Chapter 3 ( part three )

Chapter 3 ( part three )

A Chapter by Brandon Wesley Mckay
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An account of what transpired on Saturday involving a lunch date with with the damned and critiques of modern music.

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Saturday.

 

Ashely meant to get this encounter off to a decent start. He’d already showered and gotten dressed. He wasn’t overdoing it, he thought, wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a grey vest. This outfit said “Hey, I care that you made it up here, and I want you to know I appreciate it,” right? He’d long since cleared off the table in the living room ( he didn’t own a dining room table, nor did he really have a dining room ), and gotten most of the stray socks that generally hung about the apartment put away. The place looked presentable. Ashely went so far as to figure this was the same amount of effort he’d have put into cleaning had his parents been coming over instead.


He was double checking to make sure his fridge and pantry were properly stocked for lunch when he heard knocking at the door, this time less urgent than the day before. This knock almost sounded timid in comparison. Ashely braced himself for whatever major injuries and open wounds he was about to see before him, and opened the front door to a bit of a shock. Before him stood a woman, she couldn’t have been more than thirty, in a thigh length dress with an open, long sleeved sweater over it. Atop her head was a perfect bun of brownish red hair with two pencils sticking out and holding it together. There didn’t appear to be anything wrong with her, aside from her complexion being a somewhat  muted whitish blue. He looked at her, head cocked to one side, in a confused sort of way. “……Hello there?”


She replied. “You set up a meeting? Lunch at 1:00pm? Is this the right apartment?”


        Ashely’s wits returned to him begrudgingly. “Of course. Yes. This is the right place. Sorry! It’s just…”


“Yes?”


“You don’t look quite like I expected. Not that I knew what to expect…I guess I just….thought I knew what to expect?” They stood in an awkward pause, and then he remembered himself yet again. “God. Where are my manners? Come in! Come in.” He showed her to the living room. “Make yourself comfortable. Sit anywhere you like. Can I take your sweater or anything?”


“No, but thank you.” She adjusted herself as she sat, an unsure smile making every effort to be there. “I’ll be just fine with it on.”

                

Could this be more uncomfortable? He went to the kitchen and grabbed, well nothing. “This is going to sound like a dumb question…” He said from the kitchen through a cut out opening there that formed an island of sorts,” but can I get you a drink or anything? I don’t know if you do that. Drinking?”

                

“Yes, that would be lovely. Umm…do you have soda? Maybe a Coke? It’s been a while….”

                

“Sure, I have that. Gimme just a sec.” He did have coke. He had lots of it. He was working on a two-liter a day soda habit for the past five years. He returned to the living room, cokes in tow, and handed one to his guest. “I guess we can go ahead with introductions. My name is Ashely.”

                

“Pleasure to meet you.” She sipped on her coke and smiled as carbonation bubbles hit her nose. She wiped the moisture away with her finger as she replied. “I’m Eliza.”


“Pleasure to meet you too, Eliza.” Now they were getting somewhere. Weren’t they? Maybe? “You eat, right? I know you came here for lunch. You didn’t come just to watch me eat, did you?”


She smiled again, this time a bit more comfortably. “I do eat, Ashely, thank you. I eat whenever I have the opportunity.” She turned the glass of coke around in her hands, letting the condensation wet her hands. “I want to thank you,” Eliza started nervously,” for inviting me up here. Into your home. And please forgive me if I seem out of sorts. I am, certainly, but it’s not you. That’s not it at all. It’s just been a long while since I have had the pleasure of…..well….you know.” She turned away as if embarrassed. “ It’s been a while since I have been top-side, as they say.” She took another drink of her soda and looked back at him, holding the glass towards him. “This alone has already been worth the visit!” She was still smiling, but looked as if she might cry if a breeze hit her too hard.


Ashely didn’t feel awkward anymore. No. Instead he just felt badly for her, and had the sudden inclination to grab her attention. He did his best to seem more upbeat. “Hey! Thank you for coming! I didn’t know if anyone would show up, you know? So this is, wow, just a…just a real treat.” He knew he sounded like an a*s, but at least she didn’t look like she was going to break down at any moment. “Seriously though, thanks for coming.” He dropped his voice down from excitable to conversational. “Um….so you’re here. I promised lunch. What do you like? We can do a lot with what we have here.”


“I like a lot of things, not to be difficult. What are my options?”


“I make a mean quesadilla. We can do pasta. If you want something simple we can just make sandwiches. I have soup. I have some frozen pizzas. Stir fry? Do you like stir fry? I have potatoes, asparagus, brussel sprouts, corn. I can do hamburgers.” Ashely struggled to think of everything he could manage.


