The Two Susans.

artwork_images (1)

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.25.15 am

This story is now part of SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

The two Susans never met, but for a few moments, in this room, they existed for us in a most unusual way.

Our group had been meeting for more than a year.

Every Wednesday night, come rain hail or anything else for that matter.

The group was a little larger on this cold and frosty night. Someone had turned the heaters all the way up, and for a change, I didn’t complain. I could not get my hands to warm up. The noise from the heater was distracting but so was the potential chattering of my teeth.

A kind soul had switched on the urn, but the bloody thing took forever to warm up, and I was seriously caffeine deficient.

The noise of it warming up was also irritating, but I was prepared to forgive it as long as there was coffee at the end of it.

“Don’t bother mate. The bloody thing’s cold.”

The person putting a dampener on my caffeine ambitions was Paul. He is young and enthusiastic, two things I like; me being not young and occasionally enthusiastic.

“I’ll whack the kettle on, it’ll be faster.”

“You sir, are a legend.” My caffeine ambitions were back on track.

I knew almost everyone in the room with the exception of the older bloke sitting a couple of seats up and a teenage girl sitting about eight chairs around on my right.

New faces were nothing new. This group was a lot like that, even on a bitterly cold winter’s night. Word got around that something interesting was happening and friends of friends just turned up.

I’d been pasting up my latest book for the print edition, and I was glad to be out of the house. I love writing, but I dislike the stuff that goes on around it.

My back was a little bit sore, so I gave it a bit of a stretch while Paul put coffee and sugar in our cups.

For some unknown reason, no one had grabbed the comfortable armchair, so I staked a claim in the age-old tradition of throwing my scarf over it — tribal customs of the Hills people.

The caffeine was just starting to seep into my system when the group came to order. I’d spent the previous few minutes in conversation with various friends, doing the weekly catch up. Everyone wanted to know where my beloved was. “Crook as a dog, and it serves her right.”

“That’s not very nice,” was the oft-repeated reply.

“She knows that those bloody grandchildren of ours are walking Petrie dishes, but she will hug ‘em.”

“Grandmothers cannot help themselves.”

“Grandmothers, who are nurses, should know better.”

I wasn’t getting any sympathy, so I packed it in.

“Please say hello for us and tell her to get better soon.”

My beloved is very popular. Sometimes known as the Rainbow Warrior, she is about the height of the average sixth grader and has a heart as big as anything large that you can name. No one takes any notice of me when she is around, and fair enough too.

There was no set topic for this particular evening’s discussion, and the subjects bounced around the room quite energetically.

I was happy to sit and listen for a while, so I hid behind my coffee cup and soaked up the atmosphere.

I really do like these people. They don’t waste time talking about insignificant things. They feel the way I do; this time is precious. We spend the rest of the week wrestling with the world, and then we come here where it is safe, and people show each other respect. All opinions are valued.

It isn’t always discussion.

Sometimes people tell stories.

We have some excellent storytellers.

Like the night that our moderator told the story about his boss winning a full-size, fully operational ocean going dredge, in a poker game.

That story was hard to top, but a few of us gave it a try. I’ve had a couple of goes, but people know that I just make shit up. I can tell by the way they look at me. Mind you, as long as I can keep a straight face, I get them going. Especially the new members, the ones who haven’t been warned about me yet.

“You really came here direct from the airport, all the way from the US, just to be here tonight?”

“No Luv, I just made that bit up. Gotta keep things lively?”

“Don’t worry about him, you’ll get used to it, he does that all the time.”

Not ‘all the time’, just every now and then. When the spirit takes me, so to speak.

The two Susans turned up very late in the evening. I say ‘turned up’, but what I mean is, Betty was talking about a friend of hers who had died relatively young. She was diligently describing her, and I got the feeling that she admired this lady and she was missed. Apparently, she had a bit of style, dressed well and liked to spend time in classy little cafes, the kind that is hard to find these days since the advent of annoying American coffee houses.

She was just about to tell us what had caused this lady to die when Kate jumped in, “The woman you are describing sounds just like the mum of my friend from high school. How did yours pass?”

“Blood clot,  a few days after an operation. Worked on her like crazy but they couldn’t bring her back. What about yours?”

“Mine took her own life six years after her daughter stepped in front of a train. I was there at the time, and so was our friend. The daughter put her red headphones on, turned and waved at us and calmly stepped in front of the 4:05 to Finders Street. I could not believe what had just happened. I ran to where her body landed, and I put my arm around her and sobbed. The ambulance guys had to pull me away. It took a little while, but it destroyed their family, and after battling her grief for six years the mum had had enough, and she left us too. I’ve never forgiven myself for not seeing it coming. I keep thinking that I could have said something, done something.”

