The lady in my kitchen was stuck up and stupid but I needed her money so I swallowed hard and put on my best Customer Service Fake Smile™.
“Was there anything in particular you’d like me to ask him?”
She was crying into the toilet paper I’d given her when she’d asked me for a tissue. Not that I didn’t have any tissues to give her; there was just something satisfying about watching annoying clients cry into toilet paper. You do what you can to keep yourself amused in this business.
“I just want to know if he’s… happy!” She began to sob with loud, shuddering breaths. I tried my best to look sympathetic, although I suspect my facial expression may have been one of disgust rather than compassion. I didn’t understand crying loudly in front of people. It wasn’t something I did very often. Usually only when I was in a public place and desperately wanted to get my own way. It’s amazing what people will do to get you to shut up. But these tricks don’t work on me.
“Of course,” I said. “I’ll make sure to ask. Just before we get started though, I’m afraid we have to discuss the subject of fees. It is much harder summoning the spirit of a deceased animal, as I’m sure you can appreciate – what with the language barrier and all – and hence for animal clairvoyance I charge double my standard rate.”
“No price is too high for my Noodle.”
Now, before you get on your moral high horse and yell at me about taking money from a grief-stricken woman, just hear me out: this was a lady who had disposable income to spend on communing with the spirit of her dead pet. She clearly knew nothing about the spirit realm whatsoever and hadn’t bothered to do any research. She’d just assumed that I could talk to her dog. Now, let’s think about this…
She wanted me to ask. Her dead dog. Questions.
I love animals, but even to me this was a bit far. Firstly, she wanted me to summon the spirit of her dog (and let’s be fair, dogs don’t come when they’re called at the best of times, much less when they’re dead). Spirits don’t just hang around once they die. They pick the conservative party upstairs or wild times for eternity downstairs unless they’ve got some unfinished business to attend to. Most animals, especially pampered pet poodles, do not have ‘unfinished business’. The only ghost animal I’d seen in the last week was a cockroach coming back for a crumb he hadn’t finished. When he realized he couldn’t eat it, he moved on. Animals don’t tend to get hung up on the past. They go with the flow. And if, by some miracle, I did manage to summon a dog, I couldn’t be sure it was her dog, could I? Even if I were sure it was hers, how on earth was I meant to talk to it?
Nevertheless, there was a lot of money at stake here, so I shut my eyes and gave it a go. I took a deep breath and with all my energy, projected my voice into the astral realm….
“Here puppy! Come on, who’s a good boy? Come to Nessa, that’s a good boy. Noodles! Noooooodles!”
Suddenly I heard a bark at my left ankle. I opened my eyes and looked down. To my astonishment, there was a dog there. A ghost dog. I’d actually summoned a dead dog. I looked away from the dog when I heard huffing and chair scraping from across the table.
“I didn’t come here to be made fun of! I hope you don’t expect –”
“Is Noodles a poodle with a pink diamante-studded collar?”
She stopped in her tracks. “You – you actually –”
“Yes,” I said. I was used to this reaction. People always thought I was having a go at them when I spoke to ghosts the way I spoke to normal people. Or dogs. They expected me to put on a sing-songy voice and talk in riddles, with perhaps the occasional head-twitch or possession. Reality was much tamer. Spirits were basically just the same as they used to be, but dead. You tried to talk to a ghost like you see people do on TV and the ghost would think you were crazy.
Noodles had also noticed the lady moving and started growling loudly, teeth bared. Eventually he inched towards her.
“What’s he saying?” she asked.
“Um… Difficult to know right now,” I said.
Noodles had advanced right up to her, no longer growling but doing the dog equivalent of shooting her dirty looks. He lifted his leg and began to wee on her shoe, still glaring at her face.
“How about now?”
Noodles ran back over to me, tail wagging. I leant down and patted him when suddenly he disappeared in a puff. His business in this world had concluded.
“He’s much happier now he’s seen you,” I said, trying not to stare at the ghostly urine dripping from the lady’s foot.
she asked. “Um… Difficult to know right now,” I said. Noodles had advanced right up to her, no longer growling but doing the dog equivalent of shooting her dirty looks. He lifted his leg and began to wee on her shoe, still glaring at her face. “How about now?” Noodles ran back over to me, tail wagging. I leant down and patted him when suddenly he disappeared in a puff. His business in this world had concluded. “He’s much happier now he’s seen you,” I said, trying not to stare at the ghostly urine dripping from the lady’s foot. Preorder now for May 31!