“Cemetery Dance” by Michael Woods – Flash Fiction Ghost Story

by E.V. Jacob on December 30, 2012

Written by Michael Woods.  Check out his website and follow him on Twitter!

I arrived late, making it easier to slink along the edges of the cemetery, away from the service. Standing within the shade of a nearby mausoleum I watched the small crowd. I felt shame for leaving some of my closest friends to mourn my loss.

The plan was to watch the funeral in hopes of finding my killer. Of course the weather wasn’t cooperating. A little precipitation would have helped, like funerals in the movies. They always seem to have a downpour of rain, tears, and dark grief. But not mine. My funeral was sunny, but breezy. Here in the gray shadows I felt no heat, only the chill of the wind.

I leaned against the wall of the mausoleum and watched the service wrapping up. The preacher finished his prayer, closed the bible, and then moved away from the head of the grave. The casket sank slowly into the dark earth and mourners began their march toward waiting cars.

With the crowd moving I now had a better view of the open cemetery. And there he was, Detective Pederson, standing in the shade of a nearby birch tree. A cigarette hung from his lip, smoke curling around his cap before being whisked away on the breeze. The tail of his coat flapped like the cape of some cartoon superhero. But this man was no hero, just another cop come to make sure the job was done. I was sure of it. Me and Pederson had history. He had been at my throat ever since IA began investigating me. My forced retirement was in no small part due to his constant moaning to the Board.

I stood a little straighter, fists clenched, and jaw so tense my eyes should hurt. My gut told me to stomp over and push his teeth down his throat, but a good cop knows when to ignore his instincts and let his brain work it out. If I wanted to catch the trigger-man I had to do the smart thing. Tailing Pederson would lead me to the guy that had fired the shots. Then I’d let my gut have its way.

Pederson stiffened and looked my way. He stood there staring at me. I stared back. I wanted him to see me; wanted him to know his shooter had fouled the job. He flicked the cigarette away and smiled that crooked smile of his. With a shake of his head, a tip of his cap, he turned and walked away. My mind wondered at that. But my gut knew and this time I had to go with it.

“He didn’t do it.”

That would be Martin, behind me. We had been partners for years before I was kicked off the force. He was my closest friend and, for awhile, had been my brother-in-law. If Martin knew I wasn’t dead then so did Lauren.

“If you’re here then who’s in the box?” he asked.

I shrugged, headed for my car. I had no idea who was being buried in my place. I didn’t ask. I’m certain I’d left the details up to Porkpie. I didn’t remember calling him but, as my usual fixer, I’m sure he did the job.

Meanwhile, I was back at square one. There were contacts I could tap but vague hunches wouldn’t bring the right questions. Snitches rarely spell it out; you got to lead them where they want to be. If you don’t have the ‘Once upon a time’ you’ll play hell finding the ‘Happily ever after.’

“If Pederson didn’t put the hit out, then who?” I asked aloud, for my own benefit. If Martin decided to roll with it, then, so much the better.

“Have you talked to Lauren lately?”

Lauren? “No. I assume she’s okay. She hasn’t called to bust me about alimony.” I slowed. Martin came up alongside me. “Since you’re here, you got any leads on who tried to kill me? Who’s handling the case?”

“It’s a cold case. You were mugged. No leads,” he said. “You should’ve checked on Lauren.”

I stopped and turned to Martin. “Forget about Lauren! What do you mean I was mugged?”

Martin moved in, his arms held outward, his body bowed forward. When did he draw the gun?

“Yeah, I called it in,” Martin said. “You don’t remember?”


And I remember. We’re drinking. The clock strikes two and we’re on the street. Bam, bam. The shots punch into me and I’m falling forward, to my knees, into darkness. No, not darkness; nothingness. Sights, sounds, sensations are gone. I see my body lying cold on the morgue slab. There’s a sudden rush and nothing again. And then I had found myself in the cemetery.

I looked down at my hands, touched my face. No feeling. No heat, no breeze, nothing but the cold. And I knew.

“You son of a bitch. You killed me.”

I lunged forward. Martin expected it and stepped back enough to throw me off balance. I went sprawling to the grass. I looked up to find Martin standing over me and a gun pointed at my head. The gun didn’t concern me.

“Why, Martin?”

“Lauren was crushed when you were brought up on charges. We all were. But Lauren pushed through it. Day by day she made it. Then, when you were cleared, she smiled. That smile lit up her whole face. She had made it out the other side of her grief.

“But you got canned and skipped out. Why? What gives you the right to throw all that hurt back in her face? You walked away clean, left the rest of us stained.”

“I’m sorry, Martin. Marrying Lauren had been a mistake. I wasn’t good enough for her,” I said. “I stepped aside to make room for someone better.”

“Yes, you did,” Martin said. “But don’t worry. This won’t hurt. You’re already dead. I’m just finishing the job.” He pulled the trigger, firing a round of rock salt straight into my face.

He was wrong. It did hurt; like hellfire searing the skull beneath my skin. And then nothing.

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