I got up for work on Wednesday morning feeling a lot better than I had since this whole thing began. Although it had been less than a week, I felt like I’d had something hanging over my head forever. I awoke even before the alarm went off, quite an achievement for me. No clock radios back then, just good old annoying alarm clocks that just about burst your eardrums. No morning news on the TV either. I went into the kitchen and turned on the little Philips radio, which was crackly and awful, but it was company. My Dad was still in the bathroom having his morning cigarette, sitting on the throne, and reading the newspaper. Not a pleasant thought, but that was him. I put the kettle on and made a cup of tea, and some toast. It was obvious I wouldn’t be able to get in to the bathroom for a while. It was quite a nice day so I sat on the back step to eat my toast and drink my tea. It wasn’t that warm, but the fresh air felt good. My mum kept the garden pretty. There was a small square of lawn a lovely rose garden; that smelled divine. At the back there were tall hollyhocks, apple trees, gooseberry bushes and in front of those strawberries, lettuce, it was a lovely little garden, and for some reason it made me feel like I wanted to cry. I never appreciated my parents like I should. They worked hard and made a lovely home, which I shared unwillingly, always wanting to leave and “Hello you’re up early!” I turned around and gave my dad a hug, scaring him half to death. He smelled of tobacco and Brylcreem. He hugged me back and smiled, I poured him a cup of tea and he joined me on the step. A very unusual sight, my dad and I sitting enjoying a cup of tea together, didn’t happen too often.
Dad finished his tea and went off to work. I hurried and got ready to leave too! I had risen early, but the day was trickling away fast. I jumped in the car and drove the few miles up the pretty country roads to my job. The drive was always relaxing, unless you got stuck behind a tractor or muck spreader! I drove past the front door of my little office building to see a small crowd of people outside, all with huge cameras. Surely they weren’t waiting for me. Dear lord, a man died, leave it be! Good job I parked at the back of the building, which is where I drove to. No one even looked as I passed. Thank Heavens! I had way outlived my fifteen minutes of fame. I parked my car and walked up the stone steps to the back of the building. It was amazingly quiet, it was lovely, but not for long. I opened the door to the office outside the computer room and there sat a stranger, well not exactly a stranger. I recognized her immediately, and looked from her to Sandra. Sandra just looked at me and then said, ‘I will be in the kitchen if you need me’. Almost sounded like my mum. I sat down on the desk and sat there waiting, not sure what the dead guys, wife wanted with me. She stuck out her hand and said “I’m Lindsay” I took her hand and said I know, “I saw you on the television and in the paper, why are you here?”, I asked her “I don’t know” she replied “Something just isn’t right, for the last day or so, I have been seeing Guy, and I am not sure if it is in my dreams or when I am awake during the night, its awful” Lindsay started to cry. I was speechless for a minute, so that’s where he went, he left me alone (thank God), but now he was bothering his wife, which is a good thing. I let her cry for a minute and then asked her again why she had come to see me.”I’m not sure” she said,”I just keep thinking about you. I know you were talking to him in the pub, he wasn’t himself that night, in fact he hadn’t been himself for a few days, just seemed like a different person, then when he came to visit me last night, in my dreams, it was the same old Guy, but so very sad, and he kept saying, ”I’m not dead yet'”.
OK so this was getting out of hand. I asked her if she had been to see him in the funeral home yet and she said she had not, so I suggested she did, just to get some closure so she didn’t lose it completely at the funeral. “Will you come with me?” she asked. Dam! I didn’t see that coming. “Hang on, I said, let me go and talk to my boss”. Sandra, Don and one or two others were sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee. I quickly told them what was going on and asked them if I could shoot off for a couple of hours. They said it was OK, but to take the back door because of the reporters. Phyllis (with the blue rinse) looked at me (she was a funny little lady) and said watch out, there is something wrong here. She reminded me of some crazy physic from a horror movie and I almost laughed, but she was serious. I went back to the office for Lindsay, who had pulled herself together a little, and we went out the back door to my car.
