“Unfortunately times are hard, we all need to adapt.” I said with a disarming smile and then selecting my next questioner.
“Minister, you say that but what exactly are your government doing?” asked an averagely pretty brunette.
Raising an eyebrow, and opening my arms. “I empathise with the poor, I understand them. I’ve been to their houses; I have seen how they live, their prospects and the lack of opportunities. Myself, I was very hard up when I studied at University, but did I complain, no. I learnt to budget, and these people need to do the same.” And on this note I lifted my palm to confirm the interview was over.
Opposite my driver had the engine running ready for my exit. I had a dinner appointment with my mother, and she would give me hell if I was late. Stepping back and down the curb, I slipped into a jog and came out in front of the number 73. It didn’t stop and twenty five tonnes of red omnibus can do a lot of damage.
Pulling myself up to my feet I discovered that I had travelled fifty yards down the road, and was now outside the Disney shop. They had seven dwarfs in the window, it was excellently dressed. The double-decker driver was at the back of his bus and my man was bent over vomiting into the gutter.
Beside me stood a very erect, slim man, a few years younger than myself, about thirty five I guess. He wore his glasses low, with a long fringe parted on the left. His suit was scruffy and bright yellow. Licking his biro, he ticked a sheet on his clipboard.
“Harry Armitage.” He confirmed without lifting his head from his board. ‘Not another journalist’, but as always, you have to be polite.
“Sorry, in a bit of a rush, the interview has finished, you’ll need to ring my press department.” There was something odd about this one. The point was, he was six feet, but at present he was hovering seven feet above the road. I gave him a once over. No wires, very impressive.
“Harry Armitage, I am afraid I have to tell you that you have died. Time of death recorded at 17:20 hrs. Hit by a bus.” He jabbed at his document.
Well bugger me, that doesn’t happen everyday. I decide not to travel to the far end of the bus, properly a bit messy. My body, it seemed, had journeyed the length of the vehicle and several wheels had imprinted a pattern on my face.
It would miss the evening papers, but it should make the front page of the Telegraph early run. I hope they use the photo of me outside Westminster, it was a good one.
Turning to the yellow suit, I waited for him to begin. He floated from side to side, smiled awkwardly and coughed.
“What now?” I started. “Do I go on, are you an angel?”
“No, yes.” He blushed, “I am an angel, but no you do not go on.” Silence ensured. It was my turn to cough.
“So what’s next?” I asked.
“Oh, sorry, I’ll explain. We wait and before midnight, your reincarnation will start. Lovely home, very hard working family, I’m sure you will be very happy.”
This was a turn up and not what I expected. My religion had been C of E, and as a rule we tended to believe that heaven would be the next stop. I explained this to my visitor.
“That is possible, but we reckoned it was time we gave the Buddhist idea a go. Very popular in parts of the world. You’re part of a trial. For the last two years we have been sending souls back for reincarnation. The principle is that you will learn new enlightening parts about yourself and become a better person.” He smiled. “In the next sixty years we will get feed back from those like you and decide if it has been a success. We have a form.” He said searching for approval. “It’s in triplicate.”
Open to new ideas, I was game on. My life up to now had been fine and there was plenty I still wanted to achieve in the crazy world of politics.
My angel continued “You have been designated to a family from Cardiff, and consummation will be completed before midnight. I suggest you spend the next few hours getting to know the family home, it will help you settle.”
In a blink we had moved from London and landed on an overgrow lawn outside a three bed terraced house on a council estate. The noise of a door being slammed behind me shook me back to earth.
“You will like these people. Poor and hardworking.” He thumbed through his pad. “Scott forty two, works as a forklift driver. Sasha, housewife, aged forty. Chelsea sixteen and is out on a date tonight, which leaves Rhys, fourteen. Staying at his grandparents. Right, I’ll leave you with it then and will see you again in a very long time.” His pad and board went under his arm and pen clipped into his top jacket pocket.
Quickly, I blurted out “But what if I don’t like them?” and as an after thought. “What happens if they don’t consummate before midnight?”
He seemed confused. “But you like the poor, hard working families, you said so. If they don’t copulate, then I guess you move on to the next family?” He changed tact, “But I am sure you will be fine, good night.”
“Can I walk through walls?” I shouted. I was finding reasons to keep him near. Strangely I didn’t want to be alone.
Shuffling backwards in the air, towards the wire gate and beginning to fade, he answered my last question. “Yes of course, but why would you, that would be rude.”
