Posted: July 7, 2013 in Mystery
Tags: , , , , , ,

Old_stairsTed Kendall felt in need of a Beamish.  He could not yet believe it.  He finally had mastered university.  It had never felt so good to leave DCU’s premises.  A degree in electronic engineering should open a broad variety of job offers.  Grinning, he speed dialled his twin sister Tracy’s cell.  She answered immediately.  “Congrats!!!”  He was stunned, then a hand tapped on his right shoulder.  He swung around and saw – Tracy.  “I have been hiding over there, waiting for you to come out.”, she confessed and hugged him.  They went to the Skylon Hotel bar to celebrate.

“What are you going to do next?”  Ted smiled.  “Tending bar for Fred until further notice.  I must earn my living as before.  And – I am going to send about 25 job applications to companies in Dublin, Cork, and Galway – via e-mail, of course.  They will all be on the road tomorrow morning.”  Tracy was visibly impressed.  “I hope that one of the companies here wants to have you.  I wouldn’t really like you to be that far away.”  Ted raised his glass “Slainte!”

Early next morning, Ted mailed his job applications.  Throughout the five following days, his enthusiasm slowly faded.  Not all companies had responded yet.  Those who had replied all stated something like ‘Thank you, sir – but we currently do not need another electronic engineer.’  The following day, Ted received an e-mail from a smaller company for electrical equipment in Galway.  They were still rather small, working on expanding, though.  He liked what he read.  Ted felt that this was somehow the reply he had been waiting for.  Suddenly, he had lots of stuff to consider: let his flat, tell Fred that he was leaving for Galway and that Fred obviously needed a new bar tender, and most of all tell Tracy that he was leaving Dublin.  Ted hated to make her sad.

On Friday morning, Tracy picked him up.  There wasn’t too much to carry, a trolley and his backpack, only.  The took the bus from Upper Drumcondra Road and changed at O’Connell Street.  At Heuston Station they had still enough time for coffee and muffins.  “I still cannot believe that they wanted you that fast.  It will be weird not to having you around.”  Tracy reached for her backpack and took out a parcel.  “Please do not open it before tonight.”  Ted promised that he wouldn’t.  “And this is for you, Tracy.”  He handed her a green envelope.  Tracy looked at him questioningly.  “Don’t hesitate, open it, dear.”  She tore at the envelope.  Inside was a photograph, showing both of them during their last trip to Dun Laoghaire.  Tracy beamed.  “I’ll scan it right away, this is my new background!”  Then hugged a last time.  Tracy ran out to catch her bus and Ted went to board his train.

The weather was great:  blue sky, tiny white clouds, about 25 °C.  It was nice to just watch the landscape flow by.  Each of the twelve stops between Dublin and Galway took him nearer to his future.  The train ended its journey in Galway exactly 2.5 hours after leaving Dublin.  Ted gathered his belongings and got off the train.  The air smelled different; and the sky was a shade of grey with a touch of gold.  He followed the directions provided by his future boss.  Soon he reached Dubray Books in Shop Street.  He entered and went directly to the cashier.  “Hi, my name is Ted Kendall, I am looking for Tom Grey.”  The cashier looked up and extended his hand.  “I am Tom, pleased to meet you.  Gerry gave me the keys to your flat.  Follow Shop Street, turn right at the fork.  Mainguard Street turns into Bridge Street.  A SPAR is in Mainguard Street, and Kelly’s Bar is directly in Bridge Street.  You will definitely survive.”  Tom grinned.  “I would have liked to show you the way, my assistant is unfortunately ill, however.”  Ted gathered the keys, grabbed his trolley and smiled.  “Don’t you worry.  I’ll find my way.  Have a good one!” – “You too, pal!”  As soon as Ted had left the shop Tom picked up his phone.

Ted quite liked this new environment.  In less than two minutes he arrived at ‘his’ new address.  His new flat was on the first floor.  The ground floor consisted of an old wooden door – obviously to the respective flat, and a creaky looking staircase to the upper floor.  The stairs creaked in a way that he had to assume the worst about his completely furnished flat.  He inserted the key in the new lock, took a deep breath to prepare himself for the worst and – was speechless.  The furniture was new, so were the bathroom facilities as well as the kitchen appliances.  On the table he found a bunch of tourist information brochures, another brochure of the company he was going to work for, and a welcome note by Gerry, his new boss.

As his smart-phone was completely drained Ted connected it to the charger.  Despite being hungry, he opted for unpacking his stuff before going out and buying some essentials at the SPAR.  After getting the groceries, he plugged in his laptop to check his emails and let Tracy know he had arrived at his new home in one piece.  Tracy answered right away via chat, writing that she had already sent him useful information via ‘WhatsApp‘.  They chatted for nearly an hour, then Tracy had to go.  Ted decided to grab his smart-phone and check out the route to his new job and collect impressions of his new neighbourhood.  He found out that it took him merely 10 minutes to walk to the company’s premises.  On the way back he registered interesting shops and restaurants.  To celebrate his first evening he entered the Tigh Neachtain.  Ted settled at the bar and ordered a Bonaparte’s Stout.  This was good stuff and he ordered another one.  An older guy sat down to his left.  He immediately received his Dungarven Black Rock.  “Hello there, we haven’t met.  Are you a tourist – or…?  By the way, I am John.”  Ted took a swig from the yummy brew in front of him and turned to John.  “My name is Ted.  I just moved into the neighbourhood.”  John engaged Ted in a lengthy conversation, ordering another round in due course.  And yet another one.  It was late when Ted finally got up to walk home.  “Bye John, see you around.”  He left the pub on slightly unsteady legs.  John placed a quick call.

