A Ghost from my Past

[Authors note]
This is a little different from my normal fare. I hope you like it.


It was a Friday. I know that because I was in town to collect my Pension. I prefer to get it in cash and going to the Post Office and then doing my grocery shopping had become a bit of a habit but one that I didn’t mind as I got me away from the small hamlet where I live.

It is very nice and quiet but sometimes it is too quiet so the weekly trip into town makes for a change. I usually get back home feeling good for not living in the town where it was noisy and often smelly with traffic fumes.

This day was different because I’d just picked up my pension when the heavens opened and the rain started bouncing off the pavement so I ducked into the nearest Café to get out of the downpour.

A few minutes later I was enjoying a nice cup of coffee and a slice of obviously home-made coffee and walnut cake. Then she walked in, her hair glistening with water droplets.

More than a few heads turned and looked at her. Well, as most of the occupants of the Café were of my age she was when compared to us, young and beautiful. I sighed and said a mental ‘If only’ and went back to eating my cake.

“Excuse me,” came a voice.

I looked up and saw it was her. My heart stopped for almost a second. Instinctively, I knew who she was or failing that who she was related to.

“Is this seat taken?” she asked.

“E… Err no,” I replied slightly in shock.

“Thanks,” she replied.

She undid the poppers and zip of her waxed cotton coat. I knew it was a Barbour Jacket. She took it off and hung it over the back of the chair. I knew that I had to get out of there before she recognised me.

She was wearing a simple grey tunic dress, black leggings or tights and knee-high flat soled boots. Simple but lovely nonetheless.

She sat down as the waitress brought over her order. A pot of Tea and two toasted ‘Tea Cakes’.

“Horrible weather today,” she said trying to make conversation.

“It is but it should be brighter later,” I replied. Then I drank the last of my Coffee.
“If you would excuse me, I have some shopping to do and a bus to catch,” I replied as I gathered my things and left.

I had to leave. I could only hope that I didn’t leave in too much of a hurry. She just reminded me far too much of someone from my past that I would rather forget had ever existed.

Once outside and oblivious of the rain that was still falling, I hurried into the Supermarket.

By the time I’d done my shopping and left the Supermarket, not only had the rain stopped but I’d calmed down considerably. I even managed to smile at the Bus Driver when I boarded and showed him my Bus Pass.

I sort of forgot all about her over the next few months. I still went into town every few weeks to get my pension, do some shopping and a few other things like getting my hair cut and going to the Dentists. In effect, life returned to normal, or as normal as it would ever be.

One fine day, I was in town and instead of eating lunch in a Café, I went to the only decent Deli for miles around, bought a sandwich and took it to the park. It was a lovely day and far too nice to sit inside.

I’d just eaten the first half of the sandwich when I felt a presence nearby. I looked up and my heart sank. It was ‘her’.

“Hello,” she said.
“We meet again. Do you mind if I join you?”

She didn’t answer but sat sown next to me.

I tried to ignore her but her perfume was impossible to avoid. It wasn’t overpowering but just really nice.

“I looked for you in the café,” she said as I bit into my Sandwich. It was almost as much as I could do to avoid choking.

When I’d finished my mouthful, I said,
“Why would you do that? I don’t know you, do I?” lying through my back teeth.

As soon as I said it, I knew that it was the wrong thing to say. I’d asked an open-ended question. All my time working as a Solicitor I’d been sure to never ask open-ended questions. We were always taught to ask questions where we already knew the answer and that the only answer was a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ especially if we were in Court.

I could see her smile out of the corner of her eye.

“No, you don’t know me but I think we do have someone in common that we know.”

My heart sank. I’d hoped that moving here would enable me to escape my past but it seemed to have caught up with me. Thoughts about what I’d have to do to put my home up for sale sent a shiver down my spine. I was just not prepared for her next move.

She opened her handbag and pulled out a photograph.

“Here look at this and tell me what you see.”

She thrust the picture in front of me. I couldn’t help but see it. I knew in a millisecond that I was done for.

There was nothing for it but to try to get out of this as quickly as possible.

“You already know who is in the picture so why don’t you tell me?” I said trying to turn the tables on her.

“That’s John, Peter and Matthew on the beach at St Pete. It was taken at Christmas in Sixty-Six.”

I knew that she was right.

Then she continued,

“Peter is as you know, no longer with us. John is my Father and you were once Matthew, weren’t you?”

She got me all, bang to right.

“What if I was? They threw me out years ago and made it clear that the whole family didn’t want anything to do with me ever again. What is it that you want with me? Have you come to give me some more hurt?”

I felt myself start to shake as I remembered the beating my father gave me before turning me out on the street in the middle of January the next year with no clothes, no money, nothing.

She reached over and gently took my hand.

“I know the history and I’m truly sorry about that. I got the same treatment myself when I came out.”

She nodded her head.

“Yes, well sort of. I’m Trans like you and they did not like it one little bit.” she said quietly.

