We gave my father the wrong address to our wedding reception. Not that he could have made it anyway, but Derek was worried about Phil.
My father’s been in prison since I was five, serving 20 to life for his role in the botched robbery of a luxury fur store. The day he went away is when I began to see Phil.
Never all of him, but I’d catch a glimpse of his beard in the back of the auditorium, or the roar of his motorcycle as I walked home from school. I felt his shadow on me once during a game of Pin The Tail On The Donkey.
At Halloween, I was followed around by the tallest ghost I’ve ever seen, and one time a man matching Phil’s description was reported lurking outside my ballet recital, which upset several parents.
From back windows and under bleachers, Phil has tailed me my entire life.
My father asked him to, I’m sure. Phil and he were good friends—the kind of friends you rob fur stores with.
But Phil’s slipping a bit in his later years. It’s been easier than ever to pick him out in a crowd, looking like an ex-military, off-duty Santa Claus.
His emphysema’s been acting up, and lately my big life moments have been accompanied by a muffled cough from his hiding spots. He nearly hacked up a lung when Derek proposed, though how a person Phil’s age got up on our hotel balcony, I don’t know.
So Derek thought it would be best to send my father the wrong address. He’d share it with Phil, and Phil would be looking for me somewhere in New York while we were getting married in Connecticut.
“Let him miss this one thing,” he said, and I nodded.
But I sent Phil his own invitation.
Front page image by Anita Carril.
GHOST WRITER is a project by Tracy Danger Mumford. New sections are released every other Sunday. If you’d like to receive email alerts—and that’s all you’ll get, a short email—saying the new one’s up, sign up here: