Clark Palmer Cjp1282@yahoo.

com

about 6,500 words

Right to Afterlife by Clark Palmer

“Mr. Jones, let’s go back to the night you claim you were assaulted, kidnapped, and falsely imprisoned.” Larry Jones sat hunched forward in the witness box, working desperately to control his anxiety and his body language. His lawyer, Assistant District Attorney Robert

Kozlowski, told him that a little nervousness would earn him some sympathy from the jury, which they desperately needed to win such an historic case. On the other hand, too much fidgeting or pausing before answers usually made juries think the witness was doing a poor job lying. Kozlowski strode to the witness box. the morning of October 6th, Mr. Jones?” “Grocery Emporium. Jones said. I was workin’ my usual shift,” It was one “Where were you

He was an off hours stock clerk.

Palmer / Right to / 2 of the few types of jobs a ghost could get. Most people

weren’t very comfortable around ghosts so business owners were leery about giving them more visible jobs. And Jones

didn’t have the guts to challenge society on that issue when he was looking for a job. But it beat the hell out of his old job: dealing with customers at the post office. To add insult to injury, he

didn’t even live to collect his pension. “When is your usual shift?” Kozlowski asked. “Eleven to seven in the morning. Every day.”

Kozlowski rested his forearm on the wooden railing around the witness box. “Yeah. month.” “Well, congratulations. to have you.” “Objection,” Kozlowski’s opponent, Jack Donaldson said. “Your honor, is there a point to all of this?” “I’m sure It sounds like they’re lucky “Do you like your job Mr. Jones?”

Y’know, I was employee of the month again last

Judge Carol McKorvee frowned at Kozlowski. there is.

Can we get to it sooner rather than later, Mr.

Kozlowski?” Her voice was tinged with the weariness of someone who had witnessed every lawyer trick in the book. “Certainly, your honor.” Kozlowski had been testing

his opponent for the entire trial to see what he could get

Palmer / Right to / 3 away with. He expected an objection. He didn’t think the

other man would let him use an approach Donaldson had employed for much of his career as a defense lawyer. Kozlowski was so familiar with Donaldson that he knew the man didn’t take kindly to “tasting his own medicine” so to speak. But Kozlowski was trying to irritate his opponent to throw him off of his game. in Jones’ favor. And maybe objections could work

Kozlowski was just trying to make a That might make the

nervous man feel more comfortable.

jury view Donaldson as insensitive, which made his clients seem insensitive. “What happened when you left work that morning Mr. Jones?” Kozlowski asked. Jones’ chair creaked loudly as his obese frame shifted around. “I walked home like always.”

“But you didn’t make it home did you?” Jones rubbed his hands together slowly. “What happened?” Kozlowski asked. “I ah...I was on my street. An’ somebody came up behind me. street walking toward me. of me.” I was a few houses away. Then I saw somebody in the “No.”

There were two more guys ahead

Palmer / Right to / 4 Jones glanced down at the discoloration in the collection of electromagnetic plasma that made up his elbow. His etheric form shimmered for a moment as memories That night was

of that night welled up in his mind.

without a doubt the scariest of his existence. “I was gonna make myself invisible but then I remembered I already was. I thought maybe they couldn’t But I kept walking

see me and it was just my imagination. and they kept closing in on me. goggles on.”

I saw they had some kinda

Larry glanced at the four men who attacked him. Joe Wright grinned back. ever was one.

Bobby

He was a good ol’ boy if there

His shoulder length dark brown hair flowed He wore a

out of the back of his big black cowboy hat. gray sport coat over a denim shirt. almost as big as his arrogance.

His belt buckle was

Bobby Joe’s brother Travis sat next to him. bushy goatee and wore his hair slicked back.

He had a

He sported a He had on

tacky gold watch and gold chain around his neck. a checkered, short-sleeve, button-down shirt.

