A Ghost and a Skeleton Meet on a Beach

Two flash fictions by Jose Hernandez Diaz

Skeleton Bride and Groom

A Ghost and a Skeleton Meet on a Beach

The Ghost at the Beach

A ghost rides a longboard to the beach. It’s late summer. The ghost has on a pair of sunglasses and board shorts. Saturdays are the busiest days at the beach, but luckily for the ghost, no one can see him. He likes to surf and bodyboard, but today he’s just going to sit in the sand and take it easy, maybe read a book.

When the ghost arrives on the sand, he spreads out his towel of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The ghost is from Anaheim, CA, but he just likes the pirate imagery. The ghost sits down and stares at the waves. He’s been coming to the beach since young ghosthood. He used to go with his father, a former professional surfer. The ghost was born on Halloween, 1966 at 6PM. The ghost doesn’t believe in superstitious things like astrology or politics, but he does love rock n’ roll music and existential poetry. The ghost’s favorite band is The Cultured Demons. His favorite poet is Marosa di Giorgio.

After reading a book recommended to him by his therapist, El Río Solitario by Francisco “El Monstruo” Vargas, the ghost takes a nap. The ghost dreams of Costa Rica. He’s never been to Costa Rica, but he imagines it the most beautiful place on Earth. The ghost plans to visit one day, perhaps next summer. He dreams of seeing spider monkeys and quetzal birds. Also, surfing and more surfing.

When the ghost wakes up, he notices a skeleton in a fedora playing the guitar next to him. The skeleton smokes a cigarette and plays “La Vida Tombola” by Manu Chao. The ghost stands up and joins him with a cigarette. What luck, he thinks, a cigarette and a serenade at sunset. He takes a photo of the sunset and the skeleton guitarist and puts it on InstaGhost.

The ghost rides his longboard home in the last moments of sunset. He feels free on the board. He knows he’s getting too old for it, but he’s still able to maintain balance, so he doesn’t give it up just yet. On the bottom of the board, there is an illustration of a flame with sunglasses with an ace of spades in its hand.

Eventually, the ghost arrives at his apartment and makes a turkey club sandwich. He goes online until bedtime. He dreams about surfing with his father as a boy. His father no longer exists because he went to the world beyond the stars. Not even ghosts can escape such worlds. In the dream, the ghost is surfing with his dad, and neither of them are ghosts. They are human and alive and they feel the coldness of the water. The ghost loves being alive and human, if only in a dream. When he wakes up he goes to church for the first time in years. He prays he’ll be human again, one day, and reunited with his family. Amen.

The Skeleton at the Beach

A skeleton walked along the Venice Beach Boardwalk. It was just turning into summer. He had on a pair of sunglasses and a camouflaged hat, but he wasn’t a soldier. It was a mild day, high 70’s. The skeleton had just begun his summer vacation. He’s a music teacher at a local high school. He plays the guitar.

There were plenty of seagulls around. A group of skeletons played volleyball on the sand. Beautiful palm trees lined the beach. The skeleton walked without a care in the world. He was going to go on vacation to Vera Cruz, Mexico, later that summer, but for now he was content in just appreciating his local beach.

He walked by some art vendors on the boardwalk. A lady skeleton sold a Cubist drawing of a woman holding a palm tree and sun in her hands. He was impressed. He saw another skeleton selling a black-and-white drawing of a marijuana plant. He chuckled and continued walking. All along the shore, skeletons rode longboards, beach cruisers, and rollerblades. The skeleton felt at home by the beach.

Then he decided to have a slice of pizza. He visited his favorite pizza parlor: Ned’s Pizza. He bought one slice of pepperoni and a Coke. As he ate, he noticed the graffiti murals on the beach. One of the artists, “Rage One,” had painted a radical raptor on a wall. It was painted in red and turquoise fragments; it was juxtaposed with a sheep’s head. The skeleton was very impressed. Predictably, on the main street, was a mural of Jim Morrison in front of a palm tree and the sunset. The skeleton still liked the painting despite its status as a cliché. Next, he saw a mural by a graffiti artist whose name he couldn’t decipher: it looked like “Craft” or “Draft.” The red-orange lettering was jagged and wild. On the left side of the letters was a woman’s head with sunglasses. On the right was the word “California” written in light-blue lettering. That was the skeleton’s favorite piece, hands down.       

Later, when he finished his slice of pizza and Coke, the skeleton took out a cigarette and strolled closer to shore. He loved looking at the waves crash onshore as he smoked. He remembers back when he was in high school, body boarding at the beach frequently with his friends. All of his skeleton friends had since moved on with their lives and now had grown-skeleton responsibilities. Most had families. Some were chefs. Some were clerks. Some were teachers. Some were business-skeletons. A handful were still lost and not looking to be found. Eventually, the skeleton recycled his cigarette and walked to his car. When he got home, he wrote a song about his day at the beach. It was called “The Skeleton at the Beach.”

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