Vinny and Lewis’s spirits are entangled due to a mixup at the crematorium, Tangled, and trapped in Vinny’s backyard, they can’t move on to the spirit world till Lewis finds the rest of his ashes. Along comes Fanny to help.

This is the third and final story in a three-part series. The early parts ran in May and November of 2022. You can find the original stories here:

Story 1: My Dance Space

Story 2: Not Ready For Us Yet

And They Were Gone

Bob Gillen

“So what’s your story?”

Fanny’s spirit hovered in front of Vinny and Lewis’s spirits. Fanny had just been freed after thirty years trapped in the roots of a bottlebrush tree in Vinny’s backyard. A lightning strike had seared the tree to its roots, burning off the wrappings on Fanny’s body. 

“We can’t move on. Our spirits are tangled together. A mistake at the crematorium. Some of Lewis’ ashes got mingled with mine,” Vinny said. “Lewis needs to find his other ashes. Then we’ll both be free.”

“Tough one,” Fanny said. “But now I’m free. I can move on.”

She swirled around the yard. “Feels wonderful.”

Vinny peered around his yard. His wife Margie had buried his ashes at the foot of the tree. The other day she set out a few Halloween decorations in anticipation of the upcoming holiday. The lightning strike destroyed the fake skeleton Margie had hung in the tree. It now lay twisteed and charred beneath the tree.

“We’re doomed,” Lewis said. “We haven’t got the strength to leave the yard.”

Fanny  moved close, grinned. “Sorry, boys. Time for me to move on.” And she was gone.

“Shit,” Vinny said.

Moments later Fanny returned.

“I got the nod. They can wait for me while I help you guys.”

Vinny shrugged. Lewis managed a weak smile.


“I can move around pretty freely. Lewis, where are your other ashes likely to be? Where did you live?”

“About a mile from here…a few streets over from the Interstate.”


Lewis told her.

“Wait for me.” And she was gone again.

Dusk was turning to dark when Fanny finally returned.

“We gotta get moving.”


“I’ll explain on the way.”

“We can’t leave the yard, remember?”

“You can do limited movement if you’re with me. Stay close.”

Lewis beamed. “We can go?”

Fanny nodded. “Let’s move.”

Vinny hesitated. “I won’t be coming back, will I?”


“Bye, Margie. Catch you in the next life.” He blew a kiss towards the house.

Fanny turned to leave.

Vinny’s eye caught the charred skeleton. “Hold up.”

He floated over and raised up the skeleton. “Might as well have some fun on the way out.”

The three spirits moved off, Vinny hauling the skeleton.

Darkness was falling now. Vinny and the other two floated across front yards as they headed out. Vinny kept an eye out for children. No need to scare them with a floating skeleton.

Four doors down the street Vinny stopped in front of Mr. Cruikshank’s door. The neighborhood crank. Every neighborhood had one. He used the skeleton to ring the doorbell. When Cruikshank opened the door, Vinny shook the skeleton violently, dropped it to the floor. As he floated away, he heard Cruikshank screaming.

“So worth it,” he said.

After a time they came to rest in front of Lewis’ former home. His mother’s house.

“Here’s the issue,” Fanny said. “I heard your mother talking on the phone. She plans to take the boat over to Catalina Island tomorrow morning. She’ll spread your ashes at sea.”

“Shoot. Can’t we stop her?”

“Best chance is to get at the ashes before she leaves.”

“Where are they? I’m not feeling anything.”

“In the trunk of her car. She’s already packed and ready to go first thing in the morning.”

“So how do we do this?” Vinny asked. “How about we jiggle the doors and shake the car…set off the alarm? That will draw her out to the driveway.”

“My mother never locks anything.”

“Let’s try.”


“Now what?”

“Duh. Why don’t I release the trunk lock?” Fanny swirled into the car. The trunk lid opened halfway.

Immediately Lewis disentangled from Vinny, swirled into the trunk. “Bye.” And Lewis was gone.

Vinny felt light, ecstatic. “I’m free. As Lewis would have said, I got my dance space back.”

“You can thank me later.” Fanny drifted next to him. “Ready?”

“So ready.”

And they were gone. Off to the spirit world.