Next to them

were the other two Ghostwranglers employees, Mark Fry and Jake Walker. Ghostwranglers was a local ghost-catching business. Dozens had sprung up all over the country in the past 20

Palmer / Right to / 5 years. Homeowners and business owners with ghosts living

or hanging around their property hired Ghostwranglers to remove them. Rumor had it they wanted to call their

organization Ghostbusters but decided against it when they found out they had to pay Columbia Pictures to use the name. Larry thought that going to the police when he escaped would be harder than anything he’d have to do after that-– preparing to testify, talking about what happened, testifying. But as he recounted the attack it hit home how There was no

much danger he was putting himself in.

telling what the Ghostwranglers would do if he lost the case. Maybe this was the wrong time to finally stand up to

people who mistreated him. Kozlowski walked over to the evidence table. “Do you

see the goggles your attackers were wearing among the evidence we’ve collected?” “Yeah.” “Could you point them out for the members of the jury?” Jones pointed to four pairs of thick plastic goggles, each connected to square electronic devices via a bundle of wiring. them. The electronic devices had belt hooks attached to They were night-vision goggles that had been

modified to allow the wearer to see electromagnetic plasma.

Palmer / Right to / 6 “Each person was also holding one of these, correct?” Kozlowski indicated a clear plastic shield with two grips inset on the outside. It had a large electronic device Thin

with metal housing in the center of the underside.

strips of plastic with bundles of copper wiring in the middle connected that device to 12 smaller electronic devices that were evenly spaced around the rim of the shield. It was an electromagnetic deflector. It generated a

field that restricted movement of electromagnetic plasma. Two or three created a sphere around ghosts through which they couldn’t pass. “Yes. me.” Kozlowski quickly put on latex gloves, picked up the deflector, and approached his client. “Is this how they came at you?” Jones nodded and looked away. “What happened next?” “Well...after they got into a circle, all of ‘em pressed buttons or fiddled with something on those shieldlookin’ things. They lit up.” “They got closer They held ‘em up and got into a circle around

Kozlowski came a few steps closer. didn’t they? So close you felt trapped.”

Palmer / Right to / 7 “Yeah.” “In fact, you were trapped. “Objection,” Donaldson said. question has already been answered. leading the witness.” “Your honor,” Kozlowski said, “I think it’s only fair that I be able to reiterate what this device is used for.” McKorvee leaned forward. the whole trial Mr. Kozlowski. reminded. Please, move on.” He actually felt He was “The jury has been here for They don’t need to be Isn’t that correct?” “Your honor, the He’s also blatantly

Kozlowski conceded, nodding slowly.

like Donaldson was giving him a compliment. flattered.

Donaldson knew what Kozlowski was trying to do.

The

longer Kozlowski could talk to Jones and show how scared he was on the night of the attack, the more sympathy he could get from the jury. Donaldson wanted Kozlowski’s questioning over quickly. He couldn’t let Jones get comfortable. Then Jones might

not react to Donaldson’s questions the way Donaldson wanted. When all was said and done, Donaldson had the

advantage in the trial and he didn’t want to give the jury any reason to go against his clients.

Palmer / Right to / 8 Kozlowski walked back to the evidence table and set down the electromagnetic deflector. “So they had

surrounded you, activated their deflectors, and...what happened next?” “I floated up to try to get away. the only thing I could do. I thought that was

But I got a few feet off the There was somethin’

ground then I couldn’t get any higher. blocking me.

I pushed at it but it wouldn’t budge.”

“Go on,” Kozlowski encouraged. “Something closed around my arms and I got pulled back to the ground. Then one of the guys dragged me toward him. It had a

He had one of those sticks for catchin’ dogs. cord at the end.

That’s what he wrapped around me.” “This is the

Kozlowski pointed to the ghost snare. stick you’re talking about, right? electromagnetic deflectors on it.” “Right. me up with.”

The cord has small

And those things next to it is what they tied Kozlowski indicated the electronic device

with two loops of plastic coming out of either end. “Could you describe how they tied you up, Mr. Jones?” “When the one guy dragged me toward him he dropped the stick and jumped on top of me. He punched me in the face

then flipped me over on my stomach--”

Palmer / Right to / 9 “--Hold on Mr. Jones,” Kozlowski said. can’t grab or hold electromagnetic plasma. person punch you and turn you over?” “He had gloves on. I found out they had those “The living How did this

electromag’ things all over ‘em from that guy who testified. Gary Wright.”

That was Bobby Joe’s other brother, the one with half a brain in his head. He designed all of the ghost-catching He never intended to turn

technology Ghostwranglers used. it into a business. “OK.

So, he jumped on top of you-” I guess he didn’t

“-His legs were going through me. have any deflectors on his legs.”

