyes away from the traffic to meet Sam's eyes, "Eric wasn't ready for me to go, and I wasn't all too keen on the idea either. Then, of all times, that funky little joke I used to make popped into my head. It's funny, you know, I was on my way out and I remember a joke, well, actually more like a promise to my brother that I couldn't break. I walked away and the light just vanished, I hadn't seen it since and I doubt I will until my promise is fulfilled. Point is, I walked away because I loved my big brother so much and there was still somethings I had to do. Can you dig that, Sam?"
"So, you're telling me that I walked away because there's something I still need do for Molly?"
"You betcha," Nancy nodded, her attention briefly focused on scooting a penny she had just found with her foot out towards where the people passing by could see it. "There's always some truth to that saying that ghosts only stick around because there's something we need to do. There's always something we need to do before we move on. You know, whether it's making sure everything is peachy for your loved ones, watching out for them, or finding out a way to say 'I love you' one last time."
The single word he had always said in response to those three words ricocheted through him mind like a bullet. Ditto. Why did he always say that to Molly? Why couldn't he just kept his oddities to himself just once and said those three precious words to her? Sam knew he loved her, he could feel it with every fiber of his ghostly existence. He now knew why he had walked away from the light, despite the shock and the grief that was flowing through him at that time, there was that yearning to tell Molly that he loved her.
"Say, jack, I think you got it," Nancy pulled him from his thoughts with a successful grin, "You found out that reason why you're here."
"Yeah, I guess I did," Sam admitted sheepishly. His gaze moved from Nancy to a yellow school bus that had just stopped at the corner of the block and began letting off it's students.
Nancy glanced from Sam to the bus then back to Sam. "It's quiet amazing to see the love you have for your Molly," she admitted, "you take it with you and share it with her, would ya? She's the reason why you're still here."
Nancy stopped as she saw a particular student get off the bus. This student was a boy with an all too familiar head of straw blonde hair and big brown eyes, wearing a green and navy striped shirt with a dark pair of jeans and toting around a Talespin backpack that was too big for him.
"That's my nephew, Danny," Nancy pointed him out to Sam, "he and his little sister, Sarah, are the one of the reasons I'm still here and will be for a good while. He just started school this year, and even though Eric and Theresa let him walk a block to and from the bus stop, I've been walking with him just to make sure he's okay." She glanced over at Sam and flashed him a smile, "Well, Sam Wheat, it was really great to talk with you, but as they say, duty calls."
"Take care." With that, the ghost girl he had encountered ran off after her nephew, slowly and carefully following behind him as he walked back to his home through the city streets.
He couldn't help but smile at the girl's happiness, her reason to stay on Earth. Sam thought about what Nancy had said to him; he knew that she was right, far more wiser than her Earthly years would have permitted her. He set off down the street in the direction of Oda Mae's, a renewed sense of purpose of protecting his Molly.