Are You Lonesome Tonight?
I’d been very lonely after Emily left. The house seemed so big and empty without her. I thought moving would be the best thing for me. How little did I know…
We sat in a circle, like we always did, most of us ignoring the no smoking signs and lighting up. Jo sat beside me, as usual, even though she hated me. I didn’t hate her, she just got on my nerves. I inhaled deeply on my cigarette, blowing smoke rings into the air. They’d had to disable the fire alarm in the meeting room because we set it off so often. Jo pretended to cough and narrowed her eyes at me. I smiled serenely, resisting the urge to blow smoke in her face.
It was my turn this week. I had not been looking forward to it. I didn’t like sharing with the group like Olly did. His stories were always long and very detailed. I loved listening to him, not really because of anything he said, but because his voice was so soothing. It made me want to curl up under my chair and fall asleep. I didn’t tell him that, of course. I didn’t want him to think I was a nutter.
Andy nodded at me, signalling that it was time to begin. I sat up straight, nervously fiddling with my watch strap. I lit another cigarette and cleared my throat.
‘My name’s Alex,’ I said loudly. Too loud. Jo made a face at me but I ignored her. ‘My name’s Alex. And this is my story.
‘My house is haunted. So what, you’re probably thinking. Lots of houses are haunted. But mine is different. Mine is special. You see, my house…is haunted by Elvis.’
‘Yes, that’s right. Elvis Presley. The King. I became aware of his presence several years ago, just after I moved in. It was gradual, little things at first. Something goes missing. Something isn’t where I thought I left it. Easy to explain away. Then it got harder to ignore. Doors would slam shut, ornaments would fall off shelves. Lights would go on and off. The CD player came on by itself. I was woken many a night by ‘Love Me Tender’ playing at full volume.’
‘You’re so full of shit,’ Jo interrupted.
‘And you’re a moronic bint, but that is besides the point. As I was saying… Strange things continued to happen for the next few months. I tried to come up with a logical explanation but nothing made any sense. Then, one night, I was woken by the sound of a man singing.’
‘I got out of bed and crept out onto the landing, afraid of what I might find. A man was standing in the shadows, signing sadly to himself. But he wasn’t a man. He was a ghost. The ghost of – ‘
‘Elvis. Right. And I’m the reincarnated spirit of Cliff Richard.’
‘Cliff Richard is still alive.’
‘Whatever. You’re talking bollocks.’
‘Yeah, well, you are bollocks.’
‘What does that even mean?’
Ok guys,’ said Andy, raising his hands in a calm down gesture. ‘No arguing. Everyone’s stories are of equal value, let’s not forget that.’
He gave me a smile of encouragement and I nodded reluctantly, rolling my eyes when he turned away. He was such a tool.
‘That was a great story, Alex,’ Andy continued. He was so sincere it made me want to vomit. ‘Jo, it’s your turn next week, ok?’
‘I haven’t finished yet,’ I started to protest, but people were already getting up to leave. I sighed loudly. Nobody noticed. Andy patted me on the shoulder and smiled reassuringly.
‘Never mind, eh. We started late. You’ll get to finish next time, I promise.’
‘Yeah, all right,’ I mumbled. I watched as everyone left, still not moving from my chair. I didn’t want to go home just yet. Because I wasn’t making it up. All those things had happened. Even if it was all in my head, it was still there. It didn’t matter if it was real or a figment of my fucked up imagination. All I knew was that when I got home, he’d be there, waiting for me. Singing. Always singing. I would stay here for a little while longer, enjoying the peace. I didn’t like to admit it to the others, but I’d never really liked Elvis.