Bobby is ill. He could be on his deathbed.
She would have preferred to keep him at home but the doctor came out and then the ambulance swung by.
She would get some soap and a flannel from the chemist, she thought, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and then she’d go to the hospital. Nothing was imminent, she’d been told, though a procedure would be done that would keep Bobby in, at least overnight.
She felt the presence of her dead father by her right shoulder.
“Hi, Dad,” she said. “Hope things are okay where you are.”
“Ye-es,” he said, in that considering way he sometimes had. “Don’t worry about me.”
He kept her company all the way down the hill.
She could see someone at the bridge—it was the ghoul, Elmo.
The ghoul’s eyes were wide and alarmed as she approached.
She knew that Elmo the ghoul had already heard, and was waiting for further bad news.
There was no way she could avoid him.
Elmo waited at the start of the bridge and she had to cross.
She had no choice but to meet Elmo the ghoul head-on.
Elmo the ghoul was just that bit fearful—to her, he was—beyond a doubt, there was no fear in the ghoul himself at all.
She lifted her hand to her brow, shielding her eyes from sunlight that wasn’t actually there.
She didn’t want to show her feelings—she knew Elmo the ghoul would lap them up.
“How are things?” the ghoul Elmo said as she reached him.
“Oh—not bad,” she said.
“Not bad—or does that mean not good?” the ghoul Elmo said.
She knew that Elmo the ghoul looked for any chink in armour through which he could send his barbed poison darts.
Elmo always did—and she always fell for it.
She got back home.
She put the things she had bought for Bobby into his toiletries bag.
She had just called for a taxi to take her to the hospital and put the phone down, when it rang.
It was the ghoul Beedee.
“Where are you?” the ghoul Beedee said.
“I’m at home,” she said. She knew that the ghoul Beedee had already heard.
“Is he very bad?” the ghoul Beedee said.
“Oh—not too bad,” she said.
“Or not so good,” the ghoul Beedee said. “I’ve come across these things before—it’s unusual if they turn out well.”
“I’m sure everything will be fine after the procedure,” she said, concealing any truth of the matter—if the ghoul Beedee knew, he would feed from it.
The taxi hooted then, outside…