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by Jester
Rated: E · Novel · Death · #2269299
Matthew hears Margot in his house. "Hey you!" He tries to convince her that she's dead.

Chapter 10

Dead as Disco

All was quiet for the time being. Matthew savored some downtime from monitoring the house 24/7. The ethereal evening Portland sky felt tranquil. His respite ended when Matthew felt it in his ghostly visceral body a loud sound like tearing fabric--Shceeripp! It gave him the shivers.
That could mean only one thing: a house intrusion. Someone or something had forced its way inside of the house, his house. It was Matthew's in-spirit anyway. "Sorry", he had to tell many a lonesome spirit looking for a place to land, "No admittance. This is not a flophouse."
In his fifty-plus years, there had been several intrusions, some accidental, some intentional. What happened? And why isn't Greta barking? The Larson's rat terrier normally took seriously the task of assisting Matthew monitor Hoyt House, which had become attractive to wandering spirits.
He checked on Jill in a second-floor bedroom first. Nothing. Next, he sensed a commotion near the front door. He floated down there and watched Lauren radiate both exasperation and disappointment.
"Will Margot even show up after all the planning we did?"
Matthew clearly heard a woman in the living room repeatedly screeching about a 'Kum-baya and the Lord.
"I'm not gonna quit!" Margot sung even louder now. "Someone's crying Lord, Kumbaya." She repeated it over and over.
He was stunned. Right in this living room was the ghost of a woman who had curly dark hair wearing a green fleece hoodie. How did she get in here?
"Greta! You're needed! Come Greta." His next surprise was to see that was Greta already there, tail wagging happily. Matthew had to find out what this was about.
"Hey you! What are you doing here?"
Slapped in the face by the question, Margot was yanked out of self-pity. She looked in the direction of the voice and saw a man with dark straight hair, slender and 40 or so years old. He wore gradient-tinted eyeglasses.
Margot put her chin up defiantly and said, "This happens to be my birthday party. That's why I'm here."
"Hey, I got a couple of questions for you: You planning to stick around Hoyt House?"
"Um...these are my friends. It's ....my birthday party."
"Got any spare change?", Matthew asked.
What kind of a question is that? Margot tried to feel around for her purse just in case he did need some change.
"I just need a copper penny, that's all."
"I'm sorry, I can't seem to find my purse. Where is it?, she asked herself. "What do you need a penny for anyway?"
"No copper pennies are allowed here", he told her firmly.
She was thoroughly flummoxed. "Huh?"
She doesn't know that she's dead. I've seen this before. Amazing. "I'll tell you about it sometime, Newbie."
Did he just call me Newbie? "And how did you get connected with our tribe at Hoyt House? They must have invited you to the party."
Matthew just nodded and replied, "Well, ....not exactly."
"If you were not invited to the party, why are you here?"
"I uh, more or less live here."
Not wanting to put him on the spot about the more or less remark, she changed the subject. "My name is Margo."
"You can call me Matthew."
Lauren or Bob have never mentioned having a tenant named Matthew. Is he renting a bedroom? "I guess you moved in.... recently?"

