Free Short Story by Amelie Rose
Hi, my name is Harry and I’m a ghost.
I’m fairly new to the haunting scene but I think I’m doing okay, given that I never had any training for the job; just sort of fell into it unexpectedly, ha ha. It’s a long story.
As I was saying, there’s no actual training but we are expected to do certain things like laugh horribly and rattle chains and things. And let me tell you; it can all be very tiring.
Take yesterday for example. I was totally shot – well, in a sense – stuck here in this great mausoleum of a house, unable to leave; nothing to do but haunt. It takes it out of a chap.
Anyway, I was feeling tired so I decided to take a little nap. I was in the drawing room and Harry, that’s the owner of this pile, had a lady friend visiting. He’d been chasing her around the place all afternoon like some lovesick lecher and it was doing my head in.
In the end I gave up trying to nod off and wandered away to terrorise the milkman. After I’d seen him off down the drive I was even more exhausted than before so I hooked into the first room down the hall, the one with the giant four poster bed, and lay down.
There I was, all snuggled up on the nice thick eiderdown, dozing happily, and next thing I’m number three on the bed and all sorts of things are happening on top of me.
I couldn’t get off the bed fast enough. A quick examination of my ghostly parts showed all were still intact and momentarily soothed my indignation, but a glance back at the bed told me I wasn’t going to get much sleep there.
At the end of the corridor is a small day room so I popped in through the wall and lay down on the divan, willing my stress levels to return to normal.
This is better; I thought as I settled down and closed my eyes. I was just drifting off when, BOOSH! something heavy landed on top of me.
I jumped to my feet and glared at the perpetrator, a nasty-looking individual, sitting on my divan. This was getting ridiculous; I couldn’t get any peace anywhere.
I decided a good old-fashioned scare was in order but something about the intruder looked familiar and I held back. Where had I seen him before? And what was he doing with that gun?
Did Harry know he was here? Probably not given what he was up to down the hall. I decided to just watch; no point in frightening him off until I knew what he was up to. Excitement is a scarce commodity around here and this was looking like it could turn into something. Suddenly I wasn’t tired at all.
Not that I wanted anything bad to happen to Harry; I’d grown to quite like him during my few months of residence, even though he’d changed a bit after he won that giant Lottery.
Before, he’d been a bit of a recluse. I could go days without seeing a single soul except him and the milkman but now there seemed to be women coming out of the walls. Well, not literally of course, that’s my party trick; but you know what I mean.
His fashion sense took a turn too. The old trackies he used to get around in and the grubby sweat shirts were now smart designer jeans – he’s all of 70 – and t-shirts that proclaimed his prowess in the you-know-what room.
Well, why not? When you’ve got his kind of money you can get away with anything, I suppose.
So I’m standing there, watching this chap fiddle with the gun he seemed way too comfortable with, and imagining all sorts of unthinkable scenarios. But another train of thought was niggling at me, one I’d been toying with since the day I found myself here as a permanent resident.
How did I get here? And why? If only I could remember.
My musings were suddenly over-ridden by loud noises from down the hall. Things seemed to be hotting up with lots of whooping and screeching and high-pitched laughter. I looked at the visitor; he didn’t seem bothered at all, just sat there cradling that darned gun like it was a much-loved pet or something.
When the noise finally stopped, Rusty (I’ll call him that because he has red hair) stood, straightened his jacket, and left the room, gun in hand.
This didn’t feel good. A chill, like a kind of déjà vous, crept over me and I followed. He obviously knew where he was going because he walked straight down the hall towards Harry’s room. It was quiet as; I guessed they were probably sleeping after all the activity.
At the door to the room, Rusty stopped for a moment then reached for the handle and walked right in. The BANG was deafening. Then all hell let loose – screaming, bumping, and then running. Harry’s girl shot out of there like a cat with its tail on fire, naked and yelling like an opera diva as she ran right through me.
I walked in and, sure enough, my imagination hadn’t failed me. Harry was lying on his back on the bed with a big red stain on his chest and the bedding around him getting redder by the moment.
