The hotel became quite busy in the recent months, as it always is in the summer. I remember well enough, coming here to swim. I never got hot anymore, since I woke from the crash, but sometimes I missed the cooling water hugging my body. The guests splashed around, children drunk on sugary frozen drinks, their parents drunk on sweet tequila mixtures. The smiling staff, piloting trays overfilling with drinks and delicacies, glided around the pool, darting through the crowds, under artificial waterfalls and around spraying fountains. I tried to pick out the most interesting individuals, to amuse myself.
The old lady was not there, thank goodness. I avoided her room since our first meeting. It was unnerving enough to have a living person see me, and still more unpleasant that she was such a temperamental, rude old bat. Must be a Yankee, I thought. Bless her heart. That was not even the worst part.
The old bitty had the indecency to die shortly after our meeting, while still living in the room. Unfortunately, her soul seemed to be so disturbed for some reason that she remained, as a ghost, living among us other spectral beings. The soldiers from Confederate Rest Cemetery down the road could not stand her; at least the ones who could visit the hotel grounds. Some of them were restricted from the area, not having visited in their lives. I was fortunate enough to have lived long enough to explore almost every inch of the area for miles and I spent a good deal of time conversing with the soldiers. They were fascinating, each one with his own story and history. Incidentally, history, I found, is nearly always very much different than what is written and learned by millions of schoolchildren.
A few Union soldiers were buried in the same cemetery. There seemed to be no discrimination between the men. Death, I thought, must be a universal thing. Death was not only bond they shared; many of them were relatives, fighting not against each other, but against subtle ideas and under indefinite names and hallowed principles. Yes, the cemetery was one of my most favorite haunts.
Of course, I wasn’t restricted to my hometown. I could go all the way up to Birmingham and Fort Payne, and all the way down to southern Florida If I wanted. I had gone as far north as Alaska and Eastern Canada, but I found the farther I went from my place of death and the more unfamiliar the territory, the more I faded. It was not really a fatigue, not like when I was alive – more of a sense of wispiness and fogginess. It was the same way with San Francisco and Seattle, though I felt slightly more solid there, which I supposed was due to a bond I formed with the cities when I visited in my lifetime.