Shall I shake his hand to congratulate him on his arrival? It must’ve been some ride from wherever he came from, no doubt.
Shall I ask him to tea, ask him about life – and death – and ask him if he’s craving anything, like fresh strawberry pie or braised goat tacos from North Hollywood.
Shall I pass him my joint and tell him it’s more CBD than THC – in case he doesn’t want to get higher than he already is.
Shall I flirt with him, ask him if he still harbors any sexual preferences, or is sex something that’s forgotten once the genitalia turn spectral.
Shall I listen to his moans and groans, and I stay silent, and wait until he utters the first word in our encounter. Why would it be incumbent upon me to act first? The living are such pushovers.
Shall I ask him about my parents – how is mother and step-father doing?
Shall I ask him about the election, he surely must know the results; I mean, what’s the point of living then dying then coming back if what he can only offer is the incitement of fear. How boring. How juvenile. How insulting, actually.
Shall I ask him his age, name, and last-known location, as if I were introducing myself via some old AOL chatroom, surely that must be important; for, at the very least, I can help guide him to wherever he may want to go; perhaps, this could be the perfect reason to use up the last drops of ink in my Epson printer to print out directions for him via Mapquest; he’ll hopefully get this joke, unless of course, he was of the Thomas Bros. generation of navigation.
Shall I ask about God. Ha, no, LOL.
Shall I invite him to sit down and rewatch that episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix with me. The episode where Japanese taxi drivers pilot ghosts around the town of Ishinomaki free of charge, and I’ll joke that the eerie way they would appear in the back of the cab reminded me of his summoning to my living room.
I’ll tell him that I originally watched it with my wife and that she laughed when she saw me squirm inside my snuggie, turning what was supposed to be Netflix and chill into Netflix and chills.
And I’ll ask him if he had ever taken a taxi as a ghost before. And no matter his answer, I’ll fake laugh because, in truth, I wouldn’t be able to relate anyway. And hopefully this will ignite some small talk. And he’ll blather out all the sordid details of his passing, and I’ll nod and smile and mirror his body movements to gain trust, and who knows maybe we’ll turn friends and I’ll invite him to meet my group of friends after the pandemic is over, and he’ll joke that that would be the most ironic thing because, by that time, I’ll be joining him and…
Okay, I think I’ll just get inside my snuggie and pretend he isn’t there.