“Right,” Kozlowski approached the witness box. that where the bruise on your cheek came from?” Jones rubbed it with the back of his palm. “It wasn’t there when you died?” “No...you can check the pictures.” “Well, that’s exactly what we did.

“Is

“Yeah.”

And you’re right.”

Kozlowski grabbed an 8.5 x 11” photograph from his table. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is a picture of Larry Jones before his body was prepared for his funeral and burial. You’ll see no bruise on his left cheek.”

Palmer / Right to / 10 Kozlowski walked to the jury box and showed them the picture. “You’ll also notice no bruise on the inside of his right elbow.” the picture. Kozlowski pointed to the pale left elbow in “Mr. Jones could you raise your arm to show

the jury the mark on your elbow?” Jones raised the arm over his head and held it there. “You can lower your arm Mr. Jones. more questions. into their truck. I have just a few

After they tied you up, they dragged you Correct?” “They pulled me with that

“That’s right,” Jones said. dog catcher thing. and drove off.”

They locked me in the bed of the truck

“Then they took you to their ranch and locked you in a barn with several other ghosts. Jones nodded. Right?” They had

“I was in a horse stall.

deflectors in there so I couldn’t get out.” “Did they leave the restraints on?” “I could barely move. They hooked it up to an outlet

so it wouldn’t run out of power.” “How long were you there, Mr. Jones?” “When I escaped I found out it was a week. But it They

felt longer cuz it was hard to keep track of time. blocked out all the sunlight.

Then the power went out.

Palmer / Right to / 11 And I got outta those cuffs and just opened the stall and ran away.” After Larry pointed out his attackers, Kozlowski began to wrap up his questioning. “There’s just one last area I Can you feel?”

want to cover with you Mr. Jones. “Whaddyou mean?” “Emotions. fear.

Hate, love, envy, joy, anger, sadness,

Do you experience any of those?” Doesn’t everybody?” “Yes, we do. I think everyone in And were you afraid

“Yeah.

Kozlowski smiled.

this courtroom would agree with you. when you were attacked?

Were you afraid when you sat in Were you happy

the horse stall as you called it? or...relieved when you escaped?” “Yeah.

I was definitely afraid.

And I was really

happy when I got out.” “You seemed happy when you mentioned being named employee of the month when I started questioning you. you self aware?” “What’re you talkin’ about?” “Do you ever think about what you’re doing in your afterlife? Do you ever worry that you’re not doing what Do you have certain values that you Are

you’re supposed to? aspire to?

Anything like that?”

Palmer / Right to / 12 “Oh, all the time. I mean, when I first died the

other ghosts told me I’m here because there’s somethin’ I didn’t do when I was alive. supposed to do. I still don’t know what I’m

I hope I don’t mess it up so eventually I I always

can move on or do whatever I’m supposed to do. thought it’s important to have a job.”

Kozlowski nodded and quickly pressed on, hoping to make the jury forget his client’s mention of other ghosts and the time when he was alive. “So you are self aware?”

“If that’s what it means then yeah.” Kozlowski turned to face his opponent. thing Mr. Jones. “Just one more

You have a Social Security Number, right?”

“I had to get one so I could work.” “Your witness,” Kozlowski said quickly. back down behind his table. reassuring look. He was actually glad that Larry couldn’t change clothes. The stained wife beater and open postal worker Then he sat

He gave his client a

pants he died in were a stark contrast to Donaldson’s men’s-fashion-magazine look. Larry looked like a

sympathetic character while Donaldson looked like the slick, money grubbing lawyer he really was. Not that he

didn’t like Donaldson’s look, he’d eventually be as good or a better lawyer than Donaldson and be able to afford

Palmer / Right to / 13 finely-tailored, expensive clothing like his. the cuff links. Meanwhile, Larry was so relaxed that before he knew what was happening, Jack Donaldson was standing in front of him, presenting a form to him. Larry took it. Especially

“Please tell the court what you’re holding?” Donaldson asked. Larry looked at the top of the form then unconsciously held his breath. “Mr. Jones?” Larry looked up at him and muttered, “A death certificate.” “For who?” Larry looked down at his lap. “But how can that be? of me?” Larry remembered Kozlowski’s advice about answering quickly and trying not to fall for Donaldson’s attempts to get ambiguous, drawn-out responses. “That’s a different Larry Jones.” Donaldson turned to face the jury. “Well I’m sure There might “Larry Jones.”

