“My darling pet,” the bald ghost said to the frightened masseuse. “Your arms are open to me, my sweetest lamb, but they are open like umbrellas. Please, do not interrupt me with your soft mews of protest, your dulcet screams, your gentle skittering into the darkest corner of this all too bright room. You cannot dissuade me from my purpose. Let us gambol in the daisies and then later, when he have had our fill of that, piss in the bushes. ”

The masseuse could say nothing. This was not what he had gone to trade school for and he was wishing now he had majored in something less intimate like electrical engineering or business management. Something involving diagrams and schematics and absolutely no ectoplasmic entities at all.

But he had never been good at numbers and more than a few teachers had told him mysteriously that he had very strong hands. So here he was. Working at the Blue Iguana Massage and Ice Cream Parlor and as luck would have it the place was haunted by the ghost of the owners husband who had been having an affair with the owner’s cousin’s brother before being killed in a rain of bullets fired by the owner’s cousin’s brother’s boyfriend.

The owner sold the place some time after that, feeling that all the parlors red and pink and powder blue walls had been permanently tainted by the violence that had left her not only widowed, but also deeply in debt, as her unfaithful husband had not died neatly and politely on the spot but had lingered on for a year or two in a very expensive hospital with a clay-tiled roof. She had spent her last dime on something called Vibrations Therapy, in which a doctor of questionable repute (his resume included some work for the Third Reich) attempted to stimulate the cells of her dying husbands dying cerebellum by means of placing a washing machine on spin cycle at the head of his hospital bed.

It had not worked. The man died, the massage and ice cream parlor was sold, and the widow retired to Florida only to die a few years later in a tragic scuba diving accident in which she was run over by the scuba diving instructor in the parking lot while she was putting her scuba gear into the trunk of her car.

Her last words had been: “Oops.”

The scuba instructor was never the same and developed a habit of drinking three bottles of children’s grape flavored cough syrup every night just to be able to forget…to forget… for one little second…

Still cowering in corner during all this back story, the masseuse recited as much of the Lord’s Prayer as he could remember from trade school and it seemed to work. The ghost left. The masseuse took this as the sign of an existent and a benevolent god, though this was not entirely the case. The former massage and ice cream parlors formerly living former husband and current ghost had once had a particularly bad experience when a TV had been playing a movie where someone had been reciting that particular prayer. It gave him the heebee geebees and also the ghost equivalent of a rash, but had the masseuse recited the lyric to “She Wore and Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” the effect would have been roughly the same.

In any event the ghost left and the masseuse quit the next day, devoting the rest of his life to spreading the word of God and collecting bits of foil that he kept in an ever growing ball in his basement apartment. In this sense, at least, it was a happy ending.

About the Author

Grant Bailie

Grant Bailie is the author of the novels Cloud 8 and Mortarville, as well as numerous stories online and in print. His latest novel, New Hope for Small Men is available in e-book form under the auspices of Necessary Fiction, where it was first serialized. His book TomorrowLand--an illustrated novel of sorts--is due out in the fall through Red Giant Books Mr. Bailie currently lives in Lakewood, Ohio, which is a stone’s throw from Cleveland. He knows this because sometimes the people in Cleveland throw stones.

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