by Walter G Willaert © 2003

“Is the food to your taste?” I asked, smiling.

“It’s fine,” she replied, smiling back.

She glanced at me with a promising look. I didn’t assume it had to do with the seafood, though I had ordered from the best deli I could find.

When it came to intimacy, I preferred my apartment instead of a noisy restaurant with a long waiting list, malnutrition and bills with round figures.

In the meanwhile, we managed to stick with the food and the small talk, and I was so much absorbed by our witty conversation, that I realized too late that our raspberry ice cream should have been finished an hour ago, by which we should be spending the rest of our babbling between fresh sheets.

They wouldn’t disturb us in there, because they never entered bedrooms or bathrooms either, for that matter.

Now the midnight hour had ticked away.

My first visitor was Bill. I had named him Bill, because he looked like my drill sergeant. He marched straight-backed towards the kitchen, carrying a rusty foreloader.

Her fork was halfway her plate and her lips, when she saw him passing. She froze and stared at him with open mouth. I noticed some rests from her last bite pasted to her front teeth.

“Who is this?” she whispered, still imitating a mime in frozen conditions.

“Never mind him,” I answered quickly. “He’s just a friendly neighbor, I’m used to him.”

Two others entered the room, hand in hand. They were a couple: Mr. And Mrs. Frankenstein. They were lively chatting, actually mouthing, and didn’t pay any attention to us. They walked directly between us to vanish somewhere in the wall.

Now she dropped her fork. It landed on her plate with a crashing sound.

“Who were these and where have they gone?” she asked in a husky voice, and looking very pale.

“Who?” I replied, acting dumb, as if these invaders of our privacy were visitors on a daily base. Basically they were.

“Those two, dressed in the white gowns.” Her voice was disturbingly shrieking now. She was by far close to hysteria, and obviously had a few reasons to be.

“Oh yes, well, they too are neighbors, nothing to worry about.” I tried to sound airily, but I knew I looked uptight.

The third neighbor was a cat, the black one that I had named after my favorite writer, Edgar Allen Poe. It jumped right into her plate and went for the prawns.

She dropped from her chair to the floor and started to scream, apparently impressed by Edgar the cat, because it was nothing more then a skeleton, you know why.

After she had fled, I leant back, felt down-hearted.

It was my own fault of course. I should never have signed that lease, just because the rent was cheap.

You don’t rent a haunted apartment if you are in full possession of your faculties, in particular when you want to use it as your love nest, right?

x x x

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