Review of “A Ghost’s Story” by James Rumpel

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One day in 2009, Neil Burton perished in a hail of snow peas. He’d been trying to re-arrange thousand-pound crates of vegetables with his forklift while eating a sandwich, and things didn’t go well.

The angel who met him at his demise explained his time was up, so regardless of what he’d done that day, he would have died. He now had two options. He could spend an undisclosed amount of time in Purgatory, or he could stay on earth as a ghost until he saved the soul of a living person. He figured the latter would be easier, rather than waiting around in Purgatory for some predetermined (and unknown) time. Why not be proactive, right?

Neil quickly discovers the living can neither see nor hear him, making his mission nearly impossible. His hands pass through solid matter. He cannot even sit down. He merely spends his days floating along, hovering above the ground.

Ten years pass. Neil is in a playground, amusing himself by pretending to be struck by the kids on the swings. He hears laughter.


There’s nothing profound here (unless you need instruction in not chowing down on a sandwich with operating a forklift), but it is entertaining. The reader feels for Neil, who while he might have been a slacker in life, made the best choice he could with the limited information he had.

The author manages to keep the piece light-hearted without letting is slide into the facile or (egad!) maudlin. I enjoyed this.


According to his blurb, author James Rumpel is a retired high school math teacher who has greatly enjoyed using his newfound additional free time to rekindle his love for science fiction and the written word.

“A Ghost’s Story” can be read here.

Reviews of other stories by the same author can be read here:

U-Phone XV Presents Insta-Post
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Title: “A Ghost’s Story”
Author: James Rumpel
First published: Theme of Absence, August 7, 2020

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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