Zeke came trotting back into the gas station, shouting “Jed! Jed! I just saw the ghost of Ethyl Perch in the back of her granddaughter’s car!”
“Well,” Jed muttered from behind his morning paper, “What’d she want?”
Zeke shrugged. “Nothin’ much, I’d guess, seein’ as she’s dead. Being a ghost usually means yer dead. Don’t really need much at that point. Still, it’s nice to see the old folks takin’ an interest in the youngins”
Jed nodded in agreement. Why, back in his day, folks understood duty and loyalty. They weren’t all trying to get out of their obligations by dying or changing their names or moving to another town.
“But you’ve gotta admit, Jed, it is a little strange. Used to ya saw maybe one ghost a week pull through here. Two tops, if you count that old ‘phantom hitchhiker’ fella. Now, it’s like folks are just dyin’ to get up and stretch their legs a bit, if you’ll pardon the joke.”
“Which I don’t.” Jed said, pointing to the coin filled ‘pun-ishment’ jar on the counter.
Zeke sighed as he fished a quarter out of his pocket with his good hand, watching a misty form drift past on an unseen breeze.
“You think it has anything to do with that curse?”
Jed rolled his eyes and let out a dismissive sigh. “Curse. Pfffft! Old Henry Blair was just a cantankerous old dog who wouldn’t know a hex if it bit on the heel. No, if anything were to be blamed on that curse, it’d be us stuck at 6:00 AM for all eternity.”
Zeke scowled a bit. “I thought you were a mornin’ person Jed.”
“I was,” Jed said as he contemplated the sun yellowed plastic of the cash register, “Still am. But I’m tired of having to repaint every east-facing wall every two years because the sun’s done bleached it out. Dunno. Maybe I should hire that Eastlake kid to do it.”
“Yep. The kid’s good. Dependable. Does fine work and doesn’t gouge you on the price.”
“Well,” Zeke said with a doubtful hum in his voice, “You may want to double check if he’s still up for it, because his funeral was last week and he didn’t seem too eager to keep up with the handyman gig.”
Jed sighed. “Shame. Well, next time he comes by I’ll ask him. Never hurts to ask.”
“It never hurts to ask!” Zeke echoed in a friendly tone. He leaned against his broom and contemplated the perpetual sunrise and the blurring worlds of the the living and the dead. It made him smile.
“Not much of a curse, is it?”
Jed leaned back against the counter with his paper. “Nope. As far as curses go, could’ve done a lot worse. Pretty fine curse, as long as you’re a mornin’ person.”
Zeke smiled out toward the street, tipping his cap to a passing apparition. “Yup. Pretty fine curse.”