Mike shrugged. "Sure, but it's like I told the other cops—I didn't really know her. Just came to get my rent. Been trying to get rent from that girl for two weeks now."
"You're the landlord here?"
"And she lived here alone? No roommate or boyfriend or anything?"
"No, just her. Used to have a boyfriend who would stay over sometimes, but I haven't seen him in months. Haven't seen anyone else here, either."
I nodded. "Do you know where we could find this boyfriend?"
Mike shook his head. "I don't even know his name. White guy, average height. Dark hair—brown or maybe black. I might recognize him if I saw him again."
"Did she have any other family? Anyone we should notify about her death?"
"I don't know. She worked at Providence Elementary School as a cook or something. You might try asking them."
I nodded to Jason, who gave Mike a card with his name and phone number. "Thank you for your time," I said. "Please let us know if you think of anything else."
Mike nodded and shuffled to the stairs. I turned to Jason. "I want to go to the elementary school."
His face fell at the prospect of going anywhere but home. "Now?"
"Of course not now; no one will be there this time of night. Meet me there first thing tomorrow morning."
He cocked his head and looked me straight in the eye. "You're just going there to inform them about her death, right? She killed herself—there's no investigation here."
The medical examiner walked past us with a black body bag on a gurney. "We don't know anything yet," I said, "and since Cassandra's not here, we can't ask her what happened. We have to consider all the possibilities. She deserves that." I played on Jason's sympathies, knowing that was always the easiest way to convince him to do anything. But just in case he still had doubts, I tried another approach. "It'll be good, old-fashioned police work. No dead victim to talk to, no spirit to point us in the right direction for evidence. We'll have to do all the hard work ourselves for once. You think you can handle that?"
The corner of Jason's mouth turned up in a sly grin. "Of course I can handle it. I just hope you can keep up, old man."
"Watch it, kid. Another decade and I'll be younger than you."
"Why do you think I'm getting my punches in while I can?"
We walked down the stairs together and I watched him get into his car. "See you tomorrow morning," I said.
He saluted as he drove away, off towards home and the arms of his loving wife, who probably had dinner waiting for him. I remained alone on the corner of a dirty downtown street. The wind rushed through a nearby alley and sent a crumpled sheet of paper skittering through my feet, but I didn't feel it—not the paper, or the wind in my hair, or the cold that came with the dark. I spent that night as I'd spent every other night for the past three years. Sleepless, I wandered the city with my fellow spirits, all of us lost souls trapped in a world that wasn't meant for us.
* * *
The next morning, Jason and I found ourselves sitting on a couple of miniature plastic chairs in the Providence Elementary School cafeteria. Or rather, Jason sat, and I hovered in a seated position somewhere near the chair's surface. A young cafeteria cook named Kali sat across from us. She'd cried when we'd told her about Cassandra and now traced an aimless design across the table's surface with a cobalt blue fingernail.
YOU ARE READING
The Dead LifeShort Story
Ruben Vasquez is an experienced homicide detective with a fervent dedication to solving even the most difficult crimes. There's just one problem: he's dead. In an alternate version of our world, the spirits of the dead have become visible to everyon...