“It’s not your fault kid.” I heard myself say. “When people feel the need to leave they will find a way, and nothing you say or do has anything to do with that decision.” She seemed to understand, but it was obvious that she had carried this guilt for a very long time.

After a moment, the two ladies looked at each other and, at the same time said the same thing, “What was your ladies name?”

“Susan.” The two voices spoke as one, and a chill went up my spine.

My group members were not describing the same person but the details of their lives, with the exception of their passing, were close to identical. What were the chances of that?

We were all a little bit stunned by what we had just witnessed, so we sat in silence.

Eventually, our moderator said, “I think that we are going to remember this night for a long time to come. Some conversations just stay with you.”

He was right.

Eventually, people began to stir, and a few of us expressed our amazement at what had just happened. We gathered up our stuff, put the chairs away, emptied the glacially slow urn, and hoovered the carpet. Almost everyone had gone home by the time I reached the front door. It wasn’t my job to turn off the light and lock up, so I had time. I turned and looked at the now emptying room and thought about the two Susans.

I had a few things to tell the missus when I got home, but she was asleep, so I told the dogs.

They were happy to see me, and they listened intently while I told them the story.

I climbed into bed, and so did the dogs. We fought for a bit of space while I thought about the tenuous grip we have on this glorious life of ours and I wondered if my story would end up in a room on a cold winters night somewhere, sometime.

‘The Two Terrys’, now there’s a name for a story.

Between The Pages.

4d63f900e5f4b2d8c84bc8db99cbe656

My grandfather loved books, and I think he loved me almost as much.

I know I loved him.

I can still remember the feeling of squashing down next to him in that comfortable ancient armchair.

No one sat in that chair except my grandfather. It wasn’t because we were scared of him or anything like that, it was just that it was his chair and to sit there without him in it, didn’t seem right.

I was working overseas when my grandparents died; one after the other with only days between them.

It wasn’t the kind of job that I could up and leave, so by the time I was back in the country, there wasn’t a physical sign that they had ever been here on this Earth. Their ashes had been scattered, and their house emptied and sold.

Indecent haste was how I phrased it.

“Where the fuck were you while all the work was being done?” was their reply. I guess I pissed my father off because he wouldn’t tell me what had happened to my grandparent’s furniture. It was the armchair that I was really interested in, but I guess it was landfill or in some op-shop warehouse somewhere. I hoped that it had been purchased by a house full of uni students. I could see a nineteen-year-old female English Literature student curled up with a tattered old copy of something by Somerset Maugham. Possibly, ‘The Razor’s Edge’. Yes, that would be good.

My grandfather introduced me to the delights of Enid Blyton and Robert Louis Stephenson in equal measure. He didn’t treat me like a little girl, he saw only a curious, young person who had fallen in love with the worlds that existed between the pages of a book.

He had the most wonderful husky voice, and sitting close to him was like sitting in an old dusty closet. He was warm even in winter, and I got the feeling that it was because of some kind of internal glow caused by his love of books.

He always read me books that were a bit above my understanding, and I think that was on purpose. He would smile when I asked him what a particular word meant, and he would sometimes get me to run my finger over the word as he explained its meaning.

I collect bookmarks because he did.

I give books as presents because he said it was a wise thing to do.

His heroes were authors, and mine are too.

He thought that reading was as important as writing, and so do I.

We will meet again someday, but for now, I have to be the person he wanted me to be, and I need to find a comfortable old armchair so I can sit and read and remember.

An AK47 and a Banana.

 

 golden_kalashnikov_by_rroobboo-d30khe1

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.25.15 amIMG_3286

This story is now part of TRUST and SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

A bloody fingerprint on my credit card made the store clerk hesitate for a moment, but I guess he wanted to finish his shift with a minimum of fuss because he put through the transaction, handed back my card and wished me a good day, all without a single change in facial expression.

My facial expression, on the other hand, could be described as a grimace. Not the bloke in the McDonald’s commercials, but the one where you are in a lot of pain and it has to show somewhere, even though you don’t want it to.

There was a chance that a bloody fingerprint was a part of everyday life for this bloke. Maybe, he even kept a chart of how many he encountered in a shift.

There it goes again — my mind.

Probably a side effect of losing so much blood.