Lindsay didn’t say much, but strangely enough I felt comfortable with her. She told me that Guy’s mum had identified the body on her own as she couldn’t face it, not wanting to make it final that her husband was dead. She said things just didn’t seem right though. It was only a short drive to the funeral home, only one of two in town, which surprised me as although it was a small town, there were a lot of older inhabitants. Maybe they just hadn’t started dying yet. We were the only car in the car park, which was a relief. No newspaper people there either, another relief. Hopefully they had found a new story to move on to. Unlikely though because not much happened in this neck of the woods. Lindsay and I stood close to each other at the door of the funeral home. I opened it and walked in first. For some reason I didn’t expect it to open, and was a little disappointed when it did. I really didn’t want to do this. There was background organ music in the whole building and subdued lighting, which was probably necessary to make the dead look more appealing. There was a false smell of lilies too, which obviously served its purpose, I felt increasingly uncomfortable. Some tall guy in a black suit came towards us, slicked back black hair, just like you see in these places in the movies. I really felt like I wanted to run. Lindsay took control and gave her name and said she wanted to see her husband, Guy Davies. The man offered his condolences and took us to a passage way with four doors leading off it. He took us to the last door on the left. The hall seemed fifty feet long, but in fact it was probably about fifteen feet, just everything seemed surreal. He opened the door and ushered us in, and then left closing it after him. I wish he hadn’t done that. The room was lit by candles, but before the time of scented candles so again the lily scented air freshener was overpowering. At the far end of the room was a coffin, with a candle on a table at either side. The top part of the coffin was open. Lindsay and I took very slow small steps towards it, holding hands and kind of huddled together. I wasn’t sure what we were scared of, apart from the fact neither of us had seen anyone dead before. Although Lindsay was about six years older than me, she seemed very small and very young. We were both looking at the ground, until we got as close to the coffin as we dared. We both looked in at the same time. Lindsay gasped, before I got a good look, so I looked at her and not her dead husband. I thought she was going to faint. I guided her to a chair and told her to breathe, telling her it would be OK, just a shock seeing the body of her husband. I hadn’t really looked at him myself, and that was more than enough of a viewing for me. She composed herself and said, “but it’s not Guy!” I suppose this is what everyone went through when they lost someone they loved. I soothed her and told her it was just his body and came up with all sorts of crap I had heard other people say on television at moments like this. She stood up and pushed me to one side and said. “No listen to me, he looks like Guy, but it’s really not him”. I shifted from side to side and wondered if I should call for help because it seemed like she was having a nervous breakdown, when she grabbed me by the arm and dragged me over to the coffin. “OK, you talked to him in the bar, is he the man you talked to?”. I looked at the dead face, the flickering candlelight making it look like his facial expression was constantly changing (YUK!),”Yes, this is him”. She started laughing, “But it’s not GUY”. OK now I was getting really uncomfortable, she started babbling. “Guy was doing some DIY at home a couple of months ago, and the head flew off the hammer, it hit him right between his eyes. He had two stitches and it left a scar. Do you see a scar?” I peered at the dead dough like face again. “No Scar” I said”but maybe they covered it up with make up or something to make him look better”. Then she really lost it. She took a hanky out from her pocket, spit on it and then rubbed the dead guy between the eyes. No scar appeared. Next she opened the lower part of the coffin and grabbed his left hand. “Look no wedding ring either, not even an indentation of where one should be, they would have had to cut his finger off to get that ring off it was so tight!” The lower part of the coffin fell down with a bang, causing the undertaker man to come running in. We looked at him and left. When we got in the car I asked her if she had lost her mind. She told me she had not, and had not lost her husband either, he was still alive and the man in the coffin was her husband’s twin. We drove back to my job in silence!!!
We both sat in my car in silence. I didn’t know what to say, or what to do. I was sitting in a car with a young woman I had only just met, wondering if she were right, or if she were crazy. If she was right what could we do, if she was crazy, how would I know? She was sobbing quietly! I reached over and touched her hand. “Let me think about this” I said.”We need to figure out what to do, if this is really Gareth in the coffin, where is Guy? Is he dead or alive?” I couldn’t say anymore because it all sounded so ridiculous coming out of my mouth. She looked directly into my eyes.”Guy was acting like a different person for a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks before he went out to the pub that night, maybe it wasn’t Guy, maybe his twin brother was alive, and sicker than anyone thought. Maybe he was trying to steal his life” “But you would have noticed, you said yourself Guy had a scar, you would have noticed it wasn’t him”.
Lindsay said Guy had been distant for a week or so before his ‘death’ and they had argued, she said she had not even paid attention to how he looked, because of the way he was acting. She said it was unusual for them to row and it had upset her so much she kept out of his way, when they planned the night out that fatal Saturday, it had been her idea to try and get him to relax. I asked her if she could talk to her mother in law about this, but she said she could not, as Guy’s mum hadn’t been sober since Sunday when she heard what had happened, and she wouldn’t get any sense out of her. Lindsay got out of the car, she said she had to go as she had left little Amy with a neighbor. I gave her my phone number at home and at work and she gave me hers. I needed someone to talk to, but I didn’t know who I could trust. I needed someone open-minded and who thought logically. I went back to work, distracted and unable to do much. What the heck could I do? Think! I had to think quickly. If this whole ridiculous situation were genuine and the ‘Guy at bar’ wasn’t Guy at all, but Gareth, where the heck was Guy? Maybe it actually was ‘Guy’ who had been visiting me in my room, but how could he if in fact he wasn’t yet dead? Now I wasn’t seeing him anymore. It was a mess! Five o clock couldn’t come too soon. I left work without saying much to anyone. I felt the time was of the essence, and that if I didn’t put together a plan, not yet dead Guy, would soon become dead. I drove home, but remained in my car on the drive way. My dad came out after a while to see what was going on, and I told him I just remembered I had to go out again. I started the car and drove through the village, who could I talk to? I stopped outside the telephone box and dialed Lindsay. She answered the phone almost immediately, and sounded tense. “I was just going to call you” she said. “I talked to Guy’s mum, she said Gareth wasn’t retarded, he just wasn’t nice. Started off torturing small animals even before he started school, then doing really mean things to kids, she had him committed when he was ten and hasn’t seen him since. Then about a month ago, he came by her house and said he was ‘all better’ and working. Said he had a family, a wife and a little girl same age as Amy. Guy’s mum told me she didn’t believe him, but there was something scary about him so she just went along with it. She said he left and she hasn’t seen or heard from him since. Now she’s at the gin bottle again, and crying, won’t say any more. Sheila, what if he did something horrible to Guy”. My money ran out just as Lindsay started sobbing. I had to think, and what I thought wasn’t nice. It sounded like Gareth was a human cuckoo, and had somehow got Guy out of the ‘nest’ and taken his place, only Gareth was not Guy, and could not live life as though he was, which is why he went to a bar and got drunk, and then chased me down a back alley in the darkness. I had had a lucky escape, falling and striking his head actually saved my life. Where was Guy though?
