WHAT THE GHOST LEFT"What do you mean it's lowering the value of our property in a difficult market? What it's doing is scaring the you-know-what out of me. We know it's for real. We both see it at the same time and it throws things at us so it knows we're here. And it really doesn't like us being in this house." Bill didn't realise he was shouting at his wife, nor did he notice the two of them were now on their feet, eyeball to eyeball.Alice could manage a reply in altogether much calmer tones. "Well it can't really hurt us physically. It's sort of non-material. All it does is creep up on us, stare at us a bit and make some funny old gestures. OK, it is able to throw some small things around but it doesn't have a very good aim. Now we need to sell this draughty old house and you've gone and told anyone who'll listen about the ghost. Oh yes, and you had to include that reporter from the local paper. You know, the one where the For Sale notice goes in."Bill reached for his coffee and spilled half of it. "Look, they're not just any old gestures. It's a mad monk and he's been cursing us. And do remember, we have been going through some pretty bad times.""OK let's get rid of it," she said. "Know what? I'll ask my Auntie's friend and she was the only one to believe us at first.""Just what we need, an old wife's tale. I'm going on the Internet," he said.A week slipped away as they each learned all they could about the other world and how very near it is to this one."At least we're singing from the same hymn sheet now," said Alice.Bill's reply was almost kindly, "Maybe it is a hymn sheet we need. The thing's a victim. It's earthbound. It could be stuck down here forever. We've got to help it go to the light.""We'll get your Auntie's friend in to help us," he added quickly."Oh no, that's not fair. It's our house and it's our ghost. So it's our problem. We have to sort this out ourselves." Alice spoke in that voice Bill knew not to argue with. So they didn't argue but went out and bought or borrowed the things they needed. Soon they were ready."Why can't we have the lights on, this creaky old house is spooky enough without us having to sit in the dark?" He said it so quietly he had to say it again louder."Oh, don't be such a big girl's blouse," she said briskly. "You go and light the rest of the candles and I'll lay out the other things. Then we can go round with the holy water and I'll start reading out the service.""The air's getting very cold," she said as she finished reading out the last page."Go to the light. Go to the light. Go to the light," they said it three times more or less together and waited. That was when a cold draught blew out the candles, all of them."There's something behind you," he said more slowly than he meant to.She was screaming now. "It's got its hands on me. Get it off. Get it off me."Somehow they scrambled out of the room and then out of the house. They didn't stop until they got to the pub where everything was nice and tidy and warm and normal. They calmed down after a few drinks. After a few more, they could see things a whole lot more clearly. One thing they realized was that when they were in the pub the ghost couldn't listen in on what they were saying. What's more, what they were saying was, "No more Nice-guys".And so they were ready for it, for anything. They went back to the house and threw on all the lights. Like a military raid with strict radio silence, they said nothing at all, nothing the thing could hear. When they were ready, they lit a single candle and put all the lights out. They waited for what seemed like a very long time."The air's getting cold," she said.Silently a hooded figure took shape in the flickering candlelight. It carried itself with a confident, almost arrogant, bearing. Carelessly it raised a hand ready for yet another dreadful curse.It was the signal they had been waiting for. They rushed at it, shouting and screaming, and using some very unholy language. They threw bell, book and candle right at it together with what was left of the holy water.It backed off as far as it could but it was in a corner.Now with the courage that comes in the heat of battle they were right up close and personal. The hood slipped back and for a moment they could see fear written all over it's ghastly face. Then, all at once the look of fear changed to one of strange embarrassment.The ghost was never seen again. But on damp days ever since, there has been a bad smell not to mention a persistent stain on the floor in that particular corner.endWhat the Ghost Left was published in Golden Visions Magazine Spring Online Edition 2011, ISSN No 1942 4450.First appeared in ABCtales, 2004.