Snow had started falling lightly, but thickly, like sifted confectionary sugar, as Officer Joseph pulled the car in to the curb, and gave the wipers one last squeaky swipe across the windshield before shutting down the engine. The car’s heater hummed to a moan and then faded off as the bent rectangles of clear sight quickly filled with white speckles melting together.
“What are we doing here?” Officer Joseph said, in the dim light of the car. “I shouldn’t have brought you. I don’t know why I brought you.”
“Dad,” Johnny said, “s-some … something’s happened.”
“I’m … I’m not sure,” Johnny answered, “but I want to know it isn’t a dream.”
“Wh-what isn’t?” his dad asked. “J-Johnny … are … are you seeing things more … more clearly?”
“I don’t know how to say it without upsetting you if it’s not so,” his father said, slightly frazzled. “Is it your … your drawings … the nice outlines you make without a face?”
“Did you hear something … Dad?”
“I heard about a ghost,” Officer Joseph said. “They’re all talking about a ghost, but I’m wondering, heaven help me … who …” He looked hard at Johnny, afraid that who he saw might disappear. “Who is the ghost? And don’t tell me Johann, Johnny. And oh … oh, if you tell me there’s not a ghost … oh please let me know…”
“Dad?” Johnny said.
“Johnny, you know I love you no matter who you are,” Officer Joseph said. “I’m only thinking this for you. Hoping this is so for you.” Officer Joseph eyed a look on Johnny’s face. “But you … you know what I’m incoherently rattling about … don’t you?” he asked, sounding more hopeful than he’d been.
“Clearly, Dad?” Johnny said. “… Yes, Dad … I … I can see clearly now. Huh … I can.” Johnny nervously chuckled, but it became more confident like a trickle of water that has slowly turned into a steady downpour due to the further opening of the faucet. His words spilled out in gushes. “I couldn’t remember what I knew or if I should have known so many things … but now I know them. My questions have answers, Dad. I kept running into walls and those walls have become doors and windows. I don’t feel the void. But … but where did I go? And how have I come back? I sensed it, Dad, I did, but I was afraid it wasn’t so. But seeing your fear over the same thing, how can we both be dreaming?”
Johnny’s dad bathed in the outpour of his words. “I don’t think we are, son.” He brushed his fingers through his son’s hair. “Dreaming is a solitary pastime.”
“But maybe where I was before was a dream?”
“No … no, that was too much of a nightmare for me to make believe it wasn’t so. You were in an accident. There’re medical explanations of what happened to you.”
“But how have I come back?”
“For the life of me, I … I don’t know,” Officer Joseph answered. “Did you hit your head?” He suddenly felt inclined to search for lumps under Johnny’s hair.
“No,” Johnny said, laughing at his father fingering his head, “I drew.”
Johnny’s Dad suddenly leaned back for a better view of his son. “What? It happened with that,” he said, “with … that body?”
Johnny nodded his disheveled head. “Johann … yes.”
Officer Joseph quickly reinserted the key into the ignition … “Then you shouldn’t see her again.” but Johnny’s hand raced over his Dad’s before he could turn the engine on. “No,” his Dad protested, “you shouldn’t. She might take you back.”
“Take me back?” Johnny’s hand remained on his father’s, fighting his wrist from turning. “I don’t think she had me, Dad. No, I actually think I have to go to her … to all of them.”
“All of them?” Officer Joseph struggled once more to turn the key, but Johnny held his hand fast … finally he gave up and let go, leaving the key alone in the ignition, from where Johnny took it.
“All of them, Dad. Those who die, or more specifically, those who are killed,” Johnny said. “If I’ve been given a second chance by God, I believe it’s for this, to give voice to the dead and eyes for the living so that they can see them. Out of sight, out of mind, that can’t be.”
“God is it? Is he who called you back?”
Johnny saw his father’s windows slowly pulling down the shades. “I haven’t heard his voice, Dad, but I’m going to say, ‘Yes.’ Unless you think it’s the chief.”
His father’s shades slipped, and flapped to the top, sputtering around the roller … “The chief!?! Well … I … um … I’m afraid to say anything to upset whoever it might be responsible.” and carefully redrew that blind.
“So … you do believe it wasn’t just me.”
“Just you?” his father replied. “How could it be? Why would you have done that to yourself in the first place, and why would you have taken so long to get out of it if you could?”
Johnny smiled at his father peeking out from behind his ambivalence. “You’re right. It wasn’t me … but the chief? Honestly? You can’t go with God on this?”
“You don’t put your eggs all in one basket,” his father answered.
“Sometimes you should.”
“What? Have you gone and found religion,” his father said, “and if you did, when did you do it? I didn’t see you go anywhere.”
“Dad.” Johnny stared at him. “How soon you forget, Dad. You did. … That’s why you missed me so much.”
(To Be Continued)