THE GHOST AN THE UNWANTED
Favorite Non-Chemical Activities
After Westphal’s night shift ended, he drove the pop can to the early opening pet store on the way home. He was shaking from the night spent with the marvelous Mr. Mandiddle and all the hospital staff laughing behind their hands at him. It was a predicament that he could do nothing about, so he tried to snort it off his mind as he drove, looking around through the tinted windows, taking slugs of after work tonic from a flask in between the coke bumps.
He needed to eat, passed several likely cheap drive-thru burger joints, but just could not get himself to do it. Instead he rubbed coke on his sore receding gums and shook some more.
He pulled into the nearly empty parking lot of the pet store, looking for some pregnancy bone marrow so he could feed his pet aborted fetus, Chip. Sammy he didn’t have to worry about. He doesn’t need to eat anything anymore. But Chip hadn’t been fed in a few days, and as bad as Westphal wanted to go home and drink and pill himself into sweet oblivion, the baby needed to be fed.
There are two kinds of babies in The Harbor: the Wanted and the Unwanted. The Wanted are the live babies, planned or accidental, that are brought into the world and raised as children. The Wanted are fed, clothed, educated and loved. They go to school when they are old enough and taken to the doctor when they get sick. These ninos grow up to be adults, to be us.
The Unwanted, on the other hand, are the aborted babies. These ones, destined to be pets, are pulled gently from the mother, not suctioned into a canister. The mother needing cash money will sell her dead fetus to the exotic pet stores. They can command a healthy price and come in all the hues and sizes and of both genders. The hermaphros fetched the highest freak prices, usually going to the wealthy who like their poodles to be teacup sized and their bulldogs to have one testicle.
The Unwanted are purchased and cared for by people, usually professionals like Westphal, who want something to love, but don’t want the responsibility of a live child. They are more expensive, but much easier to take care of than traditional pets like dogs, cats and even reptiles.
The Unwanted stay put. One never has to worry about them escaping your home, getting knocked up, or slithering out of their cage. They don’t do a whole lot because, well, they’re dead.
The beauty of taking care of an Unwanted is that the fetus only needs a small infusion of bone marrow derived from a pregnant human female once, maybe twice a week. This bone marrow is also sold by mom for profit.
The owner of an adopted Unwanted must feed it every few days and wipe the small snail track of meconium from their cute little dead bottoms and that’s really the bulk of it. Their popularity with working professionals was soaring and Westphal had his Chip for years. They never grow any and never die since they are already dead.
They don’t move very much at all unless you feed them the highest quality bone marrow culled from the healthiest, wealthiest moms who usually don’t need the money. This highest quality pet food is super expensive and rare as hell.
Since Westphal’s drug habits increased and his income decreased, he’s had to settle for bone marrow from the crack and meth addicted mothers. That pet food was plentiful and affordable, but it did make the babies fart and twitch an awful lot.
The Unwanted babies needed to be feed a couple times a week, not really to keep them alive, they have no heartbeat or breathing, but to keep their wee bodies from decaying. So with so little care involved, the owner of an Unwanted can feed little Tommy and go out of town for a long weekend without the worry and inconvenience of a smelly rotting fetus stinking up your return and ruining your trip.
Just as there are some folks who neglect their dogs and cats and lizards, so do some Unwanted owners. But they are exotic and expensive, so most feed them the best bone marrow they can afford. They dress them up, coo at them and have photo albums filled with snapshots of the unmoving abortions, showing them off to friends and relatives.
Westphal arrived home and unlocked the door to the apartment he shared with Chip and Sammy. He let himself in. The stale funk of the apartment needed to be aired out in a bad way. It was the same thought he always had when he first came home from spending twelve or thirteen hours away. But he knew he probably wouldn’t bother. By the time he mellowed out enough to deal with it, he was usually too out of it to care.
He put his over-night bag down by the sofa and headed straight for the kitchenette. He opened the freezer and pulled out the bottle. He picked up the nearby shot glass and had two quick ounces of Finland’s finest. After slamming them back, he poured some more icy-chilled vodka over cubes in a fairly clean glass.
Westphal carried it over the thin, worn through trash covered carpet to the bedroom and the other side of his five hundred squares of feet-space.