There seemed to be more stairs at home than before…  Ted somehow got upstairs, let himself in.  Then he fell on the bed and was lost to the world.  He slept fitfully, constantly having weird dreams of dwarf sized monks in grey robes, creaking stairs, and strange giggling and whispering sounds.  He woke up as the alarm clock went off.  Why had he set the alarm on a Saturday morning?!  He felt slightly nauseous, having one hell of a headache.  He tried to count the pints he’d had.  At least four of them, he realized.  He hadn’t eaten enough, that’s why he was feeling so bad now.  ‘I should know better.’  No painkillers, no coffee.  Ted went to the bathroom.  After taking a shower he felt a little better.  He had breakfast at a café, bought some painkillers, and did the usual tourist stuff.  In the evening he went to the Kettle of Fish and had one of their delicious dishes.  Then he went home to watch TV.  It was only 10 when he headed to bed.  This time, he slept peacefully.  Suddenly he woke with a start.  This creaking and whispering – again!  Ted switched on the light.  It was 1:25.  He didn’t hear a thing.  He switched the light off.  Soon he was fast asleep.  The weird dreams returned.  When he finally got up at 9, he was still feeling unfit.  He left home at 10, grabbed a latte and a sandwich and walked to the harbour.  Once again he had reasons to admire the greyish golden sky.

The nightmares continued.  A week later he decided to optimise the security for his flat.  The doors were certainly not safe enough, they were obviously the reason for his nightmares.  He installed motion detectors at the foot and at the top of the staircase.  Ted was satisfied.  Finally he would be getting a good night’s sleep.  He went out for a pint.  He met John.  “Where have you been, my lad?”  John asked.  They went into Kelly’s and Ted told John about the motion detectors.  Shortly after midnight the nightmare returned, all this creaking and whispering.  Again, Ted woke with a start.  He still heard the creaking and whispering.  He crept to the door.  It seemed to be dark on the staircase.  Ted went into the kitchen to get some sparkling water.  He listened.  No more sounds.  ‘I must have been dehydrated.’  He went back to bed.

Next morning he asked his boss about the flat on the ground floor.  “The flat has been empty for years.  The old lady who lived there died.  And their family couldn’t bear letting it.  They consider it a shrine, apparently.”  Gerry shrugged.  Ted did not really like what he had heard.  A shrine, nobody ever comes to air the flat – incredible.  He decided to mount some traps.  There must be an explanation for this recurring nightmare.  That evening he deposited tiny strips of sellotape at the doors on the ground floor.  Then he went upstairs, listened to some music while browsing the internet.  Shortly before midnight he went to bed.  He was so tired that he did not recall any nightmares when he got up.  After getting ready for the job, Ted sneaked downstairs and checked the sellotape strips.  He realised that both doors had been opened during the night.  He debated with himself about what to do and decided to rend Mill Street Garda Station a visit after work.  He went to the station explained his situation.  The officer listened and called a detective.  “This sounds as it could be interesting for your case of contraband, sir.”  The detective asked Ted to follow him to his office.  Ted readily repeated his story.  He also told detective O’Sullivan that he had met John in front of Kelly’s and more or less bragged about the motion detectors.  “John who?  Do you by any chance know his family name?  Please describe him for me.”  Ted thought about when he had met John last time, outside of Kelly’s.  “His height is about 1.65 metres, he seems a little plump.  His hair is greyish.  He seems to prefer Dungarven Black Rock.”  Detective O’Sullivan placed a call and turned back to face Ted.  “I now ask you to do what you usually do in the evenings.  A team will be placed near your flat.”  Ted thanked him and went home to a hopefully quiet night having sandwiches and watching a movie.

In the middle of the night, hell broke loose.  According to the noises below, at least.  Ted got up and peeked out of the window.  The gardai were there all right.  As well as three hooded hand-cuffed figures.  Several minutes later, someone knocked on his door.  It was detective O’Sullivan.  “We’ve got them at last.  Thanks to you, Mr Kendall.  And we also have John Moody in custody.  He organised these youngsters and the smuggled goods.  The flat on the ground floor was ideal for stashing hot goods.  He used to be a close friend of the old lady’s son.  He must have seized the opportunity to grab a key.”  He extended his hand.  Ted shook it and the detective left.  Ted started his laptop to check on upcoming events.  As it was now safe in this house, he wanted to invite Tracy and show her that he could manage on his own.  Ted got back into bed and slept peacefully for once.

Next day everybody was talking about the smugglers.  It was the main topic in the café, at the the SPAR, and at work.  “They caught them in the act – in Bridge Street, they said.”  Gerry stated when starting their stand-up meeting.  “This must have been quite exciting for you, Ted.  Right in your neighbourhood!”  Ted smiled and nodded.  He didn’t in the least intend to explain how close to home this excitement had really been.


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