Cecil Howe came by quite unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve. I was just about ready to go to the club for the run up to midnight, but I had literally not seen him for three years, so I set aside an hour for us to have a good chat over some sherry.

We talked about a great many things, and I was just going to invite Cecil to join me at the club, when I remembered something Brian Combs had told me the other day.

“You remember Brian Combs?” I asked him.

“Mmmm,” Cecil replied, his mouth otherwise busy with a cream mushroom vol-au-vent.

“Well,” I continued, “about a month back, he claimed to have met in the park none other than old Mewsey, the owner of all those mattress shops—remember him too?”

“Yes, quite, but didn’t he...?”

“That’s the thing! Brian insisted that he sat on a bench with Mewsey for about fifteen minutes, chatting in great humour, and then when he got home, he looked up the number and rang Mewsey’s house to see if he’d like to come for dinner one night—and it turned out the old boy had been dead for a fortnight!”


“Yes! His daughter answered and was most upset, as was Brian. It made no sense at all... what do you make of such a thing?”

Cecil cleared his throat, and put down his glass.

“You know Michael,” he said looking to the floor. “It forces me... I must admit that I’ve not been entirely honest—you see, I’ve been dead for nearly a month now.”

I stared at him uneasily, before he mouthed goodbye and withered away into nothing before my very eyes.

I came to after midnight, Cecil’s sherry glass still there, half full on the side table, as well as the crumbs in the armchair where he had been sat.

For my troubles, I only wish that he had visited me either earlier or later than that day. To faint was humiliating enough, but it had me miss what I was told was a jolly good knees-up at the club that night! 


The whole run of Jesse Zimmerman's Challenger stories is now available in book and ebook from Amazon

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