The Phantom Coach – Robert G. Wertzler

The Phantom Coach surveyed the new recruits

He shook his head,

Or what would have been his head

If he had a material body

“They’re not a very promising lot.”

He thought, looking at them

These newly dead,

“But then, they rarely are.”

He launched into his speech.

“When you were still in mortal form, did you think being a ghost comes naturally and, that doing it well is easy? Well, it is not. You’ve all been raised on ghost stories made up by the living; the ignorant teaching the ignorant. Then, you die and cross over into the ethereal realm thinking all you have to do is wave your sheet at somebody and say “Boo” and they will run in terror, or go marching around some castle at midnight with your head tucked underneath you arm. [Though, it has to be admitted that Ann Boleyn does love that song*, but partly because it always makes Henry grumpy, and the other five jealous. She’s even been known to perform the trick, but only in deserted halls for a ghostly audience, which, in The Tower, is large.] There are rules, important rules, and a lot of the stories you know are about ghosts who were breaking those rules, or at least bending them. And there are dangers, for you and for the living. So, if you want to have a successful and long afterlife, you’d better listen up and do all the exercises I’m going to teach you. That’s my job, I am your Phantom Coach and for the duration of this training, your immaterial ass is mine. Any questions?”

*With her head tucked underneath her arm – Stanley Holloway – YouTube


Bob Wertzler is retired from almost twenty years in the mental health field in California and Arizona. There are times the title, “Recovering Therapist”, seems to fit. In 2006 he retired to move to Western North Carolina to help and become primary care giver for his father who had developed Dementia. Before all that, there was work at various times as a soldier (US Army 1967-70), community organizer, cab driver, welfare case worker, wooden toy maker, carpenter, warehouse worker, and other things. He relates to a line in a Grateful Dead song, “What a long, strange trip its been.”

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