The Guru Without All The Bullshit

An American in Heaven


"An American In Heaven" is a fun little novel about a college age woman in the afterlife. Specifically in college town set up for young dead people like her who were really looking forward to leaving home for college when they died. The afterlife is like that: they cater to your needs and frustrated desires.

Quite different in style from my Eternal Life non-fiction series, I was looking for a vehicle that would accomodate a more chatty, and maybe even frivolous, style. Kind of chick-lit goes to the afterlife. Plus Melanie just started talking in my head one day. I'd like to see it on tv sometime, maybe even a theatrically released movie. Richard Linklater, what are you up to?

Here's the first two chapters. Let me know what you think.


On With The Show

You know that denial thing, that everyone accuses everyone else of being in, sometimes to their face and sometimes behind their back, well I’ve just finished with mine. Finished for good. Let’s face it, I’m dead, as dead any ghost or gothgirl with a slash job. As dead as any way you’ve got of defining it. Oh, you can hide in the endless fun all you want, burrow in like some kitten under blankets, and be as comfy and cozy as you’d ever want to be, but eventually you gotta fess up and see it: you and everyone around you is dead, and this place, whatever it actually is, is happydeadland. Happydeadland on heavy rotation.

By this point, I’d been in town for ages, drifting from party to party whenever, you know, and sleeping it off wherever I saw a couch that looked soft and empty. Even empty was negotiable. Just like the old days really, just minus the parents and the job. No limiting yourself to weekends here. What’s a weekend? Sixty hours of life between two stretches in the slammer. No slammers here, natch, except maybe the ones you make for yourself.

There’s something about fun that makes me wanna slap on a suit and tie and shout from the rooftops. Shout about freedom and fun and be listened to. Suits and ties are always listened to. Teen girls in tank tops and tight jeans never are. It’s like we got nothing to say. Well we got lots to say. Least I did. I’m nineteen not nine, you know?
Motor mouth Melinda: that was grade nine. Major Mel: that was grade twelve. Even dad called me that. When he called me anything. But enough of this character establishing crap. You’ll get that as we go along, if that’s what you want. On with the show.

I hadn’t been hanging with anyone special. You don’t really have to do that here, though you get plenty of offers. Boys missing their mothers if you ask me. But what do I know I’m just a teen girl in tight jeans, right? I don’t know any of that Freudian shit, never did get to college. But I did have an English teacher who told me my work was very Freudian. My psycho stories I called ’em. Very goth and gloomymoody. Edgar Allen Pop-Goes-The-Weasel. Heroines in black cape and diapers. Plots of dastardly contrivance. Boring as shit.

Like I say, I hadn’t been hanging with anyone special, just a couple of guys off the tit long enough to know they really missed it. Quite manageable as long as they know a little suck’s comin’ up soon. Always been one for offering the boob: found out early on its pacification potential. And here you can manufacture your own milk in a flash. Amazing shit really.

Anyway, parties, dance clubs, concerts, hangin’ out, getting’ it on, getting’ it off and getting’ it together. The cool rehearsal for the even cooler performance. And I’m perfecting that one, I can tell you. All those girlnerves are gone. Well just about. I can do Marlene Dietrich at the Blue Angel, or Audrey Hepburn at Tiffany’s, Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, not to mention that whole Annie Hall schtick. Used to be the costumes were a pain, but here, well, you just plan it out in your mind and bingo, it’s there. And you can do the cigarette thing without the cancer problem.

Born actress that girl, my mother used to say. Kinda envious I always thought. Bit too strait laced for her own good: got her a husband with a career and shit, but what else? Such a boring life. But the trouble with basket cases, I’ve decided, is you can’t tell them anything. They’ve lined that basket with their kind of goodies, so to them it feels like a picnic, the whole shebang. They can’t see they’re stuck in that basket. Least my mother can’t. Never could. Still can’t. I come to her, in the bedroom at night, and she’s like so happy to see me, all huggy and weepy, and we go through the whole dead daughter routine, and I say ‘Mom we went through this the last time, the last ten times, I gotta new life, it’s fine, it’s really fine.’ And she just smiles and weeps some more. I tell her it’s her that she’s gotta get a life, not me, I’m doing great. And she looks at me, like you know, my little girl all grown up and I just wanna puke. Who’s the girl here? Really.

