Psychological Thriller...Ivor's Ghosts
"‘I didn’t like the people,’ Ivor said.
‘What people, lovey?’
‘When you upstairs they come into the kitchen.’
Norma and Violet exchanged a glance over the gear lever. ‘Who did?’ Norma asked. ‘How many people?’
‘Lady and a boy. They was laughing together. They walked into the skull.’
‘Then they gone.’
‘Did they speak to you?’ Violet felt it was her turn to ask a question. ‘Did they ask who you were?’
‘Don’t think they saw me.’
‘Can you stop a mo?’ Norma asked her adoptive mother. Violet pulled up beside a field gate. ‘Now tell us everything you saw.’
Ivor went through it. Dutifully, dully, in the same stony dead way in which he would be responding, in a year’s time, to questions about what he had done that day at school. He’d been in the kitchen. The woman and boy had come in behind him from the back hall, laughing and talking together. They’d walked right past him, ignored him completely – no, he hadn’t tried to speak to them either – and then gone through the open door into the scullery. Then he didn’t see or hear them any more. Perhaps they’d gone out through the back door into the garden? Ivor didn’t think so. He hadn’t heard the outside door open. The laughter simply stopped and they weren’t there.
‘What did they look like?’ Norma wanted to know. ‘What did they wear?’
‘Lady had a coat over her head. Couldn’t see face. Put her arms round boy.’
‘And the boy? How old was he?’
‘Bigger’n me. Like Danny and George.’ These were a neighbour’s children, aged eleven and nine. ‘He long short trousers, and under – like mum wears.’
‘You mean, like tights? How odd. What about shoes?’
‘But funny.’ Ivor demonstrated, touching places on his own short legs, that the shoes were ankle-boots, and that the shorts came down to just below the knee: not a fashion seen in the streets of Rye at that time, which was the late seventies."
A glimpse of 8-year-old Ivor in a pretty market town inspires young artist Gemma Palmer to write and illustrate a children’s book.
Gemma next meets Ivor when she is 29 and he 16. They become lovers, to the consternation of Gemma’s friends…
For the real Ivor is quite different from the sunny character she turned him into in her much-loved books. Lurking in the secret places of his heart are impulses that are dangerous and malign. It can only be a matter of time before they are released, ready to strike. But when? Where? At whom?
A deceptively gentle comedy of rural life, set in an idyllic countryside, becomes a generation-spanning tale of murder and retribution that is deep, disturbing and dark.
"‘It was going to be a murder story. But in the middle of researching it... Well, you know my father died just a couple of months before we met. I was too caught up in a real-life death to want to be involved with a fictional one as well...’
‘Tell me about the murder,’ Ivor wanted to know, suddenly engaged. ‘Did you get as far as a plan?’
‘Goodness, I’ve almost forgotten. Oh yes. I was thinking of it taking place in an oast house. I went up on the hop-storage floor at Gatcombe and had a look with my friend Feri.’ Still no hint that Feri was just nineteen. ‘My plan was to use the hole in the floor where the hop pocket hangs. Either have someone pushed through the hole, or their dead body dropped into the hop pocket. But I saw it wouldn’t have worked.’
‘Because the hole is pretty well blocked by the ram of the hop press. I know,’ said Ivor. ‘You should have had a look at Birdskitchen instead. There they’ve got a trap-door in the hop floor as well as the pocket hole. They used to use it to haul the pokes up through before someone invented electric grain elevators.’
‘I didn’t think it was easy to fall through a trap-door,’ Gemma said. ‘The whole idea of a trap-door is supposed to be a fail-safe device, isn’t it? Used in mills since mills began. You can haul sacks up through them but can’t fall down.’
‘You could if you took the doors off,’ Ivor said.
‘Then you’d see the doors were missing, surely,’ Gemma objected.
‘Not if you were walking backwards or... Oh, I don’t know.’ Ivor appeared to lose interest in the subject at that point. Though there had come into his mind the image of a gauze: a gauze that let the light through from one side but not the other. But his next question was, ‘Why don’t you write a ghost story instead?’"
Ivor's Ghosts is published as a Kindle e-book by Anchor Mill Publishing.
Purchase from Amazon.com in US or Amazon.co.uk in United Kingdom