Cowley Avenue Apaches. Part Seven.
I never thought I would be glad to hear the air-raid siren, but it was the perfect excuse for me to run home. I had heard quite enough ghost stories for one day, and now here was Mrs Wade talking about the haunted house. But when I got home and under our Morrison Shelter, I couldn’t help thinking about what she had said.
The all clear siren started up after half an hour, another false alarm. I suppose the surprise attack on Vickers the other day had made the enemy aircraft spotters a bit jumpy. I heard Wadie shouting outside, telling me his Dad was home and that he knows all about the haunted house. There was no escaping it, I had to go back.
I liked Wadies Dad, he smoked an old pipe and smelt of tobacco, quite a nice smell though. Which was just as well, as he worked at the pumping station, next to Tommy Garretts shop. He is in the garden stirring the copper full of pig’s swill, it smells horrible, it is mostly potato peelings. We all live on potato’s so there is always plenty of peelings for the pigs. Goldilocks, who lives next door jumps over the fence and joins us to listen all about The Haunted House.
Mr Wade lit his pipe again and puffed away for a few minutes as if he was getting ready for a long story.
“I haven’t thought about this for a very long time”. He said. “But I can remember most of it. Years ago, I worked with Taffy Jones, and he told me about the man who lived in that old house in Thorpe Road. The man was very rich and had bought the ruined house as an investment, he was going to make it into a proper country house for his family”. he paused for a minute to light his pipe again.
“Poor old Taffy, never got over what they found in the garden, they were digging a trench to bypass the original cess-pit for some new pipe work. As they got near to the wall of the cess-pit it collapsed into the trench and the pit was drained”.
Mrs Wade came out with some tea and a bowl of boiled eggs, that’s the best of keeping chicken’s, plenty of eggs. I was beginning to feel a bit worried about what was going to be said next, so a nice cup of tea and an egg was just right. Mr Wade started cleaning his pipe with a little silver pen knife, I think he likes telling this story and is making the most of it, so we wait while he fills his pipe again and lights up.
“Taffy said the house had not been lived in for years, because the lavatory kept blocking up and couldn’t be used. When the pit had emptied into the trench, they saw a lot of bones, human bones. They had to stop, and the police were called. The mystery of who the bones belonged to was going to be very hard to do.”
Much to the annoyance of Mr Wade, his wife, who was sitting with us couldn’t stop herself and blurted out.
“The trouble was, there wasn’t any head”.
I looked over at Goldilocks, he looked terrified, and I have to say, I was not what you would call comfortable. In fact, it was relief when the the Wade’s started to have little row.
“You always have to spoil it don’t you Lou”.
“Well, I saw you were winding them up, they were scared out of their skins, poor little devils, anyway I never believed anything that Taffy told you, it was never in the papers”.
We left them having a row and jumped over Dummies Stream and into our camp, Wadie said.
“My Dad told me that he believes Taffy’s story, and it was all hushed up because of the rumour that it was the bones of The Headless Horseman. The rich man disappeared, and the house has never been lived in again”.
I went home and managed to duck under my Mums normal greeting, but decided not to say anything about my day……….just in case.