It’s difficult to think clearly. Fortunately, a lot of thinking is not required. All I have to do is slow down the bleeding enough so that I am still alive at this time tomorrow. The meeting isn’t far from here and no one takes any notice of a slightly disreputable character in this part of the city. 

Melbourne is good that way; ‘big money’ and ‘down and outs’ mix freely, as long as they don’t get in each other’s way.

The bandages and gauze were enough to cover the wound, but at some stage I was going to have to find the courage to stitch it; was not looking forward to that.

It was Sunday and the tourists were out in force.

Lots of kids, and mums and dads.

Cameras and carry bags, giggling teenage girls and puffed up teenage boys, none of them interested in me.

Twenty-four hours is not a long time in most people’s lives, but it was to me, especially since I acquired that hole in my side.

Once it was over, if I was still standing, I was going sort out the bloke who perforated me, but till then I needed a quite place to sit.

I turned down one of the myriads of laneways that criss-cross Melbourne and I come across a sign that said the Conan Doyle Society was meeting for an afternoon of mediumship. The sign gave a start time, but I had no idea what time it was because my wristwatch was lying in pieces not far from where the fight started.

There seemed to be a bit of activity so I entered.

The building was ancient and I passed through an open doorway — crafted about hundred and fifty years ago.

The walls were brick and there was a faint smell of dust in the air.

“Don’t worry about the dusty smell. It will dissipate in a little while. The building only gets used on Sundays. Ghosts play here during the week.” The lady who told me this was about sixty years old with a smile that suggested that she had left a trail of broken hearts in her wake in her younger days, and now, for all I knew.

The windows of the building were vaulted and filled with clear leadlight. The floors were Baltic Pine and the plethora of humanity that had trodden on them had sculptured them into hills and valleys around the tight knots in the wood.

Timeworn padded chairs were being laid out in rows by helpers who looked as old as the building itself.

A tiny lady, who was not much bigger than the chair she was carrying, said to me, “Sit here young fellow. You’ll get a good view. You look like you could use a good ‘sit down’. You sit here and I’ll get you a cup of tea.”

“You haven’t got something stronger than tea, have you lady?”

“No, but I know how you feel. I could go a good snort myself.”

I laughed and my side hurt.

The cup of tea had milk and about four sugars in it. I didn’t mind.

The chairs continued to come out through a small door, the same door that the cup of tea had come through and I wondered how many more rooms there were to this place.

Within a little while, the hall filled up with people and soon, none of the forty-odd chairs were empty.

Before the cup of tea and the kilo of sugar, I had been feeling quite sleepy, but now I was wide awake.

The lady running the show stepped to the microphone, which I had not noticed and welcomed us all.

She gave a particular welcome to all the ‘newcomers’ and looked directly at me. She introduced the two people seated behind her and gave their names, but I was not taking much notice.

She mentioned that this group had been meeting for about one hundred and twenty years, under various names, and that its current name dated from a visit by the renown author at the turn of the previous century.

A few people nodded and the tiny lady who had supplied my cup of tea said something out loud and the woman at the microphone agreed with her.

Things were getting interesting.

The lady sitting next to me didn’t seem to mind that I looked like I’d been in a fight; which I had.

The speaker introduced one of the people behind her, a Trevor someone, and he spoke to the assembled crowd.

He walked across to one side of the hall and asked a woman if she would like a reading. She said yes, and the fun began.

Trevor described a man in fine detail and asked the woman if she recognised this person. She promptly burst into tears and a box of tissues appeared out of nowhere. Trevor gave her a moment to compose herself and then he went on with a bit more description and ended with a message. “The gentleman wants you to know that it is okay with him if you want to get married again, and could you please make sure that the rose bushes get pruned.”

The proceedings went on for more than an hour and the two people on the platform took turns to read for various members of the audience.

I was enjoying myself, but the ‘over the counter’ painkillers were beginning to wear off and I had a monster headache.

I was feeling sorry for myself when I realised that this Trevor character was speaking to me. “May I come to you, sir? Yes, you, the gentleman with the coat and the upturned collar.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Can you speak up sir, so the audience can hear you, also I’m a bit hard of hearing.”

“YES, I GUESS SO. Knock yourself out.”

“Thank you, sir. May I have your name?”

“It’s Sam.”

“Thank you, Sam. I have a woman with me; she’s presenting in her late sixties wearing men’s work clothes, and she has grey hair. Can you place such a person?”

“Not at the moment, but I had a girlfriend who looked like that a few years back.” I enjoyed the laughter from the audience, but Trevor only smiled.

