The soldier – he was a handsome man, I suddenly noticed – startled and looked hard at me. “O-kay,” he said “complications.” I stood my ground; there were people behind the closed doors who’d come running if I yelled; any minute the pale-yellow doors of the elevators would open and nurses or doctors or visitors would march out. I wasn’t scared. The soldier straightened his back – he’d been leaning on the wall – and did a sort of sideways nod. “Ray Green,” he said. “Not that I was expecting you, but I’m glad to meet you. You must be Annie’s – granddaughter? I can see her in you, a bit.”
During the last few weeks, all sorts of stray kinfolk had been turning up. There seemed to be no end to my grandmother’s family, and I’d met any number of cousins whose names I’d mostly forgotten right after hearing them. Here, then, was one more, and what did it matter if he’d been dead a while? “Grandfather. Can you wait here a minute?”
“I’ve got time.”
“I’ll be right back.”
It always drove me crazy how foolish people were in books, refusing to see what was right in front of them. If Professor Nosferatu had no reflection and yelped when splashed with holy water, he was a vampire and you needed to take precautions against him. When you woke up because your cat had climbed up next to you in bed and was whispering urgently that you had to get up and run right now since a truck was about to crash through your wall, it was not a time to wonder who had taught Mittens to speak, or to say “Am I dreaming?” It was time to run. So, if my grandfather was in the hall outside my grandmother’s hospital room, he had come for my grandmother’s sake, and goggling at him or pretending I didn’t believe in ghosts would have been a waste of time.