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Chuck: A Ghost's Story

By C.A. Cardoza All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Fantasy

Blurb

Refusing to “crossover” and accept spiritual punishment for his crimes, Chuck Butkis uses his ghostly powers to tease, torment, and even possess the living. However, after a few years, even these games become tiresome. Chuck is finally ready to “embrace the void,” when a chance encounter with the one living being who can actually hear him changes the course of his afterlife, forever. When naïve and beautiful Gracie James hears the ghost’s disembodied voice, she assumes he is her “guardian angel,” and though Chuck Butkis is anything but an angel, he eagerly takes on the role. Despite his initial intention of using his heavenly guise to manipulate and corrupt the devout young woman, the ghost’s game soon changes, when a genuine affection develops. Chuck adopts a new goal of “helping” Gracie overcome her tragic past, but his efforts are humorously thwarted by his own selfish nature and misguided schemes. Is it too late for Chuck Butkis, or can this crass, snarky, antihero succeed in his goal of finally doing...good?

Prologue

My name is Chuck Butkis. Yes, that’s Butkis, pronounced “butt kiss.” But before you go making comments, I should warn you that many jawbones have been shattered over jokes made at my expense that were probably much better than the one you’re thinking of, so if you’re wise, you’ll keep it to yourself. It’s not that I was ever a particularly violent guy mind you, I just learned early in life that there are only two types of people in this world…those who are controlled and those who take control.

I chose to take control. I took a lot of things, actually. Wallets, purses, watches, other guys’ girls…nothing was off limits to Chuck. I was young, smart, good-looking, and fast as hell. I was also a colossal asshole, but you’ve probably figured that out by now. By the way, I use the term “was” not because I am an asshole no longer (obviously) but because in my current state, there is only so much havoc I can wreak on this poor, unsuspecting world. What state is that? You may be asking yourself. The answer is simple, friend. Dead.

Yep, dead, deceased, expired… but not gone! No, no, not gone! I’m still kickin’ around the city. Not that anyone realizes it. Even the bastard that shot me down walked right through me this morning without so much as blinking a spectacled eye. You would think he’d have at least gotten goose bumps, or something. Perhaps a feeling of, I don’t know, discontent? Of course, he’s the one that killed me, so I guess it makes sense that I would be more bothered by his presence than the other way around. And I can’t complain. After all, I brought this on myself.

The day I died was a Thursday, like any other Thursday. I had a particularly bad run of luck at poker and found myself in need of some quick cash, so I picked a nameless street corner on the business-y side of town, and lit a cig. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to find my mark of the day…my four-eyed, buttoned down murderer…and quickly relieved him of his wallet, in a less than subtle way.

Like the former, schoolyard bully that I was, I grabbed the small man by the back of his collar as he passed, and brazenly pulled the brown, leather wallet from his rear pocket. He raised quite a ruckus, but it didn’t happen the way you’re thinking. Mr. Three-Piece-Suit didn’t gun me down right there on the corner. He did it that night in his apartment. What was I doing in the guy’s apartment? You may be wondering. The answer to that is also simple, friend. I was doing his wife.

Just in case you’ve misread my character, please know that my interaction with Mrs. Three-Piece-Suit was STRICTLY consensual. Chuck Butkis was no monster! But he was a villain and a hopeless opportunist. When a photograph of a particularly attractive, young woman came fluttering out of my newly acquired wallet, I was in love! Well…okay…not love, exactly. Chuck Butkis didn’t fall in love. Love was not part of his genetic makeup. But he felt something alright!

So how did a squirrely, little guy like my mark land such a luscious piece of arm candy? A peek at the wad of green that kept the photo company answered that question! I shook my head as I thumbed through the thick, meticulously arranged stack of bills. Even if I had initially felt bad for ripping the guy off (which I hadn’t), I wouldn’t anymore. Anyone who carried this much cash in his wallet deserved to be robbed. I was doing the guy a favor! Teaching him a valuable life lesson.

When my gaze fell again on the photograph, I made the snap decision that would be my downfall. Mr. Three-Piece-Suit was a schmuck. I was proud to have liberated his wallet from his underserving pocket. Mrs. Three-Piece-Suit was a tasty, trophy wife. I would proudly liberate her from his pocket as well… at least for a few hours. A quick glance at my mark’s driver’s license revealed his home address and I was on my way.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I thought this guy said he was smart?!” And yes, stealing a guy’s wallet then showing up on his doorstep is not smart, by anyone’s definition. But I was counting on him to go to the police station, rather than home, after our encounter. And besides, I’m a man! Libido trumps logic any day of the week. I was right, by the way. He didn’t go home after the robbery.

When I knocked on the apartment door, the goddess from the photo in my wallet answered, just as I’d hoped. It did not take long for some bullshit story about a lost kitten to earn her sympathy, and an invitation inside. Like I said, I was a good looking guy, and trophy wives were notoriously easy to score. Bored and rarely attracted to their spouses, they seemed to seek the adrenaline rush of anonymous sex as much as I did. At least in my experience…which was significant.

It probably would have been wise to take said trophy wife out of her luxury apartment and on to more neutral territory before seducing her, but like I said, in the battle between libido and logic, the loser is clear. I was charming, she was lonely, and nature took its course before I had time to think too much about the precariousness of my situation. I might have taken the time to worry, had the woman’s husband not been literally half my size. I was fully prepared to handle the little man, if need be. What I wasn’t prepared for was the brand-spankin’-new Smith and Wessen pointed at my head, when he barged in on us! The thing still had a price tag dangling off of the barrel, for Christ’s sake! How an upstanding citizen like Mr. Three- Piece Suit decided to become an instant vigilante after one little pocket-pick, I still don’t know. I guess it doesn’t really matter, does it? What’s done is done.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what it’s like to die. I guess it’s probably a little bit different for everyone, but in my case, it felt a lot like drowning. At least, I imagine that’s what drowning would feel like. I heard the gunshot, though I felt no pain, just the sensation of sinking, down, down, down. I struggled against it and pulled myself to the surface somehow, though all of me didn’t make it.

Looking down, I saw my bloody body lying on the expensive, oriental rug of my murderer’s apartment. It’s hard to describe what that was like, standing over the “me” that was not me. My body was naked. I was clothed. My conquest wailed from the corner of the room, occasionally looking in my motionless body’s direction, but she could not see me. I was there, but I was somewhere else. All in all, it was very…sci-fi. I couldn’t stop staring at the handsome devil on the blood stained carpet, and probably would have continued to do so for eternity, if the darkness hadn’t chosen that moment to come for me.

It started out as a speck…a tiny speck of blackness, in the corner of the room. But before my eyes, it began to grow, larger and larger, into an enormous gaping mouth that reeked of pain and punishment. The tunnel stood before me like an open doorway, inviting me in. Crossing my arms, I eyed the void with contempt. Sure, I deserved it, but I wasn’t going in there! Chuck Butkis made his own rules! He took control!

Striding confidently out of the apartment door, I ignored the eerie sucking sounds of the hell-mouth slowly dissipating...hopefully for good. Though I doubted it would be that easy to get away with the things I had done. Surely, one way or another, I would have to be taught a lesson.

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