Get out tha bloody fireplace, you daft wassock! Tha’s wha she’d say if she could see me now. The missus. Well, she carn’t see me now or hear me neither. And don’t think I ain’t tried. I’ve followed er round from Chideock to Charmouth and from beach to bed and back again. I been right up in er face I av, shoutin me gourd orf. Nothin but a scratch of er ear, not even a scratch. A touch of her lobe and the buried stone between her thumb and finger, just briefly. A quiet, removed moment. Sometimes she hums and I ask her to sing. But she looks right through me, she do. Right through like I ain’t even there anymore. Which I ain’t. I seen ‘er crying, stirrin fishstew on the hotplate with two bowls and two spoons on the table. Seen er put a bowl and spoon away back into the cupboard, back into the drawer. The boxing of the cupboard and then the shushing of the drawer. Cried myself I did.
So, my lover, ere I be. Standin in the hearth. Right in it, see. With flames lickin at me clodhoppers, but not even heating boot leather. By rights I should be on fire! Choking at least. But I ain’t. I barely be warm. Them flames can’t raise a pulse. They dance all round the string tha gather me trowsers right below me knee. The string to stop them bloody rats, terrors they is, from gettin up inside and bitin me bollocks off, chompin on me chopper. Not tha tha’s seen much action of late. Not since I died last summer last an all. To be honest tha chopper not seen much action for a few year now. Not with the missus in the state she be in. With the tit cancer an all. I’d rather not think about it. Gives me the willies it do. Talking of which, willies an whatnot, this whole story right give me the willies. You see, I be dead. I said tha, dinneye? Crushed I were. Flat pressed as cider. Which, if you think about it, is right fittin, innit. Poetry, like. I’m cold as mackerel if I’m honest.
In the fireplace of the Eight Kings, my old haunt, looking out, lording it up, trying to get warm and the flames an the brickwork all visible right through me. The orange logs rollin. Large as life an thrice as ugly. Kicking at the snappin pinecones, like I still be a wriggler. Well, I’m trying to get warm, see. I never been right religious. Call into the church and listen to the vicar, weddings and Christmas mornings and funerals. Funerals more so recently. Derek, Joanne, Diane and Ian. Ffooks, your father, and me. Ee used to say, I got everything planned for my funeral, Grinner. I just need to confirm the date. There might be a cancellation, I says. Gaspin for a drink I am. Let me raise a toast to thee.
Little Nickel Arseknott. E’s the only one wha sees me. I don’t know how these things work. The bein dead and the whatnot. But e’s the one I be stuck with. An ee be stuck with me.
You do see me though, don’t yer, boy? I knows you see me. Go on, gizza grin!