Rusty was in Harry’s dressing room, messing with the big grey box I knew to be the safe.
I could have told him he wouldn’t find anything interesting in there because I’d seen Harry empty it a few days earlier; files, cash, some bullion, and then he filled it with bricks, left over from an outdoor barbecue he’d recently had built on the patio.
The only other thing was a note I’d watched him carefully scribe, which I didn’t understand at the time. But why would I? I couldn’t exactly ask him, but I was starting to get the picture now.
The note read:
HA HA HA – IF YOU ARE READING THIS I’LL BE GONE AND NOW YOU WILL NEVER GET YOUR FILTHY GREEDY HANDS ON A CENT OF MINE. TWO DEATHS ON YOUR CONSCIENCE AND STILL NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT. HA HA. WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE, SICKO?
I watched as Rusty gave up trying to work the dial and struggled to his feet. He disappeared out of the room and I thought he’d left but, several minutes later, he returned wheeling a small trolley.
By the time he had loaded the safe onto it and left, hopefully for the last time, I sank onto the bed beside Harry, the memory of my own demise now vivid in my mind. The noise of the gunshot must have jogged my memory.
I was no longer tired but I was devastated and lonelier than I’d ever thought possible. If I were alive I think I would have killed myself.
I was contemplating this new awareness when I noticed a movement from the corner of my eye. Harry was sitting up. Actually, he was also still lying on the bed, but another see-through Harry was now facing me.
“Hello old chap,” he said, grinning widely.
“H_hello,” I replied, tentatively, wondering what he had to grin about.
“Pleased to meet you at last,” he added, reaching out a hand and then dropping it as though the pointlessness of the action had suddenly occurred to him.
Hours later, in the drawing room, Harry was sitting in his favourite armchair beside the fireplace and I was sprawled on the sofa.
“Well, I guess it’s just you and me now,” Harry said, staring into the cold embers of yesterday’s crackling log fire. “No point in dwelling on the bad stuff. It’s happened and nothing to be done about it.”
He glanced across at me and I saw his eyes sparkle.
“At least I bested that crook, Collins. He’s a thieving cheat, hopeless business partner; I got out of that months ago when I won the Lottery. Pity about you though,” he added, looking genuinely sorry.
I nodded in total agreement.
“If you hadn’t come along that day you’d be still walking the streets and I’d be here on my own, dead and lonely,” he said. “But hey, let’s look on the bright side. At least we’ve got each other for company.”
I tried but wasn’t too convinced. Not that I had a great life as a door-to-door salesman; it wasn’t something I enjoyed at all. The money was lousy and, for the most part, the people I spoke to were rude and abrupt. I quickly learned that rich people don’t like their space being invaded by tattily dressed sales agents who looked like they hadn’t eaten for a week. But that wasn’t the point; at least I was alive then. I might have met someone and married one day; started my own dynasty.
I recalled the day it happened. I’d come back to Harry’s place for a second crack when I saw a car in the drive as I limped by on the threadbare soles of the cheapest shoes I could buy.
The door was open so I stepped inside and, as I did, I heard a voice.
“Yes?” I answered, because that was my name.
As I started to turn there was an almighty BANG!
There was blood everywhere. Something told me there would be no more door-to-door selling and walking in cheap shoes.
He knew immediately that he’d made a mistake; he was out of there like a rocket. I never saw anyone move so fast; his car was already accelerating through the gate as I stood up and walked to the door.
Unfortunately, I’m a similar size and build to Harry but things might have turned out okay if Collins had waited till he could see my face; or if my name had been Cyril, or Constantine, or Frederick – anything other than Harry.
Anyway, what’s done is done and, as Harry observed, we may as well make the best of what we have.
I looked up at the clock on the wall.
“The milkman’s due about now,” I said.
“How long has this one lasted?” he asked.
“We had a new one last week.”
“Third in a month, eh?”
“Yeah, fancy making it four?”