Oscar and Dolores

Submitted into Contest #221 in response to: Write a story where ghosts and the living coexist.... view prompt


Funny Fiction Romance

The fall air is crisp, and the sky is crystal clear. Dolores ambles up her front walkway, still unable to understand how the world can be so cheerful after what has happened to her.  Having returned from Oscar’s funeral, she stops before her doorway and sighs. The funeral was held with just her son, Bill, and herself because she knew Oscar wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s just the way he was. Turning the key in the lock, Dolores bites her lower lip, takes a deep breath, and steps inside.  She freezes in place and frowns. Is that the TV she is hearing? Dolores creeps slowly toward the parlor, sure it was turned off when she left. She peeks around the corner to see Andy Griffith on the screen, and someone is sitting in Oscar’s chair. Clutching her handbag to her chest, Dolores edges around the chair until she finally sees Oscar looking asleep, just as he did the night he died.

Practically launching her handbag into deep space, its contents flying in every direction, Dolores lets out a terrified, bloodcurdling scream.   Oscar’s eyes spring open as he bolts upright in his easy chair. Oscar looks at Dolores, all dressed in black, her face drained of blood and clutching the sides of her head. “Dolores! What the hell is wrong with you?’  To which Dolores screams again and runs to hide behind the sofa. Oscar jumps up and rushes toward the couch. “Good God, Dolores, have you gone mad or something?”

Pointing a trembling finger at Oscar, her voice cracks as she asks, “What are you doing here?”

Incredulously, Oscar replies, “I live here!”

“No, no, no. I mean, what are you doing here?” Oscar takes a few steps away from the sofa, his eyes narrow. He looks at the TV and then back at Dolores. Pointing, he says, “Matlock! It’s ten o’clock, and Matlock is on.  I always watch Matlock at ten. I’m watching Matlock!” Dolores covers her mouth with both hands to stifle a gasp. She realizes that because Oscar was asleep when he died, he doesn’t know he’s dead.

Dolores slowly rises from behind the sofa, trembling, and removes the handkerchief that has landed on her head. Looking at it in wonder, her bottom lip quivers, and she begins wiping her eyes. Oscar, who has watched this pantomime, folds his arms across his chest and demands, “Dolores!  Would you mind explaining to me just what the hell is going on here?”

Dolores walks around the couch to stand in front of Oscar. “I would like to tell you, but it’s rather hard to explain.”

Oscar squints his left eye, “Can you at least explain why you screamed loud enough to wake the dead?” Thinking back to how Oscar reacted to her scream, Dolores realizes that’s exactly what happened. She giggles nervously. Dolores changes her tactic. “Oscar, dear, how are you feeling?” Putting on a mock, happy face, Oscar smiles. “OH, I’m just peachy, thank you, and how are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” Dolores replies meekly.

“Really? You’re fine?” Oscar’s brow furrows. “I find that hard to believe because you seem a little on edge to me.” Holding up his hand with his finger and thumb separated by an eighth of an inch, Oscar repeats, “Just a bit.”

Dolores tilts her head to one side. “I guess that’s true. Do you remember falling asleep watching Gunsmoke about a week ago?”

“I guess so. Why?”

“Do you remember what you’ve been doing since then?”

Oscar’s eyebrows pull down, and the tip of his tongue pokes through his lips as he tries to remember. “I don’t know. The usual stuff, I suppose. I can’t remember.”

Dolores swallows hard and clears her throat. “Okay, now this is the hard part, Oscar. When you were asleep, well, you died.”

Oscar cocks one eyebrow and snorts. He takes Dolores’s hand and, gently patting it, leads her to his easy chair. “There, there, Dolores. Why don’t you sit here momentarily while I call Bill to help me take you to Bellview Hospital for a nice long rest?” Dolores jerks her hand away.

“I’m not crazy, Oscar! Nine days ago, you died in your sleep, and Bill and I buried you this morning in the “Our Lady of Perpetual Patience cemetery.”

With his mouth hanging open, Oscar bristles. “Our Lady of what?”

“Perpetual Patience!” Dolores storms back. “It’s the only church we weren’t asked to leave because of you! All the others said they didn’t want you bothering the other deceased!”

