Dead Man’s Eyes

It was dusk and I was at the cemetery, putting flowers at my grandmother’s grave.  I was on my way out of there when he just sort of appeared out of nowhere.  White guy, about 5″8, medium build, wearing sunglasses with Wrangler jeans and a plaid button down.  he seemed to be walking aimlessly.

“Closing time,” he announced, “main gate will be closing and locked in ten minutes.”

“I know that,” I said, wearing the nasty look I wore any time a complete stranger proceeded to give me orders, “and anyway, who are you?”

“I’m Jake, I live here.”

“You what?”  My eyes all but popped out of my head.  “This is a cemetery, NOBODY lives here.”

“”My dad maintains the property,” he said, “I worked for a hedge fund right out of college but I got laid off last year, so I came here to help my dad, and we live up at the main house.”

“Oh,” I said, “I thought you were having a go at me,” I smiled, “my grandmother’s buried here, I just came to put flowers on her grave.  But like you said, closing time, so I’ll get out.”

“I didn’t get your name,” he said.

“Cara,” I told him.

“Well, Cara,” he smiled too now, “I hope I see you around sometime.”

“That’d be nice,” I said, “I live right in town, if you ever get into town.”

“Nah,” he said, “I don’t get into town…I’m kinda tied to this place.”

“Your dad keeps you pretty busy,” I said, “I get it.”

“Pretty busy indeed,” he nodded, “but it’s not all bad.  Maybe you’d like to come around sometime, round sunset or a little bit thereafter, I’m not so busy then.”

“Yeah, maybe,” I said, thinking he’s cute…kinda attached to home and family, but cute.  In a way, it was refreshing to see a grown man so attached to home and family.

*****************************************************************************************************************************

A week later, I was back at the cemetery, at dusk.   My earbuds in my ears, The Rasmus playing, I walked through the boneyard looking for Jake.  Once again, he appeard out of nowhere.  How does he do that, I thought.

“What’re you listening to?” he asked.

“The Rasmus,” I said, “d’you like them?”

“Never heard of them,” he cocked his head sideways at me, “you got any Rolling Stones on that thing?”

“Rolling Stones, huh…you like to kick it ol’school,” I said, “I don’t, but I could get some.”

He took my hand and led me to an open area where no graves had been dug, no headstones planted.  I was surprised to see a picnic blanket spread out there.

“The perks of having my very own field,” he said.

“A picnic at sunset,” I said, “me and Morticia Addams are the only ones who appreciate it, and she’s married, so it’s a good thing you met me.”

“Yeah,” he said, “the Addams family is my favorite show too.”  You mean MOVIE, I thought, but didn’t say it.

The picnic consisted of fried chicken, watermelon for dessert, sweet wine, and Jake rubbing my feet.

“Do you mind if I smoke?” I asked after we ate.

“Not at all,” he said, “it’s not like you’re going to kill me with it.”  I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not, but technically he said he didn’t mind, so I took that as tacit permission and lit up.

“Do you ever take those sunglasses off?” I asked him.  “I mean, it’s pretty much full dark out?”

“Yeah Jake,” a voice from somewhere behind him said, as a teenager, a blonde kid of about 15, strolled out from behind a tree, “tell her why you can’t take your sunglasses off.”  the kid was wearing sunglasses too.

“Go home, Nicky,” Jake said.

“No,” the kid said, “I wanna stay and have fun.”  He sat down on the picnic blanket with us.

“”Cara,” Jake said, “this’ Nicky, he’s…well, he lives here too.”

“Are you two brothers?”

“Oh not by blood,” Nicky chimed in, “but yeah, you could say that in a way, we’re brothers.”

“I get it,” I said, figuring they were step brothers, “and I’m sorry I asked about the sunglasses, really, it’s none of my business.”

“No, it’s OK,” Nicky said, “go on, Jake, tell her.”  Jake glared at him.  “If you don’t, I FUCKING WILL.”

“Language, Nicky, there’s a lady here.”  Jake said.

“”What’d he tell you,” Nicky demanded, “that ol’bit about how his father maintains this property and he helps out?”  I stared at Nicky, then at Jake.  “Yeah well, it’s all bullshit, honey.  His father don’t maintain jack shit, and neither of us LIVES here or any damn where else.”

“OK,” I stood up, “what in the hell is going on here?”  I heard the chirp of crickets.  “Somebody answer me, goddamn it!”

Jake took off his sunglasses.  “Look at my eyes,” he said.  I looked.  His eyes weren’t brown, hazel, green, or blue…they were black, like one would expect a crow’s eyes to be.

“What the…what ARE you?”

“I died in 1976,” he said, “been buried here ever since.  I wasn’t telling a big lie when I said I live here, or the lie wasn’t that I don’t live here but rather I don’t live, or at least not the same way you live.”  I could feel my own eyes getting bigger and wider.

“Yeah, if you’re dead, how the FUCK are you walking and talking?” I asked, half terrified.

“”We can all walk from our graves after dark,” he said, “me, Nicky, all of us…it’s been a well-kept secret for hundreds of years, and with good reason.  That’s why people are so scared of cemeteries at night, why so many ghost stories center around kids who hang out in the cemetery at night, where the whole myth of the undead came from.”

“This makes no sense,” I said, “no sense at all.”

“What, and McCain for President in 2008 made sense?” Nicky asked.

“Yeah, I see your point, a lot of things that don’t make sense happen, they happen whether we believe them or not.”

“You don’t believe, just wait,” Jake said.  So I sat down in the grass and waited.  About five minutes after I sat down, I saw a shape moving towards me…it came closer and I realized it was an elderly woman in what appeared to be the tattered remnants of a tea length dress.

“Holy shit,” I said, “OK, I believe, this is really happening.  But why, if this has been a well-kept secret for hundreds of years, have you opened up and shared it with me.”

“I like you, Cara,” Jake said, “and eternity gets very boring when you can’t leave this property.”

“You cant leave, but I’m in no condition to move in yet.”

“I know that,” he said, “but you can visit.”

“So…you want to date me.”

“Yes, exactly.”

“It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing I’ve done,” I said, you’re attractive, and I love the way you treat me.”

“****************************************************************************************************************************The next morning it was me walking forth from Jake’s gravesite, after a night of passions I didn’t think a clinically dead man capable (but somehow he WAS capable).  I had to keep the secret, I had to not disclose to ANYBODY the fact that Jake, and others like him could walk from their graves after dark, which meant I couldn’t tell anyone about the great guy I’d met.  I slipped out the main gates of the cemetery as people were streaming in for a morning funeral.  No one paid any attention to me.

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