Protagonize Ping Pong

High school history teacher by day, private investigator by night, Steve and his ghost wife Monica never want for action.

The warm smell of coffee brewing illuminated the cheery kitchen and the constant muttering of the little machine was as good as any radio for Steve. He sat; his broad shoulders slouched at an angle that matched the hands of the clock behind him. They indicated that it was five after seven. Steve took the business of eating his breakfast cereal leisurely, chewing and swallowing each bite with diligence. This diligence, while comical at mealtimes, was very useful for a historian. Across the table from him an almost empty chair was accompanied by the daily newspaper.

The coffee percolator fell silent and Steve rose to pour a mug. He set it down beside the newspaper and returned to his breakfast.

“Honey?” said a voice from the mostly empty chair.

“Huh?” he looked up, pausing his spoon. “Oh, right.” He reached across the table and turned the page of the newspaper. He then returned to eating.

“Electronic Store Reported Mysterious Increase in Stock,” read the disembodied voice, a spark of curiosity brightening the soft feminine tones. “The local Electronics for Everyone store on 21st Street reported to the police this past Friday that DVD players, Ipods, and other electronics which the store did not order, have appeared on their shelves over the last few weeks. Some of the merchandise has already been sold.” The woman’s voice stopped reading aloud so that she could digest the information more quickly.

Steve scooted his cereal across the table and came to stand beside the mostly empty chair, from where he too could read the paper.

“We really don’t have time to take on another case right now,” said the woman. Steve nodded absentmindedly, digesting the last few sentences rather than his cereal or his wife’s words.

When he was done he went back to his seat, saying, “Someone must be stealing them from somewhere first. Clever way to dispose of the merchandise. Except that, unless the deviant owns the store, or maybe works there, they won’t be making any profits.

“Steve, you just nodded in agreement when I said that we can’t take on any more cases.”

“Yes, but—”

“Did we decide what we are going to do with that body?” she asked, changing the subject.

“No,” said Steve, opening his mouth again to return to the topic of the new paper article.

“Could you turn the page again, please,” she asked before he could speak.

Grudgingly he reached across the table again and did as she asked. “I suppose we should just rebury it.”

“That’s what I’ve been thinking. Tonight, maybe? You may not smell it because you’re never home, and I can’t smell it because I can’t smell, but the neighbors will notice it if we don’t get it out of the shed soon.”

“You’re probably right. You know how much I hate—”

“…dealing with the bodies. Yes I know. I wish I could be of more help.”

“Not your fault, honey.” Steve rose and kissed the air somewhere above the table. He then rinsed his bowl off in the sink. He let the last few drops of orange juice in his glass trickle onto his tongue and added the glass to the sink.

A few minutes later he called from their bedroom, “Monica? Where did I leave my scarlet tie?”

“The laundry room,” came his wife’s reply, still from the mostly empty chair in the kitchen.

“Oh yeah.” A moment later; “Crums! It’s still wet.”

“That’s what you get for not paying attention to what you put in the washer. It’s probably shrunk, too,” Monica called from the other room.

“Oh, probably.” Steve went to find another tie. As he adjusted the knot in the mirror his said to himself, “good morning, Mr. Douglas.”

“Talking to yourself again?” said Monica, her voice floating in the doorway, along with a very faintly visible outline of her body. “You do that more… ever since I died.”


A few minutes later Steve sped into his favorite parking space and tramped across the grass to his classroom portable, preparing himself to be ‘Mr. Douglas’ to three classes of unruly teenagers.

The coffee in the mug he had left on table slowly grew cold.

The End

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