The inveterate ghost made little headway at the party. Solemn and forlorn as can be what amounts to little more than a wisp of smoke, he promulgated a narrative concerning his own murder. A few among the guests were sympathetic; most coughed discreetly into their hands and turned away.

Later, the general topic of conversation among them turned in hushed and panicked tones towards the matter of terrible impending doom, but then intoxication set in, a humor took them, and they laughed at how they had, moments before, leapt at their own shadows. The ghost filled their lungs and turned malignant and metastasized and even as they sat around the dinner table they began to ache and fester.

A cremation ceremony serves to enliven things. A hook tangles the corpse over coals and it hangs smoldering. This is widely perceived as a taboo violation, and so the spectacle serves as a kind of pornography. The sublime moment comes when the lips curl away from the teeth and the cheeks split apart. The visage appears to disintegrate as the result of an incendiary expression of rapture which the audience experiences vicariously.

The world enters into an umbra, as if the sun had been eclipsed.



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