What should I do, go home, go to the pub, what should I do? I went home where my mum and dad were sitting at the kitchen table eating. They gave each other a ‘look’ as I walked in. It was a worried look, and I appreciated it, I just wished I could talk to them, but they would think I was insane if I told them I thought that the man lying in a coffin was the brother of the man who had supposedly died. You have to remember this was 1975, a simpler time. I made small talk, ate my meal and helped my mum clear the table. I went into my bedroom while they washed the dishes, and put on my David Bowie, he always helped me think. ‘It’s a God Awful Small Affair, to the Girl with the Mousey Hair’. My hair wasn’t mousey, but it was a god awful affair. It was worse that god awful. Who could I talk to? Half my friends were starchy Local Government workers, the other half acid dropping pot heads. Maybe Liz at the pub! No! Who then? My dad came and knocked on the door. “Coronation Street’s just starting” he said.
I went and joined my mum and dad in the living room. It was cozy and warm, my dad was smoking, as usual, but it felt comforting. He knew there was something wrong with me and he said, “let’s have a beer, or some of my lemon wine”. Sounded good to me, I never appreciated my dad enough, shame because he really tried hard. Wish I could go back in time and hug him. I went out to the garage and got a bottle of his home-brewed lemon wine. My mum settled for sherry and apart from my mum sneezing (sherry always made her sneeze when she first sipped it) we sat in silence. My dad’s wine really wasn’t that good, but it was strong, and that was all that mattered, it hit the spot. I sat and watched TV with my parents and then went to bed around ten o clock. My mind was exhausted, I just couldn’t think of who to talk to! I needed help, needed it badly because tomorrow there was a funeral for someone, but I was no longer sure for whom. What if it was Gareth lying in the coffin? What if Guy was lying somewhere dying, or already dead? Less than a week ago I had not known Guy, Gareth or Lindsay. Life had been easy. Now I had a huge problem, what the heck should I do? I got ready for bed and lay in the dark listening to David Bowie followed by ‘Goodnight Ladies (Lou Reid) and then I soothed myself with some James Taylor and eventually went to sleep. Music helped!
I woke up with a start, I looked around my room, half expecting to see someone, almost wishing I could, maybe if I were still getting visitations, I could solve this mystery, but there was no one in the room with me, I was alone. My dreams were troubling. You know how you feel when you can’t remember some one’s name, you can see their face, their name is on the tip of your tongue, but it just won’t come to you. That’s how I felt when I woke up. It was uncomfortable. I looked at my clock, it was only five o clock, so I turned over and went back to sleep. I dreamed I was out walking with my nieces and nephew, walking along the old railway lines from Richmond back to home, it was a long walk, but we had done it before, it was pretty, along by the side of the river Swale. I complained about living in the ‘wooly backs’ but really I was very lucky and I knew it. When I woke up again it was seven-thirty and I could hear the door close as my mum left for work. She worked in the local dress factory so she had to be there by eight. My mum was always punctual. Little did I know that one day I would be just like her! I could hear my dad pottering around so I put on my dressing gown and went into the kitchen to see if there was any tea in the pot. I was in luck, there was. My dad was eating his corn flakes and reading the paper, he looked a little bleary eyed, probably from the home-made wine, and the pills he took for his heart. He smiled though. He inherited me as his stepdaughter when I was ten years old, not an easy thing to inherit, especially when you didn’t have kids of your own. He managed, but only just! I gave him hell, showed him no appreciation most of the time, but looking back, that’s how all teenagers treated their parents, I guess. He finished his breakfast, followed by his daily routine of a cigarette, whilst sitting on the toilet reading the paper. Disgusting, but he was almost sixty and not going to change his habits. Before leaving for work, he asked me if I wanted him to go to the funeral with me. I was touched, but told him that Liz, from the pub, was going with me. I think he was relieved, so he said goodbye and left.
I got a bath (no showers back then in the North of England), and got ready for work. Black, I wore black, although I am sure it didn’t really matter. I went to work. The funeral was at one o clock, and I wasn’t looking forward to it.