“...so I said why don't you just get a job!” Jodie laughed, her tightly pulled face forming a grimace instead of a smile.
Bob squeezed Mary's hand under the table as she took a another drink of wine. At this rate they would need another bottle for the main course.
“So, were you there when this homeless person asked for a handout?” Mary asked Tom, before taking another sip.
“Oh yeah. What is wrong with these people? Always looking for a handout! I mean, they're just lazy, or drug addicts. Right Bob?” Tom said, looking at Bob across the dinner table.
Bob just smiled, stuffing some salad in his mouth.
“Have you been to that new restaurant, Timer?” Mary said, trying to change the subject.
“No, but I've heard dreadful things...waiters with piercings and long hair, and the..what...what was that?” Jodie asked, looking over Mary's shoulder.
“What?” Mary said, turning to look behind her.
“That glass...on the counter, it just...just moved.”
“Oh Jodie, stop it,” Tom said to his wife. “Ever since she started watching Ghost Hunters she sees things everywhere. That show terrifies her, but she never misses an episode.”
“I saw that glass move!”
“You mean,” Mary said, looking at her husband, “Tom didn't tell you?”
“Tell me what?” Jodie said.
Mary leaned in and whispered, “This house is haunted.”
“What!” Jodie gasped, dropping her fork onto her plate.
“Mary, don't,” Bob said.
“I can't believe you didn't tell them,” Mary said.
Ignoring Bob, she turned to Jodie and Tom, “There was a family that lived here thirty years ago. A woman with two children. Her ex was a violent con man and he'd been in jail for a year. But, he had hidden some money in this house and when he got out, he wanted it back. She, of course, didn't believe him and wouldn't let him. Well, he just went crazy! Smashed in the window, killed her and the kids.” Mary paused. “You really never heard about this?”
Tom and Jodie shook their heads.
“Anyway, they say their ghosts still haunt this place, seeking vengeance for their deaths.” Mary leaned back, taking another sip from her glass. “It's all nonsense, of course. Ghosts and what not. Ridiculous!”
“That's not what you said the other night.”
“Oh Bob! They don't care about that stuff!”
“What? What stuff? Tell me!” Jodie demanded.
“It's silly...but...” Mary glanced around the room as if making sure it was really empty before returning her gaze to Jodie. “A noise woke me, in the middle of the night. It was coming from the hallway bathroom.”
“The one here, that I just used?” Jodie whispered.
“Yes. I thought it was the faucet dripping, or maybe the toilet running, so I went down to check. But when I turned on the light, the noise stopped.”
“That's it?” Tom laughed, his protruding belly bumping the table with each breath.
Mary leaned in again, “When I looked in the mirror I saw a woman, instead of my own reflection.”
The color drained from Jodie's face. “That's..that's...terrible!” she said.
“The mother was killed in that bathroom,” Bob said.
“Oh stop it, Bob,” Mary said, throwing her napkin at him. “It was just a trick of the light and a lack of sleep. That's all. There's no such thing as ghosts.”
“But there are! You two must move. A haunting is not something to take ligh- what was that?”
Above them, a faint sound could be heard. “Mamma, Mamma.”
“Who knows. This house is old. There's always a noise somewhere,” Bob said.
“But it's a voice,” Jodie said.
“So you hear it too?” Mary said. “Bob can't hear it.”
“They said the girl, the daughter, was found holding her favorite toy; a talking baby doll.”
“That's it,” Jodie said, standing and throwing the napkin on her plate. “We're leaving.”
“But we haven't even finished the salad yet,” Tom complained.
“I am not spending another minute in this house. And,” Jodie said, turning back to Mary and Bob, “you two need to hire an exorcist or something. We're not coming back here until you do!”
“But...you don't have to come here. We can meet for dinner,” Mary said.
“No. No way! You're tainted with the spirits until...until they are put to rest. I suppose I can't stop you and Tom from seeing each other, Bob, considering Tom's your boss, but...just...stay away as much as you can! Tom,” she said, turning to face him, “now! Let's go.”
Mary and Bob watched through the front window as Jodie and Tom's car peeled out of the driveway and down the street.
“You,” Bob said, “are a genius.”
“Now, now. You deserve some of the credit. If you hadn't overheard Bob telling someone how scared of ghosts Jodie had become since she started watching Ghost Hunters I would never of thought of this.”
“Are you disappointed you didn't get to use the hologram mirror or the faucet of blood?”
“A little,” Mary smiled.
“I think we should have a toast to never having to share another dinner with those insufferable snobs.”
“I'll drink to that,” Mary laughed.
If you liked this story, check out Starved, a book of my flash fiction. Available at all ebook retailers.