As part of the Haunted House Virtual Tour promoting our ghost novellas Blind and Ungentle Sleep (by V.R.Christensen and B.Lloyd respectively), here is a quick, light-hearted fictional ‘visit’ to somewhere a little different; not strictly gothic, but still ghost-related …
Ah. There you are. Come closer. Closer. Come on, don’t be shy. New here, aren’t you? Well, we have all been new here, at some time or another. What’s that ? Oh, where you like. No pre-booked places here, everyone can pick and choose. What about this one, here – nice, isn’t it; cushions belonged to a duchess from one of those eastern places. Grand, ain’t they. Like the paintings. I prefer landscapes myself, but we’re here this evening, so it’s portraits, portraits, portraits. Yes, a little imposing, I agree. Altogether rather a grand house. I believe the owner is here, somewhere. Oh, look who’s arrived – one of the family relatives, lady Alice – now this should be interesting; grew up here, has any number of anecdotes about the place – good evening, ma’am, and how is it with you ? How time flies, eh ? And you have your nephew with you this time. What’s that ? Ah yes, we’re about to begin - now, we all need to be a bit quiet, and wait till we’re spoken too. Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Think of it as more a kind of etiquette. Hush! There comes our interlocutor for the evening. Yes, the little round lady dressed like a pin cushion. Madame Pashka. And this evening, we have the gentleman as well ! I’ve only seen him a couple of times before; quite good he is too – what’s his name again, Shirley, Shepherd? Something like that - and here come the other guests. Yes, try not to get in the way, give them time to sit down. No, not there. Whoops. Never mind, it does happen. Don’t think anyone noticed. Excuse me while I pay my respects . .
. . . Just been chatting to Lady Alice: apparently, there has always been some story about a lady in grey wandering the upper landing; seems she was abandoned by her husband during Charles II’s reign and pined away. I shall be most interested to see if Madame Pashka or Mr Sharlaton experience anything this evening . . .Ah, Madame Pashka is in her usual chair. Makes her look even more like a pin cushion, don’t you think? What’s that? - Who starts first ? Well, we take it in turns – though half the time, she doesn’t appear to hear much ...
Yes, they tend to turn the lights down for this kind of thing. They say it helps. I don’t know what with, I am sure. Bumping into the furniture, haha, bless me, I know I shouldn’t say that – well, you know the old saying about things going bump in the night and all that, haha. Hem.
Eh? What? Yes, they usually start by asking that question. We try not to confuse them by knocking all at once – we usually leave that to whoever our hostess is – oh, but Missy Pincushion has beaten her to it – naughty naughty! Banged the table with her knee, Tom says. (Tom’s the one with the neckerchief tied around his neck rather tight – yes, well, it’s to stop his head falling off) – Now, I say we give her a little fright for doing that. This is supposed to be a serious séance, after all. What say we all take hold of the table – yes, damned heavy, ain’t it, and we all go, one two, three – HEAVE !
Hahahahahahahahhahahahahaa – that was fun ! See how they run !
Madame Pashka was quite happy with the general result; admittedly, the rush from the room caused people to trip over each other (she had her foot trodden on a couple of times) but by the time things had settled, she could claim to have held a magnificent séance – impressing her guests, including some acting friends from the Big City, who chatted about it freely on their way back to their lodgings.
‘Quite the thing to write a play about,’ said one of them, in plummy tones as he drew on his cigarette. ‘A comedy, naturally.’
‘With Madame Pashka in it? Oh surely, you must put her in it – and will you write a part for me as well?’ replied his companion.
‘But naturally, darling – I have just the thing for you; but we’ll have to change Madame Pashka’s name. Something … more … Mediterranean. Suggestive of the Midi, I think.’
‘And who does she speak to, in this play? You don’t think it might upset people, what with the War on and everything?’
‘Nonsense – a light-hearted romp, and the embarrassing consequences of calling up unwanted relatives … it will be just what people want. I have something outlined in my head already – a playwright – no, we’ll make him a novelist, looking for material for his next book -’
‘Rather like you, this evening, then.’
‘And it worked! Only our novelist, whom we shall call Charles for now, not only gets his material but an unexpected visitor from his past … It will be a tour de force d’esprit … hmm, perhaps I should call it that …’
‘Oh no, people will think it’s some re-hash of Moliere and keep away, won’t they?’
‘Tour de force, Tour d’esprit…Spritely… Spirit … Spirits… I shall think about it. Here we are. A little nightcap? That was quite a performance Madame Pashka gave; I feel ready to start on my comedy straightaway.’
‘So you don’t think there was anything in it? The séance, I mean.’
‘Heavens, no, they have so many tricks up their sleeves, as Mr Houdini often demonstrated. Still, most entertaining.’
And so saying, the playwright opened the front door and ushered in the actress. Later that same night he wrote in his diary: “… Very gay, superficial comedy about a ghost. Feel it may be good.”
A week later it was finished and ran for 1,997 performances. Not a bad record for ‘an improbable farce in three acts’.
No prizes for guessing who wrote the play, nor what its title is – but can anyone remember where he wrote it?
Anagram to nudge the old grey cells: Root me in RIP
Giveaway alert! Both Blind and Ungentle Sleep will be free on Amazon 5th and 6th of October
Links to the two ghost novellas :
Ungentle Sleep UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ungentle-Sleep-ebook/dp/B008VIJFLI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344584088&sr=8-1
Ungentle Sleep US http://www.amazon.com/Ungentle-Sleep-ebook/dp/B008VIJFLI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344586329&sr=1-1&keywords=ungentle+sleep
Thanks for joining us on the tour! Happy Haunting!