I watched game six of the World Series with a ghost tonight. I do this every year. He visits during important games.
He doesn’t drink beer or eat peanuts anymore—since he’s only a memory. Still, I put out a bowl of parched peanuts just the same.
He used to eat the hell out of peanuts. He’d crack them open and make a string of jokes that weren’t even funny.
The ghost is notorious for ridiculous jokes.
But he’s not shelling peanuts tonight. And no jokes. He is sitting on the sofa beside me. Legs crossed. Hands folded behind his head.
He never ages. That’s one of the perks of being a ghost. He looks the same as when he died. Skinny. Lanky legs. He is loose built, and all freckles.
He places his size-thirteen barefeet on my coffee table.
“Get your feet off that, Daddy,” I say.
“Why?” he says. “I’m a ghost, remember?”
That’s not the point, it’s the principle.
I’m eating peanuts, we’re watching TV halfheartedly. We’ve got too much to talk about. It’s been a year since I saw him.
This is a good Series. The ghost and I are pulling for the Astros. I’d rather lick a billy goat between the eyes than root for a Dodger.
The ghost wears an Astros hat. He once owned a million ball caps, but had never paid for a single one.
He was a steelworker who dangled from iron rafters, welding. Sometimes, he worked on roller coasters.
Once, he took me to an amusement park during business hours. He unlocked a chainlink fence to a secure area beneath a roller coaster. When the roller-cars rode the upside-down loops, it rained ball caps. Fifteen or twenty hats fell, every ride.
After a few weeks, he’d collected caps from almost every American team.
That is, except the Dodgers. We didn’t keep those hats. We dipped them in blue cheese and lit them with an acetylene blowtorch.
So the ghost is telling a story. It’s one I’ve heard before. But I still like it.
Long ago, I could close my eyes and remember his exact voice. Now, it only comes in dreams. And even those are getting fewer between.
The ghost is a baseball fanatic. In fact, his love of it overshadows his interest in activities like hunting, fishing, camping, and yard work.
The ghost wanted to be a pitcher once, they say he was good. He tried out for semi-pro ball clubs, but didn’t make it.
The ghost claims he’s never been a winner.
“Ain’t never won a damn thing in my life,” he’d often say.
And it was true. I never saw him win a single thing when he was alive.
This genetic trait got passed to me. I’m no winner, either. Never have been. Winning makes me too uncomfortable. I’d rather place fifth. Or sixth. Or eat ice cream.
The TV gets louder. The game is a nail-biter. Both teams are turning this matchup into a knife-fight.
The ghost and I let conversation fade so we can pay attention. I turn my head to watch the ghost. He’s too engrossed in the game to notice me.
He was beautiful.
The ghost never touched his peanuts.