I sat there trying to make sense of what she’d just said. How could she know? It was impossible.
Or was it? My rational mind took over. Rushbridge was only seven miles from where me and Aunt Dot had once lived. Maybe they knew each other. Maybe they were friends for a while. I stood up and walked over to her.
“Okay Doreen. You got me. You knew my Aunt Dot didn’t you. Were you friends?”
She ushered me back to the kitchen table.
“Sit down and I’ll get us both another coffee and we’ll…”
She stopped in mid sentence as if listening to something.
“Better than that. Go to that cabinet over near the window. There’s a bottle of something stronger in there. I’m told you like a drop of the hard stuff from time to time.”
She laughed as she said it as though she was sharing a joke with someone unseen.
But she was right. I did like a drop of Whisky, sometimes a bit too much. I’d never been much of a beer drinker. Scotch was my tipple.
I went to the cabinet and found a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black label. Doreen was already sitting down at the table when I returned. There were two clean mugs on the table.
“I’ll join you. But just a small one for me.”
I poured us both a drink and waited for her to tell the truth about Aunty Dot. But she remained silent. It was as though she was listening to another conversation. I raised my voice to get her attention.
“DOREEN. You did know her didn’t you.”
She smiled, picked up her mug and took a sip.
“No dear. I never met her. But one thing I do know is that she loved you very much and to be honest she thinks you can do better than The Rushbridge Gazette.”
Once again that was exactly the sort of thing Aunt Dot would say. She never pulled any punches, always spoke her mind.
“But how?…How do you know all this?”
That’s when she said the famous line. Though I very much doubt if she’d ever seen the film.
“I see dead people. They talk to me, tell me things. I don’t see them clearly, just as shadows. Dead people don’t like to be seen as they are now, so they make your eyes go weak. But I hear them. Clear as day. Your Aunt Dot is here now standing right behind you. She just said you won’t believe me.”
She laughed as she said those last few words and she was right to laugh. I didn’t believe her, not a word. There must be something else. I decided to put her to the test.
“Okay. Ask Aunt Dot to tell you something that only she and I would know.”
Her eyes moved to look at something to my left. She squinted as if trying to focus. Then she nodded.
“Okay. I understand. “
Now she looked back at me.
“After your Mum passed, Dot took you on holiday to Cornwall. You had ice cream but tripped over and it landed in the sand. You were inconsolable and cried for hours. She always thought it had nothing to do with the ice cream but more about your Mum.”
That was it. I was hooked. As impossible as it all seemed, I suddenly believed in Doreen Lucas.
For the next hour she told me about Ivan and his Russian lessons. He’d been visiting for many years. Usually twice a week and during that time he’d taught her the language. She also told me about the many “visitors” she had. Random dead people would just pop in to say hello and talk to her. She never left the house anymore because there were just too many distractions. Apparently dead people are everywhere.
After another mug each of whisky she stopped talking and looked away. She was listening.
“Yes, yes, why not. I’d be happy to help.”
I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or someone else. I couldn’t help but interrupt.
“You’re Aunty Dot has a plan to help you get a better job.”
Doreen went on to explain what Dot had in mind. If it worked I would be famous. So of course I agreed.
That was a few weeks ago. I’ve been visiting 58 Woodbridge Gardens every day since then. I sit with Doreen while she talks and listens to the guests that arrive. It’s amazing how many dead people want to come and tell her things. We’ve had musicians, politicians, gangsters, religious leaders, even royalty.
I sit and make notes as she repeats what they tell her. She can even ask for certain people to attend. It takes a day or two but they do come. Ever eager to tell their stories.
I’m still with the Rushbridge Gazette. But not for long. Tomorrow I have an interview with a large Sunday Newspaper as an Investigative Journalist. How can they turn me down? I’ve got this amazing story about Lord Lucan. I can prove where he went after the murder of his nanny and even where his body is buried. All done with proper investigative techniques of course. After I’ve got the job I’ll start to explain other unsolved mysteries like what happened to Jimmy Hoffa and who really shot JFK. It’s a wonderful opportunity.
There’s just one drawback. I’m beginning to think I can hear the voices as well. But not clearly, just as faint whispers. Oh and another thing. My reading glasses don’t seem to work anymore…