Tom DeLay opened his eyes, not sure what had awakened him. He realized with a sudden certainty that he was not alone. The House majority leader sat bolt upright in the bed.
She was standing near the window, graying hair drawn up in a bun, glasses perched at the tip of her nose, a kindly smile lighting her features. He could hardly believe his eyes.
She nodded. "Yes, Tommy."
He wasn't convinced. Granted, it looked like her. But what was his old kindergarten teacher doing in his bedroom at -- he checked his clock -- 2:47 in the morning!
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"Oh, Tommy, I'm not really here. I died years ago. You're having a bad dream because you had that extra helping of chili and bratwurst so close to bedtime."
"Oh. Well in that case, good night." Then he yelped, because all of a sudden she had a hunk of his earlobe between a thumb and forefinger.
"Just because I'm not here doesn't mean you can ignore me, Tommy DeLay."
"Fine! Leave me something to hear with, wouldja?"
She released him. "I want to talk to you, Tommy."
"Ever since the courts refused to do what you wanted about that poor Schiavo woman, you've been throwing the worst temper tantrum I've ever seen. That case went to court two dozen times. The Kennedy assassination wasn't so thoroughly reviewed. But you don't like the way it came out, so you threaten the judges. You call them names, you accuse them of overstepping their authority, 'ignoring the will of the people,' being part of a liberal conspiracy. . . . Land sakes, you've done everything but hold your breath and stomp your feet."
His eyebrows lifted. "You think that would work?"
"You stop being such a jackass, Tommy. Those judges weren't being liberal. They were following the law, which is more than can be said for you. In fact, a conservative judge wrote a concurring opinion just to point that out."
DeLay rubbed his reddening ear. "Yeah? Well, he's probably a godless liberal in disguise. They hide everywhere, you know."
She sighed. "Tommy I thought you'd have grown out of this by now."
"Grown out of what?"
"Do you remember the Chucky Fenster incident?"
DeLay jabbed an angry finger at her. "He was out! I tagged him out at home plate! Got him by a mile!"
"The home plate umpire disagreed."
"Yeah, the godless liberal umpire. Big surprise."
"So you took your case to the first base umpire and the third base umpire, and they also disagreed. They told you to shut up and play ball."
"They were clearly overstepping their authority."
"Do you remember how you threatened the umpires? You told them they'd never work on that playground again. They had to drag you away. Your mother had to medicate you."
"I remember. It hurt to learn that she was a godless liberal." Which was good for another yap of pain as Mrs. Pebbleman grabbed his ear again, twisting like a key in an ignition.
She spoke over his cries. "Tommy, you embarrass me. I don't even like for the other ghosts to know I was your teacher. They always ask why you didn't learn the things everybody else learned in kindergarten. Number one being, you can't always get your way! You have to share the sandbox, Tommy. Stop being such a bully."
A tone of wonder. "Wow, Mrs. Pebbleman."
"I never would have figured you for a godless liberal."
Seeing her face change, he covered his ear. She smacked him upside the head.