I parked my car in the car park and climbed the stone stairs to the back of the building, in through the back door, (by the outside toilet) and down the passageway to the computer room. I opened the door and all conversation stopped and eyes were on me. As well as my usual work associates, there was the manager of accounting, and one or two others. Great! Someone handed me a cup of coffee and pulled up a chair for me. I could see there was going to be no work done for a while so I just sat there. “Come on then we want it from start to finish, what’s the gossip with the dead guy?” I guess my life was about to change in more ways than one. I told them about the ‘Guy at the bar’, and how he started following me home etc. I tried not to embellish and just state the facts, but they almost put words in my mouth. When I eventually finished, Phyllis, from the typing pool said. “Well this is the most exciting thing that happened since they found that dead soldier in the rose garden”. Although it wasn’t really funny, everyone laughed. It broke the party and people started heading back to work, apart from Sandra. She took me to one side and said if I needed anyone to talk to she would be there for me. I was grateful!
I went through the double doors into my little haven of computers and sat down. I looked right ahead and a poster of Bruce Lee looked back at me. If I had to see a dead guy, why couldn’t it be him? Bruce Lee would be fun to run in to, not some stranger I had met for a few minutes in a pub, and then had to escape from. Hayley and Janet followed me into the computer room and started about their work. We were quiet for a while. My mind wandered back to Saturday night! It just all seemed so strange. I had spent a quiet night in my local pub, with people I knew, all apart from one stranger, who had decided to hit on me, and then ended up dead, just after I wished him to ‘drop dead’. I sat there wishing I had a cup of coffee, when the door opened and in walked Dave from the front desk. Brought you a cup of coffee love he said. Shit, I needed to stop making wishes! I smiled and took the coffee, but felt somewhat shaken.
Lunch time came around, Hayley and Janet went off to the pub for a bar snack and asked me to join them. I declined saying I had things to do. The truth was, I was a little ‘off’ pubs. I got a sandwich at the butchers down the road and then went and sat in the rose garden. While I ate my sandwich, I looked out over the river and the hills. It was a lovely day, warm with a hint of summer in the air at last. The rose bushes were rustling in the breeze. Hang on a minute, what breeze. There was no breeze, I looked around to where the bushes were swaying and someone sat up and said, “Hello, I haven’t talked to anyone in the longest time.” Shit, I threw my sandwich in the air and ran, it was the dead soldier they found the year before, I was sure of it. I got back into my office, which overlooked the rose garden to find Sandra and Don laughing like they were never going to stop. I walked through the door and they just laughed even more and pointed at me. I couldn’t see the joke. Don pointed out of the window so I followed his gaze. There was an old homeless guy sitting on the bench in the rose garden (where I had been sitting) and it looked like he was eating my sandwiches. Sandra and Don had seen the whole thing. I started laughing too, I was so shaken up with current events, that I had thought he was the dead soldier come back to life. I was obsessed with dead people. Oh my god, I had to get myself under control. It was pretty funny though. I wondered if Sandra and Don would have laughed so much if they knew I was seeing a strange dead guy in my bedroom.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, work seemed slow, people popped in every now and then to ‘get my autograph’. They were joking of course. When I arrived home that evening, there was a police car outside the house. Great! I walked in and found Sgt. Bell sitting at the kitchen table, across from my mum. They were drinking tea and he was munching on oatmeal biscuits, which were my mum’s specialty Aunty Hilda biscuits, we called them, but my mum always insisted she was the one who gave Aunty Hilda the recipe. He smiled when I opened the door. “Don’t be worried love, nothing wrong, just wanted to come down and put your mind at rest. It was definitely the fall that killed the guy, shame really, he wasn’t that old. When he fell that second time, he struck his head on Mrs. Townsend’s boot scraper which was by her front door. I somehow don’t think she’ll be using that anymore. Anyway, sad affair, but at least everyone agrees it was an accident. Had you ever seen him in your local before?” I told him I had not and he didn’t even look like he belonged there. I lived in a pretty tightly knit community, and this guy was obviously a stranger. My mum poured me a cup of tea, but I declined the biscuits. I was relieved, but something still felt unsettling and my tummy was churning. I didn’t let anyone know about though.
