Read an Excerpt
Oh Great, Now I Can See Dead People
Sam's back and now she can see dead people
By Deborah Durbin
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2012 Deborah Durbin
All rights reserved.
Capricorn: There will be testing times ahead and you will need the patience of a saint to see you through them.
Hum ... yer think?
You would have thought by now that I would have got used to being a messenger for dead people and would have been forewarned in some way by someone up there, or at least been given some sort of a sign, that it would not actually be a good idea to move back in with my mother while we waited for contracts to be exchanged on our new house, wouldn't you?
In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that someone up there would say something along the lines of, 'Hang on a cotton-picking minute, Samantha. Do you really think it's a good idea to move back in with your mother, having lived independently for the past five years, even if it is just for a few weeks?'
But no. After all the messages I have passed on over the past year – some rather reluctantly, I hasten to add – not one person has advised me that, sure as eggs are omelettes, I would be locking myself in the downstairs bathroom, with my fingers in my ears, in a bid to escape my mother.
That's the problem with spur-of-the-moment decisions. They never, ever, work out how they're supposed to. I naively thought that seeing as my husband to be, Jack, is spending the next God knows how long in London rehearsing with his band for the Vibe Awards, and Valerie, my landlady, has decided to sell her house, the ideal solution to solving my accommodation crisis would be to move back in with my mum. It's just until our solicitor confirms that I can have the keys to our lovely little cottage in a tiny village on the outskirts of Bath, but it is already driving me bonkers.
The reality of it is that our solicitor is from the school of Make-Em-Wait, and is in no particular hurry to sign contracts with the vendor, preferring instead to send me letters at £30 a shot. Which is why I am currently playing hide and seek in the bathroom in a bid to escape my mum and the twenty-plus back copies of Bride that seem to be permanently stashed under her arm.
My mum, however, is a dab hand at hide and seek – having played numerous games of it when we were children – and has already found me. It only took her fifteen seconds this time.
'Sammy love? Are you in there? What are you doing in there?'
What does she think I'm doing in here? Standing on the loo with my fingers in my ears, trying to avoid her for five minutes?
'Nothing. Just coming!' I yell as I step down from the toilet seat with its fluffy pink cover and flush the loo so that she thinks I've been doing what you're meant to do in the bathroom.
'There you are. Now listen, I borrowed these from Marjorie. You remember Marjorie from the WI. Her son Jonathon got married last summer. You remember Jonathon, her son? Nice boy. Went into medicine ...' my mum begins. 'I had high hopes for you and Jonathon at one time. He's a doctor now, you know. At St Luke's,' my mum continues. 'Anyway, Jonathon married that Indian girl ... now what was her name? Fauna? Florence? Oh, that's it, I remember now, Fleur. Anyway, Marjorie, who is very good at organising events – she arranged the flowers for Mr Samson's funeral; they were beautiful. She got the display just right. She's nothing if not a perfectionist. Now, where was I? Oh yes, Marjorie said that because Fleur wasn't accustomed to our culture and way of doing things, she would be happy to arrange the wedding and she spent months collecting magazines and working out place settings. Not that the girl was grateful, mind you. She told Jonathon that she wanted a quiet wedding in a registry office, of all places. I think, between you and me, she was you-know-what and wanted a quick wedding. Marjorie had even gone to the trouble of booking Thorpe Manor ...'
Now can you understand why I locked myself in the bathroom?
'... but no, they wanted to do it their way and ended up getting married at Bristol registry office ...' my mum continues, pulling a face full of disdain. I don't like to point out that Fleur was in fact born in Hampstead and is as British as British can be, or that Jonathon-the-doctor-at-St-Luke's probably didn't want his interfering busybody of a mother taking over their special day for them.
'Well, they might just have wanted to organise it themselves.' I venture – take the hint mother!
'What, and have everyone dressed head to foot in saris? Really, Sammy,' my mum laughs.
'So, are they still together?'
'Jonathon and Fleur.'
'Oh, yes, but Marjorie refused to go to the wedding. She was ever so upset. It broke her heart,' my mum muses. Now I feel guilty.
Personally though I can understand why Jonathon Harris and his bride to be decided to do their own thing. Ever since Jack proposed to me in Australia, my mum has officially gone into Mother-of-the-Bride overdrive and spends every waking hour filling in an 'ideas book' with information for our wedding.
And it's not as though I can escape from it either. Since having to vacate my flat, Missy, my wonderfully loyal cat, and I have been knee-deep in copies of Your Wedding, Hello and OK. Everywhere I look in the house there is a magazine devoted to blushing brides, who grin from ear to ear at me from the glossy pages.
