A Tidy Ghost              1 Looking for a houseI    ts all right, Rick. Its only the post, she called.        Six or seven...
Balmoral Avenue.   Thats funny, she said. Ive just been reading aboutthe same house. Look, heres an advert from Normanand ...
2 Appointment to view   ESTATE AGENTS 54 High Street, Sandbourne, Wessex              Tel: Sandbourne 51321635 Balmoral Av...
Thats all right. Ill meet you outside the house at ...   they tell you how nice the green and orange paint is.one oclock. ...
Everything looked neat and tidy. She pulled back the         said. A very tidy ghost.bed covers. Ricks pyjamas and her nig...
Why did you put it in here? he said.   I didnt. I was reading it before we left for work, and I                  5 A visit...
Ghost stories? he said. There wont be many ghost          Until today, said Marilyn. Can you explain about thestories abou...
more than two years. Have you been home today?                 Marilyn walked along Balmoral Avenue. All the   No, I haven...
house . . . Ive never seen a place as clean and tidy as    thank you. Its been very interesting.that house. His wife had a...
Whats that?she said.                                    this is Mr and Mrs Patterson. Theyre very interested in  They hear...
Mr Webb looked uncomfortable and embarrassed.                tell you they had moved. Look, can I get you all a cup ofHis ...
A tidy ghost
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A tidy ghost

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Transcript of "A tidy ghost"

  1. 1. A Tidy Ghost 1 Looking for a houseI ts all right, Rick. Its only the post, she called. Six or seven thick brown envelopes lay on thedoormat. Marilyn picked them up and took them intothe kitchen. Rick was sitting at the table. He wasfinishing his breakfast. Is there anything for me? he asked. Theyre all from estate agents, she said. I hopetheres something this time. She put three envelopes down in front of Rick, andbegan to open the others herself. They had beenlooking for a house for three months. They were tired ofthe small flat, and they were tired of paying rent everyweek. They had been saving to buy their own house fornearly two years. They began looking through theletters from estate agents. Rick looked up. Heres one, he said. Listen. Perfectfirst home. Two bedrooms, large living room, modernkitchen, bathroom, garage, small garden. And its inBalmoral Avenue, on the new housing estate. £68,000.What do you think? What number is it? she asked. Er . . . let me see. Thirty-five. Yes, thirty-five 1
  2. 2. Balmoral Avenue. Thats funny, she said. Ive just been reading aboutthe same house. Look, heres an advert from Normanand Naylor. I phoned them yesterday. Ah, my adverts from Burchill and Bradley. Yes, itsthe same house. Well, thats normal. Theyve put thehouse with two estate agents. Which one shall we 35 Balmoral Avenue, High Trees Estate, Sandbourne Detached house, built about two years ago It has gas centralphone? heating, superb modern kitchen, and a nice garden It doesnt really matter, said Marilyn. Give me the GROUND FLOORadverts. Ill phone when I get to work. LIVING ROOM (3.8m x5.55m) Two radiators, 6 electric points, Work . . . yes, what time is it? said Rick. TV point, fitted carpet Nice view from window Oh, no! Its nearly half past eight. Come on, we KITCHEN/DINING ROOM (4m x3.42m) Modern cooker and fridge, washing machine point, 4 electric points, tiled floor andshould hurry ... if you dont want to be late again. walls Excellent fitted units Radiator Rick and Marilyn hurried out to the car. On the way HALL (1.72m x4.1m) Electric point, telephone point, fitted carpet Large storage cupboard under the stairs. Radiatorto work they talked about the house. A lot of their GARAGE 1 electric point Windowfriends lived on the new housing estate, and theyd been FIRST FLOORlooking for a house in Balmoral Avenue, or in one of the BEDROOM 1 (3.51m x3.76m) Radiator, 2 electric points, fittedroads near it, Sandringham Drive or Osborne Way. carpet Fitted wardrobeMarilyn stopped the car outside Ricks office. BEDROOM 2 (3.19m x3.27m) Radiator, 2 electric points, fitted carpet. Ill call the estate agent, and Ill call you later, she BATHROOM: (2.5m x2.75m) Modern bath, sink, shower Smallsaid. Marilyn worked in an office near Ricks. She radiatorusually had the car because there was more parking TOILET.space at her office, and because she finished work half 35 Balmoral Avenue is in the middle of the High Trees Estate,an hour earlier than Rick. three miles from the town centre. The High Trees Shopping Centre is a short distance away, and so is the High Trees First School. PRICE £68,000 2 3