Sgt. Bell stayed a little longer and chatted to me about work, about his daughter, about life in general, and then said goodbye. My mum started making the tea while he was talking. The smell of sausages was good. She put the chip pan on too. Sausages, chips and beans! A good end to a strange day! After dinner I sat in front of the television and watched some of those terrible series from the seventies, Coronation Street, Softly Softly and finally……….Burke’s Law!!!! They were all pretty awful, but easy to watch and distracting. I went to bed after the ten o clock news. I brushed my teeth, washed my face and jumped between the sheets. It took me a while to get to sleep, something still didn’t feel right!
A loud bang woke me up and I sat bolt upright in bed. “Sorry”, a voice said. And there, sitting on the little pink and white stool, at my dressing table, was the dead guy. This was getting ridiculous! “OK so you don’t scare me, but you are making me very tired by doing this to me every night, shouldn’t you be visiting your wife, not me!?” I said. The guy stood up, looking menacing again, and then sat down and started crying! “Don’t let them bury me, I’m not dead yet!!!!”
“What?” “I’m not dead yet”. I wanted to laugh because he sounded so much like something out of a ‘Monty Python’ movie. “What do you mean you’re not dead yet? Of course you are. If you weren’t dead you would be with your body in a hospital somewhere and not here keeping me awake” I heard movement in the next room, by the uneven footsteps I could tell it was my dad. He walked with a slight stagger since he had a stroke. He opened his bedroom door, I was half expecting him to open my bedroom door, thinking I had woken him up, but he didn’t. He just needed the bathroom. I breathed a sigh of relief. This whole thing was crazy, was I crazy?
I looked across at where the dead guy had been sitting and he had gone. Thank the Lord for that!. Maybe I had dreamed it all. How could this be happening? Why was it happening? I snuggled back into my pillows and closed my eyes. Maybe the stress of the whole thing had made me imagine things! Maybe I needed to see a doctor! Maybe I should sleep long tomorrow and take a day off work. In fact that was the best thought I had had since this whole thing happened. I got out of bed and went in to the living room. I found some paper and a pen and wrote a note for my mum and dad.
‘Don’t wake me, I am having trouble sleeping, this whole thing with the guy in the pub, the police etc. has just got to me. Delayed shock or something! Can you call work for me and let them know’. I went back to bed and shut my eyes. It took me a long time to get back to sleep, but eventually I did. I slept long and hard, and when I woke up the house was quiet and the sunlight was streaming through a crack in the curtains. I felt much better. I looked at the clock next to my bed. It was ten thirty. Life felt normal and I got out of bed. I went into the kitchen and put the kettle on and then brushed my teeth. I felt rested. I fried some eggs and made fried egg sandwiches which tasted a treat. I sat at the kitchen table and ate my breakfast. I opened the newspaper to read as I ate, which was a big mistake, this day wasn not going to continue as well as it started. There on the front page of the ‘Northern Echo’ was a picture of the dead guy. Was I ever going to get away from him? Still the mystery was over. He died from banging his head when he fell. His wife blamed herself because he left the house angry and didn’t normally drink much, but she felt he drank more because she didn’t go with him. They had a row! Now she was sad because she never said good bye. I took the last bite my fried egg sandwich and rubbed my eyes. I felt like someone was behind me. I was getting paranoid!. I looked around and of course there was no one there! The funeral for this guy was on Thursday afternoon. For some reason I thought I should go. I don’t know why, I just did. I needed to talk to Liz down in the pub. I could hardly take a day off work and spend my lunch in the pub could I??? Or could I? No, I would wait until this evening and go down after tea. I just needed to get things straight in my mind. Why was the fact a stranger died causing me so much grief. I had only met him once, briefly, so why was this all such a big deal?
I did go down to the pub that evening. I caught Liz’s eye as soon as I walked in, she poured us both a drink and we went and sat in the back room. She could see I was worried about something. I sipped my brandy and coke without speaking. Liz was the first to speak. “You want to go to the funeral don’t you?” I looked at her, and thought hard before I spoke. “I don’t know, I honestly don’t know. I just know that I feel like something isn’t finished and its waiting for me come up with some sort of ending”. She was a good person to talk to, level headed, but open minded. “I’ll go with you” she told me. “That way it will look better, after all it was my pub he was last seen in.” I smiled. I was relieved she was going, but still feeling unsettled and troubled. She could see I was still uncomfortable about something. “Is there something you still want to tell me?” she asked. I smiled and thought, ‘sure this dead guy visits my bedroom every night’, but thought the better of it. It wouldn’t help if people thought I was insane.