“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I like almost everything you named. Something more substantial than a sandwich would be good. I haven’t had a quesadilla in forever! But then….I can’t remember the last time I had a decent salad, or stir fry, or……I really just don’t know. Whatever you feel like. I’ll be happy with anything, I’m sure!” He could tell she meant it. And judging by the way she reacted to just a coke…..well…..Ashely decided he was going to try make today truly worth her while.

                

“I think I know what we’re going to do. I’ll just make everything.”

                

“No….really…..that isn’t necessary.”

                

“I know it isn’t.” He started back towards the kitchen. “Come talk to me while I cook.”

                

Eliza watched from the other side of the island as Ashely set to work. He grabbed a large frying pan and started melting butter as he sliced mushrooms, onions, and peppers. “Does it seem too quiet in here? It seems too quiet in here.”

                

Eliza, stilled hugging her coke, replied. “I was just enjoying the smell and sizzle of butter!” She seemed to be forgetting herself, simply enjoying sensations she had long since forgot she was supposed to be accustomed to.

                

“If you like, you can play some music. There in the other room there’s….” He realized she might not have any idea what he was talking about. Best just to show her. He let the veggies simmer while he turned on the television and walked her through the wonder of streaming music services. The notion of being able to play almost anything that had ever been sung or played left her positively beaming. He left her there to browse the many channels while he got back to cooking.

                

Rap, Click. R&B, Click. Dance, Click. Top hits of the eighties, click. Eliza thumbed the remote as she looked at channel after channel, overwhelmed and wondering if this is what deities felt like. She saw one channel labeled today’s pop hits and, curious, she pressed enter. Her melted from wondrous delight to disappointed confusion and dismay. She continued listening, thinking surely this was a cruel joke that was meant to end at any moment. “Is this music?” Ashely , unable to hear her, continued moving chicken in his frying pan. Eliza walked to the opening to the kitchen. “Ashely? Is this….is this what you all listen to now up here? Is this music?”

                

“OH. No. No, no, no. Don’t listen to that. Yeah, that’s what they say passes for music these days. We really don’t have to listen to that.”

                

“Thank goodness. I was trying to play something I thought you might like, and I wanted to know what you all were up to up here…..” Eliza stared at the speakers, concerned, “I didn’t think I’d miss Hell. This mess is absolutely awful.” She then went about scanning the other options, attempting to be much more discerning in choice.

                

Ashely had an idea. He wasn’t sure how to go about asking her the things he really wanted to know. How did she die? Why did she end up in the deep-dark-down-there? How long had she been gone, and what was it like? This felt to be a natural way to glean some of the answers. “Don’t worry about me. I get to listen to whatever I like up here. You’re the one visiting, so….here’s an idea….” He put a freshly melted quesadilla in front of her with a jar of salsa. “Why not play something you haven’t heard in a while. Maybe something you used to listen to way back when?”

                

Eliza considered this, looking off to the side at nothing, and then went about it. Click. Click. Click. Click. Enter. And the music started playing. It was something older, something Ashely was sure he recognized. There was piano, and the sound of a bass guitar in the background....this was something slow…..something breathing with the smell of cognac behind it’s lips. Eliza closed her eyes. A voice emanated from the speakers and she sang along, softly. “……you had plenty money 1922, you let other women make a fool of you…..” That was it. Ashely could place the song. He found himself humming along as he went back to the kitchen to prepare his own plate.

                

Eliza continued. “….I fell for your jivin' and I took you in…….now all you got to offer me's a drink of gin…..” Eliza went quiet and contemplative, eyes closed, forehead resting on forefinger and thumb while she continued listening. Ashley returned with his plate, set napkins down on the table, and sat on the adjacent sofa, watching her. In those brief seconds of studying this woman, he saw what Jeffery meant. Not all of the damned were awful people. Eliza was a soulful being, and there were layers and layers of her sitting there, unfolding and revealing themselves. He felt for a moment like he might understand her. Any preconceived notions he had about hell and the people there were in question, and this woman couldn’t belong there, could she?

                

“I hate this song……” She said, almost in a whisper.

                

“Really? You seem to have it pretty well memorized…”

                

“Well…there are memories…..I suppose it’s too relatable.”

                

“So it isn’t that you hate it so much as you hate that you relate to it?”

                

Eliza eyes opened as she came back to the present. She turned to Ashely, pained smile and all. “Oh do shut up.” She laughed once, only once. “You’re not wrong. I did love this song. I really did, once, a long while ago.”

                

Trying to keep things light, Ashely said “I like it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it. It’s on the soundtrack to ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’.”

                

“It’s a movie.” He wondered if she knew what that was. Was that a dumb question?

                

“You mean like a talkie?” She had began cutting up her quesadilla in a somewhat dainty fashion.

                

“Yes! Exactly like that! Right so it’s a talkie about a private investigator on a case involving a fugitive cartoon rabbit.”

