Continued from part 2

Nothing of note happened during the evening. I contented myself with reading the newspaper and glancing occasionally at Charles, who had eventually slid into the green armchair on the other side of the inglenook. Well, about midnight, just after the obligatory antique grandfather chimed the new day in, the inevitable creaks and groans began. “Jesus,” I thought. “This is so bloody trite. Cant he think of anything a little more imaginative than this?” Charles of course, reacted with delectably feigned fear to every creak and shudder, no doubt hoping to entice me into colluding in his apparent terror. I was having none of it. But it can’t have been more than half an hour later that the real fun began. Whispering coming from upstairs was what stared it. Now, my hearing’s pretty sharp, and I noticed it before Charles did, but when he started hearing it, I got to know all about it! “Charles, Charles… come to us Charles,” it kept repeating. You know those far off sounding voices ghosts are supposed to have. He virtually leapt out of the armchair and looked at me in a passable imitation of sheer terror. “Don’t let them take me,” he moaned, looking for all the world as if he really was frightened.

I., of course, was enjoying myself immensely. “Yeah, yeah, Charles,” I answered “and next we have Banquo’s Ghost going twelve rounds with Hamlet’s father, and for an encore the Devil’s gonna throw his pitch fork right through the window. Get real, Sunshine. There’s nothing you can do to frighten me out of this house and my money.” I folded my arms across my chest and looked at him enquiringly.

His twisted face looked at me with the word ‘please’ written all over it. “He must really need not to part with that money,” I thought. He made his way haltingly over to the sofa and sat down next to me. “Shit,” I thought. “Aggression I can deal with but if he starts coming on to me maybe I really am going to have to go. Never took ol’ Charlie for a gay-boy.” But all he seemed to want to do was sit by me. And somehow that had a slightly calming effect on him. I could only assume he’d worked himself into some sort of emotional frenzy that he was unable to control, now. Perhaps he really was feeling the fear that earlier I was certain he’d been feigning.

I must have fallen asleep sometime after that, as the next thing I knew was the clock chiming three and the sofa Charles and I were sitting on starting to move. I was quite impressed with that, particularly when it began to drag itself – and us with it -inch by inch towards the front door. And when the door creaked slowly open and a chill wind began to blow in, I knew we were approaching the grand finale. I sat, amused, as Charles gave another ‘I-am-terrified’ performance, his red face sweating buckets down his handmade white collar. I only realised later that it failed to leave a mark. This time he pretended to try to get off the sofa, but acted as if he was unable to. To prove my point, as his pitiful moans grew louder and louder, I yawned, stood up and stretched. Naturally, there was no restraint on me. How could there be in this pathetic clichéd circus show he was throwing for me. Charles, of course, continued to moan in misery as the sofa creaked and shuddered its way slowly towards the door.

It was then that what I presumed the star turn arrived, in the form of a couple of wispy apparitions on the porch. They seemed to be made of smoke, but nevertheless had identifiable humanoid features. I was quite intrigued at first, wondering how on earth he’d managed to twist the smoke into a controllable form. “All done with mirrors,” I thought wryly to myself. It was then that the wispy-men started calling. “Charles…” they started, repeating what the voices from upstairs had said. “Charles. Come Charles…come to us.”

To be continued

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