As I mentioned earlier, I was always the ‘odd one’, a little different from the crowd. No close friends, always alone, not odd as much as I just wanted something different out of life than most people, something more, I felt things other people were clueless about. I got on great with people like Liz, and people I met on buses, trains and briefly on vacation, but I never made CLOSE friends. I had on many occasions been visited by people just after they died, so none of this really bothered me too much, what bothered me this time was this guy was a stranger. My usual visitations or premonitions involved people I knew.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was by no means a medium, or a clairvoyant, Doris Stokes didn’t need to worry about having any competition. I could not control my little ‘gift’, it was just something that happened. This time though, it was different because usually I would have one ‘visitation’ right after someone died. I felt like this little show was going to last for a while and I had no idea why.
Liz and I sat and talked for a while and we decided to go to the Funeral together. I knew I had to go, but didn’t want to stand out from the usual relatives and friends who would be attending. If Liz was with me, I would blend in more because she was the landlady of the pub he was last seen in. Let’s just hope his wife wasn’t ready to blame me for his death. It really wasn’t my fault, I didn’t ask him to chase me up the road. I felt awful about what had happened, but it really was an accident.
I went home around nine o clock, my mum and dad were sitting watching the television, can’t remember what, it was just nice to sit down with them and pretend I was watching too. The news came on and once again the tragic accident which happened in our village was mentioned. Guy’s picture was there again, and they showed his wife again, all red eyed and tired looking. Her mother was with her now, it was easy to see how his wife was going to look when she aged. Lindsay and her mother could have been twins born thirty years apart. Both were very attractive, not stunning but nice. They interviewed her mother who was a very well spoken lady and a widower. Then they interviewed Guy’s mother, not so well spoken and a real drama queen. She said life had not been easy as she had lost her first son, Guy’s twin fifteen years earlier, literally lost him. They had all been at the beach together in Scarborough, on vacation, when Gareth disappeared. Just there one minute, gone the next. Gareth had been Guy’s younger twin, born ten minutes after Guy, and slightly retarded. “Well not retarded exactly” she said “Just had episodes”. After reporting him missing, and searching for him for weeks, with the help of the police of course, she gave up and decided he had drowned. What a tragic family. It was sad.
Of course after interviewing them the reporter, who had been digging up old newspaper clippings, said that when Gareth disappeared there had been speculation from neighbors that she had either, drowned him herself, which was hard to prove as a body was not found, or she had got rid of him some other way. Either way, she got on a train to Scarborough one Sunday in July, with Guy and Gareth, and came back with just Guy. Gareth had not been a nice boy, he used to bully the other kids at school to the point of almost being expelled. Both Gareth and Guy had been big healthy boys, but there had been something very wrong with Gareth.
My mum and dad found this fascinating, and of course started up a conversation about what may have happened to Gareth fifteen years ago. It was funny listening to them. They went between him being dismembered and buried in the rubbish dump, to being shipped off to foreign shores as a slave.
I told my parents that I would be going to the funeral, just to get some closure on this whole thing. They asked me if I wanted them to come with me, I think they wanted to come as they knew it would be on the TV, but I told them no because Liz was going to come with me. My mum looked a little disappointed, but would get over it. That would have given her some credibility with her cronies at work. Oh well, I am sure they were having just as much fun talking about my part in this. I sat and watched the news for a little longer and then went off to bed. I actually slept without interruptions. Maybe ‘the guy from the bar’ was finally at rest. Maybe he had come to realize and accept that he was dead. It was very sad, but tragedy is part of the tapestry of life. We can’t always see, or plan for these things. Hopefully he was a good Christian and was going to that place where they opened pearly gates and blew trumpets as you arrived. I somehow doubted it, because although no one had anything bad to say about this guy. I had had a really bad feeling about him. Even a creepy feeling! I still wished I had not ‘wished’ him to ‘Drop Dead’. I know that’s not the reason he did, but I still felt bad I wished it.