Arthur

The ghost’s name was Arthur.

He threw a skillet at us. The handle of it caught my head. Jim was getting a beer from the fridge so his back was turned. There was some blood but it was more the impact of it that startled me. Jim didn’t say anything about Arthur. I think he believes me now. 

Arthur doesn’t like anyone in the kitchen. This is his room. I can understand feeling protective of your things, your space. I myself am very protective. I get jealous very easily. Just ask Jim.

Arthur mostly leaves me alone during the day. I can make coffee and prepare the breakfast for the guests. The sun comes in and warms the room. I can drink tea and and sit at the table and make lists for Jim. But in the evening the room gets a chill. I feel uneasy, like someone’s watching me. I make dinner as quickly as I can and leave. I know it’s Arthur’s time. 

But in the evening the room gets a chill. I feel uneasy, like someone’s watching me.

Arthur was a chef who used to work at the hotel. That’s that Lily says. She was the housekeeper here for many years. Lily is seventy-five and lives next door. Every day at noon she smokes a cigarette on her back porch. I can see her from my kitchen window. When strange things began happening, I asked Lily about it. She told me the hotel had been owned by Gladys and Bertrand Adelay. For a long time Bertrand’s brother Arthur had been the chef. An excellent cook, Lily says. A handsome man. Arthur and Mrs. Adelay were good friends, Lily says. Very good friends those two. Had to consult about the menu. Lots of consulting together. He didn’t like anyone in the kitchen except Mrs. Adelay. Lily gets up. It’s time for her nap.

Arthur, Arthur, I say. Don’t be mad. I’m just here for a glass of water and a sandwich. I can’t sleep. Jim’s gone for the weekend to take care of his mother. Arthur lets me make a sandwich, but I can feel his cold breath on my neck. I can feel his hand brush against my nightgown.

I think about getting a Ouija board. Just so I can talk to him. I’m scared though. I open a beer and leave it for him. I know it’s silly, but maybe all he needs is a good drink.

Arthur, tell me why you’re angry. That’s the sadness of being a ghost. They can hear us, but they can’t speak to us. I think about getting a Ouija board. Just so I can talk to him. I’m scared though. I open a beer and leave it for him. I know it’s silly, but maybe all he needs is a good drink. When I come back the bottle is smashed on the ground. 

Did something happen, Lily, at the hotel? Something to Arthur? How did he die? Lily puffs on her cigarette. Arthur had too many female friends, she says. You can’t have that many female friends and come out of it without a scratch. A jealous husband, maybe, that’s what did it. That’s what everyone was saying when he died. Poisoning, they said. No one was surprised. Except Mrs. Adelay. She wouldn’t come out of her room for a month.

Why can’t we be friends? I say to Arthur. What’s the use of being mad all the time?

Why can’t we be friends? I say to Arthur. What’s the use of being mad all the time? I live here now so you’ll have to make the best of it. It was a long time ago, what happened to you. You have to move on. Maybe I can help. Maybe we can talk. I’ve always been a talker. I have plenty to say now with Jim gone. He’s gone every weekend now for his mother. No one to help me out here, but what can I do? It’s his mother. I start crying, I don’t know why. I’m about to leave but I feel Arthur behind me. This time his breath is warm. I feel him surrounding me. He’s embracing me. We can be friends, yes? I say. 

That night Arthur comes to me in a dream. He is handsome. His hair is slick and combed neatly. Don’t cry, he says to me. He leads me by the hand to the kitchen. He pours me a glass of wine. Please sit down, he says. You need a rest. You need to take care of yourself. He lights the candles. He makes me dinner. 

So much blood. The kind of slice you’d make to kill yourself.

Jim cut himself badly today. He stayed this weekend and was fixing the pipe on the kitchen sink and somehow caught his wrist on a sharp edge. We had to go to the emergency room. So much blood. The kind of slice you’d make to kill yourself. That’s how Mrs. Adelay died, Lily says. A year to the day after Arthur. Lily had to clean the tub afterwards. Scrubbed for hours, she says.

I think he’s after Jim, I say to Lily. She is quiet. I saw him last night, Lily says. Arthur was at my window. Just like he used to. Tap, tap, tap. I woke up and saw him. He was looking at me and smiling. Tap, tap, tap. She puffs on her cigarette. I wanted him all for myself, she says. He didn’t understand that. I couldn’t stand seeing him with Mrs. Adelay, that bitch. I loved him. Not her. Arthur didn’t listen. He never listened.

I wanted him all for myself, she says. He didn’t understand that. I couldn’t stand seeing him with Mrs. Adelay, that bitch. I loved him. Not her.

Well, Arthur, what do you have to say for yourself? You’re nothing but a cheat, aren’t you? Nothing but a cheat.

I have my lists for Jim. I want him to fix the banister and the loose board on the steps. I want him to fix the bathroom sink that always leaks and the hallway door that doesn’t close properly and the light in the bathroom upstairs that always flickers. But I make sure there’s nothing for him in the kitchen. I don’t want him there.   

Jim is muttering now. He never talks, just mutters. Arthur, Arthur, he says. Arthur, Arthur.  

Lily passed away in her sleep. I didn’t see her one day on the porch at noon, and so I went inside her house. She was still in bed. Her sleeping pills were scattered on her side table. I didn’t touch anything, and went back to my house. I don’t think anyone saw me.

I want you all to myself, Arthur says. All to myself. He comes to me every night now. No one else, he says. Only you, darling. Only you.