Chapter 9

So now, four years have passed since that fateful day and I am now tucked into my own apartment that walks out to a courtyard with tall evergreen trees now beautifully covered with snow…watching the next to the last episode of “The Housewives of New York City”.

The Parents are sitting on a book shelf right next to my TV.  They are surrounded by all my favorite books and favorite pictures of them as well as Karlie, George, Annie and Cantor…and, of course, best friend Emma.

I have a “Family on the Shelf” as opposed to an “Elf on the Shelf”

I keep The Parents for a couple of months and then they journey over to Karlie and George’s house where they sit in an equally revered place.  It seemed like a better idea than…you know…separating them…like eggs.

But now it was late…scenes from next week’s episode were running.  I clicked the remote.

I stood up, stretched and turned off the lamp beside my chair.  I dropped the blinds but not before appreciating again how peaceful the falling snow looked.

I put the chain lock on my door even though I know in my heart of hearts that a chain is  not going to stop a crazed man from entering my cozy little abode and stealing my super swell TV…or worse.

But still, at least I would hear him and be able to stealthily pull my always loaded Glock out from my bedside table and blow him to smithereens…HAH…gotcha…just kidding.

But at least I would hear him…

I flipped the hall light on and walked down the hall.  The full lenth mirror at the end  was there for a purpose.  B+

I fluffed my hair like I always do when finding myself in front of any mirror and went into my bedroom and paused…

I clapped my hands twice and my bedside light went on.  Yes.  I have “The Clapper”.

Don’t judge me.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10

My bedroom walls are covered with black & white blow up posters of all the places I would like to visit but probably will not…Paris, London, Gloucestershire, anywhere in Scotland and  Stockholm.  Did I mention that I am a teeny bit claustrophobic?   Oh well, now you know.

I also have huge posters of every animal I have ever owned…except for the 4 goldfish I once bought at Sam’s Club.  They actually died before I could come up with exotic names for them…

“Hello, Emma,” I whispered to my sleeping cat.

She looked up from her favorite resting spot…the top of my bed pillow…and smiled.

“Are you going to have your customary glass of red wine tonight, Tobey?” she asked.

Do you think its odd to talk for your  pet?  Or to your pet?  Move into an apartment building that has a lot of senior citizen tenants with pets.  It’s not odd.  Normal.  Very normal.

Besides…if someone asks you a question, it would be rude not to answer…

I turned on my bathroom night-light and politely answered my cat’s question.

“Not tonight dearest, exhausted.”

I was only able to read for about ten minutes which really ticked me off since this book was so exciting.  But my eyes were starting to close so I put the book on my night stand, turned off the floor lamp by my bed and cursed because I had forgotten to turn off the hall light.

I dragged myself out of bed and padded down the hall, hit the switch off and cursed again since I was now in total darkness…having forgotten to turn my living room night-light on.  I flipped that light on and trundled down the hall.

I apologized to God for being so tired as I said my nightly prayers.

“Dear God.  I’m sorry.  Than you.  Help everyone.  Amen.”

I put my head down on the pillow and rolled over on my right side…then rolled to my left side…almost unconscious at this point… but then…I rolled back to my right side…AND THEN…

..here we go…

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 11

I slowly pushed myself up to a sitting position, keeping my eyes glued to the black form in the corner.

Emma was sound asleep at the foot of the bed…nestled in ‘her’ Drake tee shirt… (it’s too long  a story to share right now)…so I nudged her a little so she would wake up.  Nothing.

“Emma.” I whispered and tapped her lightly on her head.  “Wake Up.”

But she didn’t wake up.  She didn’t even move.  She was, as they say, ‘dead to the world’.

And then it quietly occurred to me that I wasn’t scared…not at all.  I even smiled a little…what the hell is going on?

I was, in fact, feeling a deep sense of calm.  Remember that ‘Zen’ feeling I mentioned earlier?  Like that.  Then.  It hit me.

“Holy Shit! I cried out loud.  “I’m fucking dead!”

I hadn’t even felt sick!  No one had even hinted that I was dying!

Of course sometimes…not often…not very often…I don’t always pay attention to every, single solitary word  that people are saying to me…but still…

“I cant believe this.” I screamed.

“Dead at 24!  I had so many things left to do.  I’m pretty sure of that!”

“Bucket List!  My bucket list!  Crap.  I haven’t even made a bucket  list…”

I tapped Emma a wee bit harder on her head.

“Emma!  We’re dead!  We’re both dead!  Can you believe that?”

“I’m not dead.” said Emma in… NOT MY  VOICE…

Things were starting to ratchet up a bit now…as my heart started to pound furiously…

Do dead hearts pound?  I don’t know…I DON’T KNOW!!!!!

Chapter 12

I slowly drew my hand away from the head of my ‘apparently not dead’ cat.

“So,” I whimpered, “It’s just me.  I’m dead alone.”  My eyes started to burn.

But then, out of the corner of my now watery eye,  I noticed the black…whatever…starting to sway a little and change its shape.

It looked like it was extending a hand out to me.

“OH NO!!  OMG!!  IT’S THE HAND OF DEATH.” I shrieked.

As the hand moved closer, I shrank back against my pillow.  I felt like I should do something…like run…to avoid this death thing.  Could I…?

