I took Olivia out and drowned her in the pond. Probably not the best way to start the morning, but it was her turn. The water was ready. After that, I buried the pond inside an old Lincoln and then took the Lincoln to be cremated. I mixed the ashes into some concrete and poured the foundation for the Holy Olivia Orphanage. And now all the children are complaining about the ghosts.
That’s all fine and good if you come from a real family with parents, but I don’t see who they are to complain. So there are ghosts. So I murdered a saint to keep them on hallowed ground. I gave them a damn orphanage and if they don’t like it, I’ll put them on the list. Scotty whines a lot. Let’s see how he likes being boiled. The other children have to eat, and it is his turn. I can’t keep putting it off forever.
Sometimes it is really hard to convince the parents that their children are truly orphans. They holler angrily. I hate to look at their twisted faces when they are in denial. It takes the sort of convincing that I am good at, the sort that requires a hammer and a hacksaw. Destinies are crafted, and I am their cabinetmaker.
There is a ghost who keeps giving out telephone numbers on the girls’ ward, telling them that if they call the numbers, then they’ll be taken to a better orphanage. All the numbers have been disconnected for years. I’m not sure if the ghost is insane or just cruel, but the girls don’t even listen to her anymore. That is Olivia’s first ghost.
Her second ghost looks like a sewer rat. The exterminators have never been successful in getting rid of her. That’s how I know it is also Olivia. She’s got a lot more ghosts than a normal person. That’s how I know she’s a saint. That and she was a virgin. I’m a doctor. That’s how I know.
So, when Olivia’s zombie came and found me, I was surprised. Her ghosts were there already, posturing with bravado in my sleep quarters three miles below the city. This became the only place safe for me once they salted the earth and took my own children of flesh and bone away. They destroyed my children and said it was wrong to make children out of flesh and bone. They said they were not real children. They said that disinterring corpses to make ‘puppets’ (for this is what they called them) was wicked and insane. They said that the preservatives I used on them were carcinogens. They came at me from every angle. What else could I do but design the Bunker?
But now, her zombie has found me. I did not craft this one carefully enough. And she is pieced together from small bone fragments that slowly wormed their way free from the orphanage foundation. Maybe I will not call her a saint, because in the East they fear those whom the earth will not accept, those whose bodies do not corrupt. I thought she was half angel, half witch. Now she’s several ghosts and a zombie.
Before I forget to mention it, her third ghost is a dog next door that never stops barking in Morse code. And I moved out here, three miles down, thinking I would find solitude! All my neighbors have had the same thought, but one brings a damn dog. And her fourth ghost has six heads, with only one head able to wear a hat at a time. They fight over the hat. This scares the children the most, I think, for the voices of each head are different but equally terrifying, like the sound of the day dying and being looped through a PA system. Her fifth ghost, I have never seen nor heard. But her sixth is the worst. She comes in the form of a Bible scholar with terrible acne. She knows every scripture and loves to drink tea. I spent a whole week making tea for her as she expounded on the meaning of 2nd Samuel 12:21. She uses a translation that I am unfamiliar with but which she declares to be the only accurate one in the English language. It goes like this in her version: “His servants asked him, ‘Why act this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and you eat the child! Save room for later, David! Many more will die soon. Olivia in the pond. Scotty in the stew pot.'”
Olivia was the best orphan you could ask for. Pretty, no parents, no uncles or older brothers to defile her, no visible marks or tattoos or distinguishing characteristics. If you would have asked me before that morning if I would drown Olivia, then I would have told you, “Of course. I know when the time is right I will do what I must. Olivia is counting on me to make her a saint. And the water will be holy. And the Lincoln will be holy. And the foundation of the building in which she was born an orphan will be holy. And her zombie will be holy. And the dog barks will spell out a holy code, more holy than anything devised by mortal man.” I would have told you this, but I would never have believed my own words. Not until I heard the splash.
Her zombie wants to kill me, to give me the martyrdom befitting a selfless servant of fate like myself. I have given up everything now. I have finished off everything on the list. All I really want is an excuse to light one last cigarette and stare off into the night sky very seriously. When she asks me what I’m thinking, I will turn to her and meet her dead gaze. And it is then I will say, unashamed, “Nothing. I’m fine.”
G. Arthur Brown is a short male aged 35 years who dwells on the East Coast and travels by Skylark. When he is not busy writing his own bios in the third person he is driving himself around the East Coast in a Skylark, paying far too much for gasoline. He supports using less gas whenever possible (his Skylark is the color green). His work has previously appeared in the Dream People, Seahorse Rodeo Folk Revival and Words and Images Journal.