Westphal placed his voddy and the packet of bone marrow on the night stand. He stripped out of his dirty scrubs, standing in his white-tighties and socks and nothing else. He felt like he could just disintegrate at any moment. He really should eat.
He could not find any clean underwear, but he was able to locate a clean t-shirt. The socks he wore to work were only a couple days old so he left those on. He grabbed the sweat bottoms he used as house pants. He grabbed up the bone marrow and went to the pet bed beside his own. Chip lay motionless.
Westphal filled the marrow pump and attached the new bag of pet food to the j-peg poking tiny out of Chip’s abdomen.
Westphal squirted a little of the bone marrow onto his pinky finger. He gently brought it to the aborted baby’s liver-colored lips. Chip move a little twitchy fetal twitch and began to suckle. This was one of Westphal’s favorite non-chemical activities.
He loved the hell out of Chip. The Unwanted was the only thing his ex-wife’s lawyers let him keep, which was fine. She and his replacement could keep the fucking Wanted kid, for all he cared.
Chip was all Westphal had demanded from that fucking high-toned bitch. Well, that and her untimely and painful demise. But she was alive and well and happy and you can’t always get what you want.
Sammy could be heard out in the living room now, talking out of his ass in his usual long-winded diatribe, spit out at a mile a minute. Sammy appears whenever he wants, being a ghost, and Westphal somehow doubted he stuck around too much when he was working at the hospital. But you never can tell; ghosts do what they want, one of the few advantages to being one, Westphal imagined.
He suspected, though, that Sammy came in to check on Chip periodically while Westphal was out of the apartment, because he was always clean and sometimes the dead baby’s position was changed. He knew Chip didn’t move on his own. Westphal loved Sammy, too. Even being the pain in the ass that he was.
Westphal had inherited his dead step-dad, so there wasn’t much he could do about it. After a while, he tolerated and sometimes even surprised himself by enjoying his company.
“Chip and I will be out in a minute, Dad,” he called out, giving the cold, dead baby a quick kiss on the noggin.
“Take yer time, Westie!” Sammie shouted back.
He never whispered. Sammie communicated always in a rushed, hushed sort of high energy growl. He sounded just like the eight times married and divorced career Navy man that he was. His shock of white hair stuck straight up. His myriad of amateur tattoos showed all the way from wrist to collar, but would be covered by his dress uniform.
Westphal only saw him in it the once and that was the day they put his corpse in the ground. The ghost Sammy always wore the t-shirt and faded blue Dickies he preferred in his off-duty and retired mortal life. That and the Navy ball cap with his ship’s designation he had every right to be proud of.
“Gotta pill up and head south,” Westphal called in response.
Westphal left Chip alone for a moment and went into the adjacent bathroom. He opened up the big shoebox he kept under the sink. He rummaged around for some sedative pills. He found a bottle of morphine and one of generic Xanax; shook out a couple apiece. He swallowed them down with the iced vodka.
Westphal craved badly a fat line of meth or coke or both, but smartly refrained. It would have only gone to waste. Westphal was pragmatic as hell when it came to his drug abusing and one does not waste one’s treats. That would be a sin.
Westphal wanted, no he needed to pass all the way out. He was tired from working all night. His nerves were so frayed and if he didn’t drop all the way down and sleep the sleep of the dead, the horrible nightmares of being eaten alive would return with a vengeance. He was in no mood for that shit.
He needed to sleep long and hard. Then, when he wakes up, not needing to be on duty at Harborside District for another wonderful 48 hours, he can treat himself. He can line up some crank and coke with his wake-up coffee and jabber with Sammy for a good long while. Then, if he felt real good, he can go to his guy’s house and stock up on his medicinal goodies.
Hearing Sammy ramp-up his jibber-jabber, Westphal went back to Chip. He scooped up his boy and snuggled and cooed at the dead baby. He changed Chip into a clean onesie, put on a new head cap, careful with his never going to knit and heal soft spot.
“How’s my little buddy, today?” Westphal asked sweetly. The pump finished the feed of bone marrow, and he disconnected the port, closing it tight. “Did ya miss poppa, big boy?”