I say Missy, my wonderfully loyal cat. In truth Missy couldn't give a rat's arse about the wedding. In fact, I don't think Missy has even noticed that my mum has turned into a woman obsessed by celebrity weddings given that Missy is herself madly in love with a tomcat called Spencer. Spencer doesn't have his own home and lives the simple life between various houses – it's all very Lady and the Tramp.
No sooner had Missy unpacked her belongings – cat bed and toy mouse – than Spencer was scratching at the back door asking if Missy wanted to come out and play. Being a bit of a snob, Missy decided that Hell would freeze over before she went out with some common old alley cat, but when Spencer returned a second time with a dead mouse and dropped it on the patio for her she had a change of heart. I've told her to play hard to get, but will she listen? Will she heck. Always a pushover for the corpse of a mouse is Missy.
And now there is no stopping them. Missy only returns home for her tin of Sheba, which she duly shares with the new love of her life. She is far too preoccupied doing whatever it is that cats do for fun to notice that my mum is quickly taking over my life!
'I still don't know why you don't agree to Larry's suggestion of selling your wedding to Hello,' my mum mutters as she flicks through back issues of the glossy celebrity magazine. You're a celebrity now, Sammy. You're the psychic to the stars! You should make the most of it while it lasts.'
'I do not want the whole world at my wedding, thank you, Mum. It's my big day and I certainly don't want press photographers there. You know how I feel about them and Larry's only suggesting it because he's my agent and will get a nice commission out of it,' I add, recalling the fight I had last year to prove myself and clear my name, thanks to my best friend Amy selling a pack of lies about me to the tabloids.
'Yes, but that's all over now. You proved that you're an authentic psychic and people believe you now. You've even got celebrity clients, Sammy. They will want to come to your wedding, surely?'
'And look at how much stress I had to go through to clear my name, Mum. No. I do not want a celebrity wedding. I don't want any celebrities there, so don't even think about it,' I warn. 'Now, I've got to go to work. If the solicitor phones, tell him I don't want any more letters telling me what he's already told me in the last one; I want to know when I can collect the keys to the cottage and make a start on getting it ready for when Jack comes home. If Jack phones, tell him to call my mobile. I need to sort out who we are inviting from his side of the family – not that there are going to be many from his side – and if Larry does call, do not tell him that I am interested in my wedding being featured in any magazine, celebrity or otherwise. Mum?'
My mum nods in agreement, but rather like a sullen teenager who has been told that she can't have an extension on her curfew.
'Yes, yes, OK, but I still don't see why you are so opposed to the idea. I just ... I just want you to have the best day of your life. Just like your dad and I did,' she adds quietly.
'I know you do, Mum, and I will, which is why I don't want the world and his wife seeing my big day. Now, if you really want to help me, you can ring round the local florists and get some prices on winter flowers. Oh, and I don't want a unicorn either,' I say with a smile. I know she is only trying to help and wants my Christmas wedding to Jack to be the best it can possibly be. After all, she only has one daughter and it's an exciting time for her, but sometimes she can get a little carried away with it all. I mean, where on earth does she think she's going to get a unicorn, for that matter?
'Oh, and don't forget to phone your publisher back. You've got another book to get on with,' I remind her, just in case she has got so carried away with wedding malarkey that she has forgotten that she and her new beau Colin are now under contract with their publisher to write a new book before the year is out about the importance of organic vegetables.
'Oh, yes, I almost forgot about that!' she laughs. 'Oh, I didn't tell you, did I? You know Colin's cousin, Clive?'
'The one who stalked me. Hum, how could I forget?'
My mother is referring to her new partner's cousin Clive-the-weirdo, who I tried to treat for his phobia of vegetables last year in my previous career as a psychologist. Clive took an unhealthy interest in me and yes, for a while I had my very own stalker.
'He's dead,' my mum says matter-of-factly.
'Yup, as a dodo. Now what colours do you want in your flowers again?'
'Hang on. When did this happen?'
'A few weeks ago. Apparently he was in the supermarket and one of the veg racks came loose from its fitting. Fell straight on him, according to Colin; killed him outright.'
'Oh my goodness!'
Talk about ironic. See, Clive always said vegetables were dangerous.
'Why didn't you tell me about this?' I ask my mother.
'Well, let's be honest, Sammy love, he wasn't your favourite person, was he?'
'Well no, but I wouldn't have wished any harm on him. Did you go to the funeral?'
'No. Colin did. Said it was a quiet affair; family only.'
'So, flowers? What colours?' my mum asks.
'Oh, um, whatever you think best, Mum.'
Oh, I do wish Jack was here to help me.
Despite it being the end of September and the weather forecasters constantly telling us to get our winter woollies out because a brisk Siberian wind is on its way, it is absolutely stifling in the Town FM radio studio today. I find Annette sitting at her desk, in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, with her feet submerged in a bucket of ice, which is rapidly melting between her red-polished toes.