“I managed to escape with just the clothes on my back and managed to survive. Aunt Jessica was the only one to even answer the phone. She told me about you about a year after I’d transitioned. She said that I should know about you before it was too late. She died about a month before I came over here. She had the address of the place where you worked in New York in amongst her things.”

“And you decided to come looking for me then? Why? What have I ever done to you? By my reckoning, you were not even born before I left that lot to stew in their own dung heap and die from drinking the moonshine from the stills in the yard.”

“I wasn’t born but there was always a distinct silence when it came to my Fathers birthday. One day I found out that there was a missing twin brother, you but no one would talk about you. It was as if you had been erased from the family history. I only discovered you existed when I saw the family history in the bible. Your name was right there alongside your twin brother. They couldn’t erase that. As you know, that Bible has been in the family since seventeen forty-nine and records all the family tree.”

I knew what she meant.

“But what do you want from me? I only have a small pension to live on.”

“I don’t want anything from you but you need to know that as the older of the two you are now head of the family.”

“Pah. The only family that I have is me and my two cats.”

“And me.”

“They made it clear that I was no longer part of the family. Good. I don’t want anything to do with that lot of narrow minded bible thumping morons.”

“Yes. But ‘they’ as you put it are all dead or close to it. Even John, my father is in a home. He has dementia.”

“Sorry but good riddance to all of them. Do you want to see the scars from the beatings I took? They are right there on my back. They like the memories have never gone away and they never will.”

“Yet, you escaped and came over here and made something of your life. When I found out that you had been ‘called to the Bar’ as they call it over here, I felt proud of you.”

I couldn’t take any more.

“I’m sorry whoever you are. That is all in the past. The family threw me out and you are part of that family. Please do not come near me again. I really do not want to have to live with seeing the image of my brother every time I see you. Do you really know what he did to me?”

I stared at her. She recoiled in surprise so I carried on.

“Your father was the one who outed me to our parents. That led to me being held down by your uncles as my Father beat me with his belt until I passed out. Then while I was still bleeding he took me over the state line and into Alabama where they left me for dead. His last words to me were, ‘you are dead to us. Don’t even think of telling the cops where you live. This world is not big enough for freaks like you to hide from me. Tell them and next time you will be dead and six feet under.” I didn’t tell a soul and made it to New York where I got my head and body straight. Even that wasn’t far enough. Years later, I was caught on TV as I was leaving the Court House. The TV News people were there as a big Murder case verdict had just come in. My Brother saw it and three days later I walked into two baseball bats as I approached my home on Long Island. How they found me so quickly I never found out. Once I’d been discharged from Hospital my employer helped me come to England to get away from my family once and for all yet here you are. Why can’t you leave me alone? You lot should have killed me when you had a chance.”

I just got up and walked away as the tears started to flow. I could hardly see where I was going but somehow, I found my way out of the park and to the bus stop. Then I realised that I’d left my handbag behind. There was no way that I would go back in to the park to get it.

In the end, I went home by Taxi. The driver was kind enough to wait while I went into my cottage and found the money to pay him. I was still in a real state. The memories that had laid dormant for so long were right there. It was as if it all happened yesterday.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I was dog tired from all the crying but sleep refused to come. My brain was running on jet fuel. In the end, I got up and started to clean. The house wasn’t dirty but it helped me to do something, anything in the vain hope of taking my mind off the problem of her.

Around 04:00, I collapsed into my one and only armchair and fell asleep.

I was rudely woken up by a pounding on my front door. I wasn’t dressed for visitors.

“Go away. Come back later.”

“I have a bouquet of flowers for Ms Adamson.”

“Well that’s me. Leave them on the porch.”

“I need a signature,” came the voice.

“Well if you can’t leave them then take them away. I didn’t order any flowers anyway.”

I heard some footsteps walking away from my home.

I had to get away at least temporarily.

After a quick wash and brush up followed by a change of clothes, I slipped out the rear of my house, through my rear gate and into my friend June’s house next door.

She waved at me through her kitchen window as she saw me walking up the path.

I went into her kitchen and sat down and burst into tears.

June just sat down and put her arms around me. She didn’t say a word. June was my best friend in the world, or to put it bluntly, my only real friend.

“Sorry June. I should not have done that,” I said once I’d sort of recovered.

“Don’t worry darling. I saw the Florist take away a huge bunch of flowers. Who’s the secret admirer? Someone I should be aware of?”

“It is my family. They have found me here after all this time.”

June knew every gory detail of my past. She’d seen the scars on my back on day when I was in the garden. She wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer so I told her the whole gory story of my crap life.

“Well, I’m not going to throw you out, ever understand?”

I hugged her a bit tighter.

“Now what are we going to do about her? And importantly, how the heck did she find you? How long ago was it that you renounced your US Citizenship?”

“More than twenty years ago,” I grumbled.

“So, a long time before you ended up here?”

“Then nothing you have done since has led her to you here. We used to talk about people lying low. Your profile is almost subterranean.”

June was right. Well, as a retired Police Detective she normally was when it came to things like this.

I racked my brains for some fatal mistake that I had made. I could not think of anything.

