We huddled around the worn out kitchen table, which had been recently covered in an Indian style silk scarf to add mood to the scene. The room was dimly lit by flickering candles. The air was infused with expectation, a little trepidation, and the cloying reek of incense burners.
“Is there anybody therrrrrreeeeee!” intoned Widow McCarty dramatically. She was taking her self-appointed role as the local district’s seer far too seriously for my liking, but still, she had volunteered to host the event and even had splashed out on a large packet of jammy dodgers, so no one was complaining.
“Is there anybody therrrrrreeeeee!” she repeated, her face transforming into a coma victim as she continued, “Knock once for yes.”
Many years of playing the lead role in the local theatre association were coming to the fore as she rolled her eyes theatrically about as if she was possessed.
If she started projectile vomiting I was out of there.
KNOCK … KNOCK!
We all looked a little surprised at the double knock. Was that a no … or two yesses? Even Agnes McCarthy opened her eyes in surprise. Tentatively, she asked, “Are we being blessed by the spirits of those who have passed on to the next life?”
KNOCK … KNOCK
“Is that a yes, or a no?”
“So that’s a yes then?”
KNOCK … KNOCK
“Oh, for heaven’s sake! Make up your bloody mind,” grumbles Mrs Cartwright, who was sitting to my left.
“Who’s banging the table?” accused Mr Burns. “Quit bollocking about. This is supposed to be serious! I want to commune with my Fanny.”
“It wasn’t me!” I protested.
“Me neither,” assured Mrs Cartwright.
“Nor me,” said Widow McCarthy.
All eyes turned to Ms Price, who had remained quiet throughout the proceedings. She said nothing.
It was hard to discern her eyes through the tinted glasses she perpetually wore. She had briefly been a rock star during the sixties before drug abuse had gotten the better of her, and she still strutted around as if she was Bono’s mum.
We all leaned closer and Widow McCarthy whispered, “Ms Price? Was that you?”
A soft purring sound slipped out of the spinster’s throat, a whisper of a snore. Looking closer, we could see a glistening on Maggie Price’s chin where she had started to droll in her sleep.
“Bloody space cadet! I told you it was a bad idea to invite her,” grumbled Jack Burns.
“I didn’t invite her … I thought you did!” protested Widow McCarthy.
Further debate was interrupted by a persistent knocking. The spirits of the deceased were becoming impatient.
“I think we’d better use the Ouija board,” declared Agnes.
We all looked at the recently procured contraption that Widow McCarthy had ordered through eBay. It was a ‘Nemesis Now TALKING BOARD OUIJA SPIRIT BOARD Pagan with GLASS & PLANCHETTE’, whatever that meant. We had been assured by Agnes that it was state of the art, and it had cost her a whole fifty quid plus postage and packing. This was another reason why we had agreed to her being the self-appointed seer. No one else was mad enough to splash out so much of their pension on an afternoon’s dalliance.
Reading the directions, Agnes instructed, “We all need to each place a fingertip on the glass.”
In for a penny, in for fifty quid, as the old saying goes.
Hesitantly, we did as instructed. After all, the widow still hadn’t opened up her jammy dodgers.
The glass immediately started to move.
We were too stunned to respond. The message started again …
Finally, Widow McCarthy pulled herself together and replied, “Errr … Hi Patrice. I’m sorry, but you did indeed leave the gas on! When you came home from bingo last Wednesday night… well … the explosion destroyed the bottom half of the street.”
“She survived the blast, though she was a little scorched during the blast. However, I’m sorry to say, she was run over by the milk float this morning … we’re err … sorry for your loss!”