Truly Virtual Web Art Msueum

May 23, 2013



Phantom in Orange


by Rodney Chang

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     “You gotta be kidding?”



     “You’re not serious, are you?”



     “I know you’re an outer body experience, but are you also out of your mind?”



     Semantha, newly departed spirit, was being criticized when she appeared in a group of other ghosts, ready to go and haunt.  This group of veterans was assigned to teach the basics of haunting the living to the newbie.  They choose to enter the realm of the living in an isolated rain forest a few miles outside Volcano Village on the Big Island of Hawaii.



       Said Fred, the eldest and supposedly the wisest of the gathering, “I know you died young.  Weren’t you just sixteen when you were hit head on with another car that was speeding up Highway 11?”  Old Fred had lived his retirement years in Volcano Village, a beautiful cluster of cottages tucked away within the green and lush forest.  It was only a few miles from the actively fuming crater at the Volcano National Park.  But unknownst by most, the fumes traveled upwards to settle on the towns of Hilo and Kona, over 25 miles away.  The village was too close to the vog source so most of the time, the air was clear.



        “Yes, the collision was so great that I didn’t feel a thing.  It’s like I’m still alive.”



        “Youthful thinking, my dear,” said Madeline, a middle-age hag of a ghost.  With her straggly white hair and crooked nose, she’d be mistaken as an eveil witch if she was spotted by the living.  Madeline had died decades ago.



         “But,” added the soft spoken Madeline, “things are different in this realm.”



         “How so?” asked Semantha, the new kid on the block.



         “We always wear black or white attire, not that gawdy, cheerful bright orange that you have on.”



             “But it’s my favorite color! And it’s the cute dress that I died in.  Mom just bought for me at Ross in Hilo.”



       “Immaterial,” snickered Horace, the bald, aged Dutchman who signed on to haunt in Hawaii because it had always been his dream to visit the islands but never got around to it before his passing.  So, in a sense, the fellow was a haunting tourist.



       “Besides,” the young girl said, “orange is my favorite color.”



       “That’s irrelevant here, my dear,” instructed Madeline. 



       Fred, the leader, warned, “If you ever expect to be taken seriously on a haunt, better get with the program and dress in shadowy black or glowing white. Way better to make an supernatural impression, get results.”



      “But I’m not really into scaring people. I loved life and those around me.  I want to be like Casper, the Friendly Ghost.”



      Eddie, an island boy who was shot and killed in Afghanistan, spoke up,



     “Easy on the girl.  She only just recently left the living.  Give her time.  Spending eternity here will bring out the bitch in her.”



        Listening to the group talk, Semantha now wished she had been assigned to a different group for orientation.  Even better than that, she wished she could have gone straight to the spiritual realm without having to spend time yet with the living.  But she did die before her time in a horrific way.  So her spirit got stuck in this intermediary realm.



        “OK,” the elder conceded.  “Maybe it’ll be a good lesson to start things off.  Go ahead and wear your orange dress. You’ll see.”



         “Thank you, wise one,” Semantha said meekly, more out of politeness than with any sincere gratitude.



         “I’m wondering,” asked Eddie, “is there anything else about that awful color, I mean besides it being the dress that you passed over in, that attracts you towards its spectral vibration?”  Physicists understand that we perceive varying light wavelength vibrations as different colors of the spectrum.



       “Well, since you asked, there is more to my preference.”



      The group wasn’t ready to hear what came next out of the dead girl’s mouth.



       “I’m originally from Orange County, California.  I attended Syracuse University, nicknamed the Orangemen.  My favorite fruit is – you guessed it – the orange.  My hair was reddish- brown, which complemented orange attire.  And the used VW that I died in was repainted a bright orange, my favorite color.  It was a real cute bug.”




      “OK, OK,” moaned Fred, the leader as well as the biggest grouch of the gathering. “I’ve heard enough!”



       The group fell silent. 



       “Forget coming along with the rest of us to haunt the wretched in Volcano Village.  I’m sending you back down to Hilo town.  It’ll only take you a split second to be at Orange Julius, the drink and snack shop in the town’s local mall.  Orange…. Orange Julius.  Get it?  Happy now, young lady?”

      你还是别跟我们去火山村闹鬼了。 我还是把你送回希洛镇吧。花不了你多长时间你就能到镇里购物中心的橙色朱丽斯餐饮店。橙色……橙色朱丽斯,懂不?现在你高兴了吧年轻的姑娘?


       “Whatever,” replied the young girl-ghost.  “I just want to start getting credit so I can eventually make my way to heaven.  I don’t want to hang around so long and end up like you old grouches.” 



     “I’m didn’t die old,” corrected Eddie, the mortally wounded soldier.



    “Sorry, I didn’t mean you of course,” Semantha clarified, with an embarrassed look on her face.



       “So it is decided,” said the elder.  “OK, no more wasting time.  There’s a full moon out and it’s already crossed a quarter of the sky.  Let’s go, people.  And you, my sweet thing, begone.  Or as they say around these parts, Aloha!”  With that, Fred snapped two fingers and POOF – Semantha found herself behind the counter at Hilo town’s Orange Julius outlet.



       Ghosts aren’t stupid; timing is everything.  At the moment, one worker had gone to the restroom and the other shift worker was behind, getting supplies to ready for the day.  It was early morning.  The outlet had just opened.  Semantha found herself, in her orange dress, behind the counter.  She was so new at this that she wondered if people could see her.  The color of her attire matched the orange of the uniform of the employees.



      Before any of the staff came to the front and spotted her, an early bird customer walked up to the serving counter, spotting Semantha.  She still appeared as “cute as a button” like she used to be – before her body was crushed by the steering wheel and her head decapitated by the piercing hood of the pick up truck that hit her lower to the ground Volkswagon bug.



      Remembering her introductory instruction on how to scare the living, sweet Semantha uttered, too meekly, her first “Boo.”  It hardly was audible to the pimple-faced seventeen-year-old boy.  Maybe her first “Boo” also wasn’t all that convincing because she sort of like him.  He also had red hair and she thought he was cute.



       Instead of screaming and running away in horror, Thomas merely said,



      “I’d like a large size orange juice, please.” (Not the yellow lemonade or the pink guava juice)



      After that order, she liked him even more.  He also likes orange!



       A scream suddenly came from behind her.  Myra, one of the employees, had returned to the front and spotted Semantha figure, with feet not touching the floor.  The apparition was just floating there, behind the counter.



      “It’s a ghost!!!!!” she howled as she scattered back into the supply office.



      The customer, however, didn’t budge, but responded with,



      “Is your fellow worker crazy or something?  Yelling like that and acting like she just saw a ghost?”



      “I don’t know, I’m new on the job.  Maybe there is something wrong with her; I don’t want to be too quick to judge my fellow workers.”