You’re sitting right in front

there are other Larry Joneses in the world. even be one in this courtroom.

But...Mr. Kozlowski The

presented a photo of your corpse to the jury.

Palmer / Right to / 14 resemblance between the man sitting in front of me and the one in that picture is uncanny. amazing coincidence, don’t you?” “Well I-” “-Objection your honor,” Kozlowski said. “Relevance?” I find that to be an

Judge McKorvee didn’t even lean forward in her leather chair. “I’ve given you a lot of latitude in your It would be unfair to deny the

questioning Mr. Kozlowski.

same latitude to Mr. Donaldson.” Kozlowski said, “I object on the basis that he’s trying to provoke my client into an argument.” “Denied,” McKorvee said slowly. Continue Mr. Donaldson.” Kozlowski kept his hands clasped in his lap, trying his best to prevent his facial expression or body language from giving away what he was thinking. He didn’t want the “You’re reaching.

jury to know Donaldson could potentially destroy his entire case with one particular line of questioning. He feared he’d already given too much away to the jury and Donaldson. Kozlowski knew that throughout Donaldson’s

career, whenever he saw a weakness, he exploited it until he was blue in the face.

Palmer / Right to / 15 “Let me rephrase the question,” Donaldson said slyly. “Maybe your attorney was right. That picture he showed the

jury was you before you became a ghost, wasn’t it?” “Yes,” Larry said quickly. “You’re a ghost aren’t you?” Kozlowski couldn’t wait to object. defined the line between ghost and human. even more desperate if he objected. The law hadn’t But he’d look

Plus, that would only

drag things out longer and he needed Jones off the witness stand as soon as possible. “Yes,” Larry said. “The form I gave you shows the date that Larry Jones passed away,” Donaldson said. jury?” “February 24th, 2071,” Larry said without looking at the form. Kozlowski’s face tensed for the briefest of “Could you read it for the

moments before he got it under control. Donaldson faced Larry. form. “You didn’t read it from the

You already knew didn’t you?”

Larry didn’t respond. “Didn’t you?” “Yeah, alright!” “Of course, how could you forget. I’m sure there’s But

not a day that goes by that you don’t think about it.

Palmer / Right to / 16 does your anger over your death give you the right to haunt Chris and Miranda Foley’s house? “I wasn’t haunting their house. “--You were just what? I just--”

Hanging around scaring their

daughters half to death?! That’s what they stated in their testimony.” Larry didn’t know why he hung around the house where he used to live. All he’d ever done there was watch TV and In fact, he died of a heart attack

argue with his wife.

after getting off the phone with his wife while watching TV and eating greasy take out from a burger joint he frequented when he was alive and could eat. Even if you hated being there. Larry said, “I never meant to--” “--I’m sure you didn’t but that’s what happened. They Home was home.

were within their rights to hire my clients to keep you out of their house. Not defending their home would be

considered grossly negligent on their part!” Kozlowski stood quickly. This is irrelevant. “Objection, your honor. He’s

My client is not on trial here.

trying to prove the guilt of Mr. Donaldson’s clients to the jury.”

Palmer / Right to / 17 “Your honor, this goes to the heart of Mr. Jones’ credibility,” Donaldson said. “He’s made some very serious

accusations against my clients and--” McKorvee slammed her gavel down twice. need to calm down. Kozlowski. one. “--Both of you

Now, Mr. Donaldson, I agree with Mr. Not this

This is an issue for another trial.

The jury will disregard the comments about the

Foley’s testimony.” Kozlowski was happy to score some kind of a victory during cross examination. done. But the damage had already been

He didn’t know whether to admire Donaldson’s ability

to always get his point across to the jury or bemoan the state of the U.S. Judicial System. Did a jury ever forget

something said during a trial just because the judge told them to? “Do you age, Mr. Jones? get sick? Does your hair grow? Do you

Do you have to shave?”

“No,” he said. “Will you die?” “I won’t be a ghost forever.” “I need a “yes” or “no” Mr. Jones.” “Not like you. anything.” I mean...I’m not threatening you or

Palmer / Right to / 18 There was some sparse chuckling in the court room. got a smile out of Kozlowski. Those kinds of things It

sometimes had a strong influence on what the jury thought of a witness. Donaldson didn’t wait for the laughter to subside. “Well, if you don’t age, you can’t die–-you actually already have died-–and you admitted earlier that you are a ghost. Are you a human being?”

