Some speculate that when you die you hang around for a while, because you are somehow suffering an irrational attachment to your body. Or you plod about the house because you unfulfilled plans.
But in my experience that simply isn’t true.
If that was the case I wouldn’t have needed to catch a bus to my own funeral. I would have squeezed my ethereal frame into the coffin by my stiff, lifeless remains.
The night I died was confusing to me. I went to sleep at around two in the morning, with the missus, Carol, snoring like a gentle clothes dryer full of rocks, and awoke to pandemonium.
Carol screamed and cried for so long I wished for my eardrums back and then when returned to my head I would wish them to burst.
I sat up to find out what the racket was all about and left my body behind, as if we had never been as one, so to speak. There was no pulling or pain involved. It slipped off like a fat suit.
It frightened me at first. I screamed along with Carol. Both of us tearing off the roof. Each for the same reason: loss.
My loss was the worst in my eyes. It ruined my dreams. I was on the editing stage of my saga. I had a book deal all signed and sealed. Launch was in a month. And then I had to go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like stopping breathing.
It was heartbreaking. Well, it would’ve been if my heart hadn’t already damn well given up.
I watched as the ambulance took my corpse away.
I didn’t go. What would be the point?
Oh what fun it would be to watch some smug git dig through my bits.
I waited in the living room, in the dark, with no tele’, until the boredom fuelled my annoyance.
After stomping through the front door, I stood in the garden, seething at the injustice of it all. Until I’d remembered that I’d forgotten my coat.
The realisation that I would never need a coat again destroyed the fury for a moment.
I cannot for the life of me remember what I did with my ghostly gear, but stripping down to my swinging bits brought with it a sense of obstinate freedom.
‘Fuck you!’ I shouted as I danced about the garden like the bloke in Monty Python whose vow of silence was broken by Brian. ‘Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!’
From there I spent the night running around the village.
I watched my Uncle Harold and Aunty Vera, paddles cracking, at it in rubber suits. Well, after sneaking into the dirty pair’s house, I watched, appalled, for about eight seconds, before sliding back out again, thanking the dark sky for my death. I would never be able to look them in the eyes again.
I ran through the pub as they played a darts league match and tried to put them off their shots with silly faces.
I failed, but it was fun.
I hedge-hopped, sang as loud as I could in the graveyard, and even managed to bathe in the freezing river. Well, I’m certain it was freezing. I couldn’t feel a bloody thing, though it was grand to pretend I did.
I did all of the above without losing a breath. It was quite liberating. Until I remembered Carol and ran home to see how she was.
By the time I got back, the rubber twins, Harold and Vera, were dressed like normal folk once more and were comforting the wife as best as they could. Uncle Harold didn’t sit once. I suppose his arse cheeks were still smarting, the dirty old git.
I was only jealous, really. Each to their own, I say.
Aunty Vera was a sweetie and made tea for Carol, while all the time cooing like a pigeon. It must have been a shock to Aunty. Going from using her hands on Harold’s buttocks to patting Carol in a gentle manner.
Funny old world.
For the next week I sat with Carol as much as I could. It saddened me to see how hard she’d taken it. It didn’t matter how many times I told her she should move on. She couldn’t hear me.
We watched The Chase together, but every time a question came up that I could answer she sobbed like her chest was on fire.
Then the day came for the funeral. She looked lovely. Carol always scrubbed up well. I was just pleased the bloody lid was nailed down. Didn’t want to be seeing my own face on a day like this. That would be too real, thank you very much.
Lots of people turned up at the house. People I’d forgotten the names of. There was cousins and and ex-workmates, my agent and folk from the pub. It was quite touching really.
Then they carried me out and climbed into cars. With not one space for me! I was left on the pavement while they all shuffled into seats. Bloody inconsiderate really. Seeing as it was my funeral!
I watched them slowly trundle off, huffed and told them to ‘Piss off then!’
Not being able to ring a taxi, I slouched to the bus-stop to wait for the number eleven.
Mrs Jackson was already there, with her wheelie bag. She didn’t say much as I arrived. For obvious reasons. Though she never liked me anyway. She caught me stealing her gooseberries when I was a kid. She gave my ear a right rattle back then. Bless her.
‘You dead too?’ She asked, scaring me witless.
‘Erm…’ I replied.
‘Bloody typical,’ she moaned. ‘My first day out of that aching sack of a body and I have to share it with you.’
As we followed the living onto the growling bus, I came to the conclusion Death had a cruel sense of humour.