Thursday, October 10
The pub is quite crowded this evening. I have my usual corner by the window and a spartan table in front of me. That is all I need really. And Sid Driscoll has arranged appointments every half hour or so throughout the evening. I call him Sid the Fixer; a label I think he quite likes.
‘Busy night for you again luv.’ He walks over giving me the list of clients up to around 9.30 pm. He grins at me, his ponytail swinging from side-to-side as he sashays around the table. Apart from being the organiser of the psychic sessions he is also something of a bodyguard. I suppose because I am probably the youngest psychic to do these sessions Sid keeps a fatherly eye on me.
‘The old dears just love you and the younger ones just fancy you I reckon.’ He pauses. ‘Well, the blokes anyway,’ he sniggers. ‘And as for the divvies, one look from you will swerve them.’ He gives me a triumphant smile at that.
‘Stoppit Sid.’ I give him a mock serious look, but he knows me too well to take it seriously.
His smile widens, displaying a few stained teeth with gaps. I have a feeling that Sid has had a very chequered life before deciding to specialise in the more social occupation of arranging psychic nights.
So, Sid is my Scouse minder, and whatever he thinks of ‘the psychic stuff’ as he calls it, I know he would sort out any troublemakers in no uncertain terms. And, at 6ft 2in, with the physique of a prize-fighter, he is not someone to be ignored.
I guess he might have a point though. There aren’t too many psychics around at 26, not the genuine kind anyway. And I am genuine because age has nothing to do with psychic ability. Indeed, I have always had the gift, only I didn’t understand it until I was about nine or so.
I have always been able to hear words and sometimes see things and people that other people could not. Sometimes I could hear words – loud and clear – that tipped me off that something was happening. At first, I thought I was going nuts – my mum had my hearing checked, got me evaluated for mental health problems, and so on. However, I was OK, and the only explanation was that I had an ability that other people do not.
When my mum was on a cruise one year, I woke up in the middle of the night because I had heard her voice saying ‘flood.’ I rang her to make sure she was OK because, you know, she was on a ship in the middle of the ocean.
Everything was fine. The next day, I went to her house to feed the cats and found that a water pipe had burst about ten minutes before I got there.
My business card declares me to be a psychic consultant. When I had them printed, I felt it sounded sophisticated ‘Naomi Richards, Psychic Consultant’. Now, I’m not so sure. I have a suspicion it might just sound pretentious.
I know the local Police take me seriously. They repeatedly call me in to help locate missing people, or more seriously, in the grim and immensely sad task of locating bodies. At first, I could see doubt writ large on their faces, as well as the sniggers behind my back. But four successes in a row ended that and now I am treated with respect. I guess I would have been burned at the stake 400 years ago. Thank heaven we are more indulgent these days. Or at least some of us are.
The clients are always a mixed lot in pubs. The recently bereaved, nearly always women, who are hoping for messages from their departed. Then, there are girls hoping I will tell them who to marry or who to sleep with.
Then there are the sad people who are fundamentally lonely but who are happy to pay me to talk to them for half an hour. I often don’t think they care if it’s from the spirit world or not.
No two nights are the same. I do sometimes ‘see’ disturbing things, but I am careful not to let it show. In any case, it’s illegal to reveal anything bad like a forthcoming death, for example.
I read somewhere that Einstein talked about there being no real division between the past, present, and the future which may be why psychics can sometimes see into the past, present, and what’s likely to happen in the future. I know that I will almost certainly be asked the same question I am invariably asked, which is: ‘Is our future set in stone, or can it change? The honest answer is that I just don’t know.
Later that night I make my way home. It has been a wearying evening, and I am ready to put my feet up.
I have an apartment on Liverpool’s Rodney Street in the city centre. When I was married, I lived in the suburbs in a typical three-bed semi with husband, David, and I looked forward to a life of middle-class mediocrity, but it was not to be. My ever-loving husband turned out to be ever-loving with another, which I was not prepared to tolerate. I knew all about it before I squeezed it out of him. Being psychic can have its uses!
