A Ghostly Encounter with a Dear Departed Friend?

by delarue

It was about 11:30 in the morning and I was already on my third whiskey, neat. The dog lay on the floor, dead, in the next room.

I’d woken up about an hour earlier and almost tripped over her. “What the hell are you up to?” I’d asked her, assuming she’d respond like she always did. Eloise was always playing you. This French bulldog was well into her teens and had slowed down a lot in the past year, but she’d been in good, snuffly spirits the previous night. The crushing heat wave had finally broken, she’d had a leisurely walk and a hunk of sliced turkey afterward. And now she was gone.

What the hell were the owners going to say? They were in Europe, five hours ahead, and I’d just let their beloved little neighborhood fixture die. I had to pull myself together. I found a sheet of plastic among some empty boxes in the hallway, picked her up and wrapped her in it. Then I put her in the fridge.

When I reached her owners, they were distraught but sympathetic, something I wasn’t expecting. They wouldn’t be back for a couple of days. I swept, mopped, then locked up their place and left.

The evening they returned, I was walking back to my place. On the block before mine, there was an ambulance doubleparked at the corner. I didn’t pay it any mind: there were always ambulances in this neighborhood.

As I crosssed the avenue, I looked back and noticed a French bulldog, a dead ringer for Eloise, standing directly in front of the right front tire of the ambulance.

Although there was nobody behind the wheel, I wasn’t going to take any chances. There was no way I was going to let two identical dogs die on my watch in less than a week.

I had to wait for an opening in the traffic before I sprinted back across, against the light. By the time I reached the ambulance, the dog had disappeared. I checked under the vehicle and also the surrounding cars: nothing. That was a good sign.

I crossed the street again, then looked back. No dog in front of the ambulance, or in the shadow underneath.

Suddenly I did a doubletake. That shadow under the ambulance, between the front wheels, was a giant silhouette of Eloise’s head, right down to her pointy little ears!

Trick of the light just before dusk? Survivor’s guilt? Or proof that even in the next world, Eloise was still up to her old tricks?