Westphal left the bedroom and went to the living area where Sammy was sitting his ghost ass on a bar stool, still yappin’.
“So I gives da little slope a good fuck up da keestuh and she’s screamin’ ta beat da band, I tell ya.”
“Jesus, Sammy,” Westphal admonished with a smile he could not help, “Do you have to talk that shit in front of the baby?”
Sammy just shrugged and kept on.
Sammy was Westphal’s mother’s fourth husband and Sammy, himself, married six more times after their divorce. He has scores of children, every hue of the rainbow, spread in ports of call all over the world. For some unknown reason, Westphal was his favorite kid, despite not even being biologically related.
He has been dead for seven years now and Sammy showed up at Westphal’s doorstep soon after. Westphal’s bitch-cunt of a wife had left a few weeks before and if truth be told, Sammy was a godsend. But now, he just would not leave.
Westphal applied for and got After Death Security payments for Sammie. The monies were automatically deposited in Westphal’s lonely checking account monthly for the irritation of being saddled with a dead relative. Westphal bitched and moaned about Sammy much more than he was truly irritated by him. The money put a nice dent in Westphal’s huge drug habit and Sammy’s rapid fire bullshit became almost like white noise after a while.
“And then when I pulled out she farts a big wet one and shits all over mah knob, splatters stinky nip juice all over mah thighs and belly and then Westie, you won’t believe it, I swear on my life, you know what she does?”
Westphal doesn’t answer, he’s cooing at Chip, smiling; starting to stop shaking so much. He was even getting a little hungry. He was thinking of phoning in an order of a pizza-pie with tomato and mushroom from Barney’s. Besides, he’s pretty sure he’s heard this one before, just like all of Sammy’s sexcapades: one long unending loop of debauchery. Sammy continued as Westphal opened his phone and texts the pizza order:
“She turns her little zipper-head around and tells me for fifty more bucks she’ll lick me clean and guess what?”
“Best fuckin’ fifty bucks I ever spent!”
Jesus, that’s a new twist. Every once in a while Sammy will toss in a new variation to his tales. You never know when or what it’ll be. Probably bullshit, but it still made Westphal laugh.
“You’re the tits, Dad,” Westphal replied with a chuckle.
“Well, you got that right,” Sammy agreed, “But did I ever tell you about da time we was fixin’ tuh ship outta Gitmo after deliverin’ those terrorists an’ we only had a few hours tuh line up some pussy?” Without waiting for a response, Sammy continues: “Yeah so we’re almost outta time and da only thing we could find was a goddamn trannie with warts on her man-cunt da size of gumdrops.”
Westphal didn’t answer, but Sammy didn’t require that to continue this next sex story. He let Sammy drone on and on and he began to feel the opiates kiss him gently into a peace that was rare and precious. He smoothed Chip’s brow and blew little zerberts at him.
While Sammy informed him that you never in your fuckin’ cartoon life tell a Navy man how much to drink, Westphal felt himself relax. His stomach started rumbling and he felt himself getting nice and dozy.
“Hey, Sammy,” he called out to the ghost, “If I fall asleep, get the door, will ya? I ordered a pie.”
“Sure thing, kid,” Sammy replied and moved over to the couch, “Let me put Chip back to bed for ya.”
“Thanks, Dad,” he told him with a smile he felt on his face. “It’s already paid for, tip and all,” Westphal said, beginning to slur a little.
Sammy scooped up Chip and gently took him right through the wall, both being dead. You heard Sammy telling the little guy goodnight.
Maybe it was a fucked up family, but Westphal loved them both very much. His eyes were closing as Sammy came back.
“Go ahead and curl up on the couch, buddy,” Sammy told him, pulling a blanket from the closet and bringing it over. He put it on Westphal and even mussed his hair, like when he was a boy, a million years ago.
“Thanks, Dad,” he said.
“Sleep if ya want to, Westie,” Sammy assured him. “I’ll wake yous up enough tuh get a couple slices down ya, if and when that idiot punk kid driver shows up.”
“Love you, Dad.”
“You too, kiddo,” Sammy replied.
He smiled and thought of nothing bad. Then, for a while at least, Westphal surprised himself by being happy. And that was more than enough for him.