“Yes.” Donaldson raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure? You

don’t have any of the characteristics of a human being. Sure you wouldn’t like to change your answer?” “Your honor, my client has answered the question,” Kozlowski said. “Mr. Donaldson can’t ask for Mr. Jones’

opinion on something and then demand that he answer the same question again just because he disagrees with it.” “Your honor, this isn’t a matter of opinion.” “That hasn’t been established. already answered the question. And besides, my client

The jury gets to decide

whether they agree with him or not,” Kozlowski said. McKorvee looked back and forth between the attorneys. “Move on, Mr. Donaldson.” “The defense rests your honor,” Donaldson said before returning to his seat.

Palmer / Right to / 19 “Redirect, your honor?” Kozlowski said. McKorvee nodded. Kozlowski walked over to the witness box. “You just

stated an opinion about whether or not you’re a human being, correct?” “Yeah, so?” “Well, animals don’t have opinions. You had to weigh

both sides of an issue and then come up with the best answer for Mr. Donaldson’s question. with your answer?” “I just said what I thought. being.” “Thank you.” Kozlowski smiled at his client. “The I think I’m a human How did you come up

prosecution rests your honor.” McKorvee called a twenty-minute recess, after which both sides presented their closing arguments. Then

McKorvee sent the jury to the jury room to reach a verdict. Kozlowski and Jones waited down the hall from the courtroom on a wooden bench. Kozlowski ordered lunch while

Jones fidgeted and looked around the hallway. “Whaddyou think they’re gonna decide?” Larry asked. “No clue,” Kozlowski said through a bite of his chicken salad sandwich. decision though. “It’s not going to be an easy We really gave them

I can tell you that.

Palmer / Right to / 20 something to think about though. could’ve asked for.” Larry shook his head. “I blew it didn’t I?” I think that’s all we

Kozlowski set the half of his sandwich he was holding back in the Styrofoam container it was delivered in. You did fine. “No.

Trust me, there are people on the jury who

were thinking about some of the stuff Donaldson said before they were even picked for jury duty.” Kozlowski reached over to pat Larry on the back but his hand went straight through him. forget that.” Kozlowski set his hands back down in his lap. “It’s “Sorry. I always

not like that stuff was never gonna come up during the trial. No matter how much I objected to his questions or That’s why I

downplayed it when I questioned witnesses. didn’t object all that much.”

“You really think I’m human?” Larry asked. “Larry, you’re as human as anybody else...except for Jack Donaldson. than he is. catalogue.” Larry chuckled. “And look, I know...this may not be the best consolation. But if we don’t win, I think someone will I think you’re way more of a human being Crew

That guy looks like he came out of a J.

Palmer / Right to / 21 eventually break through. takes some time.” Kozlowski would make sure a ghost got recognized as a human being under the law. The notoriety he’d get from Society’s changing. It just

defending just a few ghosts would help him get clients as a defense lawyer when he started his own practice. Technically he was the prosecutor in Larry’s trial but he was really defending Larry against a system that didn’t recognize him. That was the way it was being spun by the

media and by ghosts and living protestors who supported Larry. Kozlowski stood. be right back.” Larry leaned back on the bench and looked down the hall by the door to the court room. Bobby Joe Wright stood “I have to use the restroom. I’ll

against the wall, the heel of one of his boots resting on the top of the floorboard. slowly narrowing. He was almost as terrified of Bobby Joe Wright as he was of his wife, which he’d never thought was possible. She could suck the happiness out of a room with one word. The best part of dying was that he didn’t have to deal with her anymore. Being trapped in a barn and barely able to But at least in that situation he Wright stared back, his eyes

move was one thing.

Palmer / Right to / 22 wouldn’t have to deal with her nagging. The fact that he’d

stood up to Wright really said something. “Larry.” The voice was serious but subdued. “Brent?”

Larry looked up and his eyes went wide.

