Scary Girl in the Shop

Mary Worth, 64

‘We’ve had the shop for about six years – after Martin retired it seemed like the perfect thing for him to do. We’d saved just enough to cover the lease and a decent amount of stock, so the place didn’t look bare when we opened.

‘It’s a good area you see, for that sort of thing. You know, lots of kids are in bands, there’s a live music scene with real-life actual performing professional musicians. Then you’ve got the school, who are always looking for stuff, and of course Martin’s old colleagues come straight to him. We knew it was a good enough idea to make a bit of money. Of course, we had no idea…

‘Anyway, I’m losing track again. Sorry…

‘Danny, our grandson, he came in the back and he was so excited. “She’s back, Grandma,” he said, “the Scary Girl.” He’s always been an imaginative kid, stories about monsters beneath the bed, that sort of thing, but this Scary Girl was a new thing. I was knitting, but we only get to see him about once a month, so I like to keep him entertained. I followed him into the shop, and, and, I didn’t believe it at first. But. There she was.’

Danny Worth, 6

‘Yeah I thought she only showed up when no one else was there or grown ups anyway maybe kids and stuff like me cos I’m only 6 but then I showed her to Grandma and Grandma really actually saw her and she got really scared and talked to Grandpa and it turned out he knew all about the Scary Girl and he wasn’t the only one loads of people knew all about her and Grandma was really freaked out especially I think because Grandpa hadn’t said anything about it before but then he said it was like the time they had a mouse in their house for like three weeks and it would come out and run across the floor but Grandma’s eyesight isn’t so good so Grandpa just didn’t tell her and he didn’t want to kill it you know with one of those traps that crush them on the head so he built his own trap with chocolate and some straws and a heavy bowl I think and he caught it and let it go in a field miles away and never told her. She wasn’t happy when she found out about that. But she really wasn’t happy when she found out about the Scary Girl.’

Martin Worth, 67

‘Well I wouldn’t attribute all of our success to her. I mean we had a business plan. We thought it out, and bought the right kind of musical instruments, the stuff that we knew would sell, that people wanted, and we made the place look nice. Bohemian almost. And the customers responded well.

‘She showed up almost immediately. I didn’t know what to do. I’d never seen a ghost before. I thought I’d be really nervous, but I wasn’t at all. Her presence had a calming effect. And afterwards… Well, what can I say?

‘I’ve been teaching music for over forty years and it was only after seeing her that I started to write music. I’d tried before, dabbled. I sold a jingle to the local radio station. It was rubbish though.

‘If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be writing symphonies now, well I’d have thought you were mad.

‘And of course when word got out, well we couldn’t buy in new instruments fast enough.’

Colin McBride, 19

‘Yeah man – it is totally unbelievable. So we been together for ‘bout, I dunno, a coupla years? We sucked. Really sucked. Our cover versions were fine, bit of Pistols, Clash a couple of numbers by The Members, you know? They were all fine, but none of us could come up with a tune.

‘Until I bought my bass from that shop.

‘I saw her, sitting in the corner, all pale and stuff. And quiet. She didn’t say nothin’. I totally just assumed that she worked there, or was the old guy’s niece or somethin’.

‘Practice that night was nuts. I musta come up with about twenty different basslines, an’ every one was gold.

‘I told Nicky, our guitarist, and he bought a new Fender that weekend. From the shop, y’know? Man, have you heard the solos he came up with? Like Jimmy Hendrix after ten pints of Red Bull!

‘We got a record deal within the month and played Glastonbury that summer.

‘It totally sucks that it’s over now, but we still got that one album. Genius. Total genius. I reckon we’ll probably be able to live off it for the rest of our lives.’

Mary Worth, 64

‘I do feel bad about how I reacted. Martin asked me not to tell anyone, but I felt betrayed. The whole town seemed to know. Everyone who bought something from the shop. I think he knew that I wouldn’t be able to process it. Not that he could either. But he realised that something great was happening. Something fantastic.

‘It was all over when the newspapers got hold of the story. And then the TV cameras showed up. They would have eventually, I suppose, but if I hadn’t bent the ear of so many friends when I was upset, it maybe would have lasted a while longer.

‘The worst thing though is how happy he was, sitting there with his music paper and pen. Watching the music flow out of him, so easily. He glowed. And I was so proud.

‘And I’ll never see that again.’

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David Baillie is a freelance writer and artist. Born almost thirty years ago in Scotland, he now lives and works in the East End of London.

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