TITLE: Next To Me
GENRE: YA Gothic Ghost
What if you made a promise to someone but 170 years later, you broke it?
A small blackboard sign outside O’Neill’s Irish Pub, on the opposite side of the road, caught my eye. It read: Trouble sleeping?
“Ah! Yer man? He’s proving right popular there today. Straight on and down the stairs,” he said pointing straight ahead. “Now, would ye care for a pint or a bit of carvery?”
“No, thank you,” we replied in unison.
Cautiously we made our way down a set of narrow wooden stairs and noticed the door at the bottom. The lighting was poor, and the bulb emanated a reddish glow that reminded me of an Indian restaurant we used to frequent regularly on Lexington Avenue that had since shut down. God, how I missed that butter chicken dish.
I put my hand to my nose; the stench of urine was overpowering. Mom made a sick face and pointed to a sign saying ‘toilets.’ Ugh.
Softly, Mom pushed down the handle of the door and stepped inside the room, I followed her and spied a massive man with his back to us. Empty cans from a party the night before littered the floor and the room stank of stale beer.
His black hair was shaved to the scalp and his head was shaped like a full moon. He rocked gently back and forth in a trance-like motion as he talked to someone behind a pillar; hidden from view. I could hear her soft sobs and I watched as he comforted her. I felt awkward. We stood there for a few minutes until Mom decided the stench was too awful to bear and stomped over to a chair not far from where the others sat.
The man instantly swung around to face us.