Larry studied the ghostly image of his long-dead best friend that stood in front of him. since his funeral. when he was only 17. “Larry, it’s time.” “Time for what?” Larry said as he intently studied the cuts and bruises on the electromagnetic plasma cluster that made up Brent’s face. “Time to take the next step.” “You mean, it’s time to crossover? called? Brent nodded. “I can’t. “Just follow me.” Or whatever it’s Larry hadn’t seen Brent

He got killed in a three-car accident

I’ve gotta see if we win the case.”

“Larry, if you don’t come now, you’ll be trapped in this stage of existence forever.” Larry exhaled irritably. couple hours. “But can’t you wait like a

It won’t take the jury that long.”

“This is the way it has to be,” Brent said cryptically. “You have to make a decision in the next

couple of minutes, according to human-being time.”

Palmer / Right to / 23 “Can I talk to my lawyer first?” “He won’t return for several minutes. It has

something to do with bad Mexican food he ate last night. By then I’ll be gone.” “Well,” Larry said frantically, “what’s crossing over like? Are my mom and dad there? Can me and you hangout?” You wouldn’t

“No one can know until they crossover. comprehend it.”

“You’re not much of a negotiator are you?” “My job is not to negotiate.” “Why’d they pick you to bring me there?” “They wanted someone you’d respond to.” Larry stared at his former best friend. “So lemme get

this straight, you know my lawyer’s gonna be in the bathroom for a long time but they thought I’d just go with you, no questions asked?” Brent kept his expression solemn for a few more moments then shook his head and stared up at the ceiling. “I told you guys we shoulda done it my way. had your chance. No no no, you

Lemme just try my way for a couple

minutes, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to the ‘I’m the Dalai Lama’ approach.” Brent paused as if listening to something. really, he’s offended? What a shock. “Oh

I swear, that guy’s

Palmer / Right to / 24 the biggest prick on the southwest side of the etheric plane. Tell him to come down here and do this if he’s so

good at influencing people.” Brent sighed and took a seat next to Larry. here’s the deal. “Alright, If

You really do have to come with me.

you don’t, you’ll be a ghost forever. can do. works.

There’s nothing I

There’s an appeals process but that hardly ever It’s gotta be a really special case and you’re not No offense. Well,

that special.

“And we actually can’t predict the future. sometimes we can, but not usually.

I just saw that your

friend Kozlowski had a lot of Mexican food last night so I figured he’d eventually have to...” “What’s it like there?” Larry said. “The DMV...no, I’m just kidding.” on the shoulder. Brent patted Larry

“That’s just the registration process. But it’s hard to explain. It’ll really blow your

After that it’s really cool.

It’s a lot different than here. mind, trust me.

And your family’s there and some other They’re all waiting. They’re

people you used to know. excited to see you.”

Larry leaned forward and slowly rubbed his hands together. “But what about the case?” We got the Internet up there.”

“You’ll hear about it.

Palmer / Right to / 25 “Yeah, but...what if we lose the case? appeal it. I couldn’t

If I stay here I might get attacked again and I

could try one more time.” Brent frowned. “What, you wanna get attacked again?

Cuz, I’ve been following the trial and it didn’t sound all that pleasant.” “It’s not about that. We shouldn’t have to worry I mean, we work and

about gettin’ attacked or locked up. pay taxes just like everybody else.” Brent shrugged.

“Well, this is your decision. I think your lawyer’s

But

you’ve got about a minute left. gonna be back real soon.” Larry sighed. “I’d go.

“What would you do?”

I mean, I wasn’t a ghost but everybody’s There’s nothing to do. People are

told me it sucks.

always harassing you. ghost catchers.

It’s even worse now that they’ve got

Before that it was just those stupid TV

shows with people wandering around in the dark with a camera. I’m glad you guys decided to make yourselves

visible to everybody and stop taking that crap.” Brent chuckled for a moment. “They do not like those

guys from the ghost-hunting shows on the etheric plane. Some ghosts just follow ‘em around all day long and watch them do stuff. It’s hilarious.”

Palmer / Right to / 26 Larry said, “I don’t think I’d be able to live it down if I left and I didn’t finish this.” “So you’re staying?” Larry took a quick breath and let it out. just can’t leave right now. cool to hang out again. I’m sorry man. “Yeah. I

It’d be really

It really sucked when you died.” I’m sorry I

“Well, it was good seeing you again man. died when I did.

