“Time, Ladies and Gentlemen please.”
Mick Carter was very much looking forward to closing up the pub for the night. As much as he had enjoyed the company of the locals, he had called for last orders twice because no one had taken any notice of him the first time around. There would not be a third, even in their drunken state, the customers knew not to push him too far. For a family man, Mick had gathered quite the reputation amongst the residents of Albert Square.
Running the Queen Victoria Public House for almost four years had given him a good rapport with customers. It was first rate customer service, the friendly publican prided himself on.
As the last customer staggered out the door, Mick scratched his scruffy beard, before closing the door and pulling the bolt across. Then he swaggered to the bar, slowly unbuttoning his tight grey waistcoat. While clearing up, he contemplated whether to have a nightcap or go straight upstairs to fall asleep watching his favourite DVD “Danny Dyer’s Hardest Men.” Rubbing his eyes and yawning, he opted for the former and made his way towards the stairs in the hallway.
Someone was rapping the front doors. Strange? He thought. He was not expecting anyone at this late hour. Perhaps if he ignored them, they would go away.
Mick reached down behind the bar to lift a small wooden baseball bat that had not yet cracked its first skull. Mick was not overreacting, the last time the doors had been chapped at this time, was when a group of robbers had bullied their way in and threatened his family. This time, he was ready for them.
Realising the person at the door was frantic, Mick steeled himself, ran across and removed the bolt, barely drawing breath as he pulled the door open. A smooth skinned woman was stood in front him; early forties with long golden blonde hair and deep blue eyes. Mick was not fazed by her beauty but questioned why she was standing there at all.
“Ronnie?” he gasped.
She did not reply, but her bottom lip quivered ever so slightly. Then she began sobbing silently.
“I… I… can’t feel my body, Mick.” she shivered as she spoke. “Help me.”
Frozen to the spot, the shocked landlord felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. The person in front of him had to be an illusion? Ronnie Mitchell and her sister Roxy were killed in a tragic drowning accident on New Year’s Eve. He rubbed his eyes hard, expecting the ghostly apparition to disappear when he opened them….. she did not. Instead, her eyes widened with fear.
“Help me!” she screamed again in a high pitched voice.
Suddenly, she lurched forward gasping for air. Mick caught her before she could fall but she began convulsing and coughing as water spurted out her mouth. Then she breathed normally again.
Mick eased her down to the ground, then ran through to the back to dial for an ambulance. Explaining the situation to the operator was out of the question, he wanted help for whoever that was in the bar, not slung in a mental institution for seeing spirits. He carefully danced around the fact Ronnie had died seven months previously. Slamming the phone down, he raced back to the stricken Mitchell.
“I’ve called an ambulance babe,” he shouted. “They’ll be…”
He stopped dead in his tracks. Ronnie Mitchell was gone. One glance at the door showed it was bolted from the inside. He staggered in a daze to where his former friend had been lying. On the same spot were small puddles of water that glistened in the light….
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