01 July 2005

Shadow of his former self

He hated the neighbors. He hadn't liked them when he was alive, and now that he was dead, he liked them even less. They used to, whenever waiting for the elevator, look in his direction and whisper. Now they spoke openly of rumors so outlandish and implausible that he wished they were true. He tried to scare them once, but the only person who normally saw him was the doorman, who was, in keeping with the traditions of the city, an elderly gentlemen with only a few years left.
He thought being dead would be more interesting, either going into a wonderful light, or hanging around frightening dogs and small children. There was never a light, no tunnels, and no being inexplicably drawn anywhere. Dogs tended to ignore him. He knew they could sense him, as they made a point of urinating on anything he brushed against. They were vicious snarling creatures, so he was pleased to not interact with them.
His apartment was leased out shortly after his death. All of his things had been packed up and shipped off to unknown places and a family moved in. He tried to stay out of their way as much as possible. He didn't have any biological functions, so he never had cause to enter most rooms, but he hung out in the living room and on the balcony. He spent his nights sleeping on the couch. He didn't need sleep, but he enjoyed it and frequently indulged himself.
The new family was nice. They did a nice job of redecorating the place on their small budget. They were pleasant to one another and kept the place clean. Being disembodied, there wasn't much else he could ask of them. He could pass through walls, so it didn't really matter if the place was cleaned or not, but it was a pleasant touch. He spent many late evenings and early mornings dusting in the few rooms be visited. He didn't think they ever noticed, but he hoped that they had.
Sometimes, when the weather was nice, he'd go outside and walk through the park. When he was alive, he had loved to walk in the rain. He enjoyed feeling the rain beat down on him, only to fall off to the side while he still stood. It made him feel like nature, with all of it's power, could never knock him over. Walking in the rain these days was nowhere near as pleasant or refreshing. It left him feeling congested throughout his entire body. He didn't actually have a body, but that's the way it felt.
Actually getting to the park still proved to be a bit difficult. He could make his way downstairs without incident. The doorman always opened the door for him, with a smile and a nod, as if he was a living tenant. Usually there were other people in the lobby, and this made him uncomfortable. Sometimes they would look in his direction, as if they saw something, which he suspected that they did. He didn't know what exactly they saw, and was pretty sure they didn't either, but it still made him uncomfortable.
He would try to flatten himself up against the wall, and slide carefully along in someone's shadow. He hoped he could pass himself off as a trick of light, but sometimes people stopped and looked with a puzzled expression. It wouldn't have bothered him so much if these same people hadn't given him that same puzzled expression when he was alive, but they had, and it bothered him considerably.
In the park, he was free to be himself. Nobody wandering through the park paid much attention to anything odd they may have seen flitting past. The pigeons never flocked near him, and the squirrels were more approachable now. The squirrels had coarse, rough fur, not like the smooth, almost silky fur of the police horses. It had taken a while to get the horses used to his presence, but now he could approach them and feed them carrots he had swiped from a local grocer.
When duck came, he would head back to the apartment, pass the ever friendly doorman, and make his way upstairs. He would sneak past the neighbors milling around in the hallway and pass through his door. Once back in the apartment, he would catch up on the days news and gossip from the new occupants. When they went to bed, he would tidy up a bit, then head out to the balcony for some fresh air. On some days, the new residents would complain about the neighbors dogs urinating on the doors and stairwells. The less they liked the neighbors, the less isolated he felt, and the more he liked them.

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