Upstairs I found Scott, he was singing to himself, a romantic number, whilst buttoning his cuff. Pulling his shirt tails down over his gut, it managed to cover the top inch of his jeans, he shimmied his shoulders. Peering into the full length mirror Scott located a short hair on top of his shaven head. Pinched it between his thumb and finger, he flicked it, it floated down, around, and then landed on his elbow. The shirt was ghastly, Mediterranean blue with white waves. Scott stood at six foot, and was hitting twenty stone. It was not muscle.
Puffing on a cigarette, he blew out smoke and increased his volume as he sang loudly over the chorus. Detached, I heard a giggle. That must me Sasha. I followed the sound out of the bedroom door and glanced down the corridor. At the end, with door open, sat a very large woman, knickers by her ankles, fag in hand, sitting on the toilet.
On standing, her black lacy dress stopped and inch lower than her black g-string. Below, over mounds of flesh she wore hold ups, a circular mark reddened as they dug into her skin.
Scot carried on his vocal display as he appeared, and danced his way towards his wife. A foot came up and slammed the door shut. He knocked softly on it, drumming with his sausage fingers, gave up, started to hum again as he trotted down the stairs to grab a drink.
This was a nightmare, these two, my next parents. By God, I would be supporting Cardiff City Football Club, singing karaoke and drinking larger with a dash. I was due a knighthood, a role at Cambridge, perhaps a Lord. My blood boiled, it was not fair. I punched the wall; to my surprise my arm went straight through and knocked the ashtray from its shelf on the other side. Glass smashed on the floor. I stood stunned. I could touch objects.
A plan started to form. I was not leader of my schools debating club for nothing. Thinking on my feet is what helped make me a top bridge player. Could I stop these two fornicating? For tonight anyway. By midnight, the time would be passed and I would be given over to another couple. And on the face of it, they would be much better.
Downstairs, the lights dimmed with gentle soul spinning on the CD player. Scot was again preening in front of a mirror; it was situated over the fake fire place. The plastic coal light was plugged in and threw an orange tint across the rug. Sasha flowed in behind him, creeping up and placed her fingers over his eyes.
“Don’t tell me, Kyle? No, to tall. Maybe Kristina Blackley? Or better still your sister, Marie, always fancied having a bit of her. Ow.”
Sasha slapped his bald head. He turned and twisted with her. Pulling in her large frame and then pushing her away in time with the beat. When she was close, Scott would whisper, when apart he carried on mouthing the words to the love song playing.
I was not having this, bad music, awful dancing and flirting on a gigantic scale. If this carried on I would begin cell division on the rug. Forcing through the couple, I headed for the stereo. On my knees and with full focus I pressed the stop button. Scott finished the line, glanced over, grabbed the remote and hit play. I hit stop. Watching him closely, each time he went for his button I went for mine.
“Bloody thing, I told you not to buy it from the pub, always dodgy gear from there,” said Sasha, whilst moving away from her husband and picking up her JD and coke. Scott brooded on the matter, and then, with hot thoughts in his head changed tact. ”Fancy a bluey love?” A grin spread over his face as he winked at his wife. With a slight blush she agreed and Scott unlocked his cupboard door and withdrew an eighteen.
Good lord, this had to stop. Leaning behind the television I switched off the socket, pulled the scart lead from the player and stomped back across the lounge. ‘They will never work that one out’, I thought happily to myself.
Sasha came towards me; I sidestepped to her right, knocking her drink from her hand, smashing the glass against the fireplace. She froze and stared at Scott, he stared from her to the fireplace. “I didn’t throw it,” she pleaded with him.
“No love, it flew from your hand, and I can’t get the TV to work either. Did you feel the chill a second ago?” He appeared worried. Sasha’s brain tried to work out how the trick had been done, and on the chance of overloading, she gave up.
“Bit freaky ain’t it,” she said. “Tell you what, it’s probably the drink, why not take the bottle up to bed and we can snuggle?” Scott debated, checked the television again, flicked at the remote, and decided to ignore the strange situation.
‘Bugger’, I thought. The bedroom is not what I wanted. I pursued them.
Inside, the king sized bed, with dark red and black covers and several more pillows than normal, had a large Sasha spread back on it. The side lamp was on and chill out music came from her ipod. Scott stood at the foot, slowly undoing his shirt, swaying it time with the tune. I punched the light switch and the room lit up.
“What’s going on?” Sasha turned towards the door. She was alarmed and uncomfortable.