  3. 3. 2 Appointment to view ESTATE AGENTS 54 High Street, Sandbourne, Wessex Tel: Sandbourne 51321635 Balmoral Avenue, High Trees Estate, Sandbourne M arilyn hurried into her office, and put the two adverts down on her desk. She telephoned Burchill and Bradley at five past nine.A modern detached house, built two years ago, with full The phone rang several times, then she heard a voice.gas central heating, excellent modern kitchen, andattractive garden. Hello, this is Burchill and Bradley Estate Agents. ThisGROUND FLOOR is a recording. Im sorry, there isnt anyone here at theLiving Room (3.8m x 5.5m) Large picture window, moment. The office is open from nine thirty until five 2 radiators, 6 electric points, TV point, fitted carpet. thirty. If you would like to leave a message, well call youKitchen/Dining Room (4m x 3.5m) AEG cooker, Indesit fridge, point for washing machine, 4 electric points, tiled back. floor and walls. Fitted units. Radiator. Marilyn put the phone down. She didnt like telephoneHall (1.7m x 4m) Electric point, telephone point, fitted answering machines. It was easier to call the other estate carpet. Large cupboard under the stairs. Radiator.Garage 1 electric point agent. She looked at the advert again. There it was,FIRST FLOOR Norman and Naylor, 513216. She called the number.Bedroom 1 (3.5m x 3.75m) Radiator, 2 electric points, Good morning. Norman and Naylor. This is Mrs fitted carpet. Fitted wardrobes. Adams speaking.Bedroom 2 (3.2m x 3.27m) Radiator, 2 electric points, fitted carpet. Oh, good morning, said Marilyn. Ive been lookingBathroom (2.5m x 2.75m) Modern bath, sink, separate through your adverts. Im interested in 35 Balmoral shower. Small radiator. Point for electric shaver. Avenue. I wonder if I could see it?Toilet With modern WC. Ah, yes, said Mrs Adams. Thats easy. The owners ofThe house is in the very popular High Trees Estate, about3 miles from the town centre, with an excellent bus 35 Balmoral Avenue are both out at work all day.service. It is about 1/2 mile from the nearest shops at the Theyve given us a set of keys. I can take you round theHigh Trees Shopping Centre and 3/4 mile from High TreesFirst School. £68,000 house at any time. Today, if you like. Could you show us at lunchtime? asked Marilyn. My husband and I both work too. But were free from twelve thirty until one forty-five. 4 5
  4. 4. Thats all right. Ill meet you outside the house at ... they tell you how nice the green and orange paint is.one oclock. Will that be all right? Mrs Adams laughed. Thats true ... now let me find Thats OK, yes. Well see you then. the right keys. Ive got so many sets of keys in my bag. Do you know where Balmoral Avenue is? said Mrs Mrs Adams found the keys, and opened the door.Adams. Marilyn and Rick had been looking for a house just like Oh, yes. Weve been looking for a house on the High it.Trees Estate. It was built just over two years ago, said Mrs Adams, Right. Ill be outside the house in a blue Ford and it has everything youll need . . . central heating, aMondeo at one oclock, then. modern kitchen, and its been decorated very well. The Thank you, said Marilyn. Well be in a white carpets were put in two years ago, and the cooker andVolkswagen. See you at one. fridge are included in the price. The kitchens beautiful. Marilyn felt very excited. They had seen a lot of Come on, Ill show you.houses in the last few weeks, but she felt really They went into the kitchen. Have you got anyinterested in this one. She phoned Rick at work, and children? said Mrs Adams.told him about the appointment. They agreed to meet Marilyn and Rick looked at each other. No . . . notoutside Ricks office at twenty to one. yet, said Marilyn. Well, theres an excellent school just down the road, and you can see the garden from the kitchen 3 Their first house window ... Everything was easy. That evening Mrs Adams tookR ick was waiting when Marilyn arrived at the office. He jumped into the car, and they drove toBalmoral Avenue. They parked behind the blue Ford them to see Mr and Mrs Barclay, the owners of the house. They were very nice people. They were moving to a bigger house. Marilyn and Rick agreed to buy theMondeo. Mrs Adams got out, and came to meet them. house. Two months later it was theirs! They moved in You know, its much nicer when the owners arent at during September. They spent a lot of time painting andhome, she said. You can ask as many questions as you decorating. The house didnt really need decorating butwant. they enjoyed doing it. They had been living in rented Yes, said Rick, and you dont have to agree when flats for years, and this was their first house. The 6 7