But I was not going to be that dumb girl in the stupid horror movie who runs down the basement to hide…and subsequently becomes many pieces.  Does this building even have a basement?

“Noooo,” I whined loudly as the hand moved even closer.

And then Emma stood up and turned toward me and walked up my legs.

She put her two front paws on my shoulders.  We were eyeball to eyeball.

“Relax, Tobey.  It’s not death.  It’s one of your guardian angels.  Your main one, actually.”

“By the way, the correct phrase is ‘the hand of God’ not ‘the hand of death.’

Said Jennifer Lawrence…since that is exactly who my cat Emma sounded like…with a heavy Southern accent.

She then licked my nose, dropped her paws, walked down my legs and curled up at the foot of my bed…in ‘her’ Drake tee-shirt.

“Not dead then…?” I asked in a squeaky voice.

“No.”

I exhaled loudly.  “Okay good.  Really good and great.”

“His name is Fred.  Like in Rogers.”

“Oh, Jesus.” I mumbled under my breath.

“No…Fred.”

 

 

 

Chapter 13

Fred?  What kind of weird angel name is that, I was wondering to myself when suddenly ‘Fred’ spoke.

“I know right?  I would have preferred Sebastian…but I’m not in charge.”

Fred’s voice was thin, high and reedy…kind of like Truman Capote just before he died.

“And may I just point out, right from the get go, that… it is not my fault that you saw me tonight,” he said.

“I have been watching over you ever since you were born…for every one of your 24 years, day and night, night and day, through thick and thin, through wind and rain and sleet and snow…through sickness and other people’s deaths…even that date with Carl…what a dumbbell…what were you thinking there?…” continued Fred in a prickly, slightly complaining voice.

He paused as if to take a breath but no…of course…that could not be…and then he went on…

“And you have NEVER EVER rolled back on your right side after you have rolled over to your left side…NEVER.”  His voice was becoming  a little edgy now.

Fred seemed really anxious and upset.  I was feeling kind of bad for old Freddy.

I, on the other hand, was becoming more and more relaxed.  Realizing you are not dead after thinking you ARE dead can be extremely soothing.

Hmmmm…I wonder if it’s too late to order pizza?

 

 

 

Chapter 14

“Pizza Pantry stopped delivering 22 minutes ago…it’s 1:22 a.n.” said Fred.

I looked over at the black shape…okay…Fred…and it hit me…well, maybe not dead.  That was good and great…but maybe…nuts?  Maybe I’ve slipped a cog.

“You are perfectly sane, Tobey.  Don’t concern yourself with that nonsense.  If YOU had just not rolled over again…none of this would be happening.”

“So…what you are saying is…that this is ALL MY FAULT?” I said indignantly and I sat up straighter and fluffed my hair in the mirror on the wall at the end of my bed.

(I feel it’s important to see just what you look like first thing in the morning.  I know.  I know.)

“Yes.  Of course it’s your fault.” Fred said, “it certainly isn’t MY fault.  I’ve been at this job for thousands of years…I don’t make mistakes.”

“I am, as the young folks say…a GOAT.”  Fred said proudly.  (Yes.  he actually said “young folks.”)

“Fine.  Whatever.  I am  just a mere mortal.  You are the great angel from on high.” I said sarcastically and rolled my eyes.

“Did you actually think that I could not see that?” said Fred.  “And, I don’t appreciate your sarcasm…honestly.”

Suddenly, Emma sat up and held up her one white paw and pointed it at Fred first and then at me.

“Hold it…”  she said, again using that strange Jennifer Lawrence voice.

“Stop bickering.  It is what it is.  Deal.  I need my sleep.”

As she spoke, I brushed my hand against my lips, just to make sure…nope…no movement.  Emma was talking again.

 

Chapter 15

I looked from Emma to Fred and blinked several times and let out a huge sigh.

This was crazy…maybe not really crazy, crazy, according to Fred but…you know…crazy.

It appears I have a talking cat…who is talking to my guardian angel named Fred who also talks…and…

I glanced over at the clock on my night table.  Crap!  It was almost 2:00 a.m. and I have to be up at 7:00 to get ready for work.  I had the early shift at  The Book Shop tomorrow.

“No you don’t,” said the all-knowing Fred.

“Margo closed the shop because of the snow storm.”

“Oh, right, right,” I answered quickly, remembering and then thought, does he know everything?

“Yes.  I do.” said Fred…and it sounded like he was smiling…if guardian angels can smile…that is.

“Well look,” I said very slowly, trying to remain calm, trying to wrap my mind around this completely nutso night.

“I don’t want to dismiss the importance of you,” I said as I pointed to Fred.

“Or you, Emma,” I said as I scratched my little cat under her chin.

“But I do need to get some real sleep after this strange dream…so…good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams…it’s been fun.”

And I carefully laid back down on my pillow…somewhat sure of my sanity.

“Not a dream,” Fred whispered very softly.  “Not a dream.”

I took a deep breath and then another and then closed my eyes.  After a few minutes, I ever so slowly opened them and peeked over at the corner of my bedroom.

Fred was gone!!!!  It was a dream!  I knew it!  Thank God!!!

“Shall I pass that on to Him in person?” asked Fred as he floated in from the hallway.

Fuck.