I smell a ghost

Mr Brown aged into the rut on his couch and thought how typical. Not even the narrator of my story knows my first name. He thought on this for a while, when was the last time someone called him Dan, or even Daniel? Not including that smart arse little prick of a doctor who shoved something up his arse.

Then, through the act of remembering his eyes shifted focus from the bar heater to the wall behind it and a small ‘aah’ passed his lips as though the air in his lungs had to make way for the memory that had returned. It was the first human voice to sound in his small lounge room all day.

Les was the last of ‘his people’, a funny term he thought, as though we are a different race, Les was the last of his people, his little brother, the last to use his first name.

When the cramp in his gut brought him out of his reverie he found he had been smiling, and when, while on the subject was the last time that had happened? But it was gone, replaced by concentration as he prepared to stand, never easy. He grunted upwards and straightened, he had to pee so he went out the front and did it on the corner of the verandah. All peeing was done here, and if he had to shit he made his way across the road to the pub.

‘Got to clean this place out’ he said out loud, meaning the bathroom which was inaccessible due to piles of newspapers and other junk and rubbish he collected on his daily walks.

‘Get out of it ya dirty bastard’. The pot heads from next door had caught him at it again.

‘Use the toilet you filthy prick’.

Mr Brown jabbed a thumb upwards and went inside.

When I moved into the freshly renovated terrace at the end of the lane I didn’t know it’s history. I didn’t know of the pot heads next door nor the queers across the road, of the extreme concentration of pubs within stumbling distance or the black cat that would sit on my roof and watch as I stood in the small concrete courtyard out the back to smoke, scaring the shit out of me with it’s silhouette when I turn to go inside.

And I certainly didn’t know of the urine smell that would emanate from the front verandah each time it rained.

I smell a ghost

Michael Douglass

Alexandria, Australia

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