The moon had reached its zenith, and the roaring bonfire was throwing sparks and shadows, animating the surrounding darkness.
“Your turn, Roger,” Goodwood Duxford was acting emcee for the inaugural Gramberly Cemetery get together. As the resident caretaker and ghost wrangler, and because he knew every spirit in Gramberly, he seemed the logical choice.
Lilith, the most recent addition to the group, had suggested a “get-to-know-you” team building exercise. Each ghost attending was to give their name, when they were interred at Gramberly, and their method of death. Lilith was dumbfounded when she found out that every resident didn’t know every other resident. She told Goody he needed to do something about that, and so the bonfire was organized.
“Howdy, I’m Roger Oakley,” said a gaunt ghost in an ill-fitting, rust-colored wool suit. “I’ve been at Gramberly since 1931 and I died in Pepperidge Township’s very first automobile accident when my Model A coupe ran off the road and hit a tree.”
As the rest of those gathered took turns introducing themselves or getting re-acquainted, having known each other while alive, Lilith got Goody off to the side.
“You need to get out more among the living, Dux,” Lilith said, adopting Jonny Clement’s nickname for the wrangler. “I’ve been here going on six months, and I haven’t seen you take a day off yet. Who knows how long it’d been before then.”
Goody made some excuses about how he had to be available if something went wrong, and there wasn’t anyone who could do the job for him.
“I just wouldn’t feel right about it,” Goody said.
Lilith wouldn’t drop the subject.
“I’ve met your dealer,” she said.
“My what?” Goody was shocked.
“Calm down, ghost whisperer,” she said. “Patsy, over at The Magpie where you get all your ghosting goodies. I checked out the place last week. She says to tell you, ‘thanks,’ for helping her son, Chuck cross.”
Patsy, the local paranormal herbalist, was the only living person in Pepperidge Township, aside from Goody, who could see and communicate with the dead.
Before Goody could answer, Lilith continued.
“You know where else I’ve been?” she said. “I’ve been to the bookstore and library, the coffeehouse, the sandwich shop, the community college cafeteria, even the grocery store.”
“Why would you go to those places?” Goody was intrigued.
“Because that’s where you can meet nice girls.”
“Why do you want to meet girls?”
“Not for me, you idiot, for you,” Lilith said, a look of impatience on her face. “You don’t just need to get out among the living, you need to get laid.”
“Wow, you’re certainly verbally unabashed,” Goody said, reddening from the nape of his neck to the tips of his ears.
“That’s one of my more charming quirks,” Lilith said.
“Why the grocery store?” Goody said when he finally stopped blushing.
“You don’t want to hang out with a chick who only buys frozen, diet dinners,” Lilith explained. “You want someone getting fresh fruit and vegetables, you know, real food. Those are the ones who can cook.”
“I don’t think I need you to help fix me up with women,” Good said, trying to break off the conversation and get back to the bonfire.
“Who else is going to do it?” Lilith said, trying to grab his arm, only to have her hand slip through him like he was a hologram. “There’s no such thing as an online dating service for ghost wranglers.”
Goody stopped, his back to Lilith, head down, his hands on his hips.
“You already have someone in mind, don’t you?” he said. “I know I’m going to regret this. Who is it?”
‘Her name is Frankie, and she’s that cute, little redheaded barista at Grinders Cafe,” Lilith said, clapping her hands together. “I’ve already put a bug in her ear, so she won’t be surprised when you show up.”
Goody turned and looked askew at Lilith.
“Not a real bug, Dux.”
Shaking his head, Goody went back to the gathering.
“Does it concern you in the least that your best friend is a 45-year-old dead woman?” Lilith called after Goody, then went back to her gravesite to plan her next matchmaking move.