“Social Media? Dating Sites? Family History? Email?”

“Don’t use social media and you are my only date. As for Family history why the fuck would I want to see that? As for Email, I use it only for bills and internet orders and the like. The only other emails are for people in the Bridge Club.”

My brain had started to work again.

“And I came here almost thirty years ago. I’m not in contact with anyone from back then.”

Then I had a flash of brilliance.

“The only thing that goes back that far is my pension. When my old boss got me a visa to come and work here, my old 401K was transferred to my pension company here. I paid into that for years even after I left the company and went to work at the Law Firm. They are the only people who I have had contact with from back when I came here.”

“Then we need to get her to tell us. That sort of information is confidential.”

“How?”

“Let Auntie June work on that. In the meantime, I’ll put the kettle on.”

I stayed with June for the rest of the day. No one else came near my home but I stayed over just in case. Staying over was something that I did quite regularly. I had asked June to move in a year or so before but she was reluctant. She’d had two failed marriages and was reluctant to commit herself again.

The following day, I went into town as usual by bus. June was also in town trying to spot ‘her’. She’d driven in well before I left home just in case someone was watching my home.

I tried to act as normal as possible. It was a fine day so I ended up in the park and sure enough, my mystery relative found me there.

“I sent you some flowers. I was trying to say sorry,” she said as she sat down.
“And I sent them back.”
“I know.”
“Does that not tell you something?”
“You don’t want anything to do with me.”
“Get a Gold Star,” I replied sarcastically.

Just then June sat down next to her.

“This is June, my next-door neighbour. She is also a former policeman. You will tell us how you found me or do I have to go to the Police and get you charged with Stalking?”

She visibly reacted.

“I meant no harm. I truly mean that.”

“You have gone to great lengths to find someone. Care to explain how you did it?”

“From the information a P.I. obtained, I knew only which part of the country you were living. Then your bank was hacked and your details were put on the Internet along with a few million others.”

“And you just happened to find them?”

She shook her head.

“One of people I work for wrote a bit of software that scanned all sorts of places for your name and collated it with the information I had on you such as your date of birth and when you renounced your US citizenship. It took our computers less than an hour to find you. You see, I work for a company who is a private contractor for the NSA. Normally we aren’t allowed to use the system to find people we are not looking for but we needed to see if it worked to eliminate people. I persuaded my boss to let me use you and here I am.”

“NSA?” asked June.

“National Security Agency. As it was deemed not to be a threat to national security the hacked information it wasn’t taken down. However, we found that there was a clue in the code to who wrote it. Most hackers leave a ‘signature’ in their code. That person was interviewed and he told us who paid him for it. The hacker is facing twenty years in a Federal Jail but we didn’t have enough information to charge the person who commissioned the hack. The FBI are keeping tabs on him but that is irrelevant to my being here.”

“What are you going to do now? Now that you have found us and told us about it?”

“It depends.”

It was time for me to say something.

“I have told you that you are not welcome here. It does not matter who you are or where you are from. I want nothing to do with anyone from my family.”

Then I said in as stern a voice as possible.

“You need to go. Go now and forget I ever existed. If you can take down that thing that exposed where I live otherwise forget you ever came this side of the Atlantic and especially to this out of the way backwater.”

Then I took a deep breath.

“I am not the young radical that I once was. That last beating our family gave me, broke me. At times I was close to ending my life but thanks to a good doctor who nursed both my physical and mental injuries, I pulled through. He recommended to my employer that I be transferred abroad because as far as we were able to ascertain, none of my redneck family had a passport. I came to this country and made a life for myself. Now I am nearly seventy years old for heaven’s sake. Please just leave me to live out the rest of my life such as it is with my friends in peace.”

She went to say something but June stopped her.

“Please don’t. Just go. You really don’t know how much trouble you have caused simply by coming here. Make something of your life but please stop trying to bring back the ghosts of those bad times. I really don’t care if you are gay, lesbian or just queer. Seeing you just makes me re-live all those bad times with my family. Please just go and leave me alone.”

She left us and walked away. A couple of times she stopped and hesitated but didn’t come back.

I held off on the tears until she’d disappeared at the end of the road. Then the tears came. June tried her best but I just wanted to be alone. I left her home and fled to my bedroom where I cried myself to sleep.

It was dark by the time I woke up. I felt the presence of someone in my room. It was June. Her sweet perfumed talc was unmistakeable.

“Hello sweetheart,” said June with a soft voice.
“Welcome back to the land of the living.”

Then to my surprise, she got into bed with me. We’d never been really intimate before.

She wrapped her arms around me.

“Don’t even think of giving me the brush off. I’m going nowhere unless you are with me.”

“June…”

“Shhh darling. Don’t fret, I’m here and I know that you are not the devil.”

She began to stroke my hair. It was so soothing. Like my mother had once done when I was a young child and woke up scared of the night, it sent me to sleep.

The next thing I knew, it was morning. June was lying naked next to me. She’d never done that before but it felt so right, so comfortable. I even dared to think that the ghosts from my past had been exorcised at last.

[the end]



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