Ghost Hunters 

Ghost Hunters

The lake was magicked by the moon.

The wind tickled the trees; the same wind teased the silvery carpet of watery light. The dinghy emerged from the rippling shadows, its two crew members silent with the breathlessness of expended energy. They had raised their moon-dripping oarblades to allow their previous effort maximum play on conflicting forces ... of which a floating corpse was one.

It lay just below the water’s silky sheen like an impression of a full-length oil painting. The face grinned upward, set thus by the moment of death itself. The legs wagged gently to and fro as if it were really swimming. The arms, weighted by the jewellery on the hands, acted as a couple of claw anchors snagging upon the lake’s pearl-pebbled bottom.

“There you are!” hissed the one who sat taller than the other.

“You sure it ain’t an impostor?”

As the moon went under a cloud, the corpse’s body vanished in a conjuring-trick so sudden any chance audience would be momentarily stunned into utter silence.

Both ghosts had indeed failed to identify the corpse as their own erstwhile body; so neither could yet claim they had hunted down one single parent-in-death…

As the Flying Dutchman of a dinghy itself disappeared, the bank’s reedy clumps gathered the everpresent wind like sarcastic elfin laughter.

(published 'Peeping Tom' 1993)

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