Snatching his cell phone from the coffee table, Oscar growls. “This is ludicrous! I’m calling Bill! What’s his number?”

Dolores’s shoulders slump as she sighs heavily. “Oscar! Do you mean to tell me that after all the times I told you to enter Bill’s number into contacts, you still haven’t done it? I’ve told you a million times that if you can’t reach me, you should have Bill’s number to call him! Honest to God, Oscar!   You’re the same, dead or alive!” Still holding his phone, Oscar blinks, “So, what’s the number?” The front door opens, and Bill walks into the house.

“Hi, Ma.  You know what happened when I went home to change after the funeral? My cat had knocked the picture I have of Dad off the end table and was sitting on it, purring contentedly. What do you think that means?”   As Bill is talking, Oscar rushes toward him.  Bill, not seeing Oscar, walks right through him. Bill hunches his shoulders and rubs both arms. “Burr, it’s chilly in here.” With eyes the size of saucers, Oscar looks at Dolores, who only shrugs and says, “I told you.”

“Told me what, Ma?”

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t talking to you, dear.” The corners of Bill’s mouth pull down as his chin tucks in.

“Bill, you had better sit on the sofa because I have something very upsetting to tell you. When you dropped me off after the funeral, I walked into the parlor to find the TV on and your father sitting in his chair watching Matlock.” Not moving a muscle, Bill blinks rapidly. 

“It’s true. And you felt cold when entering the room because you had walked through your father standing before you, but you couldn’t see him.”  Bill starts dusting the invisible contamination away, “ Yeww!  I walked through Dad!”

“Because your father died in his sleep, he didn’t believe he died, but I think all that has changed now, right Oscar?”

Shaking his head, Oscar grumbles. “I still can’t believe it! If I’m dead, where’s the heavenly choir?  Where’s my halo?  Where is Baby Jesus? No! I won’t believe it until you take me to that cemetery and show me my grave!”

”Oh, so now you’re Ebenezer Scrooge.”  Bill looks at the empty spot his mother is speaking to and asks, “Are you talking to Dad now?”

“Yes, dear. Your father says he won’t believe it until we take him to the cemetery and show him his grave.  So, if you don’t mind driving me back to Our Lady of Perpetual Patience, I believe your father will appreciate it.” 

Bill starts scanning the room from top to bottom, trying to locate Oscar.  In a loud voice, Bill calls out.  “If that’s what you want, Dad. Will you ride over with us or just fly over and meet us there?”   

Dolores whacks Bill hard on his arm. “What’s the matter with you? You’ve been watching too many cartoons. Let’s go.” So the two of them get into the car and drive off to Our Lady of Perpetual Patience.

Staring at the gravesite, Oscar shakes his head repeatedly. “You know someone could have said something.  Let me know, at least. Oscar, get ready to say your goodbyes. Tonight, you die!   No! Instead, they just let me go to sleep and leave me there to figure everything out on my own! God!”   Oscar reads his tombstone. “Oscar Peterson 1939-2023. Below that reads, Dolores Sutton Peterson 1942-.

“You know, Dolores, looking at this tombstone, I must accept the fact that I have died. But I still don’t like it! I’ve spent fifty years with you and want it to stay that way. I know it hasn’t been easy to live with me being stubborn and bullheaded sometimes but still, I think you must have liked me a little to put up with it all these years. So, until the last date is filled in on this tombstone, would it be alright if I stay with you? I promise not to haunt you.”

Dolores’s eyes narrow, “Promise not to haunt me! That’s all you have ever done our whole lives! You didn’t have to be dead to do that!   But to be truthful, I wouldn’t mind having you around. That way, I won’t miss you so much.” 

Bill watches his mother smile as she wraps her arms around someone who is not there and rests her head on an invisible shoulder. 

October 24, 2023 20:25

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Andrea Corwin
06:07 Dec 09, 2023

Oh, this is such a nice story! Humorous, filled with great descriptions. This is hilarious: You’re the same, dead or alive!” Still holding his phone, Oscar blinks, “So, what’s the number?” I loved the ending!


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Mary Bendickson
02:04 Oct 27, 2023

Oh, this is so typical of how married couples would be after so long together. Hope they live happily ever after.


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