  5. 5. Everything looked neat and tidy. She pulled back the said. A very tidy ghost.bed covers. Ricks pyjamas and her nightdress were Dont be silly, she said, its a new house, not an oldfolded neatly on the pillows. castle. Theres no ghost. Im sure we didnt make the bed, she said. Suddenly there was a flash of lightning, and the noise Did you come home at lunchtime? asked Rick. of thunder. It started raining. She looked out of the No, of course not. I never do. There isnt enough window.time. Rick, she said, there isnt a ghost, is there? Well, you had the car, he said. They both laughed then. No, I worked through the lunch hour today. We were They didnt laugh at the next surprise. They had beenbusy, she said. Rick, is this a joke? Did you . . . ? out to dinner, and they got home late. They were both I didnt come home either, he said. tired. They went into the living room. Then, we forgot, said Marilyn. We made the bed and Ill make some tea, Rick, said Marilyn. You look inforgot wed done it. We drank a lot last night. I mean, we the newspaper and see whats on television.forgot those letters a couple of weeks ago. She went into the kitchen. Marilyn, called Rick, wheres the newspaper? I cantThere were a few more surprises in the next few weeks. find it.Once they found the letters on the hall table again. She came back into the living room. It was on theAnother time the bathroom light was on. Rick was coffee table. I put it there this morning.annoyed. He always worried about the electricity bills. It isnt here now, said Rick. Did you leave the bathroom light on? he said angrily. They looked everywhere for the newspaper, but they No, said Marilyn. Anyway, you were in the bathroom couldnt find it anywhere.after me this morning. Rick, youre beginning to forget Im tired of this, said Rick. Lets have a drink.everything. He went to the cupboard to get the bottle of whisky Another time they were late for work, and they left they had brought back from holiday two years before.their coffee cups on the table. When they got home, the They didnt usually drink whisky, and the bottle wascoffee cups had been washed up, and were standing on nearly full. Rick opened the cupboard, and there was thethe table. newspaper! It was folded neatly, and it was lying next to Rick laughed. Maybe theres a ghost in the house, he the bottle. 10 11
  6. 6. Why did you put it in here? he said. I didnt. I was reading it before we left for work, and I 5 A visit to the libraryput it on the coffee table, said Marilyn. I havent opened this cupboard for weeks, said Rick.Anyway, neither of us would put the newspaper in here.Whats happening? T he next day, at twelve thirty, Marilyn hurried to the Sandbourne Central Library. She went over to the man at the desk. Marilyn sat down. Rick, she said, you dont think Excuse me, she said, have you got any books aboutthere is a ghost here, do you? the history of Sandbourne . . . old maps, anything like What? A tidy ghost? Ive never heard of a tidy ghost. that? Why not? Oh, yes, he said. What do you want to know? Rick sat down too. But its a new house. Er, Im interested in the High Trees Estate area. I live Maybe someone died here. Maybe one of the there, and Ive always been interested in history.Barclays parents lived with them. Maybe they died Well, come over here, well have a look.here, said Marilyn. Or maybe there were houses here before . . . beforethe High Trees Estate was built. I dont know, said Marilyn. Maybe we should ask Mrand Mrs Barclay. Weve got their new address. We cant, said Rick, it sounds so silly. "Excuse me,Mr Barclay. Did you leave a ghost here? Did you forgetto take it with your furniture?" I cant ask them. Well, said Marilyn, Im going to the librarytomorrow lunchtime. Im going to discover what washere before this house was built. Marilyn followed the man to a shelf of books about the history of the area. Im very interested in old stories . . . ghost stories . . . things like that, she said. 12 13
