While “Charlie Harmer’s Day Off” is appearing for the first time in Pseudopod, there are other stories featuring the character: “Charlie Harmer Looks Back” also appeared on Pseudopod and “Charlie Harmer’s Last Request” appeared in the BOOK OF DEAD THINGS anthology from Twilight Tales, which is available on Amazon and other fine booksellers.
Charlie Harmer’s Day Off
by Brendan Detzner
A ghost is a dead person with a job. When you’re alive, you split your time. You work, you sleep. When you’re dead, the line gets blurrier. You switch between one and the other quickly, or do both at once. You lose track of time a lot.
There are similarities. I still have a boss. I don’t know much about her, I have no clear memory of ever meeting her for the first time. She has long brown hair.
A few days after my conversation with Darius, the boss calls a staff meeting. We meet in the Orange Room. The gang’s all here. Neil from the laundromat. The bloody torso. The asshole with no skin that no one takes seriously. (The torso is literal, the asshole is figurative.) The little girl who never talks. Others. Somehow the table is as long as it needs to be to fit everyone and no longer.
The brunette is the last to arrive. She looks tired. She never looks tired. She glances to her side before she says anything. She’s nervous. That’s not right either.
The skinless asshole is sitting in the privileged place to her right.
He’s wearing a tuxedo, his white collar stained by the blood and pus dripping down from his face. His name’s Gary. He’s got three names like all the bullshit serial killers have three names.
‘We’re going to make some changes,’ the boss says, and she sounds guilty.
She explains. I’m working for Gary now. Not just me. Lots of us.