“She’s carrying an AK47 in one hand and a banana in the other. Can you place that?”

A cold shiver went down my back.

“Yes, I think I can.” I was in shock.

“She’s wearing Army boots and one of them is laced with string. She says that she always carried a banana because she never knew how long it would be between meals. She wants you to know that the wound in your side will result in your death if you don’t have it seen to today.”

Trevor stopped talking and every eye in the hall turned in my direction.

Trevor continued. “This lady is telling me that killing people is not the way. Even though she was defending her country against invasion, nothing good came of killing the soldiers that came under her sights. She says that she has met up with them, ‘over there’ and they have made their peace. The soldier who killed her has done the same. She wants you to know that love is the only way. If you try to hold out, without treatment, to make that meeting tomorrow, you will die from your injuries. Oh, and she said that you should eat more bananas and ring your dad once in a while. Can I leave that with you, Sam?”

“Yes, you can, and thank you.”

I’m not sure why I thanked him; it just seemed like the right thing to do.

The meeting disbanded and food appeared out of nowhere and conversation broke out in several places.

The chairs disappeared as fast as they had arrived and we all stood around eating cake and drinking tea.

I was probably half dead at this stage, but I have to say that those were the best scones and jam and cream I have ever tasted.

I found Trevor and told him about my ancestor who had valiantly and vainly fought the Soviet invasion of her country in 1956. I wasn’t born yet, but family legend had her name up in lights. My ancestors were mostly ordinary people living ordinary lives, except for the convicts who started our line here in Australia; and then there was Maria, the freedom fighter.

Sixty-three years of age.

She could field strip and reassemble an AK47 in the dark.

The AK47 was, and still is, the weapon of choice of the freedom fighter, but for all its virtues, it is not very accurate at range, but somehow Maria became the best sniper in her group.

Sadly for Maria, the Resistance was not able to hold out for very long. It was all over in a couple of days, and at the end of it all, there were only broken dreams and a family legend.

Things got a bit fuzzy after that, but I do remember waking up in the emergency ward at the Alfred Hospital.

I had become quite a celebrity.

Apparently, a diminutive older lady had carried me in on her back, saying that I needed attention for a knife wound.

She disappeared, but not before she rearranged the chairs in the waiting room.

“You’ll get more people in if you spread them out like that.”

The Triage Nurse was okay with the new arrangement and she didn’t think that any of it was particularly strange.

I guess nurses get to see some weird shit in the course of a day.

I was laid up for a while and I had to spin an interesting tale to get the cops off my back, but eventually they said I could go home.

The following Sunday I went looking for that laneway, but the doors were closed and there was no one about.

I’m not discouraged, though; I’ll go back next week and see what happens.

I get the feeling that I’ll never look at a banana or an AK47 in quite the same way, ever again.   

 

  

Whispers Under The Wing.

3d-abstract_hdwallpaper_the-angel-wings_26127

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.25.15 amIMG_3286

This story is now part of TRUST and SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

Five is the perfect number; any more than that and bad things happen.

I was a white fella living in a house with a bunch of blackfellas; a whole family in fact. Uncles, brothers, sisters and cousins, with a few aunties and a distant cousin thrown in for good measure. Fortunately, the house is huge. It was built for some mega rich bloke a decade or so after the gold rush. Melbourne was awash with gold money and grand houses were all the rage. Pointless being rich if you couldn’t show off, and a huge house on a big chunk of land was the best way to show that you had more money than the next bloke.

Over time, most of the land had been subdivided and sold off as various owners needed cash. The house needs a bit of work, but it is in amazing condition considering it is about one hundred and forty years old. It stands four stories high with large majestic windows. Every bedroom has its own fireplace and a carved wooden fire surround with scenes depicting Australian flora and fauna. There are many other carved pieces throughout the house and it is these features that are said to have influenced Billy’s grandmother to choose this house.

Billy was the first to make his mark; the first to make his fortune, and in the tradition of the blackfella, if one member of a Koori family makes it big, all members of the family share in that good fortune.

Lightening struck many times with this family and soon Billy’s brother’s followed in his musical success while his sister’s paintings found a market. Many of the cousins are musicians, and painters, and potters, and you name it; if it is creative, at least one member of this huge family is into it, which is just as well as it costs a small fortune to keep this house running. Koories don’t go nuts when they come into money, not like whitefellas do, but even so the house eats up a big chunk of change.

Kooris are an accepting lot but even so, bringing me into the house caused a bit of tension; the only whitefella to be seen.