  7. 7. Ghost stories? he said. There wont be many ghost Until today, said Marilyn. Can you explain about thestories about that area. Its all new. newspaper in the cupboard? The letters? The bed that Er . . . what was there before the housing estate? was made? The clean coffee cups? The light in theasked Marilyn. bathroom? Well, thats easy. It used to be High Trees Farm. Weve been very busy, said Rick. Weve been busy atThey knocked down the farm five, maybe six years ago. work, and weve been working hard in our free time on Have you got an old map? she asked. the house. Were forgetting things, thats all. Yes, Ill find it for you, said the man. I hope so, Rick, she said. I hope so. They arrived home. Marilyn opened the door andWhen Rick came out of the office, Marilyn was waiting turned on the light. There, on the hall table, was a neatin the car. She opened the door. pile of letters. Rick, she said, I went to the library today. Why? he said. You dont believe there really is aghost, do you? 6 Murder at the old farm I found an old map of the area, she said. There usedto be a farm. The estate is built on an old farm. A week later there was another surprise, and this So? said Rick. time they had a row. It was the worst row since I looked at the map. The farmhouse used to be where they had got married. They got home, as usual, at sixBalmoral Avenue is now. It used to be right in the oclock. Rick went into the living room. Marilyn, hemiddle of Balmoral Avenue. said, whats this? Yes? The ashtray, which was usually on the shelf near the Well, our house, number thirty-five, is right in the radio, was on the coffee table. A cigarette end was in themiddle of the Avenue. Perhaps our house is just where ashtray.the farmhouse used to be. I looked in another book. The Whos been here? said Rick.farmhouse was built about two hundred years ago. Marilyn picked up the ashtray. Look, Rick, she said, That doesnt mean theres a ghost! There are you told me that you had stopped smoking. You knowthousands of old houses with no ghost stories. Anyway, that I dont like smoking.I dont believe in ghosts. And neither do you. Its not mine, he said. I havent had a cigarette for 14 15
  8. 8. more than two years. Have you been home today? Marilyn walked along Balmoral Avenue. All the No, I havent, she said. But somebody has. Ive houses were the same. They had all been built twonever smoked. You know that. years before. She walked round the corner into She picked up the cigarette end. There was red Osborne Way. There was one older house at the end oflipstick on it. She showed it to Rick. Osborne Way. It had been there before the estate was A womans been here, she said. Whats happening, built. An old man was working in the garden.Rick? Who is she? Good evening, said Marilyn. Good evening, he replied. Its a lovely evening, isnt it? Yes, she said. Er . . . have you lived here for a long time? Oh, yes, my dear, he said. Ive been living here for thirty years. Do you remember the old farm . . . the one that used to be here before the estate was built? High Trees Farm? Of course I do. I used to work there. The old man walked over to her. Who lived there? said Marilyn. Why are you interested in High Trees Farm? he said. Youre from one of the new houses, arent you? Er, yes, said Marilyn. Im very interested in history ... the history of this area. Well, the farm belonged to old Giles Varley. He lived A woman ghost that smokes Marlboro cigarettes, he there by himself - since his wife died, that is. He was asaid. strange man. Nobody liked him very much. I didnt. He It isnt funny, Rick, she said. She went to the door. used to be a very difficult boss, you see. Everything hadIm going out for a walk. Dont come with me. I want to to be in the right place. "Dont put that on the shelf!" hethink. used to say to me. "Put it in the cupboard!" And the 16 17
  9. 9. house . . . Ive never seen a place as clean and tidy as thank you. Its been very interesting.that house. His wife had always been a very tidy woman, Good night, then, said the old man. Marilyn turnedand he wanted to keep the house the same. Yes, poor round and walked home very slowly.old Varley. What happened to him? said Marilyn. When she got home, Rick was in the garden. They had Dont you remember? said the old man. It was in all bought a small tree at the weekend, and Rick wasthe newspapers six or seven years ago. putting it in the front garden. He called to her. We didnt live in Sandbourne then, said Marilyn. Marilyn! Come here. Look at this! It was sad, he said, very sad. They never found the She walked over to him. There was a hole in themurderer, either. ground for the tree. There were a lot of old bricks in the The murderer? said Marilyn. hole. So, he said, there was a building here before they built this house. Do you think it was the old farmhouse? Marilyn felt cold. Rick, she said, come inside. Well have a cup of tea. Ive got something to tell you. 7 The ghost appears A few days later, both Marilyn and Rick caught flu. They felt terrible all weekend. On Monday neither of them felt well enough to go to work. They telephoned their offices, and decided to spend the day at home. It was a boring day. They both had headaches, and they Thats right. He was murdered in the old farmhouse. spent the day in the living room. Rick watched videos,A robber, thats what the police thought. I found the Marilyn read a book from the library, Ghosts ofbody, you know. Sandbourne and East Wessex. At half past two Marilyn Marilyn felt suddenly cold. I see, she said. Well, suddenly looked up. 18 19
