He never should have killed me. I was no saint, that’s for sure, but I had my good qualities--I can’t think what they are right now, but I know I didn’t deserve no bullet to the head. Sure, I harbored a few indecent thoughts in my time—I coveted my fair share of asses, that’s for sure and I’ve chased a few dragons in back alleys and smoked crack behind more than a few dumpsters. Who hasn’t? But that's all behind me now. I’ve been clean for almost six months—ever since they dug my ass out of a shallow grave.
I don’t remember much about that night. The trauma of death has a way of erasing memories. Maybe it was the head shot that caused me to blank out--a small caliber slug that somehow wedged between my scalp and skull, one that I can still push along the circumference of my head with the pad of my pinkie finger--but it caused little lasting damage. Still, I have only the haziest of recollections regarding that evening.
I do have a visual impression of the man that pulled the trigger. He was a pale ghost of a dude with a face like a skull and thin strips of silver hair that hung down almost to his shoulders, and he wore a black wide-brimmed hat that made him look like an Amish crypt keeper, but for the life of me I don’t remember why he did it. I don’t remember anything about that day or the day before. It’s a mystery, I guess, and I just have to figure out whether or not I want to solve it.
Talk about a crazy night. I can only imagine. My friends Willy and Earnestine dug me up. They walked away from a shallow hole, Willy carrying the shovels and Earnestine hoisting my dead weight. She tossed me into the back of her pick-up truck and then drove my corpse through the black of night, bouncing over potholes left and right--for once I could stand riding in a truck minus shock absorbers; I was just too dead to care.
Earnestine drove the whole way with her headlights off, or so old Willy told me later in that monosyllabic way of his. “No lights.” Earnestine had on her night-vision goggles, the ones she picked up second hand at an army surplus store outside of Enterprise. Anyway, she didn’t need to see too well to find what she was looking for. She knew the roads well enough. She’d driven to Skwerly’s meth lab before.
Earnestine is a plump little ex-hooker, real butch on the outside and typically meaner than boiled hell to strangers, though she softens up after you get to know her. One of the great things about Earnestine is that she knows she’s ugly. She’s accepted that fact and doesn’t let it stop her from living her life to the fullest, nor does she try to change herself to meet someone else’s expectations. She never wears makeup, keeps her hair cut short, and walks around in saggy blue jeans or chinos stained with axel grease. She’s usually wearing her trucker hat and an unbuttoned, un-tucked flannel shirt over a wife-beater.
“So how’s he look?” Earnestine asked Willy after they dumped my carcass onto the ground outside Skwerly’s meth shack. I was bloated and ghost-white except for the parts of me caked in mud.
“Dead,” Willy said, shaking his head sadly. Something about the way he said it must have struck her as funny, because Earnestine started cackling like she just heard the dirtiest joke in the world. Even now, six months later, every now and then she’ll turn to Willy and nudge him with her elbow and then point at me. “How’s he look, Willy?” She’ll ask.
“Still dead,” Willy will say.
Course, I don’t look that bad. I was still in the early stages of decomposition. I often wonder what might have happened had a larger caliber bullet traveled in front of my skull instead of that little .22 slug. Had that dude shot me with a .38 my brain might have been splattered all over the dirt road, Skwerly wouldn’t have been able to put my Humpty Dumpty ass back together again. Worse still, I could have come out like old Willy like one of those drooling zombies in the picture shows instead of this gallant bag of charisma before you today.
You know I don’t think I’ve properly introduced myself. My given name is Bocephus T. Boswell. My friends call me Bo. Earnestine usually calls me Shitbird.
After they unloaded my corpse, they dragged me into Skwerly’s shack and laid me out on the table where Skwerly normally takes his meals. Skwerly wasn’t around just then, so Earnestine raided the mini-fridge, and she and Willy cracked open a few beers and waited for him to turn up.
“I never thought he’d die like this,” she said after a long swig. Willy shook his head in agreement. “I thought cocaine would kill him, or maybe pills. The murder part makes sense, but I expected him to get killed in a botched drug deal. Not like this. Not like this.”
“Not this,” Willy agreed.
People often wonder how a man of faith could get himself hooked on chemicals, but that’s not the right question to be asking. Anybody can get hooked on drugs. It’s easy. All you need is a shitty life, and then you’ll be happy to turn your back on reality and alter your consciousness in the most affordable way possible. Becoming a drug addict is kind of like finding religion. Before you convert, you have to hit rock bottom.
The important thing for you to know now, the thing I set out to tell you before I got off track, was how I came to be the first and only (so far) real life member of the living dead. Really there’s only one man I have to thank, although he’s not the type I enjoy owing favors to.
Skwerly is as crazy as his name implies. It was his idea to bring me back to life, and his ingenuity that pulled it off. Earnestine had been content to mourn my passing—she’s not the type to go messing with the natural order of things. Honestly I don’t think she fully realized what was going to happen, or maybe she didn’t believe Skwerly could pull it off. How could she know, when the shadow of the madman fell across my stiffening corpse, that my impending resurrection was not only possible but would foreshadow changes from which the world may never recover? She couldn’t have known. But that’s just what happened.