A while back he wouldn’t have been having a conversation about all of this, but a while back the world was a different place.
All his life he’d been an eccentric little kid and for that read – he’d done his own thing. Sometimes being that way meant folks either took longer to catch up with you, never managed to catch up with you, or couldn’t be bothered to try. That was fair enough; aren’t we are all only living a life ruled by what we know and see.
He had studied sciences and so was more pragmatic (look the word up J) than just believing in the unknown – or whatever it’s called these days.
One sleepless night his mind went back to those initial three days in that house in Surrey. A place he had rented because of work – in those days he was working on a drug to help with prostate cancer – a drug, by the way that his father was now taking due to his own ill-health – ‘the circle of life’, he thought.
The house had several floors and five bedrooms and he had only rented it because there was a full-size set of goal posts in the back garden. The firm he had worked for, had given him the money to rent the place.
He remembered it all, as if it was yesterday. That first night in the front bedroom, the place had grown ice-cold, then at 1am the telephone in the bedroom had rung. When he eventually got up to answer it, there was no one there. As he returned to bed, a smoke detector in the hall began to beep – he lay for a while, ready to get up and fix it, but the next thing he knew it was morning.
On the second night, all those things happened again – the telephone ringing, the coldness, the smoke detector (he meant to check the thing but went to work instead).
After a third night of the ice-cold room, the calls and the beeping, he decided to check the smoke detector. It was lying underneath a radiator and he imagined this is what had caused the beeping to begin – it didn’t explain why it happened at the hour it did. He lifted the small smoke alarm only to find that it was missing a battery. In a split-second he felt as if perhaps the house didn’t want him in that room, and for the rest of the stay in the rented house, he lived out of a small side bedroom.
Everything stopped. All the weird stuff.
He’d once, as a sort of joke, attended a psychic night at a friend’s house – but then due to illness someone couldn’t attend that night and he’d been asked to make up the numbers. When the woman arrived, she just let out a scream and left the building. Her husband (who was her sort of support) apologized to everyone and went on his way. Although (and it’s only put in without suggesting anything) – the couple, the man and wife, who were responsible for holding the night both died relatively young.
So now he was where we was. He was working the odd occasional shift in a bar for reasons too long to explain.
He hadn’t really noticed anything, not at first. Then one day when the pub was empty and the last lunchtime customer had gone, he saw a man walk up to the side bar.
“How can I help you?” He asked, but was surprised to find that there was no one there. ‘They must have gone to the toilet’, he thought to himself. Soon some walkers came in and distracted him from his thoughts.
A few weeks later he noticed a customer sliding around to the back bar and so he hurried up to help – but when he got there, once again, no one was there.
The visitations grew in number, but mostly when the pub was quiet. The figure always headed to the same corner of the room. To him, it was either a sign that he was growing old and losing his marbles, or something benign was inhabiting the bar.
He asked around and several of the staff and customers had all said they’d seen something, always in the same area of the bar. The figure would end up sitting in the corner of the pub.
It was just before Christmas, one Saturday afternoon when the snow was heavy, that it happened. He’d gone outside to clear up some glasses – yes, some people loved to sit outside in this nose-clearing, sharp air.
He didn’t see the car skidding across the bridge and slide into the seats in front of the pub.
The car hit him hard in his back and mowed him down. Yet he seemed fine when he came around. He stood up, brushed the snow from himself and checked everything was intact.
Some of the regular drinkers ran past him and out to the car. He was about to tell them that he was okay, when he turned around.
There, lying under the car was a body. His body – with his face – and the village folks were trying to revive him.
He wanted to tell them there must be some kind of mistake. Wasn’t he standing here, beside them, feeling brilliant?
He felt a little shaky with it all, and so headed into the pub to sit in the corner and try to work out what had happened.
“He’s dead,” was what he heard from outside the door.
bobby stevenson 2017