Short Story Fiction
Scott A. Gese

Herman Desi loved life. When death came knocking he wasn’t ready to go. It was a problem that needed to be made right.

StuckFrank Cone/Pexels

Herman Desi passed away. To say he didn’t want to go would have been a huge understatement.

Herman died at the ripe old age of 98. He had lived a long and fruitful life. He left behind his wife of sixty years and seven adult children. His life revolved around his family and consisted of little else.

His death was a long and drawn out affair.

The unfiltered Camel cigarettes he chain smoked for over seventy years finally caught up with him.

It started with shortness of breath. Within a year it developed into full blown emphysema. He spent the next ten years of his life wearing a portable oxygen mask. Even then he didn’t give up his smoking habit completely. He still stubbornly enjoyed a good smoke several times a day.

After the emphysema came the lung cancer. It was the drugs he was prescribed that finally slowed him down. Even then he stubbornly resisted the suggestion by his doctor to remain confined to his bed most of the day.

His family set up a hospital bed in his living room. Other than nighttime sleeping he rarely used it. He spent most of his day sitting in his favorite rocking chair staring out the front window. He watched the neighbors outside working in their yards and their kids playing in the street. He was no longer an active participant in life. These days he was only a spectator. It was hard on him.

Herman finally passing away one stormy evening. Not that he was ready. It was a freak accident that finally took him. As he sat in his favorite chair listening to the booming sound of a nearby thunder storm. A sudden and unexpected bolt of lightening crashed through the living room window striking and killing him instantly.

Anyone who knew the man would say Herman Desi didn’t actually go on his own accord. It was more like he was taken.

One can only imagine what was being discussed on the other side of the veil to cause such a thing to happen. It was apparently determined by those involved that it was time for Herman to be dragged over the threshold between life and death. Heaven would not be denied. And so it was that Herman Desi was forced to take his leave from this world and depart to the hereafter.

As it turned out there was a slight problem. Herman wasn’t going along with the plan. He was determined not to go. He resisted with everything he had. The angel of death finally gave in to Herman and left him trapped in the abyss between life and death.

At Herman’s funeral, those who knew him had a chance to publicly say their good-by’s. As his oldest son was at the podium, a strange thing happened. The church organ suddenly began to play a single low and ominous note for a full ten seconds before it stopped just as suddenly. Everyone at the service sat silently stunned. Eyebrows and neck hairs were raised. Jaws were dropped. No one dared speak until finally, his son gained his composure and continued on with the eulogy.

Strange things began to happen at home as well. A full time caretaker had been hired to look after Herman’s wife, Eunice. There were times in the middle of the night when the caretaker could hear the sound of Herman’s favorite rocking chair creaking. The first time it happened, the caretaker thought it was Eunice. She got up to check and found the chair empty but still rocking.

At other times, the distinct smell of a freshly lit cigarette filled the house even though no cigarette was found and no smoke could be seen. There were mornings when the house filled with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Upon investigation, steaming hot coffee in Herman’s favorite cup would be found sitting under the spout of the Keurig machine.

Family members were soon beginning to wonder if Herman had made a full transition to the afterlife.

They were becoming concerned about the safety of those in the house. Something needed to be done. There was talk of bringing in a Catholic priest to perform an exorcism, or a shaman to smudge the house.

Eunice wouldn’t hear of it. She was not keen on making Herman leave his own home even if he was dead.

Her family finally convinced her to see if she could summon him up and try to talk him into moving on and continuing his journey into the afterlife.

She reluctantly agreed to give it a try.

One evening when she was alone she sensed his presence. She called out to him. To her surprise he appeared before her. He seemed lighter than air and somewhat translucent. She asked him why he was still hanging around. It seems he had wanted to stay alive so badly that he had gotten himself stuck between life and the hereafter and now he was afraid to move on.

Eunice, being the more sensible of the two, convinced him it was time to make the transition so he could prepare to meet her when it was her time to go. As usual he knew she was right and reluctantly agreed to move on. They said their final good-byes and Herman Desi disappeared never to be heard from again.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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