We probably would’ve had some good times

after high school.” They hugged briefly then Brent stood. man.” “That’s OK,” Larry said, smiling. the right thing.” “Well, you’ve gotta make that decision yourself. got horrible judgment. Anyways, so long. to get used to it.” Brent chuckled briefly before stopping himself. “Y’know, I’m sorry. sure you’ll be fine. I don’t know where it comes from. Good luck buddy.” After a few steps he I’m I’ve “I think I’m doin’ “Last chance

Look at how I died for chrissake? You’ll have a long time

Enjoy eternity.

Brent turned and walked away. slowly evaporated.

Palmer / Right to / 27 Larry watched the last traces of the ghost-–or whatever it was-–of his former best friend disappear into the air and cursed under his breath. “What’s wrong?” Kozlowski said as he picked up the container with his sandwich and sat back down. “Oh, nothin’. Just worried about the case.”

Kozlowski took a big bite out of his sandwich. Larry said, “Must’ve been some bad Mexican food, huh?” Kozlowski froze, his mouth full. know?” “I was just guessin’. I was right?” “Maybe you guys really “Yeah, how’d you

Kozlowski nodded slowly. aren’t human. me about?” Larry shook his head.

Do you have psychic powers you didn’t tell

After Kozlowski finished eating they talked for an hour before the jury reached a verdict. “Has the jury reached a verdict?” Judge McKorvee said after the court room had filled back up. The foreman stood. “We have, your honor,” she said.

She handed a folded piece of paper to the bailiff who walked over and handed it to the judge. McKorvee quickly She had

read it, her expression not giving anything away. too much experience for that.

Palmer / Right to / 28 “Will the defendants please rise,” McKorvee said. All

four men stood, along with Donaldson and his defense team. The foreman read from another piece of paper. “On the

charge of battery we find the defendants not guilty.” “Yeah,” Bobby Joe said, grabbing Travis’ shirt collar and shaking his brother. Donaldson patted him on the back. “Be quiet until all

“Order,” McKorvee said angrily. of the verdict has been read.”

“On the charge of kidnapping we find the defendants not guilty.” Bobby Joe made a fist and shook it in front of him. “On the charge of misdemeanor false imprisonment we find the defendants guilty as charged.” Larry looked up, his eyes wide. The foreman said, “The jury is recommending a $3,500 fine.” “That’s bullshit!” Jake Walker said. catchers stared angrily at the jury. McKorvee slammed her gavel down. “Order in this The other ghost

court! You can spend the night in jail if you prefer,” she said, pointing her gavel at him. Bobby Joe looked over at Larry. “Just gotta make sure

he don’t get out next time,” Bobby Joe said so most everyone in the court could hear him.

Palmer / Right to / 29 “That’s it,” McKorvee said. Joe Wright. “Bailiff, arrest Bobby

He can spend the night in jail to cool off.”

While the bailiff walked over to Bobby Joe to handcuff him, McKorvee continued. “I’m going to take the jury’s

suggestion but raise the fine to $4,500 because of the defendants’ actions here this afternoon. this trial. Dismissed.” That concludes

She banged her gavel and rose

from her chair to leave. As Bobby Joe passed by Kozlowski’s table he looked over at Larry. “When we get out, your ass is mine! You’re

gonna be in that barn till we figure out how to kill ya. Nobody messes with the Wright’s.” Travis, Jake Walker, and Mark Fry left relatively quietly. Travis gave Larry a dirty look. As they walked

away, Donaldson came over to Kozlowski and Larry’s table. “That’s a fine job Kozlowski,” Donaldson said. “I

didn’t think you’d get one guilty verdict but you surprised me. You better enjoy it because I sure as hell won’t let

it happen again.” They quickly shook hands and Donaldson left. When

Donaldson walked away Kozlowski had the look of an 8-yearold boy who received a compliment from his favorite professional athlete. “So...?” Larry said, staring at his attorney.

Palmer / Right to / 30 “It’s a victory,” Kozlowski said. what we wanted but it sets a precedent. hold a ghost against his will. they’ll punish you. “It’s not exactly It’s illegal to

If you’re found guilty

It’s not that big of a leap to say The law has to

that more laws should apply to ghosts. consider you guys now.”

