Dearest Father,

Greetings! It is I, the spirit of thy son, Hamlet—communicating to thee through the medium of this Papyrus card levitated from the shelves of the local Hallmark Store, causing much panic and disarray amongst the terrified onlookers. What, didst thou not hear? I took thee up on thy mandate to avenge thee by exposing thy brother and mine Uncle Claudius as thy murderer and usurper of thy kingdom. In the process, I was responsible for several avoidable deaths, including those of thy wife and mine mother, mine girlfriend Ophelia and her brother Laertes, Uncle Claudius and his lackey Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (two of mine best friends from childhood), and finally myself!

Did I mention that the kingdom of Denmark was lost to Fortinbras, son of thy arch enemy as well? ‘Twas something of a bloodbath, all told, but was this not what thou asked for?

Well, Happy Father’s Day. Art thou not proud of me? I certainly hope so, for in case it was not obvious by now, I exist in the same realm as thee. Doomed for a certain term to walk the night and for the day fast in fires ‘til mine own foul crimes are burnt and purged away. One might say I had this coming, given what transpired. But enough about me, I hath already co-opted enough of thy dialogue.

How are thee? Seriously, now, I am dying to know—pun fully intended! Oh, wait–I hath gotten ahead of myself on that one. Given the centuries that hath gone by since these dreadful incidents, thou hast probably learnt of the aftermath for thyself. Mine friend and sidekick Horatio, fulfilling my dying wish, didst tell of my story until his own dying day. Presumably, this story didst eventually fall upon the ears of one William Shakespeare, who immortalized it in a play bearing my name as its title.

But buzz, buzz! Thence I go digressing into monologue again. Having haunted the rafters of many a playhouse these past few centuries, it is clear that Master Shakespeare didst think me rather talkative. In his defense, he was not wrong, was he, father? But I wonder where I inherited that particular trait? Mother was not particularly assertive in matters domestic or suspicious, as you and I both know.

Apologies, by the way, for the manner I chose to call her out with no evidence at all of complicity in thy death. I did not intend to give you yet another impetus to manifest thyself. Even so, the time I spend alone in the solitude of purgatory hath given me the opportunity to ponder mine relationship with thee.

What didst thou expect of me, anyway? I was a thirty-year-old college student with little sense of purpose or direction who had just lost his father, seen his mother marry his uncle (who was responsible for thy death, FYI), lost his claim to the kingdom, and had driven his girlfriend away through his depressive tendencies. I suppose that last part was a failure of mine own making, but given the circumstances, canst thou blame me for being ever so slightly gloomy? Then thy apparition informed me that I must avenge thee by committing a crime every bit as equal in horror to the one that took thy own life. Ye gods, spirit! Though the phrase would not be coined until centuries later, was this not a prototypical example of a Catch-22? (Yes, I’ve been reading Joseph Heller lately—words, words, words) I couldst not avenge thee without committing a damnable offense, but I couldst not simply live with the knowledge thou had endowed me with, or madness would be sure to follow!

Given where I am now, “madness” of another kind hath resulted, if thou dost know what I mean. But there is method in it. The purpose of this card is to extend an olive branch. Thou didst put me into a position of immense pressure, but for the purposes of exposing thy killer. Justice was served, if in the bloodiest, most roundabout, and talkative way conceivable. If my tale hath resounded into the ages, then I suppose some other good hath come of it as well.

In any event, Happy Father’s Day. I think of thee often and hope to see thee sometime in the endless nightly wanderings of the spirit realm. Some time I’ll have to introduce thee to a gentleman whom I’ve met in my travels named Jacob Marley. He too appeared to a living relation of his, but for the purposes of his salvation rather than as a coercion to vengeful regicide. I think thou couldst learn something from him.

Thy Son In Spirit,