3:17 Part Twenty-Three

This is the twenty-third part of a fiction serial, in 765 words.

On the way home from Frinton, I decided to make a stop. I knew the address of where Ma Coughlan lived, as I had seen it enough times on the paperwork. It was on a Gipsy site provided by the local Council, but it wasn’t a caravan, more like a substantial static wooden lodge, painted in a trendy dove grey. Avoiding some chained-up dogs that ran at me barking noisily, I knocked on the glass door. It was answered by a girl who looked to be about ten, and she was only wearing underwear. I asked if Ma Coughlan was home, and the girl closed the door without replying.

A couple of minutes later, old Mrs Coughlan opened the door, waving her hand to gesture that I should step back, She held onto the big crucifix hanging from a chain around her neck as she spoke. “What’s your business here? I have nothing to say to you. We no longer use your company”. I told her that I had resigned, and was there on personal business. I wanted to know why she had called Gerry away from me outside the commercial premises on London Road that day. She said nothing, so I asked her what she had been pointing at.

When she didn’t slam the door, I wondered what she would do next. “I will tell you this once. Then you must never come back here, or talk to me or any of my family ever again. If you do, my Gerry will make you sorry, believe me. That day there was a boy on your right. He was dressed in football player’s clothes, and holding a ball. On your left was a man, tall, dark haired. He was holding a fishing rod. You didn’t know they were there, neither did Gerry. But I see things, whether I want to or not. Now go”.

With that she backed inside, and closed the door quietly. It would have been nice to know if she could still see them next to me, but I wasn’t about to push my luck in a site full of Pikeys.

Back in my flat that afternoon, I added what she had said to my notes. There was now a great deal of information that would tell me whether or not Sylvia Townsend was a fraud, or if she really knew her stuff. I found myself constantly looking from side to side, wondering if dad and Terry were going to appear to me. I had no idea what I would have done if they had. Probably shit myself with fright.

That evening, John phoned to tell me that they had bought me a leaving present, and asked if I could pop round on Friday sometime to get it. I told him I would, then microwaved a lasagna to accompany a very large Jack Daniels.

Friday morning found me feeling jittery. I was edgy about Sylvia coming in the early hours, and becoming more and more scared at the prospect that dad and Terry might appear in the living room. But I was sure that wasn’t her style, so I did some housework to make the place look respectable for her arrival. Then I walked down to the bank and got the cash out for later, popping into Mason and Walker on the way home.

John was there with Kelly. The others were all out on viewings or prospects. Kelly gave me a big card with ‘Sorry You’re Leaving’ on the front, and they had all signed it, even Neil. Then John handed over a nicely wrapped gift box containing a lovely Seiko chronograph wristwatch. I admit I was surprised. That must have been worth well over a hundred and fifty quid. John looked awkward. “We all chipped in, Darren. Even Neil stumped up, which considering Janice doesn’t want him back was good of him, I suppose. He’s out now, trying to shift those lock up garages in Gardiners Way. They have been on our books for over four years”.

Kelly started giggling, then John began chuckling, and soon we were all having a good laugh about Neil.

In advance of Sylvia’s visit later, I packed away all the stuff into the boxes, added my laptop, and stashed the lot in the hall cupboard. I had to take the hoover out to get them all in, but I just stood that in my bedroom. Then I had an early dinner, and sat clock watching. She had warned me to get some sleep before she turned up.

Like that was ever going to happen.

38 thoughts on “3:17 Part Twenty-Three

  1. (1) Mary Coughlan is a gypsy, tramp, and thief who was finally willing to cher her vision.
    (2) Gerry Coughlan is a red-faced gypsy with an enormous beer belly. His high blood pressure is due to Mary’s frightening ghost stories. Some of them are about the ten-year-old ghost who claims she keep Gerry’s soul in her underwear.
    (3) The bird dogs often bark at the dove grey lodge.
    (4) “I see dead people!” (Mary Coughlan, who has a sixth sense)
    (5a) When it comes to fisherman ghosts, Brian Cook is the reel McCoy.
    (5b) Jimmy Kirkland was a morgue attendant. When Dr. Leonard McCoy arrived at the morgue with Terry’s body, he stated the obvious. “He’s dead, Jim.”
    (6) Jack Daniel was a large man. Nevertheless, Darren was able to stuff him in the microwave with Lasagna, the mischievous Latin gremlin.
    (7) Darren always walked to Mason and Walker. Had the agency been named Racin’ and Runner…
    (8) The Seiko chronograph wristwatch was a lovely gift. Too bad it was stuck on 3:17. (There must be a gremlin in the gears.)
    (9) Gar diners weigh in: “Gar tastes like lobster. Try it sometime!”

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