                

“Like Bugs Bunny? ”

                

“Yes! Bugs was in the movie briefly as well! Anyway, it takes place in the forties. Roger’s wife is a cartoon lounge singer, and there’s a whole scene with her singing that song.” Ashely stopped to ponder and then “I think she might have been my first crush, now that I think about it.” His eyes widened as though he’d just realized something about himself.

                

“I think I’d like to see that movie. You said it took place in the forties? I like Bugs Bunny, and I’d like to see what they think the forties looked like.” She took a bit of her quesadilla, her feet danced as she forgot herself, grinning and chewing. “This is absolutely delightful. Goodness gracious. I’d forgotten how good cheese was!”

                

“Is that when you’re from? The forties?” Did he word that correctly? She wasn’t a time traveler. Well, he figured she was in a way.

                

“Yes it was. And the early fifties, up until nineteen fifty two.”

                

“Well then,” he said between chews, “maybe you can come back and we can watch it. It would be the best reason to buy a movie I think I’ve ever heard of. It might be a first.”

                

“I’d like that very much, Ashely.” She moaned a bit as she took another bite. “This is so, so good. It’s almost sinful how good this is.” Was that a joke, Ashely wondered. He hoped so. Joking would be progress.

                

The two of them discussed interests while eating. They talked about her taste in music, and how it was somewhat of a rarity nowadays to go to a bar where an upright bass, piano, and a horn section were mainstays. About how fashions have changed, and then come back, and then changed, and then returned again. They spent some time on the balcony looking at cars passing by as Eliza watched quizzically.

                

“It really isn’t all that different, really, is it?” She wondered aloud.

                

“I really wouldn’t know. I imagine you would have to tell me.”

                

They both smiled. Neither of them had figured that this lunch appointment was going to go well, let alone as well as it had. He wanted to say that stranger things have happened, but he was fairly certain that this was not the case. Eliza looked at the clock on the entertainment center. “ I think our time is up, I should probably go.” Ashely knew this, and was both surprised and disappointed that time had gone by as quickly as it had.

                

        “Ah….I guess I was being overly ambitious when I said I would make you everything in the fridge, huh?”

      

“I think it’s okay that you didn't cook everything, really. No one needs all of that.”


“Did you mean it when you said you’d want to do this again?” Ashely asked.

                

“Do you have the day planner around? Can I see it for a moment?”

                

“Yeah. I’ll just go grab that.” Ashely left and then returned with a small stack of books. The day planner and two others. He handed her the pink atrocity. She opened the planner to the contacts page, removed a pencil from her hair, and then jotted her full name in the book, as well has a phone number, and then handed the planner back to him. He looked at the entry. Eliza Wellford. The phone number had a six-six-six area code. Of course it did. “Contact me whenever you like. I’ll get it.” She said.

                

He tore a piece of paper from the notes section of the book, wrote his name and number on it, and handed it to her. “You do the same. I don’t know if they have texting in Hell, but you can try it.” They both smiled again, laughing nervously again. This was one of the stranger goodbyes either of them had experienced. “Oh! Before I forget.” He handed Eliza the two books he’d brought back with him. “You’d said things didn’t seem all that different. I know a lot has happened since the fifties….I mean we could spend forever talking about everything that’s gone on…..these books should help go over all the important things.”

                

She looked at the books, front and back covers. “Will Eisner’s New York” and “Bill Waterson’s Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes”. “Are these funny books? Like comics?”

                

“Yes they are. But they are important funny books. They should help fill you in to a lot of things, and we can fill in the blanks when you come back. Good?”

                

Eliza shot him a puzzled look, smiling to one side. “You’re an odd one, aren’t you? A dame travels up here from Hell for lunch, and you send her packing with comics. Thank you, Ashely.”   

                

“You are more than welcome.”

                

With books in tow, she walked to the front door, looked back at Ashely, gave a little wave, and then walked out. Ashely decided he would give Jeffery his thoughts on the day planner tomorrow, but until then, he was going to spend the rest of the night thinking about what had just happened, and lied to himself, telling himself he was going to try and get some work done.

                
If nothing else, Ashely had decided to keep the ugly pink day planner. That much he was certain of.


© 2015 Brandon Wesley Mckay


Author's Note

Brandon Wesley Mckay
this is part of an ongoing work in progress. It's going fairly well, but it should be noted that this may be edited in the future. This is the end of chapter three.

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Added on January 22, 2015
Last Updated on January 23, 2015
Tags: fiction, novel, fantasy, ghoul, ghost, undead, damned, haunting, haunted, lunch, date, dating


Author

Brandon Wesley Mckay
Brandon Wesley Mckay

Charlotte, NC



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Hiya. I'm a guy with his hands dipped in a bunch of creative outlets. I have done some things. I am trying to do more things. After some failed collaborative projects, I am focusing more on storytelli.. more..

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