I confess I wasn’t as surprised by this hellish vision as most would be. In fact I’m really used to seeing Archie Shitsville appear unwanted and looking like death warmed over. “Alas poor ghost!” said I. “Do you so object to my serving cold meats for breakfast that you’ve come from heaven (or Las Vegas) to point me to the Cornflakes instead?” But he said, “Pity me not, honey chile, but lend thy serious hearing to what I shall unfold. I have returned to Shitsville Ranch, hell it’s great, aren’t you glad to see your old papa home again?”
“Well dear papa,” said I tactfully. “I would’ve been glad of some notice. You’ve returned at rather an awkward time you see. All of your oldest and fondest friends have gathered to bid your ghost adieu and weep over your bones, there isn’t a bed left in the Ranch. You’re looking well, father.”
“Thank you,” said he.
“In fact it seems rather tactless of you to turn up at your own wake looking like the picture of health.” He had helped himself to some of the cold cuts and Frankie’s packet of cigarettes and sat blowing smoke around the kitchen and eating with his fingers. “Rude health,” I said, “Is probably the most apt expression. Father, father, I thought that you were supposed to be dead.”
“I am,” said Archie, “Supposed to be. Now daughter, hear: tis given out that sleeping in my bathrobe a serpent stung me; so the whole of Vegas is by a forged process of my death rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth, the serpent that did sting thy sweet papa’s life got the wrong sucker, yea boy.”
“I already knew that, papa,” said I. “Call it my prophetic soul if you like. But actually I just knew that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing underwear on a Sunday.”
“Naked Sunday,” he corrected me. For forty odd years every Sunday he had convened with nature for the overwhelming good of his primal male soul. “Is this corned beef or just beef that’s really pink?”