(Yes, dear readers, this, too, is excerpted from the forthcoming Balloon Heart by Tom Andrews)
The next time I saw Ed's ghost was when I was out behind the barracks. I was drinking a cup of coffee and trying to nurse a hangover when I heard that low, unassuming voice. “Yo, hombre. 'You been watching clocks these day?”
“Ghost of Ed,” I started to say.
“Ah ah ah...”
“Ed. Sorry,” I corrected myself. “”Clocks?”
“Clocks, hombre, clocks. Have you noticed how they don't really work?”
“They work just fine, Ed. Whaddya' mean?”
“Name me one f***ing clock that works fine. I bet you can't.”
I thought a little bit about this, and I realized I disagreed with Ed's ghost. I was kind of scared to tell him this, though, so I just prodded for more clarification.
“You mean like, all clocks? In the barracks and everywhere?”
“Where else do you see clocks?” he asked. “Where else have you seen one f***ing clock?”
“OK. I'll bite,” I said, “what's the deal with clocks?”
“You just keep an eye on them from now one, OK, hombre? I have no doubt you're going to find yourself mighty surprised when you see what I mean.” Ed's ghost was starting to move away from me, like he was going over to the stockade fence to look out over the battlements, but when he got to the edge he turned to face me and gave me kind of a sad stare.
“You'll see, my friend.” he replied, “you'll see.”
Ed's ghost silently vanished into the ether once again, without ever turning to look out over the battlements as I expected. I realized just then that it was the first time either Ed or his ghost had ever referred to me as a friend.
I drained the last of my coffee and turned to go back back into the barracks. I needed to go and see what time it was.