“But they could still attack me and lock me up,” Larry said. “As long as I don’t get out nobody’s gonna do

anything.” Kozlowski nodded. punishment is a fine. “I know. And so far, the only But

They didn’t get any jail time. Baby steps.”

this is how the law works.

Kozlowski stood and pushed his chair under the table. “I know. It’s hard to wrap your arms around. But

sometimes that’s the way these things go. what you can get.”

You have to take

Kozlowski began to walk away but stopped when he was halfway to the exit and turned back around. is more cases. “What we need

Then we can get some of these guys in jail. Send them my way if they get

Talk to your friends. attacked.”

Larry watched the double doors close.

He was alone.

Actually, he’d been alone from the moment he went to the police. Larry believed Kozlowski when he said ghosts were

Palmer / Right to / 31 human. But Larry knew that Kozlowski lobbied to try the When he left the courtroom he

case for the publicity.

probably rushed to the first reporter he could find. Larry thought he’d done the right thing. He wouldn’t

really have been seeing things through by going with Brent. But he wasn’t going to get any confirmation from others that he’d stood up for something. depressing. “You did it,” a familiar voice said. Larry looked up and saw the ghost-Brent leaning back in the chair in the witness box with his feet propped up on the railing and his hands intertwined behind his head. “This is your ‘unfinished business’ as they say.” “You mean this case?” “Yeah,” Brent said. “Literally and metaphorically. He found that really

See, we needed you to get some kind of victory to get things moving. We can’t have humans just running around They’re keeping ‘em from It’s really screwing up People get killed

all willy-nilly capturing ghosts. finishing what they’re here to do. our system.

They don’t do something.

before they’re supposed to.

Something doesn’t get done and And we can’t

the whole course of human history changes. make you guys go back to hiding. far.”

You’ve taken things too

Palmer / Right to / 32 “So I can still crossover?” Brent nodded. to you. “If you want to. I mean, it’s still up

But if you don’t come, you’re gonna piss off a lot

of people on the etheric plane and make my life a living hell. Especially with the Dalai Lama. He’ll never let me

live it down if I don’t get you to come with me.” Brent stood and walked over to the table Larry was sitting behind. “The other part of your unfinished

business was to stand up to somebody who treated you like crap. You’ve never done that your whole life, which is So this is one of those rare

actually pretty amazing.

occasions where we killed two birds with one stone.” Brent laughed. “I just realized...y’know, that

expression takes on a whole new meaning when killing is one of the things we do up there.” “So before you were just trying to make me stay? were testing me or something?” “Yeah, I mean, I did throw in some things to try to encourage you to stay but in the end it was all up to you. You had to take a stand. And boy will I be glad to have You

one more person up there who knows how to stand up to people. They still let in losers with no backbone.

They’re just no fun and they’re always asking for help with everything.”

Palmer / Right to / 33 Larry shook his head. “You’re tellin’ me. existence in the same day. “What a weird day?” Two trips to your plane of This is murder on my senses.

You don’t understand how big of a change it is from one place to the other. Anyways, you ready to go?” “I guess.”

Larry stood up and walked around the table. “What’re you worried about?” “I don’t know.

I’ve been so used to this place.

Now

I’m never coming back.

I mean, it’s dirty, there’s a lot

of bad people, there’s so much going wrong...” Brent smirked. that. “I think you should be happy about I’ve been

Your existence so far has sucked.

watching.

You should be thanking your lucky stars you get

a second chance to crossover. “Oh, and before we crossover, lemme just tell you, don’t expect a big party when you get there. I mean,

people are happy about what you did but most of the time you don’t get a lot of recognition for doing something right. I can read your thoughts. You’ve just gotta be

happy for yourself Larry.” “OK.” “It’ll just take some time. You’ll get it.”

“Alright, now we’re not gonna float up or anything. This isn’t a place or destination like your used to. It’s

Palmer / Right to / 34 a whole other state of being. You just have to let go of

this plane of existence-–your senses, everything--and you’ll be there.” “Was everything you told me before true?” “Yeah...except, the registration process really does take forever. After that it’s smooth sailing.” It took a few He could His He

Larry tried to do as he was told.

minutes for him to truly start crossing over. feel himself fading away. senses just vanished.

It was almost like dying.

But he was still conscious.

heard Brent’s voice, or was it his thoughts, in his mind, “That’s it, almost there. And then... Let go.”

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