BEING DEAD (Chapter 6) Failure and Success

The door to Alan Venar’s house flung open.  It was still dusty and a good portion of the crime scene tape strewn about.  Back through the long hallways John made his way to the study where he had no doubts that he would find his undead friend.

“Alan!  Alan! You won’t believe what’s come in the mail!”  He shouted.  The study was dark and musty with the curtains drawn shut and thousands of books piled like crooked towers all around a large wooden desk.  The chair behind that desk turned slowly to reveal the sullen Alan Venar.

“Alan, are you still sulking?  It’s been weeks man!”

The decrepit figured said nothing, but instead lifted a hand with a bottle to his mouth and slowly gulped down its contents.

“Alan, stop that.  And what’s that smell?”

Alan raised his eyebrows and turned the chair away from John.  “Death, John.  That smell is death.”

John’s shoulder’s dropped.  “Oh come on.  I know the smell of someone who hasn’t bathed in far too long versus someone dead.  And what’s with this mess?”

“Passing the time.  What else is a ghost to do?”

“How about revel in the success of your works?”  Said John while placing an envelope onto the desk.

The chair quickly turned around and Alan gave him a puzzling glance.  He wasn’t sure if he was drunk or intrigued.  Possibly both.  Furiously Alan tore at the envelope until he realized it was upside down and already opened.  He pulled out the letter and read it carefully.

“Is this what I think it is?”

“I don’t know what you think it is, given your current status, but yes.  It is a publication letter and a notice that a check for that sum at the bottom that will be presented to me upon release of your book.”

Alan looked the letter over incredulously.  “Noooooo.”

“It’s true, Alan.  I’m meeting with a publisher tomorrow evening to discuss the entire series being released.”  Said John.  He picked up one of the books off of the stack next to him that was already piled to his eye level.  He thumbed through it.

“You’re saying that my series is to be published within three weeks of my passing?  All of them?  The whole lot?  Wait what series are we talking about?”

“Oh…um…Elements I think?  Yes that’s the one.”  Replied John as he read a few lines from the book.

“Elements?!  That series was 24 books with only 6 of them complete!  Why the hell do they want to publish that unfinished series?!”  Alan raged.

“I’m not sure Alan, that’s why I’m meeting with the man from the publishing company.  And anyways weren’t the first four books a complete set anyways?”

Alan slammed his hands on the table.  “Yes, but the series is what matters!  They all connect and they all intertwine into something much greater!  It would be like watching the beginning of Hamlet and then stopping halfway through!”

John closed the book he was holding.  “You were only a fourth of the way through.  Not halfway.  You never were good at math, Alan.”

“And apparently not good at finishing my works either.  Not good at a lot of things it seems.”  Alan took another long chug from the brown bottle.

“Oh come off it.  You’re getting published!  You’re getting what you wanted!”  Said John.

“Yes yes, good good.  Whatever.  Let me know how it goes.”

A deep sigh left John’s chest as he walked toward the door to leave.  “You know Alan, you could always finish up now that you have nothing but time.  Nobody would ever know.”

Alan laughed.  “I had nothing but time before and I still didn’t finish them.  Why start now?”

“Because eventually you will grow tired of this room and want to be with Meagan now that you know the truth.”

“Ha!  I’ve never wished to not know something so badly.  We ghosts don’t have the luxary of love, John.  We simply bear the chains of our mistakes and remember what once was.”

“Good thing you’re not really dead then?  Maybe now you can actually start living like you set out to when you concocted this idiotic scheme.  I’ll let you know what the publisher says.  In the meantime, for the love of God and the Queen, bathe.”

The door shut and Alan was once again left alone with his bottle of whiskey.  He stared at it about to take a sip and then at the letter still on the table.  He stopped and put the bottle down as he considered the possibilities.  Wheels and gears turned flawlessly in his mind until finally he arrived at the most ingenious revelation.  He smiled to himself, stood up, and drew the curtains wide open with a burst of light covering his pale face.  And even though he cowered away from the stinging light in his drunken eyes,  It was a new day and he was just beginning to live for the first time.


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