Actually, it was the Larson's who moved in recently. Not me. Hesitant as to what to say next, he stumbled with, "Um, ah...."
Then, she jumped in. "And what's with that Newbie thing?"
Matthew chose to play dumb. "What do you mean?"
"Very distinctly I heard you call me, Newbie." Margot was not going to back down. "I want to know why."
How do I break the news to her? Oh well, there's no time like the present. "That's because you look to me like someone who very recently died. That's why I called you Newbie."
You're the one who barged into my home, he felt like saying. Instead, he apologized, "I'm sorry."
Another slap in the face. He calls me dead. "What? Me, dead?", she looked him in the eye. "I'm just as alive as you are. Oh.... Hang on. I know what this is! The most elaborate birthday trick ever!"
Matthew simply leaned against the door frame and waited for more. "Birthday trick?"
"Oh what character development. And my friends," Margot gestured to Lauren and the others standing near. "Staying in character for so long. What devotion they demonstrate. You're all trying to gaslight me!" She clapped her hands. "Too funny!" She then addressed Matthew "They must have chosen you to play the part as the only one, except for Beny, who sees me. What an amazing performance!"
With a hand to her heart, she said, "I'm truly blown away."
Turning her attention to the rest of the first floor, Margot noticed three more people entering the front door. Bob and Lauren totally ignored them. But Greta, being on guard, sniffed each one thoroughly before allowing them entrance. How odd is that? No birthday trick being played on those people. Why ignore them? I don't get it.
I should be parched by now. Margot floated to the table with finger foods and punch. She reached out to get a cup, which just slipped out of her grip. What's happened to my hands? Since when are cups so heavy?
Matthew drifted near her from behind, "Face it Margot. You're dead. Dead as disco."
"Oh yeah, Matthew... " She turned to face him. "Just stop it! Who's dead? You mean me? Hey, like I said, I'm just as alive as you are."
"If that is right. If you are so alive at this time, why don't your friends acknowledge you? No one hollers, Hey Birthday Girl! Who has offered you spiked punch, yet?"
Her mind raced back to her futile attempt to imbibe and began to wonder. "So, you can see me and they can't? They can't see because I'm dead? Then you must be dead too."
"Ah, your first epiphany!", Matthew grinned.
"Beny and Greta saw me. Does that make them dead too?"
"No. That just means they have what we call second sight. Normal for kids and dogs, extraordinary for adults."

Choosing to ignore him, Margot surveyed the dining room and noticed a distinct difference between her friends and the strangers collected there. She could feel lifeblood throbbing through those she knew, like Bob, Lauren and their son Beny. They
seemed to radiate aliveness. Whatever the strangers radiated, it was pale by comparison.
Matthew was watching her. "Noticing some of our dp.'s?"
"What do you mean by dp's?"
"Dead people. Understand Margot, I have a number of dp's who are more or less residing here with my permission," Matthew proudly explained.
Permission. What's that about?, she wondered.

"If you will, allow me to make an introduction. There are several kinds of dp's here at Hoyt House. For example. There are the Confused. They are just not so sure about who or what they are. Sound familiar Margot?"

If he's trying to get under my skin, he's getting there. She looked away from Matthew. It was time for self-coaching. OK Margot collect yourself. All things considered, what would I advise right now: Roll with it. I give myself permission to interact with all the characters who come my way. Who knows what I'll discover!
"Like that one standing at the front window," he continued, "Calls herself Constance. She was already here before I arrived years ago. So one day I asked for her name. She softly said 'Constance ....Constance'.
"But every time I've tried to get a conversation going, she would just look at me briefly and then stare off out the window. It's like she's waiting for someone."
"Wonder who." Putting on her therapist hat now, "May I ask her?"
"Go ahead and try. She might be more open to a dead woman than to a dead man."
Keep it up Matthew and we are going to have words. She gazed at Constance's hourglass corseted dress. It looks so real, from a bygone era. But, how can she breathe? Very gently Margot drifted over to her.
"Hello, Constance", Margot trying to be to be soothing and non-threatening. "I'm Margot." She felt a wash of an intense feeling of longing. Images of ship masts dancing around Constance's head were visible. She had been waiting to see ship masts at port again. A man, a sailor, that must be it!
Constance shifted her gaze from the window toward Margot but said nothing. "How are you today, Constance?"
"I'm waiting....waiting" I'm a faithful wife." Her reply held a grey sadness.
"Is it OK if I wait with you at the window?"
"If you must." Constance gazed dreamily out the bay window for several more minutes. Then she announced, "Could be any time now. I must get upstairs. Simon, where are you?"
A grey tabby cat with an exceptionally long tail appeared. "Yes Missus?" asked Simon.
"It's time to go back on top. We might catch sight of his sails."
Margo watched Constance and Simon walk up to the second-floor landing and then continue to walk up another staircase that wasn't really there. She shuddered, More strangeness: a talking dead cat.
"Where did she go?", she asked Matthew.
"Beats me. She seems to believe that there's a third floor."
"Yeah. But hasn't Hoyt House always been two-story building."
"That's right. Since the fire." Hasty to change the subject, he continued. "And we have dp's here who are either obsessed with something or afraid of something."
"Like most people", Margot observed.
"They used to be people. Now they're just shadows of the people they once were. Yet they can still feel their hunger."
"Hunger for what?"
"You name it. Cig's, sex, drugs like booze or pills. When I meet one of the Hungry the first thing I usually hear is: 'Ya got any?'"
Margot nodded, having addicted hypnotherapy clients before.
Matthew continued, "It's the same with Gamblers. They look for living gamblers who drink too much. Those dead gamblers have no concern for the lives ruined by gambling away so much money. They crave only one thing, that exciting rush felt by gamblers. By the way, gamblers and the hungry are filtered out of Hoyt House.
"Their terrier, Greta. She has a good nose for sinister intentions. She can also smell the potential for disruption. She can be ferocious when it's important." He smiled proudly. "She scares them off. I tend to trust her nose."
Margot watched the motley crew of ghostly figures hovering around the first floor. "Looks to me like Greta is not so discriminating."
"She screens mainly for innocence. By the way, you passed muster.", Matthew grinned.
"And I assumed that only the living were living here."
"Au contraire, Margot. All of us dp's are alive in our own way. And each one of us has a problem, something troubling. On top of that, each of these ghosts you see here, with a wave he gestured toward the pale-looking partygoers, "They're not all there, if you get my meaning. Each one is a mere ghost of its former self."
That made her wonder. Maybe no one is really ever dead... "So, why here? Why don't they just move on?"
"From what I've seen, it's the problems that they had while living that keeps them here in a dismal afterlife. Guilt seems to stick to them like glue."
He sure seems familiar with guilt, she told herself.

