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I looked around my apartment. Not sure why. I was the only one there armed with the power of speech.


I checked my phone. Did I butt-Zoom someone?

I looked at the TV. Screen was blank as a dull wall.

I looked at the cat, who looked back with feigned indifference.


With an adrenaline surge like eleven million volts pulsing through me, I yelped, my limbs flailed outwards, and I looked to my right, where the mystery voice emerged. Coming around the couch was a transparent, floating, bedraggled-looking man, with unkempt hair sprouting outwards, including from his face, and ragged shreds of clothing. If he smelled as bad as he looked, my apartment would reek of wet sneakers mixed with decomposing fruit, and not in a good way. He looked like the love child of Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and the bottom of a neglected fish tank.

“Steven, you have been granted the correction of one mistake.”

“Who the hell are you?”

“I am the Spirit of Course Correction, visiting those who desire and deserve a second chance.”

His voice was gravelly, like he gargled for one hundred years with volcanic ash.

“You can change my past to fix something?”


“Why me?”

“Have you made life-altering choices that you regret?”

Wow, this dude is good I thought to myself. “Yes, I actually have.”

“Very well,” Pirate Lemmy said. “I shall grant thee—”

“I totally should’ve taken the job with Firmtech. What was I thinking?”

Lemmy stared back with an empty gaze; reactionless and unimpressed. I continued in order to make my argument.

“My commute would’ve been twice as short, the pay was about the same as I get now, but add their sweet bennies like health care and a hot dog bar in the lobby, and…”

His nonplussed yet judgmental gaze distracted me to the point of pausing before I asked, “What? Is that not a good choice?”

“Firmtech?” he asked with a discerning tone.


“Firmtech is about to be investigated by the Securities Exchange Commission for insider trading.”


“The person who took the job you wanted? He’s headed to prison.”

The sickly pallor on my face grew after imagining what I’d look like in an orange prison jumpsuit.

“I will still grant thee the correction of—”

“Why did I waste my time at that pompous private liberal arts college upstate? I didn’t get the education I wanted, I’m up to my ballsack in student loan debt, the only sports team they had was lacrosse, and they sucked! I should’ve gone to State. Same worthless degree at a quarter of the cost, bigger and better parties, March Madness and Bowl games.”

“Higher education is a chance to grow, to sharpen a young mind into—”

What the hell did this renaissance faire reject know about higher education?

“I did make some good friends though,” I countered. “Those guys made for an awesome hang.”

I nodded my head as I looked backwards in my mind at the memory of junior year, when we broke into the chemistry lab for some special effect materials. Lemmy quickly pulled the plug on the slideshow cycling forward in my head.

“Your good friends? The ones who enabled your eventual alcoholism? One of those classy mates, Kenneth, is incarcerated.”

“Kenny’s locked up?”

“Kenneth had an affinity for photographic images of an unmentionable topic.”

“Oh shit.”

I took a sip of my now-watery and flat soda. A quiet moment of consideration passed. Lemmy floated and waited as I thought.

“I will grant thee—”

“Alright, ghost pirate. I got it. High school.”

“Oh, for the sake of all fuckery!”

“I would’ve asked Katie Henderson out. I SHOULD’VE asked Katie out when I had the chance.”

I stood up and began pacing the living room, now ignoring my translucent house guest.

“Two years after graduation,” I enthusiastically continued, “I heard she had a massive crush on me, all while I was wasting my time with that manipulative skank, Laura.”


“Then I saw her on Facebook a few years ago and she’s a total hot mom. Smokin’ hot! Plus she’s an attorney. I could’ve been swimming in sexy lawyer cash.”

“Then to add insult to injury, she’s married to some dweeb, and lives right up the road from here. We’re even on the same damn street, separated by several tax brackets in the form of county blocks. AND, she marries some dorkwad who has the SAME NAME as me. Can you believe that ironic bullshit? I get to see her drive by in her convertible with Mr. Dorkwad next to her. She crushed on me so much, yet she ended up marrying a dude with my name. Only he spells it the soft way: P-H-E-N.”

“Aren’t you Stephen of Darby Lane?”

“Apparently I’m one of them.”


Ain’t nothing goofier than a pirate trying to spell shit.

“No,” I said in my proudest, condescending tone. “It’s Ste-V-E-N. Steven, not Stephen.”

And just like that, that homeless looking bag of cat ass turned and floated right out of my apartment. I ran out to the balcony and looked down the street, as messy man glided away, up the street towards the McMansion neighborhood where Mr. and Mrs Dorkwad live.


Without turning back, or waving, or anything personal, that ragged asshole yelled back, “My bad!”

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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