Once in a Blue Moon 2
Breakfast was over; I was on my third coffee and Josie was on her second cup of tea before I decided to bring up the subject that had kept my mind occupied throughout our, mostly silent, meal.
"Justice, I want justice." I prepared myself for an outburst. Confounding my expectations she sat still, saying nothing, regarding me speculatively. After what seemed like hours she spoke very softly.
"You mean you want to kill her or at least see her dead?"
"God, no! That would mean she'd be here now. Making my after-life hell the same way she made my life a nightmare. No, I don't want her dead. I want justice not revenge. I want to see her...them...tried and convicted for my murder. I don't want her to get a penny of my money. I want to see her lose every last copper coin of it, and for her to know she's lost it. I want them both in gaol." That had all come out just a trifle louder than I'd intended. I took a calming breath before continuing. "I just don't have a clue how to go about it. You're the expert, help me out here. What can we do?"
She produced a huge smile. "I'm so glad you said that. The chief would not have been happy with revenge."
I was pleased to see that smile again, but shivered as I realised I really didn't want to find out what would happen if I did something 'the chief' wouldn't like.
"So, as I said, this is your field. What do we do? Go and find a nice psychic somewhere, jump into her skin and trot off to have her talk to my sis?"
"You've been watching too many films. We don't do that sort of thing," Josie admonished gently.
"Don't, won't or can't?" I enquired.
"The first two," She admitted. "We can do it but we're only allowed to in very special circumstances. Of course the trapped do it whenever they find a willing subject."
"People who haven't moved on. The ones who weren't ready to leave when they were called. They stay linked to this world and prey on the foolish and unwary."
I really didn't like the sound of that; it reminded me a bit of one of my Mam's very biblical rants against Ouija boards (or weegee as she liked to call them). I decided to drop it and keep to the topic that interested me, which was, of course, me and my little problem.
"So, is there anything we can do?"
"There might be. Wait here a moment, I need to talk to my supervisor."
And with that she was gone. I don't mean she left the caff. She just wasn't there anymore. It wasn't a slow dissolving, or even a shower of golden glitter. It wasn't even something I could describe as 'disappearing', because that gives an impression of observable change. It was just that one second she was there and then...not.
"Here you go, ducks, better have another, she might be a while." The auntie Edie clone slid a mug of coffee in front of me.
I don't know how long I sat there waiting. It could have been lifetimes or mere seconds. I sipped at my coffee and there was still half a mug full when, just as suddenly as she'd gone, Josie was there.
"Hi," she said brightly. And then she waited, smiling.
"Well?" I enquired.
Her smile broadened. "I was waiting to see how long it took you. Patience is not your strongest feature is it?"
I gave her what my Da would have called 'an old fashioned look'. It must have worked as well for me as it used to for him because she stopped teasing.
"Well. I've spoken to my supervisor, she wasn't very happy with me. However, she decided that punishing you for my mistake wouldn't be fair. So she's allowed us some leeway. We're going to your funeral..."
"Urgh." I shivered. I did not like the way that sounded.
Josie glared at me. "As I was saying... We're going to your funeral and we are to observe. If by her actions your sister convinces both of us that she genuinely cares for you then you will permitted to enter her dreams and speak to her."
"Great," I muttered sarcastically, "and how long before the funeral, then?"
"You still don't get it do you? There are no constraints of time here, as long as you go forward and not back. We're going to the funeral right away."
There was a sudden swirl of fog, a feeling similar to being plunged into an icy lake and there we were. No longer in the caff but standing at the front of the chapel in the crematorium facing the mourners. And we were right beside the coffin. My coffin.
I looked at it the coffin for a long moment and swallowed audibly. Josie glared at me.
"Don't you dare pass out again," she whispered.
"I'm not going to," I hissed back at her. "And why are we whispering?"
"Respect," she said. "Respect for the place, the occasion and the departed. Though I don't know that you've done anything to warrant my respect," she was smiling cheekily.
"Hey! I didn't get me killed. I wasn't late," I protested somewhat acidly.
