The First Time I Saw
Dad After He Died
I walked down the hall and pushed the door and went into the smoke and all
the voices went quiet like I was the ghost.
Carla the Barmaid was wearing her hoop earrings and her tired eyes. She was pouring a pint and she smiled at me and she was going to say something but the beer spilt over the top.
Uncle Alan who is Dads brother was there wearing his suit that was tight with his neck pouring over like the beer over the glass. His big hands still had the black on them from mending cars at the Garage. They were over Mums hands and Mums head was low like it was sad and Uncle Alans head kept going down and he lifted Mums head up with his eyes. He kept talking to Mum and he looked at me for a second and he saw me but he didnt say anything. He just looked back at Mum and kept pouring his words that made her forget about Dad.
Nan was sitting on her own with her silver sticks on the seat and she was drinking red juice like blood in her glass.
Her eyes went in a squint and made her face more wrinkly and she saw me. Her skeleton hand said Come here come here so I went and sat with her and she just stared at me and didnt say anything at first. She just looked round at everyone and went Sssss because of her pains like she had a puncture.
After a bit she said Ee now come on pet dinny you fret. It will be all right son.
Nan lives in Sunderland and she speaks Sunderlanguage. Mum used to live in Sunderland but she hates it and says it is a Ghost Town and she doesnt talk Sunderlanguage only a bit when she talks to Nan but most of the time she talks normal.
Nan said Youre not a little bairn now son. Youre the man of the place.
I am 11 so I am not a little bairn and I am not a man but I didnt say anything I just nodded my head a bit and Carla came and gave me a glass of Pepsi.
Carla said in her croaky frog voice Theres a glass of Pepsi duck.
She put it on the table and smiled at me with her thin lips and she itched the dryness on her arm and then smiled at Nan and she went back to the bar.
Nan kept on saying things and I just drank my Pepsi and looked round at the people. I think most of them were happy that the Pub was open and they were talking louder than at the funeral because funerals make voices quiet and beer makes voices loud so now they were speaking about normal.
I moved my eyes and watched Mum and Uncle Alan and I wanted Uncle Alans hands to stop holding Mums hands and they did stop when Renuka went and talked to Mum. Renuka is Mums best friend who goes to Step class with her on Mondays and Thursdays where they step on boxes for an hour to make their bums smaller. Renuka had been with Mum lots this week and she had made 700 cups of tea and Uncle Alan looked cross now because when Renuka talks no one can fit words in because she doesnt have any spaces.
I kept looking round the bar and Nan kept talking to me and that is when I saw him. That is when I saw Dads Ghost.
King of the CASTLE
You are meant to be frightened when you see a ghost but I was not frightened
because it felt completely normal which is weird because I had never seen a
ghost before. He was just standing there behind the smoke of Big Vics cigar and
he was looking at me and not scared of my eyes like everyone else was.
Carla was next to him serving drinks but she didnt notice him and I looked round and no one noticed him apart from me. After she had served the drinks Carla walked through Dads Ghost to go and see herself in the mirror which says Castle and Falcon because that is the name of our Pub.
Dads Ghost was wearing the same clothes Dad was wearing the last time I saw him which was at breakfast on the day he died when I made him cross because I wanted the PlayStation. He was wearing his T shirt which said King of the Castle with the word CASTLE written in red capital letters like on the sign outside the Pub. But now all the colours were more faded because Dad was pale and see through like the ghosts at the Haunted Mansion in Disney World and he had blood running down from his hair.
Excerpted from The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig, © 2007 by Matt Haig. Excerpted by permission of Viking Press, a division of Penguin Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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