The neighbours are all white, of course, and they are patiently waiting for this huge family to sell up just so they can get their property values to rise again. I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.

The way we got together is way too long a story but the important part is that we did, and it only seems to work if all five of us are ‘under the wing’ at the same time. I’m always on the end, which is the worst place to be if something goes wrong.

Back in the day, back when the family members discovered this ability, the younger members experimented with the idea of adding more people to the wing. Trouble is, just like the rest of life, if you pick the wrong people, shit happens.

Someone thought that the ability would get stronger the more people you added, but as I said before, five is the magic number, and the right five at that.

So, the young ones kept adding more and more people until one day they found this bloke lying in a ditch with symptoms just like someone who had been struck by lightning.

The Elders stepped in and forbade any further experimentation, but you know young people. Every now and then some teenager is found all dazed and singed, with his hair standing straight up and smouldering.

Billy always takes the centre spot with his brothers on each side, the annoying cousin gets the end spot on Billy’s right and, as the newcomer, I get the spot on his left wingtip.

The truth is that they need me and they know it, although you would never hear it from them, not out loud. My ability brings something to the group that they have never had before, and they like it.

The only part of the process that gives me the shits is the ‘whispering under the wing.’

When we wrap our arms around each others shoulders our individual abilities are multiplied by five to the power of two. Basically, that means that as a group we are twenty-five times more powerful than any one of us on our own. Now, that is really something, and that magnifying factor only arrived when I joined. Add to that our combined ability to remote view at a huge distance, and you can see why they put up with the whitefella.

Part of our responsibility to the wider community is doing readings for individuals, couples and families. We do this once a week, and by appointment.

The problem, as I see it, is that as soon as we link, the whispers start. I call it ‘bitching under the wing’ and it makes me uncomfortable. Our combined ability means that we can see all the weaknesses of the people we are reading for. The whispers are all telepathic, but it still gives me the shits.

Being in this house, doing these readings, is as close as I have come to feeling like I’m part of something.

No one watches television in this house, there is always too much going on. Every night someone is playing an instrument. There is always someone preparing food in the huge old Victorian kitchen, and the cooks are artists in themselves. I’ve gained a bit of weight since I moved in here. My room is on the top floor and was probably one of the servants quarters. The irony is not lost on me. I have a magnificent view of the city in the distance, and I get to walk up and down the majestic staircase, every day. Some nights I lie on my bed and listen to the sounds coming from this ancient house. I doubt that it has ever been this alive in its long history.

My past is full of confusion and pain, but since Billy brought me into his extended family I have a home and a purpose, as well as a family.

Under the wing, my life is amazing.

I Always Get My Visions in the Morning.

secretaries-017

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.25.15 amIMG_3286

This story is now part of TRUST and SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

 

“I’ve been working for Charlie Varick for about four years, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

The question came out of nowhere and it really pissed me off. It’s a job, what difference does it make? When I go home I leave work at work.

“What difference does it make? He’s a fucking private eye and he uses you as a decoy.”

“I’m his secretary and the decoy stuff only happens every now and then. Mostly, it isn’t dangerous, and mostly I answer the phones and make appointments. Of course, there is coffee and dry cleaning but mostly it’s answering phones.”

My parents were in town for a couple of days and I was glad to see them; well ‘glad’ is probably too strong a word, but it was good to see them. Parents should be kept at a distance that is directionally proportional to the amount of shit they put you through as a kid. Mine weren’t that bad but using this formula they should be at least 427 kilometres away at all times.

I’m 26 years old, gorgeous and leggy with long black wavy hair that men hold on to when they are making love to me. Not that there are that many of them.

I like men, just in small doses.

Not small in the way you are thinking, just small in the sense of time I have to spend in close proximity. Charlie’s different, but he is old, at least 47 years old, and he is taken, but he treats me like I’m someone. Like I count in the grand scheme of things. I guess he is so relaxed because he is old, and old people don’t worry so much about stuff.

My dad was wound up, but I know it was my mum who put him up to it.

“We just want you to be safe; safe and happy. That’s all your mother and I have ever wanted.”

“I know dad.” Things seemed to be calming down now that the shouting had stopped.

It was still early. Hotel restaurants tend to wind down around 9:30pm, and it was now way past that, so we had the room to ourselves except for the girl at the bar and the waiter who was doing a little shuffle that was Morse code for ‘they don’t pay me past 10:00pm even if you are still here drinking coffee, and I have a home to go to, and my dog misses me’.

It was a complicated dance.