  10. 10. Whats that?she said. this is Mr and Mrs Patterson. Theyre very interested in They heard voices outside the front door. Then they your house.heard the sound of a key in the lock. Rick jumped up. And who are you? said Marilyn.What ...? Oh, Im sorry. Of course we havent met. Im Michael They heard footsteps in the hall. Webb. From Burchill and Bradley. Im very pleased to Its a very nice hall. It was a mans voice. Rick and meet you, Mrs Barclay.Marilyn looked at each other. Then the living room door Im not Mrs Barclay! said Marilyn. The Barclaysbegan to open. Marilyn took Ricks hand. Two men and moved months ago. Last September.a woman walked into the room. They stopped in Rick was laughing. Ah! I understand! Youre the tidysurprise. ghost. Mr Webb looked worried. The tidy ghost? I dont understand ... Yes, the tidy ghost, said Rick. He turned to Marilyn. The letters, the nightclothes, the newspaper ... Marilyn was laughing too. ... the lipstick on the cigarette, the coffee cups, the bathroom light, she said. Im sorry, said Mr Webb, I really dont understand. We bought the house from the Barclays. We bought it through Norman and Naylor . . . and youre from Burchill and Bradley, the other estate agents! said Marilyn. Oh, I see! said Mr Webb. The Barclays never told us that the house had been sold. Ive been showing the house to people for six months. I am sorry. The What are you doing here? said Rick angrily. Barclays gave us a set of keys, and told us to show Oh, Im terribly sorry, said one of the men. I people the house when they were at work.thought you were out. Marilyn smiled. And youve been tidying the house He turned to the man and woman behind him. Oh, for us, havent you?she said. 20 21
  11. 11. Mr Webb looked uncomfortable and embarrassed. tell you they had moved. Look, can I get you all a cup ofHis face was going redder and redder. tea? Er, yes, he said. You see, I usually arrive before the Yes, please take a seat, said Rick. I know that Mrpeople that want to see the house. So . . . Ive been and Mrs Collins at number twenty-nine are trying to sellcoming in and ... er, tidying things. their house. Its just the same as this one. Perhaps were And the cigarette with lipstick? said Marilyn. going to be neighbours! Yes, Im sorry about that. I brought a lady to see the Mr and Mrs Patterson sat down. Mr Patterson pickedhouse, Mrs Green. She wanted a cigarette while we up Marilyns book which was lying on the coffee table.were talking about the house. I forgot to throw it away. I Hmm, he said, Ghosts of Sandbourne and Eastremembered later in the evening. Didnt you know that Wessex. I hope there arent any ghosts round here.it was someone looking at the house? Oh, no, said Marilyn, there arent any ghosts round Well, no ... we didnt, said Marilyn. here. Theyre all new houses. Oh, dear, said Mr Webb. I hope there wasnt any She went into the kitchen to make the tea. They hadtrouble about it. had a cup of tea and a sandwich an hour earlier, and she I thought ... Marilyn looked at Rick. I thought my hadnt washed up. There, on the kitchen table was thehusband ... Then she felt sorry for Mr Webb, who was teapot, and a neat pile of plates and cups. She openedvery embarrassed. I thought my husband had started the teapot. It was clean!smoking again, she said. But ... she said. Then she heard a laugh behind her. Mr Webb remembered that Marilyn had said the It was Rick. Dont worry, he said, it was me. I camecigarette with lipstick. He went redder again. out and washed up half an hour ago. Dont you Im very, very sorry, he said. remember? Marilyn smiled. She looked at Mr and Mrs Patterson,who were looking embarrassed too. Its a pity, said Mrs Patterson. Its a lovely house,and its a lovely area. Yes, well, its my fault Im sorry Ive wasted yourtime, said Mr Webb. It isnt your fault, Marilyn said. The Barclays didnt 22

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