Christmas at Scarhelldeath Hall Part 6


Chapter 6

Panic ensued. Boys fled to the back of the hall where Matron had somehow rematerialised and was, inexplicably, blocking the exit.

Both Noddies approached me, fear in their matching eyes. ‘What can we do?’ asked Noddy Senior. ‘Perhaps I should have let the boys perform that exorcism?’

‘You don’t need an exorcist,’ I told Noddy, grimly. ‘You need a witch-finder.’

My keen eyes, on top of the brainstorming in which I had indulged in the previous night, had already spotted a solution to our problem. Just needed to buy some time. I positioned myself so that I was standing just below the chandelier.

‘I say, Jethro,’ I called up to the pestilent ghoul. ‘Merry Christmas, old chap!’

The spirit of Maestri snarled and waved his cane with great gusto. A fine layer of dust landed on my shoulders. I turned my head and blew it off.

‘I’ve worked out your little plan, you know’ I continued. ‘And it won’t work. You won’t frighten fine upstanding old Scarhelldeathians like the Nodworth-Holders. Or me, for that matter. War hero and all that. I’ve faced Nazis, poltergeists, traffic wardens, demons, socialists, TV producers, warlocks, agents, Satanists, critics… Even my own wife abandoned me for a witch. Did I let it crush me? Did it buggery! Of course, when I say witch… She was a hairdresser really. Blue rinses and bad perms for frumpy old bags a speciality. She’d do their roots, listen to their problems, seduce them… And that wasn’t even her real job. I rummaged around in her background and I discovered she had for many years been… guess what? A magician’s assistant. Yes, some dreadful third–rate act who ploughed around the lower depths of the variety circuit. The Boggling Mr Stupendo and Pam. Or was it The Stupendous Mr Boggle and Pam? He died in mysterious circumstances apparently. Choked to death on his own rabbit. She sold the act and used the money to open her hairdressers. But she must have picked up some useful tricks though, particularly if she wanted to convince people she had genuine magical powers.’

For some reason this little spiel of mine enraged old Maestri and he shook his solitary fist at me.

‘Now, you wouldn’t be able to do that if your arm hadn’t grown back in the after-life,’ I mocked him.

Maestri, overcome with wrath, started to swing back and forth on the chandelier. I tried one last tack.

‘I don’t even know what my wife saw in her. Face like a baboon’s arse, frankly. And one presumes, an arse like a baboon’s face.’

The incensed spectre howled with fury – and the whole chandelier wrenched itself away from the ceiling and plummeted to the floor. I had anticipated this and had leaped nippily out of the way just beforehand.

At this disaster, Matron screamed and thundered from the doorway she was blocking to the debris. She clawed her way through the wreckage, flinging chunks of plaster over her shoulder.

Both Noddies looked at me blankly.

I reached down, grabbed Matron by the shoulders, and hauled her up to face us.

‘Gentlemen,’ I said, ‘Meet…’

With one hand I seized Matron’s hair and tore it away from her scalp. With my other hand I grasped her cheek and tugged… Both Noddies gasped, but fell silent as I showed them the wig and mask.

‘… the wife!’ I continued, triumphantly.

Continued here…

To hear Sir Desmond at work go to http://www.whatnoise.co.uk

Read my memoirs THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST

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