“Relax, the electrics are playing up, that’s all. I’ll ring the council in the morning.” Slowly he came over towards the switch, on high alert and obviously not convinced of his cover story. As he approached, I blew in his ear and watched him jump a foot backwards. This was too much.
Back he came, an inch at a time, stretched forward and turned off the light. Scott, with head still watching the switch, leapt to the bed and onto it. For a few minutes they lay in silence, but as the clock ticked they became themselves again. I switched the light back on.
Red in the face, his wife sat up shouting at him; Scott rose up and belted towards the door and out into the corridor. Shocked I fell backwards, my head falling through the bedroom wall and unilaterally my left foot raised and kicked out. It turned over a side table, which bounced into the running mans knees. Over he flew; face planting on the far wall. Blood smeared down as he slipped to the carpet. He grumbled to himself, Sasha went flying to him, bent down and grabbed a cloth, dabbing at Scott’s nose.
“Get out of my house you ghost!” She shouted at the ceiling. It scared me I must say. In fear I retreated to the bathroom and shut myself in. A heard of elephants came towards the toilet, banging on the door. “Get out of my house you spook,” she screamed. If I hadn’t been dead then I may have turned pale.
What next? Yes I was a bit freaked, she was a large woman, but I had a bigger goal and I was not going to be disrupted from it. Around me in the pink fluffy room, full of talc and body spray I spied the gold taps. All of them, the sink and bath, hot and cold, I had them at full power spraying on the walls and floor.
“Come and fight me like a real person, don’t hide behind your poltergeist ways. And don’t you dare hit my husband or I’ll Hoover you up and throw you in the dustbin. You hear me!” I sat quietly, hoping she would go away. “Right!” Footsteps headed down the stairs, minutes later returning with a heavy load bouncing off the wall. She plugged in and barged the door open, sucking every bit of air and dust from the room as she held the hose at eye level.
I escaped through the wall.
Football posters greeted me and a poster of Marshall Mathers. I sat on the bed and waited. Outside the volume had lowered. Sasha was a scary mother, sure she would stand up for her children, but to be on the end of it was a bit much. Not the type of parent for me. Another child would do excellent, they obviously loved each other. But I deserved parents from Richmond or Putney.
Eventually, as the hostility subsided, I ventured back out; I still have a job to do. Back in their bedroom, Sasha was tending to her husbands cuts. His head was in her lap.
“I think I just could do with sleeping.” He said feeling sorry for himself.
“Yes love, I’m not in the mood either.” His eyes shut as she brushed his hair with her hands.
Sitting in the corner I waited, the clock clicked on to eleven fifty five. In the night gloom the couple moved in close, quilt movements indicted something funny going on. Spooning, could nothing stop that man! Out of the corner I flew, grabbing a tumbler of JD. Yanking the cover back, I soaked the two headed monster. They jumped apart, sitting up and brushing the alcohol of them.
“I’ll have to change the sheets now!” Sasha shouted to the light shade. She was not in good form. Rolling her husband off the mattress, she tugged the sheets off, throwing them in my direction. They fell threw my body and landed at my feet. Interesting, sheets don’t cover ghost. Scot lay down and turned away from his wife, she did likewise and a gap appeared between them.
Completion, job done, result. I was ecstatic and relived. At this the alarm clock ticked over to midnight. Whistling to myself I headed out of the room, down the hall and to the stairs. Wondering what time the yellow suit would appear and what kind of lucky family would end up with me, a noise stopped me in my tracks. Half way down the steps the porch light flicked on. A key in the door, and in stepped a young girl.
Mobile to her ear, as all sixteen years olds have, she talked in a whisper. “Guess what?” She started; a buzz came from the other end, “Gary and me just did it in his car.” A shout came from the other end. “Yep, first time.” She waited for an excited reply to calm down. “A bit messy, I’m not sure he knew what he was doing”. Another question came back. “About ten o’clock I guess”
Chelsea, is that you back?” Sasha launched her speech so the whole street could comprehend. “Did you have a good night love?”
“Yes Mum, I’m on the phone to Vicky.” She went back to her conversation. “I’d better go; I tell you all about it in the morning.” With this she dropped her phone into her bag.
In total silence I stood on the stairs, glanced upwards and back to Chelsea.
“NO” I screeched to a silent world.
At one thirty a single sperm found its way to an egg. Within twenty four hours cell division had started. Nine months later, Cameron William Evans was born into a single parent family, grew up with his mother and grandparents in a lovely council estate in Cardiff.