"I've never seen a dp around who wasn't troubled about something. Maybe that's why they are stuck here. A place where maybe they can work it out." He paused for emphasis, "Or not. Mostly not, actually."
"So now what? They are just trapped here?"
Matthew felt rather negligent now, as if he was supposed to be in charge of their status at the house. "Umm. Most of them have been here for years. Where else would they be?"
Margot felt like raising her voice. "Can't something be done about it?"
Matthew became uncomfortable with where this was headed. "Like what? Is that my job?" Whoops. I shouldn't have asked that question. He chose to re-direct their conversation.
"We have other Repeaters here. In the kitchen." He gestured in that direction. "There are two dp's who believe that they have a bakery here. Can you believe it?"
Oh, but this dream is getting interesting, Margot had to remind herself. Hoyt House is now a bakery.
"Can you see them, Margot? Try a soft focus."
"A soft focus What is that?"
"I've found that if I make a focused effort to see something, all I ever see is my effort to see. Over time I've learned how to see without looking. Works better that way."
Maybe I can soft focus too. Margot was fascinated to watch the knife drawer jerking open. She allowed her attention to gaze nearby a little. Soon a grey-looking man with glasses and a dark beard pulling and pulling to open a drawer. He was obviously unhappy.
"He'll yank at it till the drawer finally opens." Matthew snickered, "I've watched their tableware go flying across the kitchen when that drawer suddenly let's go."
"I'll bet that get's the attention of Beny's parents."
"So far, Beny has always heard the clatter and placed everything back into the drawer before Lauren could enter the kitchen. He's a good boy. He wants to protect her. He even closes the oven door if he sees it open."
"Protect her from what?"
"Oh, the bakers can get rather busy in the kitchen. And Lauren easily gets a case of the spookies."
"Besides yourself, how many dp's there are here? "
"Seven or eight, if we include you."
There he goes again! This time Margot didn't fight it, after all this is just a lucid dream, she reminded herself. "You make this sound like a halfway house for the dead, Matthew."
Injecting some levity: "A real Spooks-R-Us!"
"What's that...this place is spooks are us? I don't get it." Then he smirked, "But I did notice the poor English, Margot."

End of Chapter 11


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