Sitting in a window every day, all day long, is a man. This man is old. He’s weathered and worn out. This mans name is Gerald Riteheart. Gerald served in the military for twenty-seven years. The type of older man, you’d see in movies or hear about from your parents, yelling at children and hating animals for crapping on his precious lawn. This window is aged and foggy. The seams are coming apart and during the winter cold air blows through rather easily. Gerald doesn’t mind the cold air. He’d lived with it for many years and sat through many winters outside in the army. The cold was a part of him. Probably partially of why he was so crabby. If you ask him for his own opinion, he’s not crabby or angry. It’s just other people upset him rather easily. Maybe he just has a short fuse and that’s just the way he’s wired.
Gerald is sixty-eight years old. He’s retired and lives at home by himself. Never being married and having no animals, he is the true definition of a “lone ranger”. Of course he’d been in and out of relationships over the last fifty years. There wasn’t ever one that he went in to that he thought could lead to marriage. Marriage, and certainly to him, was a giant step and a major commitment. It wasn’t a joke and that’s why he remained unmarried his entire life. It’s a strange feeling to not grow old with anyone.
Gerald’s home was two stories. It has three bedrooms and two baths. Everything in this house was old and outdated. The dishwasher no longer worked so everything Gerald washed by hand. The floors were all wood. There wasn’t carpet anywhere. A few throw rugs were placed in some rooms around the house. Every week Gerald swept the entire house twice a week and dusted everything once. He woke up every single day at 5 a.m. sharp and brewed up a steaming hot batch of coffee. He would then make three eggs, four pieces of bacon, hash browns and two pieces of buttered toast every morning. It was very rudimental and happened that way because of his military training. After breakfast was over, Gerald would wash his dishes and sit down in his rocking chair in front of the window in his living room.
Gerald would rock there for hours on end. There wasn’t ever a specific amount of time. He would watch the street in front of his house. Gerald knew that when his neighbors left the house. How many people lived in each house. Patterns people took and when something strange seemed to be happening. This brought peace to him and for someone being so high strung, peace is exactly what he needed. The only time he ever got up from his chair was to use the restroom or to refill his coffee cup. After he was done looking out the window he would go back to his kitchen and cook up dinner. Dinner usually consisted of whatever he was feeling that night. After dinner he would have a cup of Jack and Coke. Gerald had been having this same drink, sometimes more than once a day, for 45 years. It was a tradition that he started with his father and carried on through the rest of his life.
Children that lived on the same street as Gerald tried to avoid walking by his house. They heard stories of him banging against the window or even coming out on his porch to yell at them. Some children didn’t even step on his lawn and he still yelled at them. At least those were the stories that they were told. Gerald frightened them. If they did have to walk by his house they were certain to make zero eye contact with him while he sat in that window. The worst time of the year to walk by his house was on Halloween. What made it worse was that he teased the children. He would leave a bowl of candy on the front porch but he would sit in the window all night long and watch them. He wanted to see how brave these children really were. They needed to be brave, because there was something strange about Gerald, something that no one knew. Gerald…was dead.
Gerald had been dead for almost fifteen years. His death came rather untimely. It was shortly after he retired from the lumber yard, that he worked at for the rest of his time, after he left the military. The lumber yard was always good to him. It had nice benefits, even though with the military, he didn’t really need them. The workload wasn’t too difficult. He would usually come in at eight thirty in the morning and would work until about two in the afternoon. He never took any breaks. When he came in to work he was there to put in his time, collect his paycheck and go home. At the mill he would sit in a forklift all day and transport wood around the factory.
When he retired from the mill he didn’t have much to do. He would sit around the house and clean or read some old books. It eventually got to the point where he was reading the same books over and over. One morning Gerald woke up in a groggy state of mind. He had the chills and was feeling confused. This feeling lasted for a couple of days. This is where the chair sitting began and would continue on for the rest of his days and past that. He grabbed a blanket and sat down one day, just staring at everyone passing by.
A couple days had passed by since he had come down with the sickness. He had taken a nap around two in the afternoon and woke back up around six that evening. When he woke up he felt amazing. Completely refreshed and almost better than before he had became sick. Well sick wasn’t really the word to use how he was feeling, strange would be a better term.
He made dinner that evening, had a warm cup of tea and went straight to bed. He woke up at five the next morning right on schedule like he always did . Gerald made his normal breakfast and then went outside to check his mail. When he went to open the door he couldn’t turn the handle. His hand went right through the handle. He was stunned him. What was happening he thought to himself. He went to the back door that led outside, tried to open it, and the same thing happened. He went up to his bedroom and sat on his bed for a few minutes. Trying to piece everything together.
