Legendary Urban Legend PR Services: CHAPTER TWO

The luminescent lighting in The Gate was a welcome sight. It glinted off the glass of the screens that shielded customers from the spray of hot oil, and reflected off the chipped black and white tiles that circled the lower wall of the shop.

Not wanting to hold up the queue, Dorian slung off his backpack to reach inside for his wallet.

“’ey, lad.”

It was a greeting that lifted his spirits, and he glanced up to see Chris shaking oil from a portion of chips he lifted from the fryer. His black hair shone under the light while his tanned skin sweated from the heat.

“Usual?” Chris asked in response to Dorian’s smile.

“Would kill for it,” Dorian replied.

“There we have it all,” Chris said, waving his free hand towards the other customers. “If no one sees me again after today, well, you all know who did it.”

Dorian felt his cheeks go red, and knowing that in the brightness of the chippy he would be lit up like stop light, his cheeks decided to pull out the big guns and aim for ripe tomato.

A friendly pat rested on his back, and he turned to see a puff of white hair framing a wrinkled pale face. “I’ll be your accomplish,” a woman said with a wink. “The scallops here are better than anything near me. I get the bus here and eat on the bench by the river.”

“That sounds like a nice spot,” Dorian replied. He knew the place. It was one where he and Daisy used to rest after walking around the park. Back before every day rose with fight and every evening set with him not getting anything right.

“I’ve seen that look before,” the lady continued. “I feed the ducks every evening at six. I’m never late and always welcome company.”

“That’s because she feeds her company to the ducks,” Chris said. He laughed when a tongue waggled out from the woman’s rose painted lips. “Alright, Eve, I’ll have my customer now thank you very much.”

Dorian approached the till and handed over a five pound note.

“She at it again?” Chris muttered over the clinking of change and the ding of the old machine closing.

“Is she ever not?” Dorian replied before waving a hand in the air. “Forget I said that. She’s just not handling being laid off well. Bored and so…”

“So gets her kicks taking out her anger on you? She did it before being laid off and you know it, you just want to forget it.” Chris placed the bag with the paper wrapped chips inside onto the counter. “Go ahead and forget it, mate, but I haven’t and I won’t.” He tapped his fingers on the side of his head before lifting his hand in the air and shouting, “Next!”

The evening would have been pleasant, one in which a stroll home would have been appreciated. But, there was a slight chill on the air and as good as Chris’s chips were, like all chips, they weren’t much to taste when cold.

In the end it was a brief walk, no more than a couple of turns before he was standing in front of his house.

Daisy had left the curtain open and he could see her inside. She was sitting on the sofa, legs tucked up onto it with a fleece draped over them. One hand was being used to sip the tea he had made while the other was stretched out in front holding the remote.

So much for that bad arm, he thought, a pang of guilt circling the centre of his chest.

He pushed on the door to find it open and announced himself without much of a reply to listen out for.

“I’ll just get a plate to put the bag onto.”

He fumbled at the kitchen wall for the light. Not having much luck, he used the sparse light to find his way to the small table. Leaning forward to place down the bag he realised where the dim light was streaming in through. He glanced up and became aware of the garden light. It hadn’t been on when he left, but with it shining across the garden he could see his tomato plant. He pushed his nails into the soft flesh of his palms. He wouldn’t say anything, she’d want him to say something.

Once his eyes were adjusted to the blurry silhouettes of the room, he switched on the kitchen light and then with one last glance towards Big Ben switched off the light to the garden.

“These cold now then?” Daisy commented as a plate of chips were put in front of her.

Dorian paused. His eyes lifted up to look at the ceiling. He breathed in. “Just took a second to find my away around the kitchen,” he exhaled.

“There’s this amazing invention called a light.”

A chip half hung out of her mouth, another in her right hand ready to be shovelled in after it while she went back to clicking the remote with her other. She hadn’t even looked at him.

“Your arm all good now?” Dorian asked. He hadn’t thought the question over, and a twinge of regret gave itself away through a twitch in his eyelid.

Daisy paused for a second, the light from the television flashing across her pupils. “Yeah, I suppose it’s fine.” A strand of brown hair had loosened from her ponytail and she pushed it behind her ear before reaching for another chip. “Not going to have any?” The chip was lifted in his direction, but her eyes still couldn’t find their way over to him.

“No, Daisy. I’ve not got much of an appetite. I’ll probably just go have a sit down upstairs.”

Dorian pushed himself up from his chair, pausing only when Daisy’s phone lit up.

She glanced at the flashing green dot, then up to Dorian. “I turned off the sound so it didn’t disturb my show.”

“Oh, right.”

Dorian wanted to ask who was messaging so much that it could disturb her show, or what show she was speaking about given since he had been in the room she had flicked through a number of channels. But, he didn’t. He didn’t feel like hearing anymore bullshit.

“What? You worried I’m doing something behind your back?”

He’d got as far as the door. The exit point had been so close.

“Nope, just tired and eager to put my feet up and do a bit of reading.”

Daisy laughed through her nose. He was sure she found it a snide reaction but to him it sounded like she was choking on a wad of mucus.

“Enjoy your ghost stories,” she hesitated, “unless it’s the sea of endless articles about tomato care tonight…oh, sorry,” her mouth lifted on up to the left with an intake of breath. “I forgot.”

Did you, Daisy? He wanted to ask so badly, Did you? But he wouldn’t. “Just ghosts tonight. Enjoy your show.” He kissed her on the head and left the room, the weight of her clinging to his shoulders, dragging him down, but he felt lighter with every step he took up the stairs. By the time he reached the landing, he felt as though he could skip to the bedroom.

