Short Fiction: Old Soul

An old soul, that’s what friends and family called him.

Maybe that’s what he was. He didn’t feel like an old soul, conversely, he felt ever young. In his 40s and though he’d seen and done much, including raising two kids to adulthood, married, built a career, divorced, and even entered into another long term relationship now, he still felt like a wet-behind-the-ears 20 year old with much to learn. The thought of death repelled, terrified and left him with a feeling of injustice.

Old soul… maybe it was the music and movies he liked? Sure, he had his modern tastes in both of those worlds, but the same from sixty to one hundred years ago? Oh, those got to him. 

The Jazz musicians, Big Bands and Crooners in particular… Armstrong, Ellington, Gershwin, Calloway, Goodman, Shaw, Brown, Miller, Fitzgerald, Gray, Holiday, Dorsey, Berlin, Crosby, Astaire, Cole, Sinatra, Garland, Clooney, Martin, Bennett, Andrews. But he had enough soul in him to relish and enjoy the Motown era as well.

He enjoyed dressing well, looking clean and sharp whether in a suit, his favorite, or in  nice pair of jeans and a basic tee shirt. Complimentarily, his standard of beauty was exemplified in looks of women back then, too. The classic look. Clean lines, longer and well kept hair, curls and curves. Dresses, as professional costume designer Edith Head eloquently put it: “…tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” Makes sense, she was in the swing of her career during the same time as the aforementioned musical tastes, and beyond.

He loved to read. While he loved the advantages of technology, there was still something in holding a book in his hands that he was fond of. If reincarnation does exist, it would be a good bet that he died in the sixties and came back a short span later in the late seventies. He wondered what he’d be doing then? Would he be in a corporate setting like he is now, or something more blue collar?

That’s where his mind was this warm afternoon. Combing through some files, his phone gently playing a mix of the old music. He was having a hard time focusing today, could’ve been the unexpected warmth, or the monotony of the task at hand.

He began to nod off.

You know that feeling, when you are falling asleep and you know you’re falling asleep and you can still register things going on around you, but it takes a few extra seconds? That’s where he was. King for a Day by Artie Shaw was playing gently and as it ended, he could swear he heard radio static and a voice come on, something about toothpaste? He was trying to pull himself back to full consciousness, he’d never heard a song play with a commercial on it. Sure, he’d heard a few broadcasters at the ends of different songs, but aside from an old CD at home of a WWII broadcast, he’d not encountered a full old-school commercial on Pandora.

He blinked his eyes open and Benny Goodman was playing In a Sentimental Mood. He stood up an stretched, arms towards the ceiling. Looking down at his papers, he swore he could hear a old school typewriter. I need some water and I’ve gotta take a piss… he thought to himself. Heading toward the door, the room spun. He was out before he hit the floor.

He woke hours later to the sound of his girlfriend telling him everything is ok and he was at home. He couldn’t open his eyes just yet. But he felt a cool cloth covering his eyes and forehead. His phone must be close by, he thought, he could hear the music playing. Was that Out of Nowhere by Artie Shaw?

Sleep took him again. He woke in the morning to the smell of eggs being fried. It was still hard to open his eyes. By rote memory, he sat up and moved his legs off the side of the bed, placing his elbows on his knees, he held his head in his hands as he shook the sleep off and tried opening his eyes.

“Good morning, Daddy!” He heard a gentle boy’s voice from somewhere behind him.

“Morning, Son…” He grumbled. “Give Daddy a minute… I’ll be right there.”

The boy ran off and he could hear him say, “Momma, Daddy’s awake now!”

What? Momma? Did he just hear him right? He grabbed his trousers, slipped them on, pulling his suspenders up over his shoulders and walked down the narrow hall. Nothing looked familiar, yet it all did. His focus kept blurring in and out and he fought back a weird disorienting feeling. Before he rounded the corner, he heard the voice of is girlfriend greet him from the kitchen.

“Well, good morning, sleepy head.”  She said, looking back from the electric range where she was finishing the fried eggs.

“Did we get a new stove?”

“What’s that Dear?”

He rubbed his eyes with one hand and guestured to where she was standing. “The stove…is it new?”

“This old thing? Oh we’ve had his for a few years now, you know that!” She brought over three plates with frieds eggs on them and looked at the little boy as she served each of them in turn. “Daddy’s just being silly again…”

Getting his bearings and looking around, his pulse began to quicken as he didn’t truly recognize this kitchen. It seemed familiar in a deja-vu kind of way, but this wasn’t his kitchen.

This kitchen was old… really old. Well kept, but old, like it belonged in a museum. He- he realized there were eyes on him.

“Something wrong, my love?”

That was the first time he looked at her. It was her. She was beautiful as always, but she too, was dressed like she was on an old movie set. Is this a weird cosplay prank? he thought, yet why did he have these images of their wedding day in his head? An old church, he was maybe thirty and she was maybe twenty. A good, affluential friend letting them borrow a beautiful classic car…

“Nothing. You look wonderful, thank you for making breakfast.” Play it cool, let’s figure this out…

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