“Please, could you just consider it?” Jane looked around into thin air. “It would make such a difference.”
Kane looked at the ghost of Bob Jones who was twisting the shade of his flat cap around in his hands. “Times are hard at the moment,” he said.
“They always are, son, they always are,” Bob said. “But that’s no reason to lose my dignity. I’m not one to put myself forward and I’ve always been respectable.”
“Can you see him?” Jane asked.
Kane nodded. “He’s not very comfortable with this, and I can see his point of view.”
“All I’m asking is a little help,” Jane said. “I’m not asking for clanking chains and moaning. All I want is a little presence.”
“Presence?” Kane asked.
“Yeah, a bit of a chill sometimes, or perhaps unexpected draughts. Something lowkey.” Jane looked around, trying to guess where Bob was standing. “What can Mr Jones do anyway?”
“That’s a very personal question,” Bob said, affronted.
Kane turned to Bob. “You must have seen the amount of work Jane has put in to re-open this café. She just needs a little help.”
“It’s not the same since she bought it,” Bob said. “I was coming here for years before I died here, and I always came in for Ellen’s smile. She had a lovely smile and she always made sure I had an extra bit of bacon.” Bob smiled reminiscently. “So when I passed here, well, I just hung around. I still got to see Ellen’s smile, though she found it a strain at the end, as she got older.” His tone changed. “Then this young lass waltzes in and changes everything. It’s not the same. I miss Ellen.”
Kane turned to Jane. “Bob is talking about Ellen, the former owner. I think he’s worried that she’s being forgotten now someone new has bought the shop. Do you know her or any of her family that may be able to speak up for you.”
The colour drained from Jane’s face. “Ellen Carson? She ran this place for years, with the best bacon butties and meat and potato pies for miles.”
“They were absolutely the best,” Bob said, “And she always had a cheerful word for anyone coming in.”
“But it was losing money in the end. People weren’t coming in. They wanted fancy coffee and my poor grandmother couldn’t keep up. She took a holiday away to think about it but she just faded when she was away from it. She passed in her sleep.” Jane looked down at her hands and a tear slid down her face. “I miss her. I promised her I’d make a go of this place, and I inherited it fair and square, but the costs of renovation have taken all my savings. I have to make this work.”
Kane stepped back as Bob peered forward then looked at Kane. “Is she Ellen’s granddaughter?”
Kane looked helplessly at Jane. “Can you show anything to link you with Ellen?”
Jane stared for a moment and then dug into her pocket. “How about this?” She pulled out her phone and flicked through the pictures. “Here.” She held it in the air.
Bob walked around Kane to look at the picture. “That’s Ellen sitting with you! I mean, she isn’t as young as she was when I met her, but she always had the sweetest smile.” He frowned and looked at Jane, tilting his head and frowning. “Do you know, I think you do have a look of her about you.”
“I think he believes you,” Kane said.
“I think I do,” Bob said. “I tell you what, I’ll make a deal. I’ll haunt this place – respectfully, with no hanky panky, as long as there’s a picture of Ellen on the wall.” The spirit’s face softened. “She made a great cup of tea as well. She knew what I liked – strong enough for a mouse to run across it.”
Kane tried to hide his grimace at the thought of the tea and passed the message on to Jane.
“It feels strange, knowing that he knew Gran,” Jane said. “But nice, like having a fairy godfather.”
Bob snorted, but there was a smile in his eyes. “And the reason that infernal new coffee machine keeps messing up is that the workman put one of the switches in upside down. I watched him as he was trying to sweet talk some lady on the phone. The foreman was far too forgiving. It would never have happened in my day.”
Kane passed the message on, keeping any comments to himself about his own experience of past workmen. He turned to Bob. “You won’t get carried away, will you?”
“As I said, I’ve always been respectable.” Bob was firm. “A few unexpected chills won’t hurt anyone, just a little decent spookiness.” He grinned, a gleam in his spectral eye. “And if Jane takes down the picture of her grandmother once or twice a year, I’ll do something special for it. Not at Halloween,” he added hastily. “That would be cheap. I won’t do cheap. But it will be good just to keep a story going. So it’s still fun to come here for one of those strange coffees, but there’s a little extra.” He puffed up his ghostly chest. “Ellen would have liked that.”