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It was a stormy night.
The Hairy Lemon was closing up. Chairs were put on tables, glasses were washed and
dried and were resting comfortably on the shelves behind the bar, and the pub's owner, a Mr
Newton Sparrow, was telling his son, Edgar, to sweep the floor; under the tables, behind the
bar, and to put the dirt in the fire.
'There's a good boy,' Mr Sparrow said, leaving a saucer of milk out on the window sill for
the stray cat who sometimes stopped by. 'I've got to trust you to look after this place when
I'm gone, eh?' he continued, now placing bottles of whiskey and brandy under the counter.
'Yes sir,' a 10 year old Edgar agreed obdiently, easing the brush into a dark corner to get
rid of cobwebs. Mr Sparrow strode over to the window. 'Brilliant!' he grinned. Then a frown
draped over his face as he looked out. 'What in God's name is a ship doing out in that weather?'
he asked. Edgar dropped the sweeping brush in his hands with a loud 'CLANK!' and joined
his father by the window.
The Hairy Lemon was at the top of a large cliff over-looking the ocean and a rickety
old port. Strewn all over the place were small wooden houses, a tiny shop that sold basic rations
and a little shack which served as the school. It wasn't really a school though, there were only
five children in the community and the locals would take turns each day to tell them their tales
of the past. Ships came and went, delivering food and other supplies and very often the captain
and his men would stop by Newton Sparrow's pub for a drink and a game of cards against the
locals. But a ship never came out if there was a storm. Especially at night.
Edgar and his father stared at the peculiarity of this, their breath fogging up the window.
The ship came to port and two men could be seen stepping out onto land and walking
cautiously up the rocks and boulders that led to the cliff in which The Hairy Lemon stood.
Closer they came, the strong wind occasionally holding them back. Then finally, Edgar
and Mr Sparrow heard them forcing the door open.
'What the-?' Mr Sparrow started but was interrupted by the suited men bursting through
the door, gasping and panting for breath. One of them went to close the door and nearly tripped
over the sweeping brush Edgar dropped earlier, while the other stood clutching his chest until
his breathing went back to normal.
'Are you alright Philius?' asked the man who closed the door. 'Bah...I'm fine thank you,
could do with a brandy though. Do go see if there's any behind the bar Jiminy good fellow.'
Edgar heard his father take a sharp breath and stomp forward.
'Excuse me gentlemen,' he said rather angrily, 'You are unwelcome visitors in my home
so either get out or I'll go upstairs and retrieve my gun!' He stepped right up to Jiminy, who
was pouring some brandy into two small glasses. He seemed not to have heard a thing Mr Sparrow
had said, neither did Philius for that matter. 'What is going on?' Edgar mumbled to himself,
for his father had started shouting furiously at the two men who drank up, seemingly oblivious to the
father and son.
'What time will the new owner arrive at tomorrow?,' Philius asked Jiminy, who shook
his head and said: 'Not sure, but don't worry, we'll get paid for tonight's work when he gets here,'
They poured themselves another drink, Edgar and Mr Sparrow staring at them in silent bewilderment.
'Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough if you ask me,' Philius said. 'This place gives me the
heebie jeebies just thinking of the horrible tragedy that happened here.' He shuddered at the thought.
'Oh? What happened?' Jiminy asked, leaning forward with sudden interest. 'Well..alright then, I'll
tell you, but it is not nice...' Philius started. 'Where to begin, where to begin...ah...
'This pub, The Hairy Lemon as it says above the door, used to belong to a man and his wife,
Newton and Alison Sparrow...' Edgar looked at his father. 'Used to?' he whispered. 'Father,
what's going on? Why can't these men see or hear us?' Mr Sparrow looked desperately at his son, shook
his head and turned back to Philius, who continued...
'Now, Newton and Alison had a son, Edgar, the locals all said he was a quiet, pale child.
Never fit in with the other people his age, quite like his mother really. She never spoke much,
she'd wander around, like a ghost, very unhappy really. Her husband though, he was friendly
as you please. Great with the punters he was. The mother, Alison, she must have been...mentally
unhinged, if you know what I mean. Crazy. One day she snapped. Bought some rat poison from the
store we passed on the way here, remember it? With the little weather vane on the roof?' Jiminy
nodded. 'Anyway,' Philius went on, 'She bought the poison, popped in their supper of porridge.
They went to bed, right as rain and woke up next morning dead. Alison was gone by then of course,
one of the fishing boats was, and still is, missing. Never heard from her again. Rotten luck really...'
Jiminy shook his head. 'Women,' he muttered under his breath.
Edgar ran to his father, who was leaning against the bar, a look of disbelief etched across his face.
'Father, who are these men? Mother didn't kill us! She's upstairs asleep! Tell them father!'
Newton Sparrow just shook his head. 'This is just a nightmare,' he said matter-of-factly.
'Some people say this pub is haunted by the father and son,' Philius said gravely. 'Unwelcome
visitors in their home. Never at rest...' 'Nonsense!' Jiminy scolded. 'Superstitious folk on this land
Edgar screamed. 'Tell them father! It's not true! They're lying! TELL THEM!'
Mr Sparrow pinched himself. This was not a nightmare. He walked up to where the two men were sitting,
drinks in their hands in a deathly silence.
The late Newton Sparrow shouted at them, he screamed at them, he cried and begged them.
But they sat, drinking slowly, not hearing a word.