The Button Maker Murders - Chapter 1 - Who's the Fool Now? (continued)
Booda Ray? Yes, that's me. Anyway, that's what they called me. Because I was Buddhist, I guess. Most everyone else in the village is Catholic. My parents named me Raymond Kidd. Did I know a what? A button maker? Hm. Oh. Burton Latimer. Yes, I knew him. He's the reason I'm stuck here in this room. He's why I dream what nobody should dream. Me, a ghost, who shouldn't be able to dream at all. Because ghosts don't sleep, that's why. Our burden is unceasing vigilance. I'm a little different because I didn't die. I simply changed places, while I was still alive, with a ghost named Burton Latimer. He was very persuasive. He was always very persuasive. He persuaded me I was about to die anyway. Bad heart. And it was the only way out of the jail cell I was in. Plus there was someone who needed my help and the only way I could help her was by being a ghost. It all sounds very complicated if you've never been a ghost. Or don't remember having been one. Or were just an ordinary ghost.
Anyway, you can hear that story elsewhere. Ask Gordon Daggon down the lane. He may not tell it very well. You got to ask the right questions. But he will tell it. I don't think you can get anyone else in the village to tell it. Most know the story, but they're all too afraid. Afraid you'll think they're crazy. Of what might happen if they talk. Gordon, he couldn't care less. He's a rum-drinking old fisherman who was a hard-nosed detective before that. And he was intimately involved. He saw with his own eyes what Burton Latimer could do. And what can happen in a world where the past and the present aren't safe from each other anymore. With even the time in between leaking out.
I'd tell you the story myself but I really can't be bothered. I've got my hands full trying to find a way out of this room and I have to stay focused.
It's a shrine room. I said I was Buddhist, right? This is where I used to practice meditation. I'd practice still but whenever I try I start having that dream. Back on that road with the burnt fields and the grey people. I light the candles and the incense, I sit down with my legs crossed and I go through the motions. But the first thought to come up is that dream. And it won't let me go.
Sure, it hasn't been boring. My wife knows I'm here. She used to bring me fancy meals. Wine and steak, that was my favorite. Especially with king oyster mushrooms sauteed only in butter. Then one day she came in and said she just couldn't continue throwing away all that food. Because she couldn't afford it. She said it with the tears rolling down her face. And I realized I only thought I was eating it. And my red guitar, in that black case gathering dust over there in the corner, I only thought I was playing it for her. Thought she could hear how much I missed her in the songs I sang. When all the while she never heard a single note or word. She talked to me and I could hear her. But it was all one way.
There was still one last thing I could do, or so I thought, and that was finish the task that my guru had set me. To write a guide for lost souls. In other words, show ghosts how to move on, at least to the next life. To rescue them from this god-forsaken petrifying in-between nothingness. It wasn't till the morning I finished, as the sun through the skylight crept down the wall and lit up the offering bowls, candles and crystal ball on the shrine, that the truth dawned on me.
I've written a book I can't share, not even with other ghosts. At least not till I find a way out of here.
Oh, I try all the time. It looks easy. There's no door in the doorway, only a curtain that's even parted in the middle. But when I try to go through it's like hitting a wall. I try it walking. I run and get knocked flat on my back. I try backing through, sidling through, crawling under on my belly. I've tried everything I can think of. Sometimes I get a little crazy. It's a Japanese-style curtain with a samurai face. I've tried tickling the frowning face to make it laugh and laughed myself. I've screamed Open sez me you slant-eyed figment of a foreign past.
Can you imagine how inconceivably stupid I feel? I had known I was stuck and yet I kept on writing. What was I thinking?
Who do I think is going to rescue me?
I am determined to finish this story. I've got a draft but am doing some major editing to try to bring a really fresh slant. Mayhap it is working. Thank you for your big compliment. I'm working every day now trying to get a new installment in as often as possible. You are very kind to come and read and then to respond.
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