£2.34

You can find Kane’s story from the start here.

“I can feel her here,” Joan said. “It’s like she’s breathing down my neck.”

Kane was blessed, if you could call it that, with the ability to see ghosts. As he sat sipping tea in Joan’s knickknack crammed living room, he could clearly see the ghost of Nancy leaning in close to Joan. “She’s there,” he said. “A lady about the same age as you. She’s wearing a blue hat.”

“She always wore blue,” Joan sniffed. “She said it suited everyone. Mind you, it was a close call a few times.”

Nancy caught Kane’s eye. “Well she thought she could wear yellow and she really couldn’t.” The ghost shuddered at the memory.

“I can’t keep going on with this sense of someone peering over my shoulder,” Joan continued. “It’s worse than when she was alive. Tell her to go towards the light, or whatever it is.”

Kane winced. “I’m not very good at that bit.” He looked at Nancy. “Do you miss Joan?”

Nancy sniffed. “We were close, that’s true. But I can’t rest. She owes me £2.34. I can’t seem to get away from that. I’m owed £2.34 and until I get it, I can’t leave.”

Kane turned to Joan. “Nancy says that you owe her some money.”

“I do not!” Joan said indignantly. “I’ve always paid up. We reckoned up after every trip and meeting. We’d settle up who paid for what and where and make sure that we were all square. I could never sleep if I owed money.”

“It’s £2.34,” Nancy insisted.

Joan carried on, unaware. “I have never been in debt – not a penny under or a day late. How dare she!”

“It’s the money from the bingo,” Nancy said. “Just because I died that day didn’t mean that she could get away with keeping my share. And it’s £2.34.”

Kane turned to Joan in confusion. “She said that you owe her from the bingo.”

Joan frowned, then looked at Kane. “It was the day she died. And I was so upset, I forgot.” The colour had left her face. “We went to the Community Centre for bingo. We paid the same for our tickets, took it in turns to buy the tea at the interval and bought our own raffle tickets. The only thing was, we split whatever we won, exactly half.”

Kane tried to work it out. “To be honest, I’m more used to ghosts that can’t rest because they owe money, not the other way around. So, you won a prize of £4.68, that you would normally split. But you never had the chance.”

Joan shook her head. “It was a box of chocolates. They weren’t allowed to give cash prizes because it was for charity.”

“It wasn’t proper gambling,” Nancy added. “So it would be something like a bottle of wine or a candle.”

“They asked for donations,” Joan explained, “And the profits went to a good cause.”

“Everyone took turns,” Nancy said. “And asked that we give a rough value.”

“We all took turns,” Joan said. “Nancy and I used to go halves on a decent prize. You were supposed to give an idea of what it cost so that they could rank the prizes.” She sighed. “We always got something nice, with it being a good cause. Mrs Holloway, down the road, she only gave things like a packet of mints. Well, she couldn’t manage more with her being on a pension and all the trouble her husband is having.”

“We never blamed her,” Nancy added to an unhearing Joan. “You give what you can.”

“And I won the box of chocolates,” Joan said. “I was going to go home and check the price, so I could give the right money to Nancy. It was donated by Mrs Cadwallader, and she sometimes, well, she gets carried away.”

“Joan was always a lot more tactfully than me,” Nancy said. “That Mrs Cadwallader was all fur coat and no knickers. She’d talk about her expensive perfume like she wasn’t seen buying it from the market.”

Kane looked back at Joan. “Nancy said that Mrs Cadwallader sometimes exaggerated.”

Joan put her tea down with care. “I would be ashamed to behave like that. She put it as a £10 prize but got it as part of a sale in the big supermarket at the other side of town. It cost £4.68. And the chocolates were stale!”

“I’d be mortified,” Nancy added.

“But with what happened to Nancy as we left the Community Centre, I didn’t think to hand over any money,” Joan said.

“I got hit by a car,” Nancy told Kane. “I never felt a thing.”

“How do I pay the £2.34?” Joan asked. “I mean, Nancy’s dead.”

“Could you perhaps bury it in the grave?” Kane asked.

Joan shook her head. “She was cremated and her ashes scattered.”

“I can’t go until it’s settled,” Nancy said.

“And what is she going to do with the money if she’s dead?” Joan asked. “I don’t suppose there’s much bingo there.”

“What would you do if you hadn’t had a chance to pay her back?” Kane asked.

“Oh, I’d pay for the tea next time we were out,” Joan said. Her face fell. “I haven’t felt like going out much, now that she’s gone.”

“We went everywhere together,” Nancy said to Kane. “We were inseparable from when we met at school. We even married brothers.”

Kane nodded to Joan. “Perhaps that’s it,” he said. “Why don’t you go out and have a last cup of tea on her?”

Nancy and Joan both frowned, then shook their heads. “A cup of tea is £1.80 in the usual place,” Joan said. “That would be 54p off.”

“That’s too much,” Nancy said. “How about a nice hot chocolate? You have one for you and one for me.”

Kane turned to Joan. “Nancy suggests a hot chocolate, at £2.35 and that you have one for you and one for her and then you’ll be straight.”

“It will still be 1p out,” Joan said. “But I can put a penny into the collection at church – separately, of course.”

“Of course,” Nancy said. She started to fade. “That would be perfect, and we would be settled up.”

Kane watched the ghost disappear and then turned to Joan. “She’s gone.”

Joan held herself upright with only a slight gleam in her eye suggesting how near she was to tears. “I’ll go tomorrow and have two hot chocolates and save a penny for church,” she said firmly. “And I’ll have a word with her nephew. She kept a close eye on him, and I know that she would be grateful if I kept up the good work.”

Kane felt deep sympathy for the nephew. “I’m sure that she will.”

This is sparked by the memory of my grandmother, around fifty years ago. She went to a charity bingo every Thursday afternoon and once won a block of butter – and was very pleased with it! Whenever she went out with my mother, they used to count up every penny spent and work out who owed what with a thoroughness that would make any accountant turn to Modern Literature.

2 thoughts on “£2.34

    1. You’re right, Kane is such a sweetie. I don’t think he could imagine how to not have kind intentions. I’m glad that you enjoyed.

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