You’ll have to excuse Jan. Grandpa’s been haunting Dad again. At Dad’s birthday Grandpa flipped on the air compressor in the garage. Last year he made the lights flicker in the kitchen and the drink coasters disappear. Dad has a lung disease and tells Jan Your Grandpa’s being really funny. Grandpa’s depressed. He runs the walls wet with his tears. It looks as if someone squeezed a sponge on the wall, blotchy with trailing trickles down to the baseboards. He’s crying because he got split in two urns. The urns have been a sore subject for a while and Grandpa won’t let up. Dad tells Jan he’s doing his best. Connecting Grandpa with Grandpa has become his mission. For Dad’s birthday Jan says let’s put him back together and drives Dad in his car to the cemetery and helps him pull Grandpa from the wall. Dad uses Grandpa’s hunting knife to scrape the metal box out while Jan smokes four cigarettes, lighting one with the other, believing the juju is F’d. He keeps Grandpa in his coat while they shuffle arm in arm like lovers back to the car. He doesn’t pull it out of his coat and Jan doesn’t say anything and the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling plays on the radio.
It’s really terrible what happened, or how it happened. It was days before his 65th birthday, a week out of retirement. He was waiting in line to get his picture snapped at the DMV. He’d just shaved that mustache, was open to new beginnings. Ready for a winter when he wouldn’t have to work the night shift and start people’s cars, confuse the parking lot lights for the moon.
Even when the Pastor met with Jan and Dad to go over the order of operation for the funeral. How’d it happen? And she told him. But how’d he die?
The DMV killed him. That’s how Dad wanted Grandpa’s story told. Everyone called him Bill or Billy at the store. It read William on the on the plaque next to the urn. A strong name and a life worth remembering, you know?
Then they were back in the garage and the tires were low on the car, but Grandpa was whole again. Self with self. His wholy spirit. No question about it.
After Dad dies, this is what will happen because it already happened years later and Jan can see it now. After he died Jan cleaned out his house in one bender dash of a weekend and stuffed it all in a U-Haul except the Grandfather clock—she’d been avoiding that the whole time—but when she moved it, around three in the afternoon on that windy November day, a full moon too, she tipped it from side to side so it shuffled forward and slowly scooched it down the hallway with the inside chiming, the glass threatening to shatter, and Grandpa’s spirit aching to get at her before she could walk it out the front door.