She looked distraught as she murmured her apologies and instantly I felt contrite. I hadn't meant to hurt her.
"Oh God. I'm sorry, I didn't..."
"No, it's ok, you were right." She spoke very quietly and the smile had gone.
I hadn't seen her this subdued before and I suddenly felt like a complete heel. Without stopping to think I snatched a white rose from the cross of flowers resting on my coffin and, going down on one knee, offered it to her. "I'm sorry, really I am. That was totally uncalled for. Please forgive me. I'm a complete and utter pillock I know."
She was just reaching out for it when a gasp from the mourners alerted me to exactly what I'd done, and what it looked like to them. I promptly lost the ability to hold on and the rose slipped through my hand.
Literally, right through it.
Josie acted before I could move. She snatched the flower out of the air and brought it slowly to the ground, her hand gently swaying from side to side as she did so.
I heard Julia's voice shakily murmuring, "The wind, it was just the wind."
I was inordinately pleased to realise she'd been scared.
There was a stir towards the back of the room which captured my attention. My sister had arrived, late as usual. She made her way to the front, pausing only to glare daggers at Julia. My spirits sank; she obviously still had a problem with my sexuality. Damn. I'd been counting on her help. Susie walked up to my coffin and placed her hand on it.
I turned to Josie.
"Hey, I thought the dead could hear our thoughts. How come I can't pick up a thing from anybody here?"
She shook her head, smiling. "You watch too much telly as well as too many films."
"I'll have you know that's a good show. The two leads aren't bad either; I certainly wouldn't kick either of them out of bed on a cold night."
"Letch!" She grinned. "Actually the problem is that they're thinking about you, not to you. If they think to you, you can hear them."
At that moment I heard my sister's voice. Well not quite her voice. She'd started doing exactly as Josie had described, she was thinking to me. I was gobsmacked by the things Susie was thinking. How much she loved me. How she wished we hadn't quarrelled and that she regretted the things she said. How much she disliked Julia and was certain that the messages she asked her to pass to me hadn't been delivered. Which was bang on the money considering this was the first I'd heard of them. I turned to Josie.
"Can you hear this?"
"No, only you can. She's only talking to you. By the look on your face though, I would say it's all good." I nodded. "Well, you'll be allowed to speak to her then. But first we'll have to find something to speak about. Come on."
She grabbed my arm and started to usher me towards the door.
"Hey, hang about. The service is starting."
She stared at me.
"Please tell me you don't want to watch your own cremation."
"Ah. Well, when you put it like that, perhaps not. Lead on then. Where are we going?"
And we stepped out of the chapel and right into my front garden. I didn't even blink. Damn, not yet ten days dead and already completely blasé about the after-life.
Walking through the door was nothing like I'd seen on that film, it was just...well, it felt a bit like swimming in treacle, but that was all. And then we were in the living room. And so was Julia. I turned to look at Josie, I didn't need to ask.
"Two days ago," she said.
Ok, perhaps I wasn't as blasé as I'd thought because I had to take a deep breath before even thinking of moving. My life-after-death was speeding past but then, I supposed, I did have eternity. Trying to imagine eternity always made my head hurt while I lived so I didn't fancy thinking about it at that moment. Especially since Julia's phone conversation was sounding rather interesting.
We listened as she described my murder in detail and discussed the part played in it by the person on the other end of the phone, whose name was apparently Teddy. Somehow that figured. Teddy and Julia - they sounded like a bad Barbara Cartland novel.
Julia hung up and it suddenly turned into a bad Hitchcock movie instead. She laughed in a way that Hitch would have called 'sinister' and disconnected a recorder from the phone.
No. We couldn't possibly get that lucky. Surely even Julia couldn't be that clichéd? Oh yes, she could. She carried the disc into the room she used to use as her office and unlocked a safe; one that I hadn't known existed. She took out a cash box and opened it, placing the new disc with the others already in there. I was gobsmacked.
"We've got her! Bloody hellfire, we've damned well got her!"
I grabbed Josie round the waist, swung her around in a circle and kissed her.