My father, mother and I talked about nothing for another fifteen minutes before my dad signed the bill and they went up to their room. I stood and watched as they walked up the staircase. My mother clung to the handrail as though it was saving her from a sinking ship. My dad negotiated the stairs easily enough because he never used elevators unless he absolutely had to.

I asked him about it once and he said that it was his small concession to keeping fit, but I think it had more to do with the stories that his father brought home.

 

 

His dad was a fireman and he would be called out to rescue cats and people, and sometimes he was expected to free people who had been trapped; sometimes these people had been trapped in elevators and he delighted in terrifying his children with stories of people who had gone insane after being trapped in an elevator for six hours.

“One bloke tried to chew his arm off, which seemed pointless to me. It wasn’t as though they had him in handcuffs; he was trapped in a lift for fuck sake. Now if he had tried to eat through the door, that I could understand, but his arm; that’s just nuts.”

I sat on the overstuffed couch in the hotel’s foyer and tried to collect my thoughts.

I still had half an hour before I was to meet Charlie at Bar Alfredo on Little Collins Street. I walked the short distance up Collins and turned left onto Exhibition. Little Collins was the first on the left and the bar was about two hundred metres down.

This end of the street had been disrupted by building activities for nearly two years, which made it difficult to negotiate on foot, or by car. The street was already very narrow and its name gave the hint. ‘Little’ Collins Street was originally an access road for the rear of the larger and more grand edifices on Collins Street. Deliveries would be made and tradesmen would be admitted.

It was best to keep the grubby people out of sight.

These days the ‘Little’ streets were home to trendy bars and eateries as well as exclusive apartments and the occasional clothing shop.

The footpath on both sides is extremely narrow and I was forced to step out onto the road to let a large rude man pass by. He looked vaguely familiar but I was not sure why until I remembered that I had not seen him before but he was exactly how Charlie had described the man I was supposed to ‘distract’.

 

“He’s big, about 40 years old, always wears a dark suit with a red handkerchief in his top pocket, and he smells like lemons. He will be sitting at the bar because he always sits at the bar. Third stool from the far end as you come in the front door.”

I had the feeling that these instructions and this description were going to go to waste.

In order to get to Bar Alfredo, I first had to walk past a narrow laneway and at this time of night the laneway was in complete darkness. Being a female living in the big city, I avoided dark laneways because I wanted to go on ‘living in the big city’.

As I looked into the darkness I saw Charlie lying in a pool of his own blood.

I say ‘saw’, but that’s not what I mean. I didn’t see him with my eyes, I saw him in a vision. The dark laneway was like a large projector screen and on it I saw Charlie’s exact location, as though it were bright daylight.

I used my phone to light the way to the spot that I knew Charlie would be lying. He was behind some boxes with a single knife wound in the middle of his chest.

I would love to say that he lived long enough to look into my eyes and tell me who had killed him. I would love to tell you what his last words were and that he smiled before he died, but I can’t.

He was gone by the time I got to him; warm but gone.

I sat next to him for what seemed like forever and thought about my life and wondered what Charlie was thinking when the large man in the dark suit took his life. I wondered what my life was going to be like from now on. I wondered if my mum and dad had gone to sleep yet.

I don’t remember ringing anyone but I must have, because an ambulance arrived closely followed by the police.

The weather was warm so I was wondering why there was so much fog around and why did my voice sound funny, and why was the police officer mumbling.

When I came to I was sitting on the back step of the ambulance with an oxygen mask on my face. A young policeman was trying to get my attention and the ambo was trying to get him to give me a break.

 

 

“Give her a minute mate; she’s had a rough night.”

 

The policeman ignored him. To him, civilians were annoying. They kept passing out or screaming or generally being uncooperative. He just wanted to get a statement so he could get back on patrol. The homicide detectives would be along very soon and they would shoo him away like an unwanted blow-fly.

“Miss? Miss? How did you know he was in that alley? Did you hear something? Did you see anyone come out of the alley?”

I was trying to decide which question to answer first when it occurred to me that this was all very strange.

“I had a vision, which was weird. I don’t normally get visions at night-time. I always get my visions in the morning.”

The police officer stopped asking me questions after that and he and the ambo were looking at each other with the strangest expression on their faces. I don’t think that they believed me, and I wanted them too. This was a first for me.

A pair of plain-clothed detectives arrived and scooped me up and headed me towards their car but before I got in I gave it one last try to convince my interrogator.

“I really did see him lying there, in the dark, which was weird. I always get my visions in the morning.”