After calming himself down and not overthinking anything he went down stairs and sat in front of the window. Gerald had an idea what happened but wasn’t willing to face reality. He knew that he had died. Most likely a heart attack while he was sleeping. It made sense why he woke up feeling so refreshed and alive. Hard to feel shitty when you’re dead. Why was he stuck in his house. Why hadn’t he passed over into heaven or hell? He was as confused as a dead person could possibly be.
Things were strange with Gerald. Everything inside of his home he could open and close. He had no family and his neighbors never checked on him so no one knew he had died. He had no bills or payments that could end up being late. He was just stuck in this house. The way things were looking it was going to be for all of eternity. Each night when he went to sleep he would wake up and the food in his kitchen would be refilled. He would repeat the same day over and over again. A curse seemed to be put over him. Some days he thought this might be worse than hell.
Strangely, people outside that passed by would wave to him. Well we should clarify the people that didn’t know him would wave. They could still see him when he sat in the window. If he stood by the door, which had a glass opening in it, and would wave to people no one ever waved back. Even if these people looked directly at him. Something about that window made his life not so lonely. It made him feel somewhat connected with the world. The same world that he didn’t care much for while he was alive.
Gerald was still crabby as ever. Death only added to it. He would never admit to anyone or to himself that he didn’t like being alone, but it was there in the back of his head.
Gerald sat in his home. He was finally able to pull himself together and realize that yes, he was dead, and this is probably where he was going to stay. He hadn’t done anything too terrible to deserve this in his lifetime, but that was more between him and God, than what he thought. He made breakfast and sat in front of his window. Time slowly began to slip away. The days were running into each other and it wasn’t long before months had passed by. Those eventually turned in to years and he was beginning to think he was condemned for eternity. This wasn’t sitting well with him and he was beginning to devise a plan. Well it was going to be more of an attempt than a plan.
Gerald was getting out of this house. First he had to figure out why he was trapped here. What had he done that was keeping him here. Obviously stuck between life and the afterlife. Heaven or hell made no matter to him at this point. Where he was felt like hell. Gerald went walking around the house and really began to observe things. Where the windows were, the doors, the locks and anything that led to the outside world. He thought it was strange. Going over his house that he had lived in for decades. Thinking something might of changed and could leave him with a clue as to an escape. Gerald grabbed a cane that he kept in a closet. Every now and then his legs would freeze up or fail him, and he brought the cane out on rare occasions. He lifted the cane up to one of the door handles and pushed down on it. The handle went down, to Gerald’s surprise. He wasn’t able to push down on the door handles or grab them but he could if he used something. This brought him just a step closer to leaving this place.
His next thought was if he was able to open the door, what would happen when he stepped outside? With one question answered and a new one arising, Gerald went up stairs with his cane. He tried to pry open a window with it. The window budged and he pushed it up. Gerald put his hand out the window and nothing happened. He put his whole arm out the window, pulled it back inside and nothing changed. He now knew that if he opened the door and stepped outside, knock on wood, that he would be okay. What would he do once he was out that door? Where would he go? There wasn’t anyone that lived in the neighborhood that enjoyed his company or wanted to be around him. He had money to get a bus ticket but he still had the problem of where to go. Gerald had no family left, no friends, it was just him and his window.
Gerald had finally mustered up the courage to go out the door. He grabbed a bag and put a couple water bottles in it. He went to his room and packed a change of clothes and put all the money he had, in the house, in his pocket. The time had come to rid himself of this torture. Gerald opened up the front door with his cane and the brightest, whitest light he had ever seen, shined through the door. It was so bright he had to look down at the floor while he walked out the door. Gerald could see his front porch under his feet. He knew that he had made it outside. What was he going to do now? He wasn’t able to look up because whatever this light was, it was to bright to look at. He moved forward and saw the steps that led down to the sidewalk in front of his home. He finally reached the gate that led to the sidewalk and opened it. He walked through the gate and everything went black. Imagine you close your eyes, in a dark room, with no sounds and no lights. That’s how dark it was where Gerald was standing.
He closed his eyes and sent up a prayer. Hoping the big man upstairs would hear him and give him some advice. He heard a small voice telling him to walk three steps and open his eyes. Gerald really had no other options here. He took three steps, opened his eyes and he was standing back in his living room again. He closed his eyes and opened them again. Hoping this was some sort of joke. He was still in his living room. Off to his right hand side, sat the chair, rocking back and forth waiting for him to return.