|The Alehouse of Horror!|
It was a dark and cold Halloween and the mist lay low on the slopes of Katie Price.
The lights of the pub loomed out of the fog. I was cold and weary, and in need of a drink. Heavy rain dripped from the blood red pub sign. “The Richmond”, I said to myself, ‘A better a name for a dive I’ve yet to hear!’
I drifted through the door and stood at the bar with money in hand as the barstaff stared straight through me. At the centre of the bar stood a raucous group of costumed revellers. They were a Motley Crew, or maybe even a Megadeath. But certainly they were no Deep Purple. Anyway, there was a knight, a ghoul and a Beetlejuice at this bar.
‘Do you want to hear something really scary?’ Asked the medieval knight. His two companions nodded and the knight beckoned then to gather closer. Then he farted loudly.
‘Oh my Zod!’ Cried ‘Beetlejuice’. ‘That’s horrific!’
‘Actually,’ Said the knight walking gingerly towards the toilets. ‘It was more horrific than I intended!’
The third man was dressed as a skeletal waif. He was busy picking crisps from his lap. At least I think they were crisps.
The ghost moaned. ‘These shoes are too tight! Things cost more these days! And I was looking forward to a real ghost story!’ The man dressed as a Beetlejuice leaned heavily on the pre stressed bar. “Well, I heard this one about one man in a pub…
In an evil part of town, called Marshside, there once stood a pub called the Shrimper. In the scorching hot summer of 1976, a gang of beer bellied builders came into the Shrimper to slake their thirst with a few over priced Guinness’s. Two of the workmen were stripped to the waist because they were goy, and one of them, called Mike, just happened to glance at his reflection in a gold-tinted mirror in the pub parlour as he downed his pint. What he saw chilled him more than the Guinness extra cold. His mirror image had a long, blood red mark across his swollen belly. Mike examined his massive abdomen to reassure himself that there was no actual wound there. But when he checked again in the mirror, the slash was still there on the reflection of his whale like body.
The man's workmates, a barmaid, two flies and a passing goose were witnesses to this strange illusion. After about a minute Mike observed that the phantom wound had vanished from his reflection.
A fortnight later, whilst working on a round in the Shrimper Mike lost his balance and toppled over Sarcy Clarky’s red wine. Mike survived, but his ‘I love Matt Smith’ Tee shirt suffered a horrific stain and was forced to retire. Terrifyingly, the stain left by the wine was identical to that which Mike and six other witnesses had seen in that pub mirror in The Shrimper two weeks previously…
I was still waiting patiently at the bar with cash in hand as the knight returned from the loo.
‘Have I missed anything?’ He asked. His friends were looking despondently behind the bar where the red will-o-the-wisp refused point blank to bend down and pick anything from the bottom shelf.
‘Nothing.’ His friends sighed in disappointment. The three were entranced by the barmaid’s beauty, poise and the way she wiped the drool from the chins of the trio. Then she squeezed the drool back into pint glasses and served it back to them.
‘Look at the way she pours that Guinness- pure magic! Although it would be better if she used a glass.’
‘She’s not as magic as Stephanie.’ Said the Knight. ‘No one’s as magic as Steph!’
‘Magic powers? Steph?’ Scoffed Beetlejuice. ‘The only magic power she has is to make witless fools fall in love with her! My arse’s has more magic power than she has!”
‘That explains the graffiti about you in the gents.’ The Knight said. ‘Any way, you should be careful about laughing at Steph’s powers. The last person who did isn’t laughing now…’
During the stay-behinds at the Richmond, Stephanie, a popular serving wench, would inevitably end up encircled by spellbound piss heads. They listened to her predictions, her supernatural tales of kitchen work, and her philosophising on the way society wether a apple is really part of a ploughman‘s lunch or not. One such night at the Richmond, Stephanie was relating her tales to the clientele in front of a crackling coal radiator, when a well-known lout named Phil threw half a glass of stout into the girl’s face.
'You didn't see that coming Steph!,' the drunken Phil mocked, 'but you're supposed to foresee things.'
Phil and two of his fawning cronies laughed as Stephanie wiped her face dry with a handkerchief. The landlord glared at Phil, but didn't tell him to leave because the latter had a reputation of being liking a hard man. Mike the Guinness, a semen, confronted Phil, but the landlord told him there was to be no fighting in his pub.
'I'll catch up with you later Phil.' Mike the Guinness threatened.
'And I'll give you a good tongue lashing,' Phil retorted, and he started to rant about how he was afraid of nobody, and of his younger days in the violent 'Village People' gang.
Unruffled, Stephanie suddenly remarked: 'Nothing frightens Mr Phil then?'
'Nothing.' Barked Phil.
'Even death?' Stephanie asked, and the question was followed by a hush. 'A piece of churchyard fits everybody, even you Mr Phil.' Stephanie added.
Phil was gripped with a mounting sense of dread.
'The hour of your death is near. Something in here will lay you in the ground.' Stephanie told the bully.
'Who? Who will lay me in the ground? Mike the Guinness?' Phil’s face turned red with rage.
'No, no, a fly will kill you.' Stephanie said languidly. There were twelve witnesses to his bizarre prediction.