Instead, he pushed open the door and, without holding back, flung himself onto the bed. He flapped his arms out at his sides with the last sigh of a dying snow angel. After a brief moment of remembering what it felt like to really breathe, he dragged his phone out of his pocket.

The first webpage that opened up was an article about tomatoes. He grimaced and guilt raced down his spine. Big Ben was outside, abandoned. He clicked out of the internet and opened a podcast app. Two clicks and he was elsewhere. Eyes closed and the familiar voices of phantom friends, there but not there, he knew them but didn’t know them, and they knew nothing of him.

“You mean like last week?” a female Scottish accent flooded through the speakers. He smiled along with the laughter that followed.

“Yeah, last week when you scared me feckless by speaking about a haunted freeway,” a male voice replied. “I was driving down the motorway on my way back from my dad’s, and I’d made the foolish choice, reckless choice, to listen to this show.”

“Awh, well it’s nice to know you listen when you’re not making an appearance,” the female voice chimed in with another laugh. “And, this week we’re talking about an urban legend that finds its origins in a secondary school. It’s been a while since you’ve been in one of those, so no reason to be scared.”

“Thanks, Isla. Revealing my age to the masses!”

“Revealing? Liam, last time you were on you spent ten minutes talking about those goo drowning alien eggs from the nineties.”

Liam choked back a laugh. “The late, late nineties! Maybe even early two thousand,” he said in defence.

Dorian flopped onto his side with a wide grin on his face. Other people might live a vicarious life of riches through celebrities, but for him, it was friendship that was craved. The show left him peeking into the shadows of the room and laughing until his stomach hurt. It left him missing drinks down the pub and regretting ever saying yes to Daisy moving in with him. He swallowed that last thought, pushed it to the back of his mind and forced his focus onto the voices.

“She doesn’t just appear when you ask her to, that’s why no one has captured a photo,” Liam scoffed and Dorian could almost hear his hands go up in protest.

“Oh convenient,” Isla replied. “Look, I’m just saying that if a ghost kept appearing in the loo at work, I’d be waiting with a camera and then reporting it to HR for harassment.”

“You’d be the one taking its picture in the loo, it should report you!”

The show went quiet for a few seconds before Isla’s voice came spilling back through the speaker. “Alright, you got me. I’m a peeping Tom when it comes to ghosts, it’s the whole reason I do this show.”

“I mean if you think about it, you kind of are. Imagine if a ghost ran a show like this, wanting stories and pictures of humans while they’re just going about their business… Yesss, tell me what it looked like in the bathroom. Did you get a picture?”

“Well when you put it like that,” Isla was in hysterics. Dorian laughed with her and at her snort.

It was a quick thirty minutes, there and gone with no more than a blink of an eye, just like the haunting in the tale they had told.

“Don’t forget you can subscribe to us and support us!”

“Do it lads and lasses, Isla needs a new oven. She’s been microwave fed these past weeks!”

Isla’s contagious laugh spilled out of Dorian’s phone. He was already tapping the web address in when she denied the allegations. It didn’t take long for Dorian to see why she would deny them.

His eyes widened when he saw the number of subscribers the podcast had amassed, and the amount of money pledged. Isla had enough to buy ovens for Dorian’s entire street, monthly. It was well-earned, and in seeing that so many people were already subscribed, he felt he should have been tapping his card details in much sooner.

Keep doing what you do! Love the show, and thanks for all the scares and the laughs!

He hesitated before hitting enter. Was it too familiar? Creepy? Over the top? He groaned. Stop second guessing yourself and just leave the message. He pressed enter before the thought completed in his head.

“Ready for bed?”

Daisy leaned in the doorway. Her arms were wrapped across her chest.

“How long have you been there?”

“Oh, long enough,” she said, stepping into the room and sitting on the edge of the bed. “You seem to really love that show.”

“I like it, yeah.” Dorian tapped out of the app and placed his phone onto the night stand. “I know you think it’s silly but, I find it entertaining.

“Hey, it doesn’t matter what I think,” Daisy reached out her hand and tapped it on Dorian’s arm. “As long as you enjoy it, that’s all that matters to me.”

“Well, thanks,” Dorian reached to place his hand on Daisy’s, but she was already pulling away. “I’m going to brush my teeth and get into bed then. Oh! I forgot a glass of water. Do you mind getting one for me? I feel like I’m about to collapse I’m so tired.”

He was already at the door. He wasn’t sure if it was because she was in a good mood and he wanted to keep it that way, or if he wanted to get away from her so he could keep his spirits up.

“Here you go, love,” Dorian said, pushing the door open a little more as he entered.

He paused when he saw his phone was on the bed, and not the nightstand where it was left.

“Thanks,” Daisy called through from the bathroom.

Dorian decided it was late and his phone wasn’t worth the argument. He put it back on the nightstand and climbed into bed. His teeth could wait until the morning. His own body felt like a sack of bricks and he wanted to close his eyes, wake up in the morning, get out of the house alive and go to work.

Daisy sunk into the bed and pulled the sheets over her and up to her neck. “It’s freezing tonight,” she said. “I’ve turned the heating up, but I’m still cold.”

Dorian held in a sigh. Great, another night of sleeping in a furnace.

“I hope you sleep well,” he said, reaching over to give Daisy a kiss on the cheek. He felt her face jerk as he did this and so pulled away fast. “Do you not want me kissing you?” he asked, not knowing whether to feel hurt or relieved.

“Of course, I do,” she said. Her eyes met his, but no emotion was betrayed. No flicker of a smile or a grimace, nothing. Whoever said the eyes were the window to the soul had never looked into eyes like Daisy’s. “Anyway,” she continued, rolling over to face away and leaning to switch off the lamp. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Dorian replied, clicking his lamp and swamping them in a darkness only broken by the flickering streetlight outside.

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