One moment Vicente was in the middle of talking to Dori. Then the next, he stood now at the window watching her talk to another man.
He tried to orient himself. The house’s shadow lay across on the ground. If he remembered correctly, the house faced west so it was now morning. Had an entire night or a week passed since he talked to her in the kitchen?
Dori looked up at the house, but she didn’t see him. He smiled, feeling himself take form. Even though his body was long dead and probably nothing more than dust, he sometimes felt the sensations of being inside it. He could see and hear. He could feel emotions, especially the ache of having been lost to those he had loved so many decades ago.
He used to wonder if they’d found his body somewhere and buried it proper. He doubted it but still, it would be nice if someone had placed flowers on his grave.
Dori’s voice rose in anger. Vicente leaned closer to the window, sensing the exchange between Dori and this strange man intensify. She walked away, the man calling after her. She flung up her hand in dismissal and something clenched where Vicente’s heart had once been. The gesture was so reminiscent of what he done to Anna.
The man stared after Dori, shook his head and then walked away, fading from Vicente’s view.
Curious, Vicente turned from the window and then he was in the downstairs hallway. He stayed put, waiting for Dori to walk through the door. She was tough and he admired that. When he got in her face, she barked at him like a man. No crying and screaming and hand-wringing like most women.
But he needed to play this carefully. If he scared her off, who knew how much damn longer he’d be stuck in this bullshit purgatory.
He looked down the hallway, remembering what this house had looked like on that last morning of his life. The once pristine marble fireplace now sagged into the floor of the dingy hallway. The mirror he looked into was long gone.
Then, as if it he went back to that morning, Vicente saw himself as he had once been: hair disheveled and face rough from having missed his barber’s appointment. But his body still carried the languid heat from the night before. When he stood before the mirror that morning, he had been thinking of Anna and her ferocity when he pushed her out the back door.
He blinked and the memory vanished when Dori slammed the door. She stomped through the kitchen. “Doll? Who the hell does he think he is calling me doll?” she muttered to herself.
“I wouldn’t and I’m already dead,” Vicente said, appearing behind her.
Both her feet came off the ground. Dori turned to see him standing in the butler’s pantry, arms crossed with his shoulder leaning on the door jamb.
“You handled him pretty good. You made him feel about this big.” Vicente pinched his thumb and finger together to illustrate.
She looked him up and down. At least this time she wasn’t climbing up the stove to get away from him. “Is that how I make you feel?” she asked.
Vicente laughed and shook his head. “Nope. And you can put down your dukes. It won’t do you much good.”
She looked down at her fists and then opened her hands. “Oh, right.”
“What did he want?”
“The man you were talking to.”
“You saw us?”
“I wouldn’t ask otherwise.”
They stood there a moment, not quite sure how to proceed. “I called him to come look at the house. He said I should level it and then work with him to subdivide it.”
Vicente tensed. “And?”
“I told him no thanks.”
“And he wouldn’t give up.”
Her eyes narrowed. “He told me I was making a stupid decision.”
“See now, I know how to respect a strong woman.” Vicente deliberately drifted his gaze down the length of her body and then back up, hiding the fear of what would happen if she’d leveled the house. Where would that leave him?
Dori crossed her arms as she lifting a skeptical eyebrow. “I’ve had bigger and better than you,” she said.
“But nothing like me.” He then crossed the room in the blink of an eye, standing close enough that he could make out the freckles sprinkled over her cheeks.
Dori flinched but she stood her ground, meeting the challenge in his eyes. She even lifted her chin.
Copyright 2012 Mary Castillo