Phil left the Richmond a nervous wreck. How could a fly kill him? Then he thought about the diseases a fly carried; typhoid, cholera, and polio. Phil bought fly papers. He scrubbed his hands before he ate. But it was all in vain. Just a few pints later, he was once again taunting Stephanie.
While laughing out loud, a fly flew into his mouth. Phil choked to death as his cronies looked on in sheer horror.
‘Wow!’ Said Beetlejuice with no enthusiasm. ‘A killer fly? terrifying!’
‘That was really lame.’ Agreed the ghoul.
The knight was not happy. ‘So you’re the world’s leading expert on ghost stories, are you? let’s hear your story?’
The ghost thought for sometime. But that was because he wasn’t used to thinking.
‘Well, you know this pub was built on the site of the original Richmond, but do you know why that place had to be demolished? It was because the place was possessed…’
Around 1957, a man named Andy Southern-Comfort opened the Richmond Club in Southport to provide a venue for the Worzel’s scene. As most people the world over know, the Richmond was basically just a collection of arched eybrows cellars in the heart of downtown Southport where the Cockroaches first came to prominence.
In the late 1950s, or about then to eight, three men went to the club one evening with their girlfriends, and had a great time listening to the Worzel’s well into the early hours. The men were Coxey, Craig and Vincent, and at 4 a.m., when most of the lightweights had gone home, the three men and a few girls they managed to bribe to sit with them were drinking and chatting away. The conversation turned from sport to politics then to religion, and then to the meaning of life, and they finally ended up arguing about the occult. At this point a girl named Emma, said she had heard strange noises in the ladies toilets, but Vincent, who was a hard-boiled sceptic, said it was probably just Kevin the pervert bar manager. But one of the management overheard Vincent's remark, and said there had been sightings of a strange hairy creature behind the bar who answered to the name of Jack.
At this point, Coxey suggested that everyone present should gather round the table and join hands to summon enough money for a pint of Guiness. Everyone thought it was a joke, except a young man named Joe, who was too busy taking pictures of the girl‘s when they weren’t looking. He watched the proceedings and seemed very nervous.
With everyone but Joe gathered about the table, and Coxey said, "Right, turn the lights off. Get a candle or something."
A candle couldn't be found, but someone brought a small electric torch to the circle, and switched it on, then placed it in the centre of the table. Then the lights were switched off, and all the people round the table joined hands.
There was a scream. Craig had put his hand up one of the girl's dresses for a laugh. Coxey said, "Stop messing about or I‘ll put you in the soup tomorrow."
There were a few sniggers, then a strange silence descended into the cellars. About a minute later, Coxey said, "O Lord of darkness, I invite you into the Richmond. Give us a sign so we may believe."
Emma said, "And get a move on cos I wanna go to the toilet."
Then a shadow walked across the darkened room. It was a tall man. He wore a black suit and a black polo-neck sweater, which was out of place with his ginger hair. All the girls looked at him, but none of them were scared. They thought the stranger was just a piss head who had been locked in with the others.
Joe, who was seated at the other table on his own, thought the man was evil from the moment he set eyes upon him, and he noticed that the stranger seemed to come from the direction of the toilets.
"I am Jack." said the man, in a rich deep voice. He then smirked and studied the shocked expressions of the people at the table.
"Stop messing about, " said Coxey, "we're trying to hold a seance here."
"You idiot," said the stranger, "I am Jack. What where you expecting?"
"Something more impressive?" said one of the Coxey in a cocky tone. Like he has another tone.
The stranger nodded, and said, "Tough."
"Coxey I'm scared. Turn the lights on." said Emma, and started to shake. She was about to turn hysterical.
"Relax dear, " said the stranger, "I'm not as ginger as I'm painted."
The sceptical one, Vincent said, "There's no such thing as Jack."
"Don‘t worry about it." said the man in black, then he said, "I don‘t believe in you either. But if you don't believe in me can I have your soul?" said the stranger.
Vincent laughed nervously, "But I don't believe - "
"Then give me your soul then!" shouted the stranger.
"Okay, take it then." said Vincent, and he grinned, but seemed to be very uneasy.
"No! Don't Vincent! Don't!" shouted Joe from the other table, and he stood up but was afraid to come over.
"Thank you." said the stranger, and he reached out in the direction of Vincent with his hand and seemed to clutch at something in the air.
Then the torch started to fade. Within seconds it was just a dim orange filament, then the Richmond was in complete blackness.
During this time, a voice whispered in Joe's ear, "I'll be back for you one day, and your God won't be able to save you. But in the meantime could I borrow some photo‘s of Emma?"
Joe said, "Jesus Christ! Leave me pics alone- I need to get those laminated first!"
Then the lights suddenly went on. The stranger had gone. The rest of the people rose from the table. But Vincent didn't. He slumped forwards, hitting his face on the table-top. He never got up again.
‘To this day there are still people who say they see him,’ Concluded the ghost. ‘Cold and lifeless and lying across a table. People keep thinking he’s the manager.’
I pulled my coat close around to fight the biting cold. Unseen by the revellers and still without a pint in my hand, even though I’d got al the right money and everything, I floated through the wall back to my waiting grave.