Andrea knew the ghost thing wasn’t going to work, but she’d let Caroline and Babs talk her into it anyway. They’d appropriated one of Babs’ mother’s bed sheets, which now trailed on the ground all around her, and set off giggling and a wee bit tipsy to wait for Chloe outside the Anglers’ Arms.
Everyone knew Chloe was superstitious. Everybody knew she crossed herself if a black cat crossed her path, and prayed fervidly each year to be delivered from ghouls and hobgoblins on Halloween. Everyone knew she took the five minute walk down the towpath to River Cottage and climbed in over back wall, if her mother had grounded her, which she did with monotonous regularity. But only Caroline and Babs believed that if Andrea leapt out of the shrubbery lining the towpath wailing and waving her arms under the voluminous sheet, that Chloe would wee herself and thus provide them all with a good laugh and a talking point for months if not years ahead.
So, that night Andrea crouched in the riverside shrubbery, shivering and forlorn, while Sissy and Babs stayed snug in the pub, making sure Chloe took the usual way home and “didn’t ruin everything”.
“What have we here?” asked a quiet but unsettling voice, and Andrea knew a man was standing over her. He seemed strangely tense.
“Whoooo,” she mumbled awkwardly. Madness to think he might himself be terrified of the paranormal, but it seemed her only hope. “Whooooo.”
“It’s a girlie,” he came to a weirdly delighted conclusion. “And what’s more, it’s gift wrapped.”
The evening wasn’t a total failure for Caroline and Babs, or even Chloe. Of course, the prank didn’t take place, but they were the first to discover the crime scene. And got themselves on local television news.