Andy Jessop wants a life without ghosts. He doesn’t want to see, hear, or talk to them. Ignoring them should be relatively simple.
But Andy soon finds that Benji Richards, an eternally gorgeous ghost from the fifties, is not so easy to ignore.
Halloween night is approaching and both Andy and Benji know what it could mean for them. From sunset to sunrise, it is the one night of the year when a mortal can feel the touch of a ghost.
Six weeks of freedom from ghosts! Andy Jessop almost felt like writing it on the calendar to mark the occasion. If it weren't for the fact that his calendar was still packed up in one of the lingering boxes from his move, he might even have done so.
Smiling to himself as he placed his shopping bag on the counter, he switched on the television with the remote and prepared for a night in, watching the football match. Andy put away the groceries, and fifteen minutes later he seemed to be ready for a nice, normal night in front of the telly.
Food — check. Beer — check. Ghost — check.
Andy nearly swore out loud when his mind caught up with what his eyes had already seen. He stopped himself just in time.
He knew the building had been built during the Second World War, but he hadn't seen a ghost in his flat until now. He shouldn't have been surprised. The young man looked to have been in his early twenties when he died, maybe even younger. Judging by his clothes, Andy suspected that to have been some time in the fifties. The James Dean wannabe had clearly been lingering for a while.
Just ignore him, Andy silently ordered himself. This would be his first real test in his new home. The unwelcome spook had obviously settled down for a night in front of the television, and Andy knew he couldn't let on that he could see it.
Once a single ghost learned he could see it, word would get around, and his life of normality would be over faster than he could say ectoplasm.
Andy carried his bowl of potato crisps and a bottle of beer over to the coffee table and set them down. He made sure he didn't look directly at his uninvited guest and took a seat at the opposite end of the sofa.
"Looks like it's going to be a good match," the ghost said conversationally.
Andy knew he wasn't really talking to him, or at least he wasn't expecting him to answer. Ghosts seemed to talk a lot; it seemed to be something of a habit. They didn't expect mortals to hear them.
The match started, but Andy found his concentration impeded by his ghostly guest. His gaze kept drifting to the right, much as it had done back in school when he found himself in the presence of a boy he fancied.
He wondered for a brief moment what this ghost would think about his sexuality, and then chided himself silently for even caring. Just because he found the ghost attractive, he shouldn't start losing track of things that were more important than his non-existent love life. He wanted to keep his life as normal as possible, and if that meant keeping his libido under control, that was what he would do.
Andy was aware the ghost on his sofa had no way of knowing he could see and hear him as well as he could the television, and he had no intention of letting him know his audience could receive him loud and clear. Instead he chose to concentrate on the match.
On reflection, he believed the ghost's earlier comment about the game had been correct. The match looked to be one of the best of the season so far. By half time he realised his companion wasn't that bad company. They supported the same team, and under any other circumstances —if the ghost had been just another resident in the building— Andy suspected he would have invited him over anyway.
Despite his best intentions, Andy found himself starting to get a little curious about his ghostly guest. He didn't even know his name. From the sneaky looks out of the corner of his eye, he managed to get a good look at his handsome uninvited visitor. With dark hair, blue eyes and a strong jaw line, he certainly had the right features for the brooding look, but when he smiled, as he did each time their team scored, his face lit up, and Andy's breath caught in his throat.
If he hadn't been so busy drooling, Andy might have taken a moment to be worried about his reaction to the presence of the undeniably sexy spook.
Andy walked through to the kitchen to retrieve another beer from the fridge. He had just reached inside when he heard a second voice coming from the direction of the television.
"Benji, I've been looking all over for you," the older woman scolded.
Andy peered around the corner of the fridge, casually taking in the scene, while making it appear he couldn't tear his eyes away from the television.
Benji? Andy gave his guest another quick glance, contemplating whether he looked like a Benji or not. Then he stopped himself and shook his head in annoyance. This wasn't a good sign at all. A nameless ghost would be much easier to ignore than one he actually knew.
The woman —another ghost— stood right in front of the television set, her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. She had the same dark hair as the other ghost and similar enough features that Andy immediately guessed they were related. Benji's next words confirmed that.
"Ma, you're in the way," Benji complained, waving her to one side.
"Isn't this old Foster's place?" Benji's mother commented as she stepped to the side and looked around the room. "Whatever has he done to it?"
Andy frowned. The place had been a bit of a dump when he'd moved in, and he'd spent a lot of time over the last few weeks making it into a place he felt comfortable in. It might not be the tidiest flat in the building, but he didn't see any call for the ghost's sneer.
If she hadn't been a ghost he would have told her all of this, but as it was, he didn't dare reveal that he'd heard her disparaging remark.
"Foster moved out," Benji told her. "Moved in with his daughter a couple of months ago. Andy Jessop's the new tenant. He's a photographer for the local rag."
Andy tried not to be surprised Benji knew so much about him. He knew ghosts, especially those with little to occupy their time, spent their days snooping into other people's business. He had figured that out a long time ago, when they started snooping into his.
Andy took a swig of his beer and walked back over to the sofa. He sat down and immediately put his feet back up onto the table.
"Feet off the furniture!" His latest guest suddenly barked at him. He reacted instantaneously, dropping his feet to the floor, just as he had done whenever his own mother had scolded him.
He heard the two ghosts gasp in astonishment, and he rose to his feet quickly, feigning he had forgotten something in the kitchen, even as he silently cursed himself for the slip.
"Just a coincidence," Benji said. "He can't see or hear us. He'd have said something earlier if he could."