'Oh, Sam, I'm having another one of my hot moments,' Annette sighs, as she lazily flicks a few switches so that the listeners can hear yet another Town FM jingle.
Since I was reluctantly thrown into the spotlight as a radio psychic, the producers at Town FM have received so many requests for readings that they asked if I would be prepared to do the show three times a week. Considering that my wonderful DJ friend Annette was the only one in the media industry who was prepared to stand up for me when the rest of the world did their very best to try and ruin me by claiming that I was a con artist, I felt that it was only fair to give Annette and the team first refusal on my employment. And it suits me just fine. I no longer have to travel up and down the motorway to work for the BBC, and what with launching the Psychic Café Academy with Miracle, my friend and previous boss, and book and magazine deals coming in all the time, it means that I can work as and when I want, within reason.
I have also discovered that I now have a spirit guide called Andrea, or Ange as she likes to be called. I always thought that spirit guides were meant to be wise old sages, or at the very least a Native American Indian called something interesting like Hopping Moonlight, but apparently not always, and certainly not in the case of my own spirit guide. Ange is a young and vibrant Essex girl, who died while out on a night on the town. Someone put a kerb in the road when she wasn't looking and she went flying over it in her platform shoes.
'One minute I was having the time of me life, the next I was up ere!' she said the first time she came and introduced herself to me. 'I have to say I was well pissed off about it. I'd just met this gorgeous guy and got his number and everything. He was well fit, Sam. I thought, I'm well in 'ere! The next thing I know I'm in bloody heaven! Oh, I'm your official guide by the way – not a girl guide – a spirit guide. I could have been a girl guide if I wanted, mind you ...'
Having reluctantly learned to live with hearing voices inside my head, I figured another one wouldn't make too much of a difference. Ange, however, is a rather high-maintenance spirit and can be somewhat time-consuming. She pops up at the most inappropriate times and comes into my head for a chat about things such as why she thinks I should buy a pink feather boa or why it would be a good idea to have my wedding dress made out of cake. Another example is when I'm in a meeting and she starts singing 'agadoo-do-doo' to me, or worse, when Jack and I have been in bed together and she decides to tell me all about her past lovers!
Ange is also a fashionista and likes nothing better than to chat about who's wearing what. She insists I get a copy of Heat magazine every week without fail, just so she can keep up with what's in and what's out, who's dating who and what her idol Cheryl Cole is up to. Ange's fashion sense leaves a lot to be desired though, as I discovered when she informed me of what she was wearing on that fateful night – a denim miniskirt, which was originally a pair of jeans; a white halter-neck top (without a bra, of course); a pair of pink bunny ears; and her all-time favourite shoes – a pair of clear plastic platforms that came accessorised with real goldfish swimming around inside the wedges!
'Poor Boris and Doris,' Ange said solemnly, 'poor buggers died too. No sooner had I hit that stupid kerb than my left shoe flew off into the road and got mushed by a passing bus! Boris was killed instantly. And then when they finally retrieved what was left of my other shoe and buried me, the silly sods forgot that Doris was still in the other shoe!'
Unfortunately Miracle still hasn't told me how I make the voices go away, so for most of my day it's much like sitting on a train listening to hundreds of people on their mobile phones and hearing all their conversations at once.
I fan Annette down with the pages of my Heat magazine – quite appropriate really, considering it is about ninety degrees in here at the moment.
'And how's my favourite DJ then?' I ask, as I plonk myself down next to her, kick off my fluorescent pink flip-flops and plunge my own dainty toes into her bucket of nicely chilled water.
'Oh, you know – hot!' Annette says as she lets the faint breeze from my magazine waft over her face. 'You know, I don't know what we women did to deserve this. I mean, not only do we have to put up with bloody periods for God knows how many years but we also have to go through excruciating pain to have bloody babies who turn out to be bloody ungrateful and useless bloody teenagers, and then some smart-arse decides it would be a terribly good idea to give us the bloody menopause!'
'Not a good week then?'
'Not a good week,' Annette confirms. 'Anyway, how's yours been so far?' she says as she signals to Liam the sound tech to switch the jingle off and play the introduction to my Sixth Sense programme.
'Almost as good as yours by the sound of it,' I sigh. 'My mother is driving me bonkers with wedding plans; the solicitor is driving me bonkers by refusing to do anything to close the deal on the house; clients are driving me bonkers because they all think I have the meaning to life, or, at the very least, the winning numbers for the lottery and I'm keeping them to myself; and Jack is nowhere in sight!'
'But you're not going through the change,' Annette says. 'Is Jack getting on alright in London?'
'She ain't going through the change either. She's preggers,' Ange informs me.
Excerpted from Oh Great, Now I Can See Dead People by Deborah Durbin. Copyright © 2012 Deborah Durbin. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.