Now, I have no intention of repeating the experience. I would rather be single than find myself in another suffocating marriage, so while I do have male friends, they are inclined to be other artists where the only topic of conversation is art rather than sex. And if any start a conversation on matters other than art I begin to back off. I know only too well how things can develop.
As far as work is concerned, I know a few of my friends think I’m crazy not having a regular job but the thought of a corporate nine-to-five existence makes me feel sick. I prefer my way of life no matter how precarious it might be.
I enjoy living in the city centre. I like the hustle and bustle, especially the tourists who wander around the city’s Georgian quarter. It is also a great address for any consultancy business, as all the brass plates outside testify.
Sadly, I am not in the rich medical and legal league that occupy the ground floors. My clients are obliged to climb two flights of stairs to get to me.
I decide to do a little artwork before turning in. As something of a sideline, I produce quirky necklaces from odds and ends which sell quite well at art and craft fairs.
At one time I had a burning ambition to be an artist and followed the well-trodden path through university with a BA (Hons) and then an M.A. I always knew that making a living from art was not going to be easy. I might as well have said impossible. Sure, I’ve sold the odd canvass now and then. I have even sold a few prints to people in Europe, but I never earned enough to pay the rent.
I finish a couple of necklaces made from bits and pieces of computer hardware for a forthcoming art fair and decide it’s time to turn in. I look out of the window; the streetlights are glinting in the cold October air, the street quiet now, with not even the sound of revellers from the nearby bars and pubs to disturb the tranquillity.
It’s 3 am, and I am suddenly awake. I am covered in sweat. My heart is pounding. I sit on the side of the bed and try to recall what I had just ‘seen’. Was it a nightmare or something else? I’m not sure.
I am in a building – an old building – and before me and to the left is a plain wooden staircase which curves upwards to a bare door at the top. There is something about the stairs itself that holds a terror – almost as though they are alive. The light is dim, just a bare bulb dangling from the ceiling barely illuminating the room. My eyes focus on the dirty yellow door at the top which somehow leers at me. The air is thick with menace, and I know with certainty that there is something malevolent and evil in the room behind the door, but I know it is beckoning me. I am being compelled to climb the stairs.
I slowly climb, step-by-step, my footsteps ringing out on the bare wood; my dread growing, as a muttering behind the door gradually sounds louder. My heart pounding, my terror reaches a crescendo, the door mocking me and as my dread grows, I hear screaming, slowly becoming louder. I reach out my hand to grasp the door handle…but the door begins opening before I can touch it.
Before me is a scene shrouded in a dense fog. I can see vague shapes on either side as ghostly shadows of people loom silently out of the murk; stooped, scarves over their faces, coughing. The fog has a greasy, gaseous feel and it stifles sound but despite that I can hear someone weeping but it is difficult to know how far or how near they are. I suddenly realise I am having difficulty breathing too and I begin spluttering. I can feel the pollution in the fog creeping into my lungs, my eyes, my brain. I search for a tissue and put it over my nose and mouth.
Around me, the figures fade and the scene changes to a hospital ward with rows of beds, all with children in them; all staring at me expressionless and wide eyed, the only sound an almost inaudible hiss from the oxygen masks they are all wearing. There is no sound, no talk, no play, no laughter. They all just stare accusingly. The scene is repugnant in its silent, sepulchral horror. I back away from the nightmare.
I am outside again. I look up to see a blood-red sun. The smog, for I have no doubt that is what it is, has receded slightly. I am standing by what should be Liverpool’s waterfront by the city’s ‘Three Graces’ that include the Liver Buildings, famous for its Liver birds, and the Cunard Building. What was an open plaza in front of them with a canal running along it, is now a lake with small waves lapping gently along the pavements. An eerie silence hangs malignantly over the scene. There is no clatter of life; no traffic, no screeching of seagulls, no undercurrent of distant conversation. Nothing. I look to the left and right and can see nothing but water. The River Mersey has risen at least three metres.
I sit on the side of my bed trembling. Was all that real? What does it mean?
If you have enjoyed what you have read so far, the rest of the novel can be found on Amazon in both digital and paperback formats. ebook ASIN: B085W6C6LH. Paperback ISBN: 9798647878892