During the day, when I’m not too busy myself, which isn’t often, I come by and watch her messing about the house, making work after all the work is done, throwing shit on the floor so she’ll have to pick it up again, washing the phones for god’s sake, all until my brothers get home from school. I stand with my hands on my hips and shout at her, just like she usta do to me, but she doesn’t hear. They never can, no matter how loud you go. I even slapped her a coupla times, that was kinda cool, but she just rubbed her cheek like she was itchy, and went on with the dusting.

Other times, I’ll catch her with the newspaper clipping, staring and then sobbing. Shit ma, that was years ago. Who cares anymore. But she does. She wants me back. Back in my locked bedroom with the piles of clothes and books and papers that she could never stand. Or understand. That article too, it makes me puke. All that shit about honors student and most promising this and that. Nothing about gothgirl with the black lipstick and the raven fixation. Or the blonde bimbo with the mouth full of cock. Or scholar girl with the flaxen hair and the satchel squished tight with books. Nothing about the real me. Or the real mes, all of them prickly with pride.


Back At The Dorm

Back at the dorm, I take a dip. The pool’s just right, always. I wash the earth off me. The earth with all its anger and anxieties, pissed off people playing with guns, all that crap that passes for life. It always feels wonderful, better than wonderful. What is it about the water here? It’s like warm olive oil smoothly flowing over your skin, and without any kind of greasy shit you’d get at home if you spilled it. Remind me to ask Brad about that will you? Brad or maybe Sonya.

Sonya showed up at the crash site. Not that I paid the slightest attention. She told me later. I was wandering about the riverside, admiring stuff. It looked so lovely and I guess I thought I was still buzzed. Well, it was more fun than staring at Eric moaning and bleeding. Side of his head all smashed. Yuck. I had to walk away. Out in the middle of nearly nowhere, not a house in sight and my cell at home, hiding under something or other.

That was the first thing that shoulda made me think. Hint #1. I’m walkin’ away, saying to myself, where the fuck is that cell, and suddenly I’m at home gazing at the pile of extremely valuable crap I wouldn’t let my mother touch. Sweaters, jeans, cloaks and socks and shit. God, it was in there somewhere.

Then I worried about poor Eric and I’m back there at the wreck.
Another car comes by, squeals to a stop and backs up. Just enough action to occupy my frazzled brain. A guy jumps out: he’s about fifty, kinda chubby, looked like my math teacher Mr. Frisell, balding at the front, and runs over, right past me, like I wasn’t there. Hint # 2. He looks real close at Eric and then at someone next to him slumped over. He shakes his head and takes out his own cell.

I watch him make a call. Like the dumb chick that only takes notes, I stand there as he takes a hanky to Eric’s head, dabbing away carefully. I feel my own head: seems okay. Nonplussed the say the very least, I stumbled off again. A kind of light footed stumble at that. Floaty almost, as if I wasn’t quite connecting with the ground. Bit like E. The rapids we’d come to look at seemed as lovely as ever, and I crouched there trying to be so absorbed I wouldn’t have to figure out the exact whereabouts of what I used to call my intelligence. It didn’t work.

Eric’s in that car bleeding, and I’m out here watching the rapids: what does that tell you girl? That I’m the luckiest chick alive? That I’m a selfish bitch who doesn’t give a damn for her best high school buddy? That got me going back to the car. The Mr. Frisell look alike was still cradling Eric and holding what looked like an old towel to his temple, only this time he was seated on a fold out canvas thing, like as not retrieved form the trunk of his car. Eric sure didn’t have one. I stood real close and apologized. Then I thanked him for all his kindness. He didn’t seem to notice me. At first that seemed to mean I wasn’t worth paying attention to. Since that was my dad’s attitude half the time I wasn’t surprised. Then I wondered if he was deaf. There was deaf girl at school who could only talk if she was close enough to read your lips. I moved around to stand in front of him. He stared right through me. Then I got mad told him to fuck off then, and stomped off.

The ambulance peeled by seconds later, screeched to a stop and backed up, exactly like the Frisell look alike. A guy and a chick flew out and began to do their thing. As they were loading Eric into the back a cop car pulled up. I’m not crazy about cops, even if they’re cute, which some of them are, so I hopped into sit with Eric. The ambulance crew disappeared and we were alone. I said “Eric, you’re pretty fucked up dude, but you’re gonna pull through, I know it.” I held his hand real tight as I was saying it. We were friends not lovers so this was a stretch. And he like totally disapproved of my love life, so touching was like verboten. He was not gonna be one of those guys I got it on with.