Kill Your Heroes
My parents assumed we were the only souls inside our old house on Sycamore Street. To my surprise, there were nine.
“Once upon a time, ghosts were people too,” I would say to my father’s growing dismay. “But now they are remnants. A shell of someone that has a debt to pay.” That was usually enough to make him walk away. He was not the type that liked to ‘stay‘, so to say.
Each spirit had a name and history wholly unique to itself.
The nastiest one was named Sylvester. I called him Sly for short. He was a blurry bloke that wore old-fashioned overalls and a big black bowler cap. Sometimes, when everyone else was sound asleep, Sly would stick his icy cold fingers into my bed sheets. One sleep deprived look at Sly’s sick smile and bulging belly was sufficient to send me screaming to Mommy’s bedroom. She never seemed surprised. I only wanted to sleep in their room to keep the ghosts at bay.
But I was usually sent away, with a slap to the cheek and an insistence that I go back to sleep.
There was also Mr. Sodderburg. Old Soddy was a well-to-do man; with a white button-down shirt, tight business slacks, and thinning gray hair. He liked to pace the hallways, and was distinguishable by a pine perfume that could stink up a funeral parlor in seconds.
Soddy’s family lived in the house in the sixties. One Sunday night in ’67, after our small Southern town discovered he was homosexual, Mr. Sodderburg put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He hasn’t left since.
Mrs. Soddy stayed too.
The rumor was that the lady of the house hung herself from the ceiling with a handmade scarf soon after her husband’s death. The coroner ruled it to be natural causes. For posterity, I guess.
The fashionable noose she still wears around her neck suggests something more sinister.
The last spirit was the Keeper. His name was as simple as it implied; he kept passed souls inside.
I met him sometime after I died.
Sometimes it is hard to find the right lines to describe, as many times as I try. That night, it was raining outside.
My siblings, Shawna and Stephen, wanted to go to their friends’ houses and our parents angrily declined. I was practicing piano, but no one seemed to mind. It was hard to think with the din. Dad was preparing for a lecture while my mom rustled around the garbage bins. It was a typical Friday for the Finns.
Soon after one song ended, I felt sick. I tried to scream, but instead felt my eyes bulge wide and my body slump to the side. I wished for the ability to cry. But there was no one nearby.
There was horror all over their faces when they saw me alive again for the first time.
It was in the kitchen, before dinner, on a Sunday six weeks later. My mother was so shocked that she spit out her wine.
“It’s not possible… son, you died,” my dad sputtered.
“It must a miracle…” my mom muttered.
“Squirt, is that really you?” asked Shawna.
Stephen said nothing. He called me a liar, and backed away from the table like it were on fire. I disappeared in order to avoid the rest of their ire.
Some nights since, Sly and the Soddys still tease me. They’re a lot scarier now they’re not make-believe. At night, I still scream down the hallway, hoping and praying to be set free.
But Mommy really hates it when I’m in her bed sheets now. And I have heard Dad talk about moving to another town.
So tomorrow morning, there will be something special in their tea. The answer is simple